Thursday, December 26, 2002
Steamboat Springs Jitters Manager Greg Smith paused for a moment Thursday to describe the scene at the coffee shop on the mountain.
"It's chaos," he said. "Organized chaos."
On busy mornings like Thursday, skiers pack the small shop at the base of the ski area like it's a gondola car on a powder day. They yell out hot drink orders, hustle to get bagels and wrestle over energy drinks while four employees behind the counter work furiously to keep up.
It's good business, but it's not easy work. "I think when it's busy, it does take its toll," Smith said.
Smith and his neighbors on the mountain won't get much rest in the next couple of days, one of the busiest weekends of the ski season. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's lodging barometer predicts 13,723 people will stay overnight Saturday night in Steamboat, more than doubling the population of the city. That figure would fill up 90 percent of Steamboat's lodging. Compared to the same day last year, 700 more people will be in town.
Most of the visitors are staying in condos on the mountain, with 95 percent of all those rooms full, according to the lodging report.
To adjust to the busy weekend, the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. will open the lifts 15 minutes earlier than normal.
The gondola, Southface, Christie III and Thunderhead Express will open at 8:15 a.m. Preview, Burgess Creek and 4-Points will open at 8:30 a.m. and all remaining lifts will open at 8:45 a.m.
Early Bird Breakfast patrons will be able to board the gondola at 8 a.m. Ski and snowboard school's First Tracks clinic will start at 7:45 am.
The early openings start today and run through Sunday.
"All the lifts are opening early, just to give a jump start to all the folks who are coming," Ski Corp. spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said.
She said people are encouraged to buy their tickets and rent gear the night before, if possible. The main lift ticket office will open a half-hour early at 7:30 a.m. The daily lift-ticket windows and the ski and snowboard school ticket office will open at its regularly scheduled time of 7:30 a.m., Wiedemer said.
"We just want to give everybody the best experience possible," she said.
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