Aspen/Snowmass Village, Colo. — Snow began falling early Wednesday morning and up to six inches had accumulated by noon on top of Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. Snow was falling at up to three inches per hour and snow showers were expected to continue through the evening.

“We may see 10 to 12 inches in Highland Bowl by tomorrow morning, said Mac Smith, ski patrol director at Aspen Highlands. “In 1963 it started snowing on Labor Day and didn’t melt above halfway on Highlands until May.

The snow arrived just as the best skiers in the world rolled in to town for the world premiere of the new Matchstick Productions ski movie “Focused. The movie shows Thursday, Sept. 11 at 6:30 and 9 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.

More snow is expected in Aspen/Snowmass over the weekend and forecasters are calling for the snow level to drop to near 6,000 feet.

The early snow lends inspiration to start waxing the boards for skiers and snowboarders alike. Early-season deals include an opportunity for guests to save more than $50 on a 6-day lift ticket and up 20 percent on rental equipment when purchasing by December 1.

Operating dates for the 2003-2004 winter ski/snowboard season are: Snowmass and Aspen Mountain November 27, 2003 — April 11, 2004 and Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk December 13, 2003 — April 4, 2004. For more information visit www.aspensnowmass.com or call 1-800-525-6200. To purchase lift tickets, ski or snowboard rentals or ski/snowboard lessons call 877-282-7736 or buy online at www.aspensnowmass.com. For discounted lodging/lift/air packages call StayAspenSnowmass at 877-682-7736.

Aspen Skiing Company operates the four mountains in the Aspen/Snowmass area – Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk – as well as the award-winning Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen. The area offers unparalleled nightlife and off-slope activities as well. Aspen/Snowmass is accessible by two of the most convenient airports in the mountains – Aspen Sardy Field (ASE) (3 miles from Aspen) and Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) (70 miles from Aspen). For more information on Aspen Skiing Company, please call 800-525-6200 or 970-925-1220, or visit the company’s website at www.aspensnowmass.com