Powder hits the slopes at Steamboat Ski Area | SteamboatToday.com

Powder hits the slopes at Steamboat Ski Area

This week, skiers at Steamboat Ski Area were introduced to the newest skier safety dog named Powder.
Matt Stensland

— Steamboat Ski Patrol was introduced to its newest member this week.

The 9-week-old Saint Bernard named Powder currently weighs about 25 pounds, and owner Duncan Draper has been getting the fluff ball acquainted to the routine.

On Thursday night, Powder was licking the snow off the boots in the ski patrol locker room. Friday morning, she was able to keep her eyes open long enough to have her season pass photo taken.

“At this point it’s a lot of sleeping — a lot of eating,” Draper said.

That does not keep away attention at the base of the ski area.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Anna Hall, who was visiting from New York. “No dog should be allowed to be that cute.”

Powder’s job is only partially to be cute.

She is not an avalanche rescue dog. Mainly, Draper will use Powder to grab the attention of skiers and teach them about skier safety.

Draper said 90 seconds is all he needs to get across three main points.

— Avoid objects and other skiers below

— Only stop in places where you can be seen from above

— Look up before pulling onto a connecting run

“My gig is to stop the accident before it happens,” Draper said.

Skiing is a family sport Draper said, and the ski area has to do what it can to make it safe.

“It’s never something we win,” Draper said. “It’s ongoing.”

This is Draper’s fourth Saint Bernard.

“We kept looking for a different avenue to get across the skier responsibility code and safe skiing,” Draper said.

Bear passed away in July at the age of 9. When Bear was a skier safety dog, he could regularly be seen at the ski area and The Steamboat Grand hotel.

“It’s easy to see 200 people quick,” Draper said.

Bear would also visit the children at the Kids Adventure Club.

“You’d have 12 or 13 kids cramming all over the dog, and it was awesome,” Draper said.

Draper still has the small barrel that Bear would wear around his neck.

Skiers have just about three weeks left to see the puppy. She is sure to put on some weight in the off-season. Powder’s dad weighed 140 pounds.

“The gentlest dog I’ve ever had,” Draper said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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