Ski area to open for the early bird

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— Skiers looking to get an early jump on the mountain, might just be in luck.

Beginning on Tuesday, and running through Jan. 3, The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation will open the ski area as much as 30 minutes ahead of schedule due to anticipated holiday business volumes.

Currently the Steamboat Ski Area has 18 out of 20 lifts and 95 percent of the mountain open, including 98 percent of the beginning and intermediate terrain.

"Over the past three years we've seen the dramatic difference early opening times can make on starting the holiday experience off right," said Chris Diamond, president of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation.

Starting Tuesday, the Steamboat Gondola, Christie III, Southface and Preview will all open at 8 a.m. Thunderhead Express, Burgess Creek and Four Points will open at 8:15 a.m. Elkhead, Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express open at 8:30 a.m.

The ski is currently reporting a 43-inch base at mid-mountain and 41 inch base at the Summit.

Jim Pringle, the National Weather Service's warning coordination meteorologist, said skiers and snowboarders should expect the weather to clear up, but that a storm passing through today and into Tuesday could bring several inches. Then on Wednesday, Pringle said a larger storm should pass through the area.

"The storm on Wednesday is packing better moisture," he said Saturday from the National Weather Service's Grand Junction forecast office. "That storm could possibly bring three to six inches initially."

Looking ahead into the New Year, Pringle said things will initially dry out but a new storm system may move in on Jan. 1.

"As always there will be periods of snow but nothing extreme," Pringle said. "The biggest potential is on Wednesday."

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