LEADVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s bonus time at Ski Cooper.

“It’s probably the finest opening day we’ve had here, at least in a long time,” Dan Torsell, Ski Cooper’s general manager, said.

Opening Day arrived two weeks early this year for Ski Cooper; its projected opener was Dec. 13. The entire resort — more than 400 acres — is open.

“We always go into it hoping we can hit it earlier. It certainly is a bonus for us, you know, being able to get out here,” Torsell said.

Skiers said the crowds Friday were sparse, but the conditions were perfect.

Ski Cooper (credit: CBS)

Ski Cooper (credit: CBS)

“We got the email the resort was opening up and so we saw there was at least a 24-inch base so we figured we’d better get up here,” skier Kevin Ellmann said.

Ski Cooper doesn’t use snow guns like bigger resorts and has to rely on natural snow for its base.

Ski Cooper (credit: CBS)

Ski Cooper (credit: CBS)

“I think, all in, we’ve had 70-plus inches since we started counting early in the fall,” Torsell said. The resort compressed the snowfall into a 24- to 28-inch base.”

Ski Cooper will be open this weekend and next, then open seven days a week starting Dec. 13.

It was warm Friday, but Torsell said he’s sure the base will hold up: “I’m very confident we have enough snow to get into the holiday period.”

There’s a reason resorts like this are called hidden gems, Ellmann said: “I’ve got three younger kids, and it’s very affordable, so we love it here. Snow is great. No one is on the runs. We’ve got them all to ourselves basically. It’s awesome.”

Ski Report

Check the status of trails & lifts at Colorado ski resorts in the CBSDenver.com Ski Report section.

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