Steamboat offers deep powder

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When people come to ski Steamboat Springs, they look

forward to powder, trees, and world-class ski runs.

"The mountain is known for champagne powder, tree skiing and a wide open mountain that offers pretty much something for everyone," said Mike Lane, director of public relations for the Steamboat Ski Area.

Add that to the "friendliness and Western atmosphere of the town," and the Steamboat Ski Area is hard to beat, Lane said.

The dry, light and fluffy snow that typically showers the Steamboat area is known as champagne powder, a name that -- according to legend -- was coined in the valley by a rancher before the ski resort opened.

Now, the resort has 2,939 acres of groomed runs, all open to skiers and snowboarders of varying ages and abilities. Each year, the resort gets an average of 337 inches of snow.

There are 142 named trails for more than 65 miles of fun and almost 3,700 vertical feet. More than half of the trails are considered best for intermediate skiers, and about a third are at an advanced level, making the entire resort a good spot for families, people new to the sport and professional skiers.

A full day of skiing and riding is best topped off with some on-mountain dining and a stop at the retail outlets.

Steamboat lifts open between 8:30 and 9 a.m., with the Gondola taking its first passengers at 8:30 a.m. Many lifts stop service at 3:30 p.m.

Trails and lifts reflect the timelessness of Steamboat's Western tradition, famous Olympians and founding families.

Buddy's Run was named for Steamboat Olympian Buddy Werner, who was killed in an avalanche in Switzerland in 1964. Pioneer Ridge trails pay tribute to early settlers and resort pioneers with such runs as Fetcher Glade, Perry Park and Nash Junction.

The Olympic and ranching heritage combine to give the town a unique, authentic feel.

The ski area consists of Sunshine Peak, Storm Peak, Thunderhead Peak, Christie Peak and Mount Werner, which, at 10,568 feet, rises above the other peaks.

The main ticket office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Late ticket arrivals start at noon and late-late arrival tickets start at 2:15 p.m.

Ski season begins on Nov. 24.

Special events include the fifth annual Steamboat Musicfest on Jan. 4 to 9, which brings 18 bands featuring Texas and Americana music, as well as the 31st annual Bud Light Cowboy Downhill on Jan. 18, when rodeo cowboys compete in a ski rodeo.

"There are just a wide variety of activities that will draw a wide range of people up here," Lane said.

Vacationers can get the most bang for their buck with vacation packages through the resort that offer discounts on lift tickets and lodging. Opportunities to save almost half of lodging costs are available.

Mavericks Superpipe was added to the ski resort three years ago. At 650 feet, the superpipe is the longest in North America with a 75-foot quarterpipe kicker at the end.

Skiers and boarders can find Mavericks in Bashor Terrain Park, where a myriad of hips, tables, rails, mailboxes and a miniature version of the superpipe, promise plenty of action. The outdoor sound system gives skiers and boarders the chance to do their tricks to popular songs.

Any questions about the ski resort can be answered at the Information Center in the heart of Gondola Square or by calling 970-871-5444. Snow reports are available at 970-879-7300 and www.steamboat.com. n

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