Steamboat skiers, boarders trade snow for sun

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Father Richard Vila came to Steamboat for champagne powder. Instead, he got summer temperatures and slush.

"They call this regular season still ... why?" asked Vila, who was visiting from Lincoln, Neb., with Fathers Ramone Decan and Tom MacLean.

"That's alright, we are still enjoying ourselves," Decan said. "We wish (more snow was) here, but what can you do?"

Most skiers and snowboarders Saturday lamented the lack of new snow, but for most, it was an easy trade for bright blue skies and T-shirt weather -- ideal conditions for catching a free concert by the Young Dubliners.

"How can you complain about the sun, especially when you're from Chicago?" asked Madonna Goodsell, who relaxed in Gondola Square with friends before the concert. Chicago, they said, is still in the midst of winter.

Any snow was good snow for snowboarder Ty Sanders of Austin, Texas.

"The snow is obviously pretty slushy, but I'm not out of sorts about it," he said. "It's more snow than we have in Texas."

Although brown spots shone through lower mountain slopes, temperatures were lower and the snow was better on the upper mountain, skiers and riders said.

"It was pretty nice conditions -- a little windier," said snowboarder Ryan Wood of Steamboat Springs.

It's not too late for more snow, but Wood isn't counting on that at the end of an overall mediocre season, he said.

"Two hundred inches isn't much to speak of," Wood said. "I feel fortunate for the powder days we've gotten, but it definitely hasn't been like last year."

Snowfall may be down from last year, but that hasn't deterred visitors from coming to Steamboat, said some mountain-area shopkeepers, who reported steady or better than average sales.

"It's definitely been up this week compared to this time last year. ... Starting the 19th, we're supposed to get busier," said Lindsay Kole, manager of Awesome Shirtworks in Gondola Square.

Kole said she was seeing a lot of visitors from Colorado as well as people taking advantage of direct flights to Yampa Valley Regional Airport from Houston.

Steve Burnett, manager of Powder Pursuits Snowboard Shop in Ski Time Square, said business in the last week seemed to be picking up with students and families coming into town for spring break.

Most were only slightly disappointed by unseasonable conditions, he said.

"Everyone says we could use more snow," he said. "But they also say they'll take 55 and sunny."

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