The 1 million-foot man: Steamboat resident is the 1st to log 1M vertical feet in Ikon app this year (with video)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After 31 days, 147 hours, 524 lifts, including 242 on the gondola, Steamboat Springs resident Joe Brougher became the first Ikon passholder to log 1 million vertical feet. As of Thursday afternoon, Brougher had logged 1,016,832 vertical feet at Steamboat Resort on the Ikon Pass app.
The achievement is even more special, since Brougher was in second place last year, when another Steamboat skier was the first to hit 1 million on the app. The 2019-20 season was the first winter in which passholders could log their vertical feet, and already it’s a highly sought achievement.
Brougher doesn’t actually get a crown or even a shiny virtual medal next to his face on the app, but he did get a cake with a snowman with his face on it from his wife, Kelly, as well as a few cheers and hollers from some friends at the base.
The 54-year-old raised his bamboo poles and was giddy celebrating his accomplishment.
While the feat was awarded with a frosting-covered dessert, it was no cakewalk. Averaging 35,000 vertical feet a day, Brougher got his skis waxed every two days. His hair grew long since he didn’t have time for haircuts, and he started his day early and got home exhausted.
“It’s not like a job at all, because I love to ski,” he said. “I’m doing what I like to do, and since I’m retired, I wouldn’t be doing anything else.”
“I didn’t even think it was possible”
Less than a week ago, Brougher got a call from fellow Steamboat resident Jeff Gebauer, who was the first to hit 1 million vertical feet last year.
Brougher was chasing Gebauer on the app all last season, and when an article about Gebauer’s feat was published in Steamboat Pilot & Today, Brougher was finally able to track Gebauer down. The men have been friends ever since.
Gebauer told Brougher that if he were to average 40,000 for the next five days, he would hit 1 million in 31 days on the dot.
“I didn’t set out to do a million in a month,” he said. “I didn’t even think it was possible.”
When Steamboat Resort opened Dec. 1, many other resorts had already opened, so others on the app had a couple hundred thousand vertical feet to their name before Brougher was able to hit the slopes.
Brougher was certainly hoping to hit 1 million, especially after last year, but not actively striving for it. As soon as he realized it was possible, he not only made 1 million the goal, but he wanted to do it by the end of 2020.
With the pace he was on, Brougher didn’t have to change much in his schedule. He got up to the mountain around 9:30, a.m., paused for lunch at 11:30 a.m. and usually called it a day around 3:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, Brougher logged more than 50,000 vertical feet, so Thursday was an easier day since he only had 25,000 vertical feet to go, which he hit by lunchtime.
He’s taking the day off on New Year’s Day and already plans to get a haircut as soon as possible. He’ll taper off his pace but still hopes to average 25,000 to 30,000 feet per day throughout the rest of the ski season.
’A really good mountain’
Despite her husband posting skiing hours similar to a full-time job, Kelly fully supported her husband’s endeavor.
“It’s been a goal and a challenge for him,” she said .
The pair spend November through April in Steamboat Springs and live the rest of the year in Indianapolis. Brougher first skied Steamboat in 1984 when he was 17, and he’d been coming to Steamboat with his family for years before they bought a place in town six years ago.
With both Gebauer and Brougher residing here, there’s clearly something about Steamboat that produces the people who love skiing like no one else. Brougher insists it’s something about the resort that makes it all possible.
“We just have a really good mountain. I think it’s really efficient,” he said. “It’s a factor of lifts and vertical. I can turn a Sundown lap in nine minutes including riding the lift.”
Brougher also noted the dedication of the ski techs at Fleischer Sports, as well as the lift operators he got to know who brightened his day.
“I’m riding the gondola 242 times; they cheer me on,” he said. “I’m the crazy guy who’s riding the gondola a lot. They’ve made it really pleasant.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Though the city of Steamboat Springs saw a slight decline in 2020 sales tax revenue as COVID-19 hit Routt County, the city is expected to catch up to its 2019 revenues.