Skiers Pat West, front, and Phaedra Fegley walk past a SlopeWise sign posted on the path leading from Steamboat Ski Area to the Knoll parking lot. Ski area and law enforcement officials are stressing skier responsibility during the final weeks of the season, particularly on Wednesday, a day often referred to as "Gaper Day."

Photo by John F. Russell

Skiers Pat West, front, and Phaedra Fegley walk past a SlopeWise sign posted on the path leading from Steamboat Ski Area to the Knoll parking lot. Ski area and law enforcement officials are stressing skier responsibility during the final weeks of the season, particularly on Wednesday, a day often referred to as "Gaper Day."

Ski area set to crack down

Authorities won't tolerate abusive behavior on April Fools' Day

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— Ugly incidents on past April Fools' Days have prompted Steamboat Ski Area to launch a campaign to promote appropriate behavior this year.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and the Ski Patrol are working with businesses and young people to encourage respectful behavior Wednesday. They're also increasing law enforcement presence at the ski area. Last year, skiers and riders reported harassment and assaults, Ski Patrol Director John Kohnke said.

"April 1 has always kind of been a day of celebration on the mountain, and from my understanding, it's been kind of an evolution of a day of celebration that's turned into mocking the guest," Kohnke said. "And I think some people still struggle with why would that be an issue."

Although most people are respectful, a few use April Fools' Day, sometimes called Gaper Day, as an opportunity to spray people with snow or otherwise mistreat them, Kohnke said. Last year, a man from Denver reported an unpleasant incident.

"They were up by Tomahawk, and his wife fell," Kohnke said. "It seemed like a group of people together, five or six of them, as she was trying to get up, they sprayed her. And then as she was trying to get up, they pushed her down and hit her with their ski poles and laughed and skied away."

There's a "gang mentality" among people who think it's OK to behave that way, he said. Kohnke said he didn't understand why people abused the guests who are a large part of Steamboat Springs' economy.

"The people that come to visit Steamboat are spending $5,000 to $10,000 on a trip," Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said. "It's what drives this economy. We need to take care of our guests and not mock them."

Alcohol frequently is involved, Kohnke said. The ski area plans to check bags at the Gondola, Christie Peak Express and Thunderhead Express lifts.

"When we see somebody with a big pack of beer, we're going to search that and deny you access to the lift," Kohnke said.

People who appear to be intoxicated also could be barred from lifts, he said. The Steamboat Springs Police Department, the Routt County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Forest Service will help keep things under control.

Sgt. Miles DeYoung of the Sheriff's Office confirmed an increased presence.

"I know we're going to have some additional deputies up there for Gaper Day because of the problems we've had in the past," DeYoung said.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association sent out an e-mail from Ski Corp. describing unacceptable behavior. It listed:

- Offensive, obscene, derogatory, mocking, reckless and abusive behavior, language, gestures, actions or clothing

- Skiing/riding in aggressive manner, which could be perceived as threatening to other participants, skiing/riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs as well as skiing/riding with open container(s)

- Acts in any manner that endangers or may endanger the safety of individual or any other person; violates the law or Colorado Skier Safety Act

Visitors notice when they're being mocked, the e-mail stated.

"Last year, we received letters from guests who won't be returning as a result of unfriendliness on the mountain," it stated. "This represents money out of all of our pockets."

The ski area is referring to Wednesday as Guest Service Day to promote respectful behavior and encourage locals to welcome visitors. Almost everyone understands and has been helpful, Kohnke said.

"There are just a few people out there that don't get it, and those are the people we'd just as soon not have on the hill," he said.

Those who violate the rules could be banned from the mountain.

"If you're somehow involved in an assault or something we consider egregious : you won't ski on this hill for several years to come," Kohnke said. "There will be a minimum of a two-year suspension, and it could be longer than that depending on how egregious the offense is."

Kohnke said the ski area wanted people to have fun. Dressing up is fine as long as no offensive or derogatory slogans are involved, the ski area's e-mail said.

"Our big mantra is respect the sport, respect each other," Kohnke said. "We're not against fun. We're just against that other stuff."

- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Troutguy 5 years, 8 months ago

So, just out of curiosity, is the ski area going to stop selling alcohol from their restaurants and bars on April 1st? Or is it o.k. to have a few drinks and go skiing only if you buy booze from them?

