Steamboat Springs The new alpine slide at Howelsen Hill won't open for at least another three weeks, and without people sliding downhill, the cash won't be rolling in.
The slide, which will operate only in summer, is being developed by Slide Inc., an offshoot of the nonprofit Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Slide Inc. will manage the slide and employ the staff necessary to run it.
The slide is being built on city park land at Howelsen Hill, and the Winter Sports Club will share the revenue it generates with the city. The slide is costing the club about $700,000 to develop.
Based on their knowledge of other alpine slides in ski towns, members of the club's board of directors are counting on the Steamboat slide producing significant revenues that can help underwrite the club's programs.
Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos had hoped the slide might be open in time for the Fourth of July in order to capture the revenue potential of the holiday tourism weekend. But, he also says he knew when he set the target date last spring that it was optimistic.
"It's not as quick a process as I was praying for," DeVos said.
Alpine slide customers will be able to raise their adrenaline levels by riding small slides on wheels down a track formed out of a "halfpipe" of Fiberglas set into the ground. The track isn't nearly as large as a snowboard halfpipe it's just wide enough to accommodate the slide. It will have dual tracks that wind down Howelsen from the top of the slalom hill to the bottom of the Barrows chairlift, a distance of 2,400 feet.
DeVos said on Thursday that the slide tracks have been delivered and are being distributed up the hill to staging areas prior to installation. He expects installation to begin Thursday, when a representative of Slide Supply Co. comes to Steamboat to train a local crew in installation and backfilling procedures.
DeVos said the sections of slide track are less than an inch thick and some were nicked and chipped in shipment. However, he's been assured that some damage is normal, and the chips will be repaired as each section of track is installed.
The parking and staging area for slide customers will be adjacent to the existing horse stables at Howelsen. The slide track will be covered with snow in the winter, and will not conflict with skiing and snowboarding on the Howelsen slopes.
DeVos said he thinks a local firm, Native Excavating, has done a remarkable job of minimizing the visual impacts of the slide construction on the face of Howelsen's ski slopes. Native Excavating essentially built a 50-foot-wide road up the face of Howelsen. Special "soil nailing" techniques were used to allow road cuts and fills to be stabilized with minimal excavation of the slope.
To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail email@example.com