David Swardlick skied down Headwall, kicking up wet powder with his turns. It may not have been champagne, but it was powder, and it was worth celebrating.
"Yesterday was real spring skiing," said Swardlick, of Portland, Maine. "It was hot, real hot, but it was beautiful. Today it was back to winter. It was great on top -- good powder. I didn't expect it."
From midnight Friday through 3 p.m. Saturday, the Steamboat Ski Area had received 7 inches of new snow at the summit and midmountain -- the first significant snow in two weeks, bringing the season snowfall measure to 284.5 inches. Though that measure is more than 60 inches shy of last year's, nobody seemed to notice.
Visitors and residents alike praised the new snow, as it covered previously bare spots, provided cushion and made it possible again to maneuver through trees.
Emily McCullough, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., said she didn't know if she would -- or could -- ski Saturday.
"Friday was the worst I've ever seen," said her father, John McCullough, after paying the lunch tab at Bear River Bar and Grill. "There were rocks and bare patches everywhere. You had to stay in the middle of the chutes. I didn't see how they were going to stay open, but today was fine."
"It was much easier to get through today," said his other daughter, Hallie McCullough.
When renting skis, Jody Smith, of Loveland, was told it was really muddy. So, he said he was surprised when he made his way to the slopes.
"When you go to a horrible movie and then you realize it's not so bad -- it was like that," he said.
Snow that thinly covered the brown patches of earth, accompanied with low visibility, made it tricky for newcomers to the mountain.
"Sometimes you would run over some bare spots and the moguls were pretty icy," said Sara Nozykowski of Boulder. "My roommate was here last weekend and said it was bad, but I was surprised, because it was still pretty good today."
"It's icy, but Steamboat is always awesome," said her friend Ryan Graham.
Penny Hietala worked at the ski area last year, and drove over with friends from Minneapolis this weekend for a few runs and a visit with old friends. She said she expected slush and was surprised with the winterlike conditions.
"It was better than I expected," she said.
Since the Steamboat Ski Area opened more than 40 years ago, its average snowfall measure is 320 inches. If Mother Nature provides just a few more days like Saturday in April, it is possible it will reach that average.
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