Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs track and field athletes and coaches felt left in the dust when it came to the heightened expectation surrounding an all-weather training facility at Gardner Field.
Head track coach Andy Reust said he was told at a pre-season spring coaches meeting that snow would be removed from both the field and the track at the same time.
As of Tuesday morning, a clear field and a track still covered with nearly a foot of snow left coaches worried about the prospects of one of the largest teams out for the sport in recent years - approximately 45 athletes - entering its first meet of the year. The team's first meet is Saturday in Delta.
"Our numbers are almost double from last year with a lot of young kids out who have never run," distance coach Greg Long said. "I've got a first-year kid out who wants to run the 400, but doesn't know the pace because he has never run the intervals on a 400."
Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich said that when a groomer donated by Ski Corp. came for the initial snow removal at the end of February, it removed nearly 3 feet from the track. But he said going deeper wasn't possible because the machine's snow cleats started to dig into the delicate track surface, "peeling it back like can opener."
Track coaches complained the remaining snow layer was too compacted from the machine to dig out track lanes manually with shovels - a measure taken by the boys lacrosse team to ensure the field's first home match on Friday.
"The bottom line is that this track has never been this clear at this time of year," Knezevich said, pointing out that the track team is on the same rotating schedule for field use as other spring teams.
The squabbling came to an end Tuesday evening when Reust made the announcement at a track and field player-parent meeting that complaints would not be heard and if the weather held, the track would be useable by Monday.
Reust said that warm temperatures and the four to five hours of work done on Tuesday by a high school custodian using a Steamboat Springs School District tractor-mounted blower made significant progress, and that another two days of unlimited use of the same resources granted by the school district would ensure a partially to fully clear track for practice in days to come.