Sunday was a tough day for local fans of the Denver Broncos, who missed a shot at Super Bowl XL by losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For some fans, the disappointing feeling rang familiar.
"I've been a Broncos fan since I was this tall," said Steamboat Springs resident Darren Burcher, placing his hand low to the ground. "I'm used to the woes."
Burcher, wearing a blue-and-orange Broncos jersey, took in the game at The Tugboat Grill & Pub, where he works, near Ski Time Square.
Although several local bars were crowded with fans of both teams watching the game, business was not as busy as some owners and employees expected.
"We actually have some tables open, which is unusual for us," said Camille Flynn, manager of the Slopeside Grill in Torian Plum Plaza.
A few tables also were open early in the game at The Tap House sports bar on Lincoln Avenue, where a hostess said business was very good, but "not too crazy."
Clear blue skies and piles of fresh snow may have inspired many would-be game watchers to take a day on the slopes instead.
But not Pittsburgh native Gilbert Buzza.
"I didn't ski, not even on a beautiful day like today, because the Steelers are on," said Buzza, 71, wearing a Steelers jersey at the Slopeside bar.
Buzza, a retired beekeeper who said he grew up in Pittsburgh and still lives there, said this is his seventh year vacationing with family in Steamboat. He is staying at a hotel with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, but he said he left them behind to watch the game.
"I told them: 'I have to go, the game's on,'" Buzza said.
Steamboat Springs police reported only one incident with rowdy fans as of late Sunday afternoon, when police facilitated the removal of an inebriated Steelers fan from the Bear River Bar & Grill at the Steamboat Ski Area.
Although Pittsburgh jumped out to a 24-3 lead at the game's halfway point, at least one local Broncos fan didn't lose confidence in her team.
"They're going to the Super Bowl," Steamboat resident Sarah Coleman said at halftime, watching the game with friends at the Old Town Pub & Restaurant on Lincoln Avenue. "I'm not worried."
In the end, though, fans were left out in the cold.
"I'm just, overall, angry," said 15-year-old Joe Nerney, who watched the game on a huge, high-definition screen at the new Steamboat Springs Mountain Theater in Ski Time Square.
"The turnovers were horrible."
Burcher, before bellying up to the Tugboat bar and "drowning his sorrows," expressed the diehard, resilient hope for the future that is the mark of a dedicated fan.
"One more year," Burcher said, citing the team's growing potential. "One more year."
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