Skiers, riders bid goodbye

End of ski season marked by wintry conditions, crazy costumes

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It was under dark, wintry skies that skiers and riders bid goodbye to the 2004-05 ski season Sunday.

Although winds were whipping at the top of the Steamboat Ski Area, and the chill made it feel like January, plenty of people were out for the last day of the season.

Many were bundled up in layers of fleece and Gore-Tex, but some showed up with the traditional end-of-the-season costumes. Most costumes were worn over layers of warmer clothes.

Dressing up was the big attraction for Mary O'Connell, 11, of Steamboat Springs.

O'Connell has skied in costume on every season's last day for as long as she can remember.

"It's fun -- you get to ski on the last day and dress up," O'Connell said.

She was wearing a black and orange patterned robe, a cat mask and a neon green hairy hat.

"I don't really have a name," she said. "I just threw things on."

Her friend, Taylor Loomis, was dressed as an ice cream cone, which had been a Halloween costume.

Reed Zuehlke of Denver had no need for winter layers under his costume. He wore a brightly colored wetsuit, complete with life jacket and snorkel. He chose a full wetsuit instead of his partial wetsuit for warmth. And, he said, he stayed pretty warm -- at least enough to get eight good runs in.

He had hoped for deep, deep powder, the type in which a snorkel really would come in handy. But he still had fun.

"It was a blast," he said.

Zuehlke's sister, Karolyn Zuehlke of Steamboat, wore a hula skirt over her ski clothes. She said she was disappointed that the sun was clouded over.

"It's too cold -- it's like skiing on concrete," she said.

But, Donna Lewis of Chicago reminded her, "You can't pick the weather."

Lewis said that she might start thinking up warmer costumes for next year.

"It's windy, it's cold," said Joanne Padachtpour of Steam--boat. Conditions were simply "too bad" for an end-of-the-season celebration.

Saturday, however, was wonderful, she said.

Robert Wilcox and Cody Craigie came from Laramie, Wyo., for the day. It was their first time to ski Steamboat this season. The less expensive last-day tickets were an attraction, they said.

And although they were heading in for a break to warm up at noon, they said the morning had been fun.

"Conditions are a little bit icy, but it's not very crowded, so you get to do whatever you want to do," Wilcox said.

"We weren't expecting anything stellar anyway."

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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