Tubing operations suspended as new season brings lots of changes to Howelsen Hill
Steamboat Springs — Outdoor enthusiasts will find wider cross-country ski trails, new parks for free skiers and snowboarders and more terrain for those just learning the sport on the menu of activities offered at Howelsen Hill this year.
But tubing will not be listed among the entrees.
“Unfortunately, tubing was a casualty,” said Jim Boyne, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. “Our mission is to provide adequate training opportunities for our athletes. We also needed that space to allow for more beginner terrain as well as more access for snowboard and free skiing.”
The new plan is to use the Boardwalk magic carpet to provide additional beginner ski and snowboard terrain and to allow access to newly created terrain park features.
“We are adding a slopestyle jump that will send skiers and snowboarders over the tunnel as well as a fun cross course for beginner to intermediate skiers and riders to get a feel of coming down a pitched trail with banked turns similar to a snowboarder cross, or ski cross, course,” Boyne said.
Boyne said it was a tough decision to suspend the revenue-generating tubing operations, which the club had operated in cooperation with the city of Steamboat since the 2007-08 season. He added that the short, steep-pitched hill was not ideal for tubing operations, and the Winter Sports Club and city are currently looking for venues at Howelsen Hill that would be better suited for tubing.
“We decided to suspend tubing for this season to see how things will go,” Boyne said. “By adding slope-style and snowboarding terrain, we can improve these programs for those athletes and accommodate the broader community at the same time.”
Boyne said a collaboration project involving the Winter Sports Club, the city and Nordic Excavating was completed this fall just in time for the 2016-17 season. The project included re-aligning and widening some trails, as well as re-contouring steep pitches in the Bluffs Loop. He said the changes should improve training for athletes and provide a more enjoyable experience for the public.
The changes will make grooming more efficient and make the trails more user friendly. It will also realign intersections and reduce any conflicts with Alpine skiers coming off of the Long John Trail while providing better access to the Barrows chairlift.
The new trails also eliminate areas of criss-crossed recreation and make Howelsen Hill safer and more manageable for skiers of all abilities.
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With abnormally low snow levels, most of the snow skiers and snowboarders will encounter Saturday during Steamboat Resort’s Opening Day will be manufactured.