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For 30 years, these Colorado snowboarders have been on the season's first chairlift

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Ski season has officially begun in Colorado. The first resort opened yesterday, and on the very first chairlift of the morning were two friends who've made getting that first chair of winter their mission for more than 30 years. Colorado Public Radio's Stina Sieg has their story.

STINA SIEG, BYLINE: It's opening day at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, and despite the pelting snow, there's a long line of skiers and boarders eager to ride their first chairlift of winter.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #1: Five, four, three, two, one.

SIEG: And on that very first chair, two very familiar faces who've been in line for two days.

NATE NADLER: My name is Nate Dogggg - N-A-T-E D-O-G-G-G-G.

TOM MILLER: My name is Trailer Tom.

SIEG: Nate Nadler and Tom Miller live nearby - Nadler owns a hot tub servicing business, and Miller's a financial consultant - better known as the Kings of First Chair.

MILLER: A few days in line is always well worth the wait.

SIEG: They started when Miller was 15. Nadler was 14. They know what it takes. The night before opening day, Nadler shows me where he's sleeping - directly underneath the Thunder Mountain Express chairlift.

NADLER: I'll scoot the snow out and just sleep right on the ground.

SIEG: A few years ago, Nadler had been waiting a whole day at one resort when he saw a stomach-dropping social media blast from another ski area.

NADLER: Oh, my gosh. They're opening in one hour. I need to get there. I need that first chair. So I jump in my vehicle, start heading up the highway. And I'm like, [expletive]. I left my snowboard at the other chairlift.

SIEG: He screeched his old Jeep around, grabbed his board and somehow made it before that first lift started spinning.

NADLER: And sure enough, there was one person waiting in line already. But it's a four-person chair - still got that first chair. But gosh darn it, we were scared for it. We were scared.

MILLER: It's that burning desire. If you have something in your life that you are so inspired to do that'll bring a tear to your eye, that's what this is for us.

SIEG: Sunday marked their 31st first chair - behind them, so many people who may take their crown someday but not this year.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: We're No. 2.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #2: We're No. 2.

SIEG: For NPR News, I'm Stina Sieg at Arapahoe Basin.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE WEEKND SONG, "BLINDING LIGHTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Stina Sieg