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Steamboat Ski Area saw 19,000 night skiers during 1st season under lights

Night skier Andrew Petersen waits for friends at the top of the Christie Peak Express lift as the lights of Steamboat Springs create a colorful background. The ski area reportedly saw nearly 19,000 night skiers during the first season under the lights.
Courtesy Photo

— Steamboat Springs City Council members who were curious about how popular night skiing was during its first season on Mount Werner got their answer Tuesday night.

A Steamboat Ski Area official told the council that the mountain saw nearly 19,000 night skiers during its first season under the lights.

“The comments we received back (from guests) were generally very positive,” Doug Allen, the ski area’s vice president of mountain operations, said when asked by the council if night skiing added value to the guest experience. “We did almost 19,000 skier visits at night. I think that exceeded our initial expectations and it continued to grow through the ski season, which I think is an indication of what’s to come and the primary reason for deciding to go additional nights” next ski season.



Tuesday night marked the first time the ski area has publicly disclosed how many skiers and riders the new lights on the lower mountain attracted here in Steamboat.

The ski area offered night skiing on about 50 nights of the season, which would mean an average of about 380 skiers per night.



What is less clear is exactly how much of an economic impact the night skiing has had on local businesses.

Anecdotally, several businesses and lodging properties at the base area say it has boosted sales and brought more energy.

“Not only did the ‘night’ activity energize the base mountain area with more foot traffic, it provided a great opportunity to define Steamboat as a ‘unique’ Colorado mountain destination,” Sheraton Steamboat Resort General Manager Dan Pirrallo wrote in a letter to the council. “Throughout the season guests continually commented on how great the base area looked with the night time activity and how well the lighting design created safe and enchanting environment.”

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern also wrote in support of night skiing, saying it “has definitely had a positive impact on all the businesses that surround the base area.”

Council member Tony Connell wondered whether it would be possible to dial in the economic impact more by looking at sales tax data hourly on the mountain.

City officials said they do not have the ability to do that, and that disclosure of that type of data would have to be voluntary.

Next ski season, night skiing will be expanded from three nights per week to five nights.

Tuesday’s update was a requirement under the City Council’s approval of night skiing last year.

Before it was approved, several base area condominium owners and some other residents here said they were concerned about the impact of the new lights.

Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said his office did not receive any complaints about night skiing.

The ski area is continuing to work with property owners at the Bear Claw and Edgemont condominums to reduce the impact of lights that are mounted on the Christie Peak Express lift towers.

“We want to light the snow, not the neighborhood,” Allen said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10


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