It’s official: The 2009-10 ski season has begun. Colorado’s Loveland Ski Area flipped the switch on Chair 1 at about 9 a.m. MT Wednesday, becoming the first ski resort in North America to do so. Thanks to a viral firestorm of tweets, Facebook updates and video-blog announcements, a modest crowd and four local news crews were gathered at the mountain’s base by 8:30.  A hundred or so eager skiers and boarders kicked off the ski season on a bluebird day for the area’s earliest opening day ever. Jeff Meyer, Jess Csincsak and Nate “Dogggg” — all from Breckenridge — made sure they were the first up the chairlift by arriving at 3 p.m. Tuesday and camping out.

Csincsak, best known for his role in TV’s “The Bachelorette and MTV’s MADE,” said getting first chair was a goal of his.

“It’s been a dream of mine for 10 years, and now it’s about to become reality,” he said.

Click to see footage of the boys waiting to catch the first chair: or or

Now, make no mistake: Some opening days are more historic than others. And since this one is just getting underway, much remains to be seen … and skied. Therefore, some historical context is worth noting:In Colorado particularly, claiming “first” is a big deal. It’s usually a battle between Loveland vs. Arapahoe Basin, two high-altitude neighbors along Colorado’s Continental Divide. Last year both resorts opened Oct. 15. In 2007, A-Basin won, ending a six-year streak for Loveland. Rivarly aside, this season’s Oct. 7 opening marks Loveland’s earliest opening in 40 years.Opening days are always a celebration for dedicated skiers and riders, but it’s just the beginning. Consider Loveland’s offerings on Wednesday: One run, one lift, one thousand feet of vertical, one rail (or box) and one slope-difficulty rating (green: Catwalk to Mambo to Home Run). The mostly man-made snow is laid 18 inches deep from “trees to trees” over a mile-plus long track, said Loveland’s marketing director John Sellers.

“It’s not quite the so-called the White Ribbon of Death,” he said. “Our snowmakers take a lot of pride in the work they do, and they’ve been working hard to take back the title this year. But I also want to stress that it is a friendly competition. They’re our neighbors across the pass.”A-Basin opens Friday.It was only Tuesday that Loveland decided to open the resort, and word spread quickly. “The decision was made around 1 p.m,” Sellers said. “It’s amazing the response we’ve gotten online.”While Colorado began seeing early-season snowstorms a little more than two weeks ago, Sellers credited the super early-bird opening to cold temperatures that were ideal snow-making conditions: “We started making snow Sept. 1, which was three days earlier than last year. We did have some warm-ups, too, but when it was cold our guys were productive.”It’s always difficult to predict how many people will show up. Or what they’ll be wearing. “It’s hard to say with the crowds. How many people can get out of work on a Wednesday? But we’ll have hundreds, potentially a thousand. Being the first to open will definitely increase the crowd. We’re the only game in town,” he said.There were about 40 enthusiastic skiers and riders lined up before the lift fired up, he said, and the numbers are expected to climb as the day goes on.”It’s pretty exciting,” Sellers said. “You can feel it in the air. People get lined up early and they’ve got big smiles on their faces. It’s huge for Colorado to kick off the ski season for North America.”Tickets to Loveland are $44 for adults and $21 for kids.

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