Ski area delays opening
The Steamboat Ski Area has pushed back opening day by more than a week because of a lack of snow. Ski area officials announced the decision at noon today. The ski area is now scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 30 instead of Wednesday, Nov. 21. The Friday opening will be the traditional Scholarship Day, a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Season passes won’t be valid until the following day, Dec. 1.
“Steamboat is headed into a La Nina winter, which as studies show, could mean heaps of champagne powder snow throughout the season, but the warm weather patterns we’ve experienced lately have made snowmaking a challenge,” Andy Wirth said in a news release. Wirth is executive vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer for Intrawest.
This year marks the first time since 2001 — and only the second time in the past 26 years — that Steamboat wasn’t able to open as scheduled. In 2001, ski area officials pushed back opening day from Nov. 19 to Nov. 30. Five feet of snow fell during that 12-day period.
Because Scholarship Day will fall on a school day, the ski area will offer local students, teachers and school administrators a voucher that allows them to ski Dec. 1 at discounted Scholarship Day prices. The Scholarship Day program has raised more than $525,000 for the Winter Sports Club since 1991.
The Dec. 1 opening also is expected to include the unveiling of the new Christie Peak Express six-passenger lift. The lift wasn't scheduled to open until mid-December, Wirth said.
Steamboat Ski Area isn’t the only resort suffering from lack of snow. Vail also announced today that it would push back its opening — originally scheduled for Friday — until the middle of next week. On Wednesday, Eldora Mountain Resort announced it also is postponing opening day, originally scheduled for Friday. Eldora hopes to open Thanksgiving Day instead.
Seven of Colorado’s 26 ski areas have opened for business, including Winter Park and Copper Mountain. Steamboat Ski Area season pass holders had the option this year of upgrading their passes to include unlimited skiing at Winter Park and Copper. Like Steamboat, Copper Mountain is owned by Intrawest. Intrawest is under contract with the city and county of Denver to operate Winter Park. Most of Colorado’s open ski areas have limited trails available, and most have been forced to rely heavily on artificial snow.