VIDEO: Alpine Meadows celebrates earliest opening in more than a decade | SierraSun.com

VIDEO: Alpine Meadows celebrates earliest opening in more than a decade

Kaleb M. Roedel | kroedel@sierrasun.com

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Ben and Sophie Yiakis are supposed to be in school right now.

Instead, the two middle-schoolers and their dad are outside, sporting winter jackets, pants and skis, 100 miles from their home city of Sacramento.

The Yiakis family was not going to miss opening day Thursday morning at Alpine Meadows ski resort.

"The kids are playing hooky," said Alex Yiakis, breaking into laughter. "If my son just misses the cut-off to Harvard in nine years, he can blame that day he missed third grade."

Skiing on a cloudless, sun-soaked day? The Yiakises jumped at the chance to get on the slopes early this year.

"We're very excited to be here," Yiakis said. "It's the only activity where it's, 'You guys ready to go skiing?' and 10 minutes later everything's on, boots on — they're just ready to go."

Recommended Stories For You

So much so that the Yiakis trio, along with dozens of other skiers and snowboarders, made sure to be at Alpine Meadows when it opened its gates at 9 a.m. sharp Thursday.

To christen the new season, a celebratory banner was held underneath Alpine's Kangaroo Chair as the first skiers passed overhead, leaving behind a trail of echoing cheers.

With that, Alpine Meadows became the third ski resort in the Truckee-Tahoe region to kick off the 2015-16 season (Mt. Rose, in Nevada; and Boreal, west of Donner Summit, opened last week).

What's more, Alpine's opening date this season — Nov. 12, a month ahead of schedule — was its earliest start in 11 years, and second-earliest ever, behind the resort's Oct. 30 opening for the 2004-05 season.

After a string of down snow years, area skiers like Chris Lyman of South Lake Tahoe were especially eager to get on Alpine Meadows' slopes Thursday.

"I'm stoked; it's awesome to be out here," Lyman said. "Can't really ask for anything better — there's snow on the ground, which is unusual as of late. The snow is actually softening up now; it was a little icy this morning but it's great now."

Lyman said he's hopeful that Thursday was a sign of things to come for the rest of the season. In other words, he hopes the forecast of a "Godzilla El Niño" holds true.

"Everyone's just really energized," he continued. "It's the first day of the season so everyone's kind of getting loose, feeling things out, getting warmed up. Everyone's just trying to get ready for the rest of this winter; hopefully it will be a little bit better than last year."

For Aimi Xistra Rich, also of South Lake Tahoe, she's just happy to see smiles matching hers as she carves down the mountain and gets in the lift line — over and over again.

"Everybody's smiling; that's a good sign," Rich said. "The snow's awesome; we're having a great time. It's a good start to the winter."

Tahoe-area Ski resort opening days

• Those open or opening early:

Mt. Rose Sk Tahoe: Opened Nov. 4, mtrose.com

Boreal Mountain Resort: Opened Nov. 6, rideboreal.com

Alpine Meadows: Opened Nov. 12, squawalpine.com

Northstar California: Opening Nov. 14, northstarcalifornia.com

Squaw Valley: Opening Nov. 14, squawalpine.com

Heavenly Mountain Resort: Opening Nov. 14, skiheavenly.com

Kirkwood Mountain Resort: Opening Nov. 14, kirkwood.com

• Those with projected opening dates, weather permitting:

Sugar Bowl: Thanksgiving, sugarbowl.com

Diamond Peak: Dec. 10, diamondpeak.com

Tahoe Donner: Dec. 11, tahoedonner.com

Homewood: Dec. 11, skihomewood.com

Granlibakken: Dec. 16, granlikbakken.com

Sierra-at-Tahoe: TBD, sierraattahoe.com

Donner Ski Ranch: TBD, donnerskiranch.com

Soda Springs: TBD, skisodasprings.com