No matter what the weather in Steamboat is doing, I can’t help but feel especially blessed when I get outdoors in the loving embrace of Mother Nature.
This morning’s first turns were sleek and exhilarating. The clouds above cast a slight shadow across the light being cast from sun. But a break in the distance makes me feel that today is going to end up bright and warm. My legs couldn’t help but dance with rhythmic excitement as I slid and carved my way down trails like Tomahawk and my new favorite (short) run… Pup. Yes, I’ll admit, taking turns on the trail less traveled is one of my goals when I get on the mountain and cut-offs like Pup, Cub, and Buckshot fit the bill.
Making my way over the Storm Peak side of things, I found the terrain a tad more glazed. With the early sun yet to make its shining way over to this area, the groomed face gave me ample opportunity to test the sharp edges of my skis. Digging in and making arcs in the snow wasn’t difficult but took a bit more concentration on properly weighting my edges. Storm Peak Face is a great run to practice sweeping turns on a steep slope. But as this is a main thoroughfare for those practicing the same skills, keep your eyes up and abide by the rules of the mountain (we call it “Slopewise”).
As I dashed my way down to the lower mountain today, I was reminded of the many unique activities and features we have to offer just about any ability. For example, I popped my head in at the NASTAR Race Area and found the crew hard at work slipping the course. For those who aren’t aware, NASTAR gives “everyday Joe” skiers a chance to race gates and compare times on a relative scale with World Cup athletes. The course is open to public and anyone can give it a go with proper registration and a nominal fee.
Then there’s the ‘Lil Rodeo Terrain Park located adjacent to Stampede at the very bottom of the mountain just above Gondola Square. Park features included everything from small jumps, to wide and stable glide ramps, to large rail slides, mini half-pipe, and large kicker. This offers something for everyone who care to work on their balance skills and goof around a bit. Since the park is easily accessed from the Christie Chairlift, many people (especially families with small kids) like to take short laps in this area. It’s a great way to boost your skiing or riding confidence in a safe and protected area. Give it a shot the next time you’re visiting the mountain.
All in all, there’s nothing to complain about in terms of conditions. Sure, it’s easy to wish we had more snow, but as my mother always taught me, “Be thankful for what you have.” The conditions in Steamboat are some of the best in the state and our slope maintenance crew has done a tremendous job keeping the trails in spectacular shape.
So get after it!
Dave Wittlinger, Alpine skier