Steamboat opens on time for Scholarship Day with Christie Peak Express lift
Christie Peak Express powers ski opener
LIVE updates from Steamboat Ski Area's 2016 Opening Day
Steamboat Today will provide live updates from Opening Day at Steamboat Ski Area Wednesday. You can keep up with all the action on the mountain right here. To join the conversation, use #skisteamboat, #scholarshipday and #steamboatpilot when you share your Opening Day photos and video on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat skiers and riders never quite know what to expect from Opening Day, but in 2016, it will be the resort’s only high-speed six-pack chairlift, Christie Peak Express, that will ride to the rescue of Scholarship Day Nov. 23.
The ski area opens with a mix of natural and manmade snow, enough to allow skiers to zip down the steep pitch on the Sitz trail to the intermediate ride down Vogue and a return to the bottom of the lift at Stampede.
Add Jess’ Cut-Off to the mix, and Steamboat Ski Area will open with four trails for Scholarship Day, when $20 lift tickets benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Over a quarter century, Scholarship Day has raised almost $1 million for the club’s scholarship fund, supporting the competitive skiing ambitions of the children of local families.
After a mild late autumn, the snow gods turned on the winter switch Nov. 17 and delivered 13 inches of natural snow along with sufficiently cold temperatures to allow Steamboat to make snow.
“Mother Nature waited until the last minute to bring winter to the Yampa Valley,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President and COO Rob Perlman said. “And our teams were ready to jump into action. As soon as cold temperatures hit on Thursday, our crews took full advantage of the powerful snowmaking technology we have to supplement the natural snow and build a great foundation to begin the skiing and riding season.”
Winter Sports Club Executive Director Jim Boyne, citing the importance of Scholarship Day to many young athletes, urged those who choose to stay home on Wednesday to consider purchasing a ticket anyway.
And that’s easier than it’s ever been. Perlman suggested that 2016 Scholarship Day skiers and riders who hold a multi-day pass to go online and purchase their tickets for Wednesday in advance.
“With our new RFID technology, we encourage pass holders to preload their season pass with a Scholarship Day ticket and bring it on Wednesday for quick access to the lift, since season passes, multi-day passes and regular daily tickets are not valid until Thursday, Nov. 24,” Perlman said.
To load a Scholarship Day ticket to an existing pass go online to http://www.steamboat.com/scholarship or visit the ticket office in One Steamboat Place.
Scholarship Day skiers could enjoy spring-like conditions on Wednesday. The National Weather Service is forecasting mostly sunny skies with highs of 35 to 45 degrees.
The first 100 skiers and riders to load Christie Peak Express will receive a free T-shirt celebrating the start of the season.
Longtime Steamboat mom-and-pop ski shop operator John Kole, who first opened his business One Stop Ski Shop at its original location in the Subalpine Lodge in time for the 1982 ski season, knows how suddenly a ski season can go big in late November and early December.
“I can remember 1983, when it didn’t snow until the day before the ski area opened and then it didn’t stop for 48 days,” Kole recalled.
Christie Peak Express, with its 4,700-foot length and capacity to transport 3,200 skiers per hour, has played a pivotal role in previous opening days. In fact, it was at the beginning of its inaugural season in 2007-08 when it had to pinch-hit for the gondola.
Work crews were still replacing the gondola’s haul rope when the season opened, so it was Steamboat’s six-passenger chairlift that helped to kick off the ski season on the Friday after Thanksgiving 2007. Christie Peak’s robust uphill capacity was the ideal link to the Thunderhead Express, which accessed skiing and riding down Upper Vagabond.
It was a very different story in 2015 when 41 inches of snow fell at mid-mountain. That snowfall plus sustained cold temperatures led Steamboat Ski Area managers to open the ski area early for the first time in 13 years.
Steamboat announced a special two-day opening weekend on Nov. 21 and 22 with 1,100 vertical feet of skiing off Christie Peak Express in advance of observing a traditional Scholarship Day, with top-to-bottom skiing on Nov. 25, 2015.
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