Five ways to make the most of early winter this weekend

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"Get ready for a snowy weekend," reports Joel Gratz, forecaster for OpenSnow.com and a repeat Westword Best of Denver Best Way to Plan a "Sick" Day winner. Gratz is predicting light snow in the mountains this evening and a heavier storm late Saturday, and says he's headed to Wolf Creek to try to make the most of it. Sunday happens to be one of this month's College Days at Wolf Creek, with $38 lift tickets, so bring your student ID if you have one. Read on for more excellent ways to get your early-season shred on this weekend.

See also: Get the Edge on winter fun in Colorado: Westword's annual insider's guide to Colorado's ski areas

Buy local! Colorado's ski and snowboard brands are front and center this weekend at Copper Mountain's third annual Colorado Days, with demos from ski manufacturers Icelantic and Meier Skis; snowboard makers Never Summer, Oz, CoLab Movement, and Weston; and outerwear manufacturers Freeride Systems and CandyGrind. "It's really cool that Copper has decided to showcase the manufacturers right here in their back yard," says Barry Clark, founder of Weston Snowboards in Minturn. "They have a surprising amount of terrain open for this early in the season, so it should be a great chance to decide which of these local brands you're ready to support." Clark is partial to the Beetle Kill, made with a core of locally harvested pine, and Weston's new big mountain freestyle board, The Logger. His personal favorite, if that storm really does roll in, is the new Backwoods powder board.

Hit a home run! The $45 registration fee for Loveland's Homerun Challenge on Saturday includes a lift ticket, lunch, drinks and unlimited demos from Christy Sports to try out on the Home Run racecourse.

Duck the ropes! Aspen Mountain has so much snow it's jumping up its official opening date to this weekend, November 16 and 17, with top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding in Spar Gulch and Copper Bowl under the Silver Queen Gondola and Ajax Express lift. Aspen's on-mountain party season is opening early, as well: Hit up the Sundeck and Ajax Tavern and get to work buying drinks for locals to sort out your couch-surfing options for the rest of the season (or ask about the Colorado Local lodging rates at The Limelight and Little Nell). Both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are scheduled to open for daily operations on November 23.

Keep 'em coming! Winter Park opened on Wednesday, kicking off its Season of the Seven Territories campaign (click through for lodging discounts and a kids ski free deal), and the Sorensen Park terrain park is among the early season offerings. Arapahoe Basin will be opening its Lower Wrangler run to accommodate beginner riders and has begun work on a terrain park just below the Black Mountain Lodge. CEO Alan Henceroth is cautiously optimistic about this weekend's forecast and the potential for opening more terrain. "The forecasts do seem a bit scattered with snowfall amounts ranging from 1-12 inches," he says on his photo-filled eponymous blog, Al's Blog. We will just have to wait and see what happens."

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