Ski swap gets Steamboat thinking winter

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The temperature cooled down Saturday, but there wasn't a hint of snow in Steamboat Springs. That didn't hinder people from dreaming about carving some champagne powder, though.

Snow enthusiasts packed the Steamboat Springs Middle School gym and auditorium Saturday for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's annual Ski and Sport Swap. There, the prices were so cheap, the deals seemed like steals, and many people walked away buying things they said they didn't even need.

Alec Uitti of Boulder was in Steamboat visiting friends and had not planned on going shopping -- until he heard about the ski swap, where he found a pair of 2-year-old alpine skis for $25. Uitti said he was a telemark skier but couldn't resist the cheap price. Now, he has skiing options.

Val White of Steamboat Springs had an armful of items she planned to purchase, including two pairs of cross-country skis she found at half price. She is not an avid cross-country skier, but with the deal she found, she said she hopes she and her husband can get out on the ski trails often this winter.

Many people at the ski swap were trading stories from last winter and talking about what they were going to do this year. Steamboat has seen increased snowfall in the past three years, and discussions of an even better season this year were overheard.

"I'm going to go up a lot," said Heathre West of Steamboat Springs. "I've got to come up with as many powder excuses as I can."

Danny Gregory, who moved to Steamboat a year and a half ago for the pristine powder, picked out more items than he could carry -- a snowboard, a couple of sets of bindings and some clothing.

"I'm trying to upgrade and supplement what I already have," he said.

He said with some other decks and bindings he has at home, he now has enough gear to lend to all his friends when they come to visit. He also plans to use the extra gear, including a springy snowboard, for trying some new tricks in the Mavericks Superpipe.

"I can just do jumps and grabs now, but I plan on doing 360s and at least 50s on the rail," Gregory said after trying on some used snowboard boots from a table set up by The Click.

"From 9 to 11 (a.m.), sales were off the hook," said Tim Moorehead, a sales associate with The Click.

John Kole of One-Stop Ski Shop agreed. He said the busiest time of the day was at about 10 a.m. Kole said he sold more skis this year than any year before, despite seeing fewer customers at the ski swap.

"Everybody talks about the sweet deals, but there's nobody here," Kole said after the morning surge of customers had left. "We're giving this stuff away. I just don't get it."

Wulf Levenshtein has lived in Steamboat 10 years and has all the equipment he needs, but that didn't stop him from shopping.

"I don't need any of this stuff, but I always come out just to check out the good deals."

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