Our View: Snow guns a blazin’ | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Snow guns a blazin’

At issue: Crews at Steamboat Ski Area have set snow-making records early this season.

Our view: The efforts on the mountain have been heroic and are worth celebrating.

Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Jim Patterson, evening editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Hannah Hoffman, community representative • Bob Schneider, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

If you’re an early riser, you’ve probably seen the snow guns at work at Steamboat Ski Area as snowmaking crews take advantage of ideal weather conditions to make up for Mother Nature’s reticence to deliver the real stuff.

Thanks to the efforts of these teams of professionals, Steamboat Ski Area opened on time, the day before Thanksgiving, which was a huge feat in light of the minimal snow that’s fallen in the Yampa Valley and on high. To date, the snowmaking efforts have been record setting. In the words of Dave Hunter, vice president of mountain operations, “What we’ve been doing in the last seven days is unheard of.”

Hunter was interviewed Dec. 11, and he gave credit to staff, cooperative weather and modern infrastructure for the ski mountain’s snowmaking success. As of Friday, the ski area has eight lifts running, which serve 24 trails and 287 acres of terrain. His teams have utilized 146 snowmaking guns and had run 3.1 million gallons of water through them as of Dec. 4.

According to Hunter, snowmaking crews have adopted an innovative approach that allows a trail to open just 12 hours after snowmaking is complete — a process that has taken three days in previous seasons. And those crews are known to work around the clock for 48 hours at a time, especially during the early season, to ensure there’s snow on the mountain for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy.

We applaud the efforts of the snowmaking crews and Steamboat Ski Area management for working hard to ensure the mountain opened up on time, and we think it’s important to not take for granted the heroic efforts that got manmade snow on a ski hill that is central to the economic core of our community.  The ski area has spent millions of dollars on snowmaking infrastructure in recent years, and that investment is now paying big dividends.

It’s also heartening to see Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. support its 1,500-plus seasonal employees during a tricky time when work on the mountain is a little scarce. Employees are getting free and discounted meals while they wait for more lifts to turn and more hours, and that kindness is especially welcome during the holiday season.

And to further celebrate the ski area, its employees and its impact on the Steamboat Springs community, we encourage visitors and locals to gather Sunday at the base area for holiday festivities.

The annual Holiday Festival, sponsored by the Mountain Village Partnership, begins at 2 p.m. with a Santa parade, cookie decorating, stocking scramble and complimentary Champagne toast in Gondola Square. There will also be an opportunity to visit with Santa and his reindeer friends and enjoy the music of the band, Face.

The festival culminates with Steamboat’s famous torchlight parade down the face of Mount Werner followed by fireworks and the opening of night skiing. This is a great way to kickoff the holiday season and celebrate our ski mountain.

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