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The wait is over as Loveland Ski Area opened today with top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding, making it the first United States and Colorado ski resort to officially open for the 2004-2005 season. Opening day was filled with sunny skies and 38-inches of base powder.

Click the slideshow below for a few shots of the day.

The usual suspects camped out overnight and even staked their claims days in advance to obtain one of the coveted first chairs to ascend the Continental Divide of the season.

"It's always exciting to officially open Colorado and the United States for the winter season, said an elated Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) president Rob Perlman. "This year was especially exciting as Arapahoe Basin made a determined effort to beat Loveland in the race to open first.

"I'm always amazed at the quality of the snow on opening day here at Loveland. They do a fantastic job of not just covering the slopes, but putting down a solid base, Perlman continued.Loveland opened with a 38-inch base from top to bottom, thanks to the skill and resolve of their snowmaking team and favorable fall conditions throughout the high country.

"For five seasons now, we've hired a group of professional snowmakers from New Zealand to lay down our snow foundation, said Loveland's marketing director Kevin Wright. "They are truly the best in the game and without their judgment and perseverance, we would never be as successful as we are at opening this early in the season.

Arapahoe Basin was a strong contender in the race to open, but warmer temperatures over Columbus weekend temporarily halted their snowmaking capabilities and Loveland was able to take advantage of their brief lapse.

Silverton Mountain in southwest Colorado treated an intrepid few early birds to action over Labor Day Weekend, but Loveland Ski Area will be the first CSCUSA resort to remain open for the duration of the season. Weather and conditions permitting, Loveland's season will run from today through May.

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