The season is officially off and running! What a glorious time of year to be in Steamboat. The skies are an intense shade of blue, and the smiles on skiers’ and riders’ faces today lit up the mountain.
The Christie Peak Express lift is humming, and there are several runs to choose from once you arrive at the top. I was thrilled to ride with a group from San Antonio, Texas, this morning and take part in their “first snow” experience. I’ve never actually ridden a chairlift with someone who hadn’t seen snow before, so that was a kick.
The snowpack seemed solid underfoot, and my ski edges had no trouble sinking in. The coverage on the open trails was far from shabby, and there seemed to be plenty of room to roam. This time of year is always exciting, but I tend to be a bit more cautious as I glide my way down. But at no point did I ever feel overcrowded or claustrophobic. Generally speaking, most of my comrades seemed to simply be enjoying the fresh mountain air and incredible views.
Today is Scholarship Day at the resort, which means that 100% of lift ticket proceeds are donated to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Made up of hundreds of athletes, coaches and volunteers, the club is arguably one the most substantial catalysts that crown Steamboat as Ski Town, U.S.A.® The kind folks from the club filled my belly with free hot chocolate, which warmed me from inside out.
After a handful of turns, I found my early-season legs were already getting tired. So rather than push myself to exhaustion, I elected to save myself for future days to come. But as I began my journey home, I couldn’t help but look back at the ski area and breathe in a deep sigh of contentment. After much anticipation, the 2016/17 is officially upon us.
Dave Wittlinger, Alpine skier