By Matt Kroschel

LEADVILLE, Colo. (CBS4)– The first ski and snowboard terrain park to open in Colorado, beating out Loveland and Arapahoe basin, was actually built by college students in Leadville.

Their classroom is on the snow. The students made the snow using what they are learning as part of the ski operations program at Colorado Mountain College.

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For students at the Leadville campus, the ski area operations program is special.

“It’s really satisfying to bring the rails down, we’re setting them,” said student Sarah Howe.

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Howe and other students are busy putting the final touches on the terrain park. Once that’s done, of course they must test it out.

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“I’m doing this program because I love the ski industry and I love the snow. I want to be a part of it, I want to help improve as much as I can,” Howe added.

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Associate professor Brian Rosser says getting the park open early this year was a fun challenge for his students.

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“We decided to pull out the snow guns a little early this season to join the race to be among the first in Colorado alongside Loveland and A-Basin,” Rosser says.

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The community benefits from the students’ hard work. The local ski club uses the Dutch Henri Training Center to prepare for competitions.

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“We’re taking students with little to no experience. They’ve been working day or night along with full class load in order to produce enough snow to make it the first terrain park to open it in Colorado,” Rosser said.

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For the students, it’s about taking their passion and turning it into a unique Colorado mountain career.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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