Originally published November 18, 2010 at 02:22p.m., updated November 19, 2010 at 12:00a.m.
By the numbers
31 percent open
Burgess Creek, Christie Peak Express, Four Points, gondola, Storm Peak Express
Arc, BC Ski Way, Big Foot, Boulevard, Duster, Feather, Flat Out, Main Drag, Park Lane, Right-O-Way, So What, Southface Park, Stampede, Why Not, Yoo Hoo
Big Meadow, Blizzard, Buddy’s Run, Calf Roper, Chisolm Trail, Dusk, Ego, Heavenly Daze, High Noon, Highline, Jess’ Cut Off, Lightning, Meadow Lane, One O’Clock, Rainbow, Rudi’s Run, Sitz, Skyline, Tornado Lane, Tower, Traverse, Vagabond, Vogue,
Flying Z Gulch, Norther, Sunset, Surprise, Two O’Clock
Burgess Creek Lift Line, Closet, Crowtrack, Cyclone, Flying Z, Four Points Lift Line, Hurricane, Kuus’ Cruise, Nelson’s Run, Shadows, Storm Peak Catwalk, Storm Peak North, Storm Peak South, Sundown Lift Line, The Ridge, Three O’Clock, Tornado, Triangle 3, Twilight, Twister, Typhoon, White Out
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Ski Area expects to offer top-to-bottom skiing on several feet of natural snow Wednesday, when it opens for the season with five lifts and 66 trails including the gondola and Storm Peak Express.
On Thursday, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials announced they would open Christie Peak Express, the gondola, Storm Peak Express, Burgess Creek and Four Points lifts on the first day of the 2010-11 season.
Skiers and riders will have the opportunity to carve up 926 acres, or 31 percent of terrain, on Scholarship Day, including coveted tree runs Shadows and Closet. All ticket sales Wednesday will benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and passes will not be honored.
The resort also announced Thursday that Scholarship Day would feature $30 lift tickets and a $20 lower-mountain ticket option.
The 1996-97 season was the last time the ski area saw similar opening conditions, Ski Corp. President and CEO Chris Diamond said in a news release.
“With arguably the best snow conditions in Colorado, powder hounds at Steamboat will truly have something very special to celebrate over the Thanksgiving weekend, and the 2010-11 opening will be one for the record books,” Diamond said in the release.
Mountain conditions were primed by a series of fall storms that have dropped 74 inches of snow on the ski area since mid-October. The mountain boasts a 38-inch base at mid-mountain and a 52-inch base at the summit.
The National Weather Service has forecast snow and low temperatures for early next week.
Later in the day Thursday, Diamond said the timing of the snowfall has ramped up Steamboat’s ability to prepare the terrain and tell the world about it.
“The snow has always been a last-minute call,” Diamond said about Opening Day terrain announcements. “We’re in a totally new zone right now.”
He added that Scholarship Day could see additional support this year because of the open terrain and the advance notice for visitors from the Front Range and beyond to make plans to attend.
Skiing for scholarships
Rick DeVos, Winter Sports Club executive director, said he’s thankful Steamboat Ski Area commits the first day of the season to help families afford the program.
“History shows that with conditions like this, the dollar amounts are much larger,” he said. “And it impacts 80-plus families here in Steamboat. We’ve had more requests for financial assistance lately.
“Our goal is to help every family be able to weather the storm.”
He said Scholarship Day netted about $75,000 — the most ever — in 2005, the snowiest November on record. But the funds raised have been as low as $10,000 when there’s little snow.
DeVos knows the club won’t be the only entity to benefit from a mad dash for early turns.
“We know we can’t control the weather, but we’re very grateful for the weather,” DeVos said. “It should help everything here in Steamboat. We’re hopeful it’s the sign of good things to come in Steamboat.”
One to remember
Doug Allen, Ski Corp. vice president of operations, said that although the mountain opened with top-to-bottom skiing as recently as the 2004-05 season, he has an especially good feeling about this year.
“It reminds me of 1996-97,” said Allen, referring to the second biggest snow year on record, which also started with a snowy November.
He said the density of the early season snowfall would help cover rocks and logs and provide a good base for the next round of storms.
The addition of new snowmaking guns also helped, Allen said, adding Heavenly Daze to the opening day terrain for what Allen thinks is the first time.
“We couldn’t be more happy,” he said.
The wide range of open terrain means more staffing for the ski area, as more rental, retail and food outlets will have to be open.
But the extra staffing need is not a burden for the early season; it’s a jump-start.
“It’s so great to open with momentum and excellent conditions,” Allen said. “In my mind, it’s going to be an epic Opening Day to remember.”