SKI Magazine’s annual rankings place Steamboat at 8th | SteamboatToday.com
Nicole Inglis

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SKI Magazine’s annual rankings place Steamboat at 8th

Steamboat Springs skier Matt Kane skis on the last day of November 2010. Steamboat Ski Area cracked the top 10 in the 2011 SKI Magazine reader survey rankings after falling to No. 14 last winter.

— Steamboat Ski Area cracked the top 10 in the 2011 SKI Magazine reader survey rankings after falling to No. 14 last winter.

SKI announced its resort rankings this week, which had Steamboat rising six places to a respectable No. 8 — the third largest jump in the entire survey of all North American ski resorts.

Deer Valley, Utah, was named the No. 1 ski resort for the fifth straight year by SKI readers who revere its groomed trails, its daily skier limit and the lack of snowboarders.

Vail was No. 2, and Snowmass and Beaver Creek were the only other Colorado resorts ranked above Steamboat.

Aspen and Breckenridge both fell in the rankings this year.

"Steamboat's No. 1 goal is to always provide the best vacation experience to our guests," Chris Diamond, president and chief operating officer of Steamboat Ski Resort & Corp., said in news release Friday. "This year's ranking is a reflection of our dedicated staff and exceptional service levels from the resort and businesses throughout the Steamboat community."

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SKI sends out the survey online and through the mail to about 50,000 readers. It had a response rate of 10 to 15 percent this year, Editor Greg Ditrinco said.

The survey asks readers to choose six resorts they have skied in the previous two years and rate on a scale of 1 to 10 the various characteristics of each resort.

The Steamboat Ski Area placed in the top 10 in several categories, including family programs (sixth), snow (eighth), lifts (eighth), lodging (ninth) and off-hill activities (ninth).

"That's a nice kind of wide breadth of delivering what the customer wants," Ditrinco said. "Top 10, that's strong."

The survey also asks for comments from readers, and many in the Steamboat category simply read, "Powder!" or some variation thereof.

One reader wrote, "In my opinion, Steamboat has more character than any other Colorado resort."

As for weaknesses, readers complained about Steamboat's remote location (although some listed that as a strength), lift ticket prices, on-mountain dining and nightlife, and a deficiency of expert terrain.

Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said Friday that guests who expressed concerns about the construction at the base area will have a lot to look forward to from now on as recent improvements like the promenade project and a permanent slopeside stage wrap up.

"Especially this winter, people are going to see a big difference," he said. "Now that it's going to be all tied together, it's going to make a huge impact."

Ditrinco said it's hard to tell from just looking at the rankings how close the resorts actually are in the survey results. He said not a lot of space separated the resorts in the fifth through 10th spots.

"If you look at the neighborhood Steamboat's in — and it's a neighborhood it should really be in — you have Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Telluride and they're all really iconic resorts, which Steamboat is."

Lane said the entire Yampa Valley community deserves credit for the jump in rankings.

"We're known for our guest service, plus the four 400-inch snow years in the past six winters, all combined to help make Steamboat shine," he said. "It's a reflection of the entire community and the service that Steamboat is known for and everyone should take a lot of pride in that."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com.

SKI Magazine 2011 Reader Survey top 20 resorts

1 Deer Valley, Utah

2 Vail

3 Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.

4 Snowmass

5 Sun Valley, Idaho

6 Park City, Utah

7 Beaver Creek

8 Steamboat

9 Breckenridge

10 Telluride

11 Aspen Mountain

12 Jackson Hole, Wyo.

13 Heavenly, Calif.

14 Winter Park

15 Crested Butte

16 Canyons, Utah

17 Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

18 Copper Mountain

19 Aspen Highlands

20 Snowbird, Utah

Steamboat Ski Area category rankings (2010 rankings in parentheses)

Snow: 8 (15)

Grooming: 14 (16)

Terrain/Variety: 27 (27)

Terrain/Challenge: 30 (30)

Value: 30 (20)

Lifts: 8 (14)

Service: 10 (13)

Weather: 20 (22)

Access: 31 (26)

On-mountain food: 13 (15)

Lodging: 9 (8)

Dining: 11 (9)

Après ski: 10 (14)

Off-hill Activities: 9 (11)

Family programs: 6 (8)

Scenery: 21 (25)

Terrain parks: 15 (16)

Character: 12 (n/a)

Digital presence: 13 (n/a)

Overall satisfaction: 14 (19)