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Race to Open Rules: Either Way Wolf Creek Steals Show & PR

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This year, for the first time, I’ve come across the idea of “rules” for the “Race to Open.” Perhaps the origins are as recent as this article published in the wake of Sunday River’s opening day last year that claimed Loveland was the official winner because they were the first resort to open and stay open. Otherwise, the author postured, what’s the difference between a resort like Timberline that stays open weekends all summer and fall? I can think of two: no glacier and a boat load of media coverage.

Here’s the thing, the media doesn’t care about rules, they care about getting a story. The first resort that gets their lifts turning with skiers sliding giddily down their slopes is going to win in their eyes. That’s a story worthy of the front page. John Sellers, Loveland’s Marketing Director, said the PR from winning is worth more than a million dollars which begs the question, does it really matter what rules we make?

Wolf Creek in Colorado was *almost the first to open, reaping the rewards of a 3′ storm last week. Are they still open? No. Will they open for daily operations before Loveland or A-Basin? I don’t know. Either way, here is a small part of the coverage I found of their opening which doesn’t include over 500 shares on Facebook, thousands of tweets on Twitter, and countless water cooler conversations. Did they win? You be the judge.

*I say “almost” because Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort actually opened a couple hours before Wolf Creek. Unfortunately, the folks at LVSSR asked their PR & Marketing partners to not make any announcement about the opening until they were already open, missing the chance to snag the spotlight. Not sure of the reasons, but this is what they missed out on…



Planet Ski (Europe)



Huffington Post


The Ski Channel

The Ski Channel

Chicago Tribune,0,394480.story

Transworld Business

On the Snow

Snowboarder Mag


Denver Post

Powder Mag

Colorado Ski Country USA

Aspen Times

Summit Daily

Aurora Sentinel


Grand Junction Sentinel

The Republic–Wolf-Creek


Biz Journals



Unofficial Networks

Mtn Weekly

Out There Colorado

Durango Herald 710079893/Wolf-Creek-opens-this-weekend

The list goes on and on…

  • The 3 feet of natural was on the ground already and gave WC 2 days to bang the drum with confidence. Snowmaking is never assured till it's made (esp in Oct), which was LVSSR's situation, so instead of days of hype, they had to wait until they had a product to sell. Likely a factor. That said – a gentle leak of their "hopes" the day prior might have helped them out without creating too much expectation.

    • GreggBlanchard

      That is definitely part of it. According to LVSSR's partners, the resort made the decision to open on Friday. From more searching it sounds like they already had enough snow by Friday morning and started to push around piles then so they knew about 24 hours in advance which would have been plenty of time to get at least some national coverage.

  • Eric Ramsey

    Rules? Sounds like a marketing gimmick to me. Congrats Wolf Creek, you earned the spotlight!

    • GreggBlanchard

      Agreed, congrats to Wolf Creek!

  • That’s an impressive list of articles complied about Wolf Creek, and shows that winning the race to open can easily be worth the the million dollars. Wish I were at A-basin skiing today.

    • GreggBlanchard

      Would have been a fun day at A-Basin, but the webcam did show 100 yard long lift lines for most of the morning. I'll wait a few days for the crowds to thin before I head over :)

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