Ski area may open early, officials say |

Ski area may open early, officials say

— Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. public relations director Mike Lane confirmed this week that ski area management is taking a thorough look at moving up the opening date from the scheduled Nov. 22.

Although no decision has been made to open early, or how early, one possibility is that the ski area would open on Saturday, Nov. 18, Lane said.

“We’re in a very fortunate situation with all this snow,” Lane said. “There’s a lot of work involved, but they’re taking a very serious look at it. We’ll make our final decision, probably by the end of this week.”

Steamboat Springs is reporting a base of 22 inches of snow at the top of Thunderhead and 38 inches at the top of Storm Peak. Lane was watching long-range weather forecasts that hold the promise of two conditions the ski area needs: more natural snow and temperatures cold enough to blow man-made snow. Daytime highs were cold enough on Tuesday that the ski area was making snow at mid-afternoon at the bottom of Headwall, near the base, and on upper Vagabond, traditionally a key trail on opening day.

The ski area has opened with less snow in the past, but opening early isn’t as simple as firing up the Silver Bullet gondola, Lane said.

From the lift operations department to ski patrol and food and beverage, ski area personnel would have to scramble to open even four days early. And mountain operations wants to ensure that any trails that open are in good shape, Lane said.

Another consideration is how to treat the “scholarship day” which was planned for Nov. 22. Proceeds of lift ticket sales on scholarship day

benefit the competitive skiing programs of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

The benefits of opening early are obvious to ski area executives anytime a ski mountain can open ahead of schedule, it creates a positive buzz among the skiing public and people thinking about booking a vacation. Already, Winter Park and Vail have announced they will open early. Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, and Keystone, all at higher elevation in Summit County, are open for skiing.

“We’d like to get the word out there that we have good snow conditions. We’re definitely looking into making that effort,” Lane said.

To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210, or e-mail:

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