Flurry to give way to blizzard | SteamboatToday.com

Flurry to give way to blizzard

Tourism slow, but crowds not expected to stay away for long

Alexis DeLaCruz

Local skiers and riders can look forward to at least one more week of crowd-free slopes before the winter tourism season starts to heat up.

The weekly Lodging Barometer, published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association to provide a gauge of how many visitors are staying in local lodgings, predicts about 4,000 overnight visitors in Steamboat Springs tonight. That’s the same number of visitors who stayed overnight on the corresponding Saturday in 2005.

But those numbers could increase as the snow continues to fall.

Craig Malchow, a manager at Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs, said this week’s snow already has brought guests to the U.S. Highway 40 hotel.

“We haven’t seen a whole lot of ski business yet, but it’s starting to get there,” Malchow said Friday. “Now that we’re getting more snow, we’ll probably start seeing more people.”

Riley Polumbus, a spokeswoman for the Chamber, said the images of knee-deep powder being broadcast on TVs across the state and nation provide a good early season boost.

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“People are seeing that all of Colorado is benefiting from the storms we’ve gotten, and I would guess that folks from the Front Range would want to start taking advantage of the plentiful snow we have,” she said.

“If the weather continues the way it is, we anticipate our numbers going up considerably.”

The National Weather Service is forecasting a 20 percent chance of snow showers today with temperatures reaching the mid-teens.

Heidi Thomsen, spokeswoman for the Steamboat Ski Area, said there are several ski clubs, conventions and councils in town this weekend. Even more have booked stays for next weekend, she said.

“A lot of these organizations like to come out in December for the early season,” Thomsen said.

The fifth annual Ski Club Week begins Dec. 9 and will attract ski clubs from cities across the U.S. The second week of December also is when business at many area lodges will start to pick up.

For Malchow, this weekend represents the quiet before the storm.

“After (Dec. 10), we don’t stop until after March,” he said.