Standing by |

Standing by

Canceled flights, lift lines and lots of powder

— Wednesday’s snowstorm continued to affect travel plans Thursday, but those visitors already in Steamboat Springs experienced deep powder – and lengthy lift lines – at the Steamboat Ski Area.

Those lines likely will stay long over the next two weeks, when local lodging properties expect more than 10,000 visitors to sleep in their rooms.

Of course, those numbers could be affected by the abundance of canceled airline flights out of Denver.

“Things are going really well for us except for the Denver flights,” said Ann Copeland, terminal manager for Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.

All six of United Airlines’ Thursday flights from Denver to YVRA were canceled, as were Wednesday’s flights. Those United flights account for about one-third of available seats on inbound and outbound YVRA flights.

About 300 passengers could not make it into YVRA on Wednesday, and another 523 inbound passengers who were scheduled to arrive Thursday were impacted by the cancellations, according to Janet Fischer, director of airline programs for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Thursday’s increase in the number of impacted passengers was due, in part, to the cancellation of an inbound American Airlines flight from Chicago. The plane had been diverted Wednesday to Salt Lake City.

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Other Thursday flights to YVRA from departure cities outside of Colorado were delayed but eventually arrived.

“Getting to Steamboat is probably a lot more difficult than getting out,” Copeland said. “The big concern is how people are getting here.”

Alpine Taxi gen-

eral manager Tracey Rogalski said shuttles were picking up some of the Steamboat-bound travelers at Denver Inter-

national Airport, where more than 4,000 stranded people spent the night Wednesday. “It’s been a little crazy,” she said, but there has not been a need to increase the number of Alpine Taxi shuttles to and from DIA.

It took one of Alpine Taxi’s Denver shuttles 10 hours to drive to Steamboat on Wednesday, Rogalski said.

DIA is not expected to re-open until this afternoon, which means there likely will be more Steamboat-bound passengers who will have to make other plans.

“It’s not something we can really control,” said Sandy Evans Hall, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s executive vice president. “It’s a blessing to have the snow, and it may just delay people getting in and out, but I don’t think there will be a lot of cancellations.”

Judging by the long lift lines at the Steamboat Ski Area on Thursday, it was clear that many holiday travelers had arrived in Steamboat without incident. The Steamboat Ski Area received 14 inches of snow Wednesday and early Thursday.

“I skied this morning in true Steamboat style – in the trees with snow up to my waist,” said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Ski Corp. “Today will be remembered as a legendary Steamboat powder day.”

Freestyle skiers and riders will get an early Christmas present today, when the ski area is scheduled to open the Mavericks Superpipe and portions of the terrain park. The halfpipe has 18-foot walls, is 56 feet wide and 500 feet long.

The Chamber estimates 67 percent of the beds in local lodging properties will be occupied Saturday night. That equates to about 10,000 people. About 8,800 people stayed in Steamboat on the corresponding Saturday last year.

On Wednesday, area lodges will be at 97 percent capacity – about 14,000 people. On Dec. 30, the Chamber expects about 14,300 visitors to spend the night in local lodges, an increase of 1,100 people from the same Saturday in 2005.