A quick slide into summertime

'Howler' Alpine Slide on Howelsen Hill opens to riders Saturday

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— There still are a few patches of snow on the face of Howelsen Hill, but that won't stop the Howler Alpine Slide from racing into summer action during the weekend.

"Overall, things are looking good," said Rick DeVos, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which operates the downhill mountain slide. "We are wrapping up some spring maintenance stuff this week and will be ready to roll by Saturday."

The slide will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It also will operate Sunday and Monday After this weekend, the slide's hours will be limited to weekends until June 10, after which it will operate seven days a week through late August. The Slide will run during expanded hours --0 a.m. to 6 p.m. --eginning June 30.

The Alpine Slide is on the face of Howelsen Hill, Steamboat's original ski area. The base of the slide is at Fifth Street and Howelsen Parkway.

The Alpine Slide experience begins with a chairlift ride to the top of Howelsen Hill. At the top, customers are given special sleds they can control by pulling a lever. Riders then begin the 2,400-foot descent to the bottom of the hill, barreling around sharp curves and "howling" the entire way.

Children younger than 18 must have a release form signed by a parent or guardian to ride the slide. Riders older than 18 must sign a liability release form. Children younger than 2 are not allowed on the ride.

The Steamboat Springs Win--ter Sports Club operates the Alpine Slide for the nonprofit Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Foundation. The foundation provides monetary support to the Winter Sports Club. Last year, the foundation supplied the Winter Sports Club with $110,000 to help cover operating and coaching expenses.

Winter Sports Club staff members and athletes operate and manage the slide.

"The slide provides so many great opportunities for our club," DeVos said. "We are able to offer coaches a year-round job; we are able to offer jobs to some of our athletes and other children in the community. But the slide also provides an attraction for visitors that come to our valley during the summer looking for something to do."

Rides cost $8.50, but discounted fees are offered with the purchase of a multiple-ride ticket. The tickets are transferable, and the price drops depending on how many rides are purchased. A 25-ride punch pass is $150.

"We've tried to keep this affordable for families," DeVos said. "The tickets don't have to be used by the person who purchases them, and the more you buy, the more you will save."

Each summer, the slide provides jobs for about 30 local children. Longtime Steamboat residents John "Pink" Floyd and Deanna Manthei manage the day-to-day operations of the slide, and Alpine ski racer Lisa Perricone is the supervisor.

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