Steamboat is having a big, fat party this weekend to celebrate skiing, riding and Old Man Winter. With two feet of new snow having piled on the ski area during the past week, there’s a lot more than just the Lighted Man to giggle about during Winter Carnival.

But first, I’m going to make a terrible confession. I missed the pow on Mount Werner this week. I had deadlines to slay, so I only managed to experience the joy of all that snow puking out of the sky from my office window and the Steamboat app.

That’s precisely why I wasn’t wasting a minute this morning. I got up here for First Tracks, and the result of this week’s freshies did not disappoint. It’s sunny up there, and the weather forecast looks like you’ll be shedding layers all day long. The snow is groomed and pleasantly grippy this morning, and it will surely be springy and soft this afternoon. Go ahead and ski the Storm Peak runs first: the face, Cyclone and Drop Out. The afternoon will be glorious under the Sundhine lift line, Westside and Two o’Clock. 

If you have kids, chances are your mornings this Winter Carnival weekend are going to be spent downtown ogling feats of skiing prowess like the donkey jump, street slalom or skijoring – each of which is accomplished while being towed behind a horse along snow-packed Lincoln Avenue. Adrenaline junkie adults who brave the shovel race behind those racehorses are just plain insane. And then, there’s the Steamboat Springs High School ski band. How many  high school seniors can actually say on their college applications that they skied and played the tuba AT THE SAME TIME?

This is also where I give a shout out to my adorable little not-a-pipsqueak-anymore neighbor, Maggie Rose Carrigan, who is not only rocking the Alpine snowboarding world but also is our glamorous Winter Carnival queen this year.

Steamboat Winter Carnival

To be honest, Winter Carnival’s street events are rip-roaring fun whether you’re there with kids or not. But here’s the secret for the rest of you working stiffs like me who missed a few fat ski days this week: Winter Carnival mornings are idyllic on the mountain, especially when you’re making up for lost turns.

No matter what, get yourself a button. Ten bucks earns you one of Steamboat’s coolest keepsakes (this year’s design was created by 10-year-old Caroline Gilchrist), plus it’s your official entry ticket to all the Winter Carnival events. Tonight is a community tubing party, ski jumping demo and a wipe-out-intensive dual slalom bike race down the face of Howelsen Hill. Saturday is the always epic Night Show Extravaganza. Seriously, you’d have to be insane to skip that night on the town; torch-lit ski jumping, fireworks, the ring of fire and the Lighted Man never disappoint. Bundle up for the spectacle of it all.

Above all, your Winter Carnival button supports young athletes with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, our incredible local ski club that has nurtured community as avidly as it has raised 88 Olympians throughout its 101-year history.

I leave you this morning with last night’s surreal sunset over Mount Werner while night skiing lights twinkle below. Mother Nature is clearly on board with this year’s Winter Carnival theme: Fire & Ice.

This photo was captured by my inspiring friend Ann Ross, who skis like a champ and would probably be out there on Lincoln Avenue in the shovel race this weekend if we dared her to do so.

Happy winter! Happy Winter Carnival!

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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