Steamboat Ski Area introduces healthy eating programs |

Steamboat Ski Area introduces healthy eating programs

Steamboat Ski Area is making its menu a little healthier these days. One of the newest items is this Power Greens and Wild Mushroom Salad.
John F. Russell

— Two new programs this year at Steamboat Ski Area are aiming to encourage healthier eating for employees and guests on the hill.

The Green Skier program involves sourcing more local ingredients for on-the-mountain eateries, and identifying healthy options on ski area menus with a small green skier symbol.

The ski area also has hired a consultant to meet with employees and discuss eating choices and how they can affect your blood sugar and reaction time, ultimately affecting potential for injury.

“When blood sugar fluctuates, I can actually measure your change in reaction time,” said Dr. Delia Roberts, a biochemist who created the Fit for Snow program for ski area employees.

Roberts spent 15 years working with Canadian Olympic athletes before becoming a professor at Selkirk College in British Columbia.

While teaching about healthy eating and posture, Roberts began to see the relationship between health and safety.

Roberts began training with employees in various workplaces, including with ski area employees, pilots, physicians, forestry employees and long-haul truck drivers.

While not all workers seem like athletes, the science behind sports medicine still can apply, said Roberts, who spent last week meeting with instructors, patrollers and other employees at Steamboat Ski Area.

The ski area has partnered with LiveWell Northwest Colorado to reconfigure some menu options and identify which meals best fit under to the “go” portion of LiveWell’s “Go, Slow, Woah” program.

The choices typically are identified with green, yellow and red, like a stoplight, but Ski Corp. has chosen to just identify which choices best fit under the green “Go” category.

These meals are going to include whole grains, extra lean proteins, heart healthy fats or fruits and vegetables without added sugar.

“We want nutrient dense versus calorie dense,” said Barb Parnell, community coordinator for LiveWell, who has brought education campaigns on healthy eating choices to students in South Routt, Steamboat and Hayden.

Roberts said the healthy choices aren’t only beneficial to ski performance, they also can greatly reduce the risk of injury on the slopes.

In a study of five ski areas using the Fit for Snow program with employees, Roberts found that the areas had 67 percent less employee injuries than in previous years, compared to a 10 percent increase in injuries for five areas that didn’t use the program.

Roberts said even she was surprised by the impact the Fit for Snow program — which mixes nutrition, movement and posture advice — had on ski area injuries.

Ski areas now offer the program not just to benefit their employees, but to reduce their own worker’s compensation costs, Roberts said.

By her count, a ski area like Steamboat would have to sell about 19,000 lift tickets to make up for the cost of one employee’s on-the-mountain knee sprain, when including medical costs and administrative work.

After visiting Steamboat in the fall, Roberts said she was impressed to return to see the efforts the food and beverage department has made to revamp its menus.

“There are some fantastic choices now,” she said. “They’ve really worked hard to come up with some alternatives — they’re doing a really good job.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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