S. Klaus Schmidt prepared for the onslaught Wednesday. In his blue Vail Resorts uniform and with the clock ticking down to 9 a.m., he manned the gate at the gondola that would open to release the flood of skiers and snowboarders anxious to hit the slopes first.
"OK, just don't run me over. I'm old," Schmidt joked as he dropped the rope.
Jake Parker and Erin Edwards led the charge. The couple arrived at the base of the gondola at Heavenly Village at 2:45 a.m. Wednesday morning to ensure a ride on the first chair of the season.
"You got …