Scholarship Day skiers rewarded with blue skies, carve-able manmade snow at Steamboat Ski Area
Carving before the turkey's in the oven
Uphill access on hold
Steamboat Ski Area announced Nov. 23 it is seeking the cooperation of skiers as it closes uphill access to skiers until further notice as mountain crews continue to work on opening additional terrain. A news release from the ski area points out that access to the National Forest access is available via Burgess Creek Road.
Steamboat Springs — When ski season opens with a six-pack chairlift, three is not a crowd.
Steamboat Ski Area kicked off its 2016-17 season Wednesday with eager skiers and snowboarders riding Christie Peak Express, and at the head of the line for the souvenir T-shirts and first tracks down the unblemished carpet of white were two separate parties of three.
On the left hand side of the chairlift were representatives of the younger generation, Ethan Hanson, Liam Baxter and Brayden McDougall, and on the right, was a threesome of Steamboat veterans, Brad Lewis, Karen Monge and Jim Mader.
Mader couldn’t exactly recall his first opening day at Steamboat.
“My hair was black then,” he said. “I first skied here in the early ’70s.”
Lewis said he makes it a priority to qualify for one of the commemorative T-shirts given out to the first 100 people in line to ride the lift by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. every year. It’s been awhile since he bothered to tally up his T-shirt collection, Lewis said. Still, he was waiting at the head of the line at 7:30 a.m.
Asked about her most memorable opening day, Monge replied that it’s any year when the iconic mogul run, Whiteout, is on the list of ski runs open for the first day of the season.
Whiteout was a no-show on opening day 2016, but skiers enjoyed a very-carve-able manmade snow surface that unfurled from the top of Sitz and down the Vogue Trail.
The initial turnout appeared modest — the maze was not full and appeared to contain about 75 skiers when the lift started. But the crowd gradually grew as the sun rose higher in the sky, and the snow was still holding up very well at 10:30 a.m.
Anecdotally, the ski school appeared to be giving a relatively high number of lessons Wednesday.
Opening day is also known as Scholarship Day because Ski Corp. dedicates the proceeds from the one-day-only $20 lift tickets to boost the scholarship program for youthful skiers at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Among the youngsters volunteering Wednesday morning to express their gratitude to the skiing public was snowboarder Baden Park, 11, who was serving cups of hot cocoa to skiers at the bottom of the lift.
Asked what he looks forward to most at the club this ski season, Baden said, “I like how my coaches are nice, and I have friends in there who snowboard with me.”
Surveying the happy gaggle of skiers at the base of Christie Peak Express, Steamboat President and COO Rob Perlman guaranteed the total funds Scholarship Day will have raised since the tradition began in 1991 would surpass the $1 million mark by the end of the day.
Perlman was skiing with Ski Patrol Director John Kohnke and Perlman’s predecessor Chris Diamond, who retired from the helm of the ski area in June.
“We skied a run with him. We had to tell him where to go,” Perlman said with a smile.
He was noncommittal about how soon the ski area would open additional terrain.
“We’ll push as hard as we can to open more trails,” Perlman said. “Tonight (Nov. 23) should be good. We’ll see what the storm does.”
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.