By Rick Sallinger

ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colo. (CBS4) — Arapahoe Basin opened its slopes to roughly 600 lucky skiers and snowboarders Wednesday morning — with strict social distancing guidelines in place. It is more than just a ski area reopening, this is a rebirth, a symbol of better times to come here in Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

Arapahoe Basin ski area opened three lifts and welcomed hundreds of skiers for the first time in some two months.

The resort originally planned to take reservations, but the rush of eager visitors crashed their website Monday night and they held a lottery instead.

“Access to Arapahoe Basin, at this time, will be via a random drawing. We are only doing one day at a time,” officials announced on Twitter.

RELATED: Skiers Hoping To Get On Arapahoe Basin Now Need To Enter Drawing

“We’re going to have a good day… don’t tell the boss we are out here,” a couple of skiers yelled to CBS4.

“I tried to get in on the first one Monday and had to deal with the whole web site shut down, good to be here,” another skier said before hurrying to the lift.

The drawing for Thursday was held Tuesday. If you want to ski on Friday, you must enter the drawing before 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Gov. Jared Polis says now is the time to ski for the love of skiing — not for the tailgate or apres ski experience.

Those with the privilege of skiing on “reopening day” had to win one of 600 spots in a lottery.

Ron Kitchell knew the odds were long of those competing for a reservation, “Thousands (are trying) to come this weekend. They are all coming! Ha, ha, ha.”

(credit: CBS)

Face coverings and social distancing are required at the resort. There’s hand sanitizer as well. You cannot ride a lift with a stranger.

Sheri Paul held up a sign that reminded people ‘6 feet apart.’

“This is great. I feel very safe,” she said.

The thrill of coming down the mountain is the same, virus or not.

Katherine Fuller, a spokesperson for Arapahoe Basin told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, “It feels much more like we are working our way back to normal and it’s like a moral victory.”

(credit: CBS)

This opening, Fuller emphasized, is not to make money. In fact, the slopes seem pretty empty. It’s a way to get Summit County back in business again.

Usually with spring skiing there’s a party at the bottom of the Arapahoe Basin hill with alcohol and even hot tubs in the parking lot. This year they are happy with just plain snow.

Lift hours will be 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

LINK: Arapahoe Basin

Rick Sallinger

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