Steamboat tradition transitions as resort moves into new era | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat tradition transitions as resort moves into new era

Kellie Babcock helps her daughter Bronwyn ski on the beginner terrain at the base of Steamboat Resort during Scholarship Day. Proceeds from ticket sales on that day were donated to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club scholarship program. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — American ski legend Jim "Moose" Barrows still recalls the humble beginnings of Scholarship Day when he was working as director of recreation for the fledgling Steamboat Resort in the ’70s.

"It was totally informal," Barrows said. "The day before it (the ski mountain) opened, they would be training the lift operators, and they had some 5-gallon milk cans they got from Pat Mantle. Basically, it was whatever a skier thought it was worth to ride the lift. Anytime they would go up the lift they would throw the money in the milk can."

At the end of the day, the money in the milk cans was collected and donated to a scholarship fund to support children at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Over the years the event changed, and by 1977, the ski area charged $5 for lift tickets, then $10 and $15. The prices of lift tickets climbed and so did the donations — since 1991, donations to the club from Scholarship Day have ranged from $12,000 to $84,000. The money goes to the Winter Sports Club scholarship program and is used to help young skiers pay for the cost of skiing.

This year, skiers in Steamboat will see a big shift in the way Scholarship Day is handled by Steamboat Resort.

On Opening Day — scheduled for Nov. 21 — skiers will no longer be able to purchase lift tickets at a reduced cost. However, the resort will welcome all valid passes, including the Ikon, Ikon Base and Steamboat-only passes, and skiers will be able to purchase regularly-priced lift tickets.

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Additionally, the ski resort will be making a $50,000 donation to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club scholarship program and will be presenting the check as part of the Opening Day celebration at the base of the ski area.

"We recognize this is a transition from our regularly scheduled Opening Day. With the addition of the Ikon and Ikon Base passes, it no longer made sense to limit access on the first day of the season to just single-day tickets," said Rob Perlman, president and chief operating officer of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. "Therefore, we worked directly with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club to find an alternative to the funds they historically collected on Scholarship Day."

Winters Sports Club Director Jim Boyne said skiers should expect to see club members, coaches and staff at the base of the ski area on Opening Day greeting skiers. He said those who still want to make direct contributions to the club can find him or other staff members, and they will be happy to help.

Loryn Kasten, senior communications manager for Steamboat Resort, said the changes on Opening Day will help simplify things for skiers and riders in Steamboat.

The celebration

Opening Day events will begin at 7:30 a.m., one hour before lifts open and will include a performance from the Ute Indian Tribe snow dancers, a toast to the season and a presentation of a donation check to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in Gondola Square.

There will also be mimosas and donuts starting at 7:30 a.m., and the first 100 skiers and riders can get a T-shirt designed by Ohana. Additional shirts will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting the Winter Sports Club.

"From here on out, it will be Opening Day," Kasten said. "We recognize that Scholarship Day has been a long-running tradition in our community, and now, we are hoping that our new Opening Day tradition will stand the test of time.

“We expect the Winter Sports Club participants,” added Kasten. “They will be in the base area. We will have athletes on stage during the presentation to kind of tell their story about how they benefited from being a Winter Sports Club athlete.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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