Opening day or spring?

Warm temperatures will greet skiers, riders today

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— People taking turns on the mountain during opening day of the Steamboat Ski Area today might think it feels a bit more like spring skiing than the fall opening.

The thermometer is forecast to rise toward or past 50 degrees today and skies are expected to be clear.

No matter, with 21 inches of snow at mid-mountain, 26 inches on top and 45 percent of skiable terrain open, skiing and riding should be acceptable on Scholarship Day, especially because it's coming a week before the originally planned opening date.

It appears locals are getting ready to go, too. The Click snowboard shop, for example, has been busy tuning snowboards for the big day.

"Basically, the last week has been pretty crazy for tuning," manager Jason Poole said. "Everyone likes to wait for the last minute."

On Thursday, the shop had 20 tuning jobs completed for people ready to hit the snow.

"We are pretty psyched," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Riley Polumbus said. "I think people will be pretty happy about what's up there."

Polumbus said the top of Storm Peak is a little windblown and crusty, but only on the very top. As people ride and ski to lower elevations, conditions improve.

Skiing and riding will be open from the top of Storm Peak to the base. Among the available trails are Steamboat's gladed tree areas, including the upper portions of Shadows, Closets, Flying Z and Twilight.

Lower Why Not, Lower Nelson's Run, Drop Out and Vortex were expected to be open today, but they were just not ready.

"For the most part, it's good snow for this time in November," Polumbus said. "Hopefully this weekend, we'll get some more."

That just might be the case.

The warm conditions throughout the week are from a high-pressure system that has sat over Northwest Colorado, National Weather Service forecaster Dan Cuevas said.

He said the high pressure would move out on Saturday and be replaced with a winter storm system.

"You can look for more snow by the weekend," he said. "At this point in time, it doesn't look exceptionally powerful."

However, many factors could change between now and then, and that could increase the productivity to the storm, Cuevas said.

Until then, skiers and riders will have to deal with what is expected to be a warm, bluebird day on the slopes for Scholarship Day. Lift tickets cost $15 today and all proceeds from the sales go to the Winter Sports Club scholarship fund.

Forty families in Routt County receive scholarships to pay for athletes to be a part of the Winter Sports Club, and much of the money comes from the opening day of the ski area.

Last year, more than $35,000 was raised on Scholarship Day, and in 2000, $31,000 was raised.

"We are looking to meet or break the marks that we've had the last two years," Katy Tirone said.

Tirone is the director of development and special events for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

"We definitely would like to thank all the skiers and riders who come out to ski," she said.

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