Ski area projects remain on track |

Ski area projects remain on track

Headwall regrade still on schedule

Alexis DeLaCruz

— With opening day only 32 days away, construction crews working at the base of Steamboat Ski Area are working in high gear to complete a massive re-grading project.

On Friday, Mike Lane, a spokesman for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said the project is moving along quickly.

“Things are progressing quite nicely for us,” he said on the lower slopes of the ski area. “We have a lot of people working on several projects in this small area.”

The Headwall regrade is one of the largest projects Ski Corp. has undertaken and part of $16 million in on-mountain improvements this year. The regrade is slated to alter the slope of the lower-mountain area – just above the gondola building – to create three even, consistent trails, several learning areas and a more consistent trail to the left of the Preview run.

“The overall goal was to make a better early-learning area with more consistent pitches to the trails,” Lane said. “Headwall now will be ideal for learning to ski or snowboard.”

Trails will range in grade from 8 to 21 percent, he said. Early learning areas with five new Magic Carpet lifts range from 12 to 16 percent in grade, he said.

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“People will be very surprised how it skis,” Lane said. “It’ll be a nice amenity at the base” of the Ski Area.

Lane described Headwall before the improvement as “pretty inconsistent.”

Although the Nov. 21 opening day date is creeping up quickly and a recent blast of snow reminded locals that winter is right around the corner, Lane reminded skeptics that a lot can happen in five weeks – including finishing major construction projects.

“There’s always people out there who don’t think this is going to happen,” he said. “You saw it with the gondola in ’86 when people were skeptical it was going to open because there were no cars, and then overnight it was like, ‘Where did these come from?'”

“There’s no reason to think we won’t get it done – it’s not an option,” he said of the Headwall project.

Construction crews installing snowmaking pipelines, lift towers and utility lines, while moving 15,000 truckloads of dirt, have been working seven days a week for the past two months to move the project along, he said.

“It’s a lot of dirt,” he said. “It takes a lot of talent to get in the right spots and in the right amounts.”

Wednesday’s storm dumped several inches of snow on the Yampa Valley and melted quickly, leaving the construction area muddy.

“Even though there have been a few unexpected things here and there we’ve had to deal with, we’re where we’d like to be,” Lane said. “The weather hasn’t affected us too much.”

With miles of new snowmaking pipe already installed, the Ski Area is ready for temperatures to drop to begin making artificial snow.

Steamboat began making snow on Oct. 26 last year, when temperatures were well below normal.

Saturday, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued snow and wind advisories for Steamboat Springs, forecasting 4 to 8 inches of snow in the area by Sunday afternoon.

Lane said it is difficult to predict when snowmaking will begin, since it depends on consistent low temperatures.

There still are plans to seed the Headwall area with native grasses before opening, he said. A second seeding is scheduled for the spring.

“We have plenty of time to hit our goals,” he said. “You can see it coming along.”