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Opening day helps athletes

For many skiers in Steamboat Springs, Scholarship Day marks the start of the ski season. This year, that day will arrive Wednesday.

But for some, the day before the Steamboat Ski Area’s official opening day has become much more meaningful.

“Scholarship Day is the perfect way to open the season,” said Mike Lane, the Steamboat Ski Area’s public relations director. “It’s a chance for our guests to support the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.”

Thanks to the generosity of the Steamboat Ski Area, which donates the proceeds from the sale of Scholarship Day lift tickets to a special scholarship fund, many young skiers, who would not get the chance otherwise, are able to pursue their goals in skiing.

In 2003, the sales totaled $69,000, which was passed along to members of the Winter Sports Club through need-based scholarships. Since the 1991-92 season, the ski area has donated $400,000 to the Winter Sports Club through Scholarship Day, Lane said.

“We are so appreciative of the Steamboat Ski Area,” said Rick DeVos, the executive director of the Winter Sports Club. “It’s a tremendous gift that helps, and has helped, countless families in Steamboat Springs.”

The money from each year’s Scholarship Day is placed in a special fund and then handed out based on the demand from skiers within the club. Families can apply for funds twice a year. The first deadline was in August, and the final deadline is Dec. 1.

Sixty families received scholarships last winter totaling nearly $40,000. The remaining funds were put into an account for future scholarships.

“Each year, we encourage families who think they can’t be a part of the Winter Sports Club to look into the scholarship fund,” DeVos said. “It’s our goal to make sure that every child in Steamboat who wants to ski, gets to ski.”

In addition to the money donated by the ski area on Scholarship Day, the Scholarship Fund also is supported by the Moose is Loose golf tournament.

DeVos said the club was thrilled with last year’s record-setting Scholarship Day, but admits that he doesn’t expect that kind of showing every year. That is one of the reasons excess money is banked for the future.

He said many times the turnout on Scholarship Day is affected by snow conditions.

“Right now, we are all hoping for a good snow storm,” DeVos said.

Lane said he is expecting a traditional opening day with skiing from the Thunderhead Gondola and down, however, he said it is too early to say which trails will be open.

Temperatures are expected to drop this weekend, which will help snow-making efforts, and he said there is a chance for a snowstorm in the forecast.


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