Steamboat Springs Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has been hosting free dinners for its employees, some of whom have been unable to go to work and earn their first paychecks.
The employee hot meal program began Nov. 21, which was supposed to be opening day at the Steamboat Ski Area. The resort also served a special Thanksgiving dinner to its employees last week, said Heidi Thomsen, a spokeswoman for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.
Offering free dinners to employees whose jobs are affected by delayed openings is common at ski resorts, and the Steamboat Ski Area has done it for several years, Thomsen said. With only a few runs open at its resorts, Aspen Skiing Co. currently is doing the same thing for its employees.
Thomsen said it's difficult to determine how many employees have had their work schedules affected by the delayed opening. Even estimates are difficult to discern, she said, because it is unknown which lifts, trails and restaurants would have been open during the past week.
In addition to feeding the ski area's seasonal workers, the hot meal program provides employees a moneymaking opportunity by staffing the dinners, and it provides a social setting for resort employees to mingle.
"It's kind of nice for employees and managers to meet each other and say 'hi' in a nice and friendly environment," Thomsen said. "Upper-level management is helping out with some of the clean up."
The delayed opening has left a number of employees hurting financially, lift operator Gabe Musselman said.
Musselman considers himself luckier than most, not only because he has some savings, but also because he has been in training this week. His lift is scheduled to open Friday.
"I have a second job, so it hasn't really affected me as much as some others," Musselman said. "I feel bad for the other people who don't know when their lifts are going to open."
However, the recent snowfall bodes well for employees still waiting to be called to work, Musselman said.
Six inches of snow fell on the mountain Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the ski area's Web site.
The ski area opens Friday with three lifts servicing about 10 trails.