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2strokesmoke 5 years, 8 months ago

I have entered the cardboard classic for years now but missed last years. I heard they changed the format had no judging and made people race as soon as they arrived. I understand the mountains desire to make the hill a more family oriented place for rec. enjoyment but they have lost my patronage if for none other than the homoginization taking place... Will the recession coupled with the loss of local support put a dent in the profit of this corp..I doubt it. From the st. patties day bump off now to touron day dismissal, the last straw for me is the cardboard classic mismanagment.. whats next the cowboy downhill? its coming. whats not coming is the revenue from my season pass. Besides the cost between upkeep, gas, belts and oil and a season pass has almost become a wash....

I say the cardboard classic goes rogue buff pass?

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howard_roark 5 years, 8 months ago

I would like to echo the comments of the previos posts and add that...

This resort is the least appreciative of its locals of any mountain I have ever skied. From the cost of the pass to the lack of associated benefits (I can't even buy my guests a discounted ticket) it is obvious the resort could give a you-know-what about the locals. They themselves are creating the 'gaper-day' monster. By giving preference to tourists, the ski resort is breeding contempt.

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trump_suit 5 years, 8 months ago

Big difference between a couple of drinks in the restaurant/bar, and bringing a 20 pack in your backpack. Let's face it, last year was out of control and it was the locals causing the problems. I was there all day and saw a lot of bad behavior. It is not surprising that the company would choose to try and control that kind of activity.

In regards to the Bump-off and the cardboard classic, 2stroke is correct. It is sad that they are eliminating all of the local events that were so much fun.

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howard_roark 5 years, 8 months ago

I would like to echo the previous comments and add that...

This ski resort is the least appreciative of its locals of any mountain I have ever skied. From the outragous price of the season pass to the lack of associated benefits (can't even buy a guest a discounted ticket), the resort makes it pretty clear how they feel about the locals. And you think this sort of preference for tourists won't breed contempt?

Here is an idea, why don't you make us feel like we are getting a great deal, rather than ripped off? Then folks might be little more welcoming.

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TWill 5 years, 8 months ago

Howard- why do you feel that should you be entitled to buy your guest a discounted lift ticket? Just because you live here? I'll be the first to admit that there could be a little consideration given to locals by way of a discounted season pass by adding an additional pricepoint deadline (maybe a June 1 deadline in addition to the August 15- for example) but this is a destination resort. Compare our prices with others like us (Jackson Hole, Telluride, Sun Valley, etc.) We're actually quite reasonable by contrast.

I just don't understand the sense of entitlement many people feel around here with regard to thinking that they should be able to utilize a world class facility (Mt. Werner) just because you live close to it.

As for "Gaper Day"... there is something to be said for respecting the sport, as well as our guests. Grow up you losers!

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Troutguy 5 years, 8 months ago

Trump, not too much difference between a couple of drinks at the bar vs. 20 pack in the backpack. Scroll up to the top of this page and read the sign in the picture. "State law prohibits the use of ski lifts and ski trails while a person's abilities are impaired by alcohol, narcotics, and / or drugs." I know a couple of drinks would give me a little buzz, so, technically, the ski area is promoting breaking Colorado law by selling alcohol on the mountain.

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howard_roark 5 years, 8 months ago

Every other resort owned by Intrawest gives passholders the ability to buy discounted day passes. That is why.

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trump_suit 5 years, 8 months ago

Trout,

We all have a responsibility to control our level of public intoxication. The same argument could be made for any public bar. It is after all illegal to be intoxicated in public but even the police force recognizes the difference between 2 drinks and 10 when you are walking or stumbling down Lincoln Ave. There is a further big difference between walking and chosing to drive and in my opinion, skiing falls somewhere in between.

Had you been at the resort on April Fools Day 2008 you would have seen/observed the behavior I am referring to.

How many restaurants/bars allow you to bring your own food or alchohol into them? Is that really any different than the ski resort? It is a private for profit business and they do have a right to refuse service to anyone don't they? Bringing 1 or two beers with you would probably slide, but I saw multiple individuals that had literally cases of beer in large backpacks last year. It seems to me that you can make a common sense argument for disallowing that kind of behavior.

