Downhill Racers

Endless winter it's not, but plenty of snow lovers will be happy to hit the slopes before Halloween.

Those seeking a fix can head to Loveland Ski Area, which kicked off the season this year on October 15, or Arapahoe Basin, which was close behind on October 22.

It was the earliest opening in history for A-Basin, says Leigh Hierholzer, director of marketing. The motive for opening early was simple: "Because we can. We don't do anything in the summer, so it's nice to get our business started."

Most of A-Basin's snow is man-made, but with the addition of natural snowfall, the area has a base that's twelve to twenty inches deep. And even though the open run may only stretch from midway to the bottom, Hierholzer swears there's no need for rock boards or skis.

"There's really good coverage," she says. And just to be certain, "We'll keep blowing snow."

Adult tickets at A-Basin are $37. At Loveland Ski Area, tickets are going for $34 for the single top-to-bottom run made up of three smaller runs routed together, says Ainsley Kasten, Loveland's marketing manager. "There are no rocks," adds Kasten, noting the base ranges from eighteen to 24 inches.

Loveland's not breaking any records, Kasten says; in 1951, the doors were open for business on September 30.

That almost rivals remote Silverton Mountain's brief stint of Labor Day weekend skiing and boarding this year, courtesy of an early September storm.

For snow info at Loveland, log on to or call 303-571-5580. For A-Basin, visit or call 1-888-ARAPAHOE. -- Luke Turf

Deal 'Em
The Denver Poker Tour shuffles into town
THURS, 10/28

Around these parts, the towns of Black Hawk and Central City provide the only opportunity for many gamblers to satisfy their high-stakes appetites -- and even those stakes are not that high.

To compensate, Denver-based Casino Masters has organized the Denver Poker Tour, which will be hosted at 7 p.m. tonight at the Breckenridge Brewery, 2220 Blake Street, among other sites. Admission is free.

Nearly every night of the week, the tour finds it way into the depths of some of our city's finest drinking establishments, where even neophyte "rounders" can play the wildly popular game of no-limit Texas Hold 'Em. Winners of the free tournaments qualify for the Final Showdown Tournament to be held in March. To up the ante even more, a $10,000 buy-in for a seat at the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas will be awarded to the Showdown's grand-prize winner. For more information and event locations, visit or call Casino Masters at 303-691-8855. -- Cub Buenning

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Cub Buenning
Luke Turf

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