Early close not crowd pleaser

Ski area officials say this season is longer than past ones

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The ridiculous outfits and on-mountain celebrations that typically bring an end to the ski season will have to happen on a Saturday this year. For the first time in many years, the Steamboat Ski Area is not closing on a Sunday.

— The Steamboat Ski Area's last day of the 2006-07 season is a Saturday, leaving some feeling slighted out of a day of skiing.

Historically, Sunday has been the last day of skiing on the mountain.

"It seems ridiculous to be closed on a weekend day," season pass holder Rob Pecoraro said Thurs-day. "It's guaranteed that I ski both days on the weekends : and I feel like I'm getting shorted a day."

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials hope people think of this year's closing date as an addition to the season rather than a subtraction. The ski area's last day is April 14. The ski area typically has made the Sunday before April 15 the final day of the season. In past years, that date has been as early as April 9.

"It's really an extension from last year of six days," said Heidi Thomsen, a ski area spokeswoman. "If we go back at least five seasons, this is the longest one we've had since the 2001-02 season."

The ski area's direct flight program also was extended to April 8. These dates were chosen far in advance based on market research, Thomsen said.

"The reason why we picked April 14 is because the model for visitors coming to Steamboat Springs is something we looked at last year and planned for," Thomsen said. "We looked at school breaks and the demand and customer surveys. We looked at a lot of different things and compiled it together and settled on Saturday because it made the most sense."

The last time the ski area extended an already-established closing date was in 1993.

"We extended that season for a week because we had over 400 inches of snow," Thomsen said. "Other than that season, we have stuck to the closing date set in advance."

Businesses such as Slopeside Grill will close the same day as the ski area.

"The Sunday that the mountain normally closes is not a big day for us. Saturday is usually the bigger day, so I'm not concerned about it," Slopeside owner Chris Corna said. "The change in daylight savings time affects us more. Now we have an extra hour of aprÃs ski time."

If the weather permits, locals can go skiing and mountain biking on the last day the mountain is open, Thomsen said. "That's something you can't do very often or in very many places."

As far as Sunday, April 15 is concerned, Pecoraro will be in Craig.

"I'm going to play golf," he said.

- To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204 or e-mail aplean@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

another_local 7 years, 1 month ago

"In its agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, Ski Corp. can't operate the ski area past April 15, and it usually closes on the Sunday before April 15."

That is an oft repeated urban legend that suits the needs of the ski industry. The Forest Service will let the mountain do whatever it wants in that regard. The mountain closes in early/mid April because paying customers stop coming.

The reason the mountain is closing on a Saturday is to preserve the seasonal status of the employees it lays off and avoid potential unemployment claims expense. They have to have a certain number of days between when an employee is laid off at the end of the season and when they are hired back for the next season (in this case, summer) to classify the position as seasonal and exempt from un-employment. Working backwards from the date they need to hire back people this summer, they reached the conclusion that Saturday had to be the last day.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 1 month ago

I guess I'm confused, the statement "In its agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, Ski Corp. can't operate the ski area past April 15.... well April 15 is a Sunday, if you operate on Sunday and not on Monday, you have NOT operated PAST the 15th. I'm not a skier so I don't really care but it sounds like they've taken the attitude that all the skiing tourists are gone so why stay open just to cater to the locals!

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Scott Stanford 7 years, 1 month ago

another_local:

First, let me say that this is not Allison Plean's error, it is mine. Many of us at the newspaper had come to accept the agreement with the Forest Service as fact, and I am guilty of not fully researching this before using it as explanation in the story. That's sloppy journalism.

The story has been amended to remove that statement. Second, a correction will appear on Page 1. And finally, we are working on a story to more fully explain the ski area's closing date.

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221 editor@steamboatpilot.com

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 1 month ago

Scott, much respect from me for your mia culpa, now that is good journalism, very credible, thanks...........

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Josh Kagan 7 years, 1 month ago

There still does not seem to be a clear cut reason why saturday was chosen instead of sunday. I appreciate the additional 6 days, but why not make it 7 and close on sunday (why did they choose Saturday instead of wednesday?). Many businesses often fully close or at least close earlier on Sunday to allow their workers to enjoy the last day of skiing. Will those businesses be willing to do this on a busy saturday? What about people coming in to enjoy the last "weekend of skiing" only to realize it will be only satruday? It seems arbitrary and doesn't yet make sense.

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Scott Stanford 7 years, 1 month ago

CORRECTION:

The U.S. Forest Service does not require the Steamboat Ski Area to close on a specific date and does not limit ski area use to a certain number of days. Because of an editing error, a story on Page 3 of Friday's newspaper misstated the Forest Service's restrictions on ski area operations.

-- Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221/(970) 291-9278 sstanford@steamboatpilot.com

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another_local 7 years, 1 month ago

JPK, The reason is as I described. I mispoke in my earlier post about the benefits though. It is not benefits but the actual payment into the system that the employer saves. Years ago the ski indutry in Colorado benefitted from getting a rule passed on seasonal employment regarding un-employment insurance. Seasonal employees are not covered by un-employment, hence the employer does not have to pay into the system for them saving a LOT of money. As part of the rule, positions that are laid off must not exist in that employers business for a fixed number of days.

So, for example, if the ski corp wanted to run the Gondola for summer use on a certain day in early Summer, and therefor lift operators needed to be back at work at that time, you can count back the number of days into Spring to the day that all lift ops need to be laid off for the position to qualify as exempt.

My understanding is that that day (when you take into account all the closing maintainance work etc) needs to be the 14th this year. The rule does not just apply to the individual hired or laid off but the entire group in that job category. In other words, if they want to hire back a single lift op early ALL lift ops would not qualify for the exemption costing them un-employment contributions on all of them for the entire season.

A number of businesses in the area use this rule to save costs. Restaurants, some lodging, and ski related service businesses benefit from it. The positions are identified in advance and the practice does not vary from year to year.

We'll see what the paper comes up with. But I think it will look a lot like what I just described.

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Josh Kagan 7 years, 1 month ago

With all due respect, I'd like to hear the reason from ski corp.

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bcpow 7 years, 1 month ago

At this rate there will not be any snow on lower mountain so does it really matter that they will close on a saturday? And...this is the opening for a raging party up on the mountain. Hike up to the chutes and enjoy a return of the bump off. Drinking, drugging, skiing and maybe some nudity. All without SSRC getting in the way.

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