Snow stops shenanigans
Deep powder, stern warnings keep April 1 behavior in check
April 2, 2009
Steamboat Springs — A combination of law enforcement agents and a dump of fresh powder kept April Fools Day shenanigans to a minimum at Steamboat Ski Area on Wednesday, a day known for its raucous atmosphere in the past.
The Routt County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Park Service and Steamboat Springs Police Department all were represented on the ski area, as skiers were encouraged to tone down festivities after what some ski patrollers called an awful experience last year.
Late in the afternoon, Ben Cohen, who was visiting with his wife and two young children from Boynton Beach, Fla., said he had not seen any bad behavior or roaming partiers on the slopes, just “unbelievable snow.”
“No one was rowdy on the mountain, everyone was cool,” he said.
Cohen said he saw several deputies on the mountain and welcomed their presence.
“I think word’s gotten out about expected mountain behavior. And a few feet of powder certainly helps,” Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said. “It’s been fairly quiet today.”
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Ski Patrol used the day to coordinate crisis management practice with the other agencies on the slopes.
The ski area reported another 14 inches overnight and more than 3 1/2 feet in the past three days. More than 6 feet of snow has fallen on Mount Werner in the past 10 days.
Some riders still took advantage of April Fools’ Day, known as Gaper Day, to dress up in costumes.
Austin Cameren, decked out in a fake beard, clown mask, orange hat and teal jumpsuit, said Gaper Day activities were toned down this year.
“To me, Gaper Day means having a great time, having fun and displaying an attitude of joy. To try to make people laugh,” he said. “They’re ruining the fun just a little bit. : People were afraid to come up because they were scared of losing their pass for next year.”
Authorities were checking backpacks and bags as skiers and riders loaded the gondola and other lifts, and several would-be drinkers were dissuaded or told to get rid of their alcohol. Austin Barker, a rider from Fort Collins dressed up in bright colors, said he was turned away before he even loaded the lift.
“I was using someone else’s pass because I forgot mine, and they weren’t too keen on that,” he said at the base of the mountain. He also said he was told he would not be able to ride again in Steamboat unless he had a blood alcohol level of zero.
Ski Patrol Director John Kohnke said early in the week that riders could lose their pass for as many as two years if they engaged in “egregious” behavior, but on Wednesday he reported a quiet day of normal ski patrol operation.
“We have a few people grumping because they’re not happy they don’t get to do what they want to do, but it dissipates after awhile,” he said. “The atmosphere is friendly and fun. Last year it was awful.”
Normal powder day
Ski Patrol also kept busy with the action that accompanies major snow days – Wednesday, that included a high-angle rescue.
Ski Patroller Pete Lewis led a team that rescued a young man who was injured just outside the ski area boundary below the Boulevard run.
“He was skiing in Fish Creek (drainage), and on the very last pitch before the hike to the ski area, he hit a tree,” Lewis said.
The team used a system of three pulleys to hoist the rider, with an injured and possibly broken leg, onto a toboggan to reach the base area.