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Tubes 5 years, 8 months ago

if i was a visitor and saw people mocking me and treating fellow visitors the way they apparently have been treated in the past, i probably wouldn't return either.

not sure who or when this "gaper day" was thought up, but it is extremely lame and is getting a little tired. it's nothing more than a bunch of people skiing in one peice suits and jeans. at what point is this no longer amusing? seriously, how long are people gonna laugh at someone in a one peice suit or skiing in blue jeans before it's just really not that funny anymore...and not to mention a lot of what is worn on "gaper day" ie: flourescents and pastels of the seventies and eighties and stupid looking white rimmed shades, are now making a comeback and can be spotted in the park every other day of the season...

as for those "locals" with this sense of entitlement, the ski area owes you nothing for simply living here.

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Troutguy 5 years, 8 months ago

Trump,

I understand what Ski Corps is trying to do, but that doesn't mean I agree with it. I think a drunk pedestrian walking down the street may be a hazard to himself, but a drunk skier/snowboarder poses a hazard to many people on the mountain, just as a drunk driver in a car out on the streets. Unfortunately, the knuckleheads in the minority ruin it for the rest of us. As for the restaurant comparison, I guess they could take that bagel and cream cheese from me that I eat on the way up the gondy most mornings because they want me to eat in their restaurants instead. I'm saying most of this stuff kinda tongue in cheek. Just don't agree with the hypocrocy of "you can drink on the mountain as long as we are the ones selling it to you" attitude.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Mocking on April Fool's Day? Say it isn't so. Can't allow that - it could offend a tourist

Haven't you realized that the high season pass rate is intended to minimize the number of embarrassing locals on the ski slopes?

And if mocking is not allowed and wearing jeans is considered to be mocking then will those wearing jeans or one piece ski suits be banned from the ski area on April 1st? Fashion police in SB! Is that a joke or long overdue?

Serious question: If someone wears normal jeans whom is being mocked? Are the low inseam snowboarders being mocked, local cowboys, or tourists that wear jeans?

This mocking stuff is so hard because I can never tell who is so cool that they are mocking others compared to those that express independent thought.

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2strokesmoke 5 years, 8 months ago

T-WILLLL

That respect goes both ways, I firmly believe it is the patrons of the resort, (not our resort) well defined by many of the posts, have not shown over the years this respect you talk of.. It does not condom reciprocity from locals of which I have not witnessed anyone I would consider a local being out of line with any tourist who did not begin the interaction in a negative way.

Respecting the sport??? are you serious, has life yours or anyone elses become so rigid we cannot make fun of ourselves while participating in a winter activity, I dont know about anyone else but I wore those cool looking one peice suits when I was a kid, crazy neon embroidered pieces of art...

sport definitions:

diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime.

an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.

and the best:

mockery; ridicule; derision: "They made sport of him"

we are engaging in recreation in my opinion not sport which means you are competing against another..

loosen up your collar T-Willy and let people have fun I think that is what I am saying...

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TWill 5 years, 8 months ago

2stroke- I wore the same neon one pieces back in the day too, but that's really not what I'm talking about. Blantantly mocking (or even physically harassing) the same people that (in one way or another) pay our bills is not just "having fun".

I do blame ski corps for this to some degree though. How did April 1st evolve into "Gaper Day"? Why it was after they sent police up to the bottom of Chute 1 and cancelled the St. Patty's Day Bump-Off. Granted, that event might have needed a little regulation, but they didn't have to do away with it entirely. That was a great spectator skiing event that actually required skill and ability from the competitors (btw- thanks for setting me straight by reciting from your dictionary)- not just jackasses in outfits we've seen already that they think are funny. (well said Tubes).

Trust me, I have as good of a time as anyone. I even (discretely) laugh at tourists myself. But this "cooler-than-you" attitude from punks, with their pants falling off, is an embarssment to not just the ski resort, but our community in general.

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sickofitall 5 years, 8 months ago

Pathetic! Quit yer whining and ski! Or go ski somewhere else. It is a TOURIST town. You dont like it go find some hill with 500 vert in Wisconsin. Or do what I do, ski backcountry. Bunch of whiners! You hand over $900 then say ya been raped, wtf? Get a life!

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jk 5 years, 8 months ago

As big of joke as this whole article and thread is it should have been in tomorrows paper for petes sake. Then at about 5 o'clock they could have updated with APRIL FOOLS hahaha we really got you with that one!!!!

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Matthew Stoddard 5 years, 8 months ago

Well, Steeeeeve will be skiing tomorrow just to hang out with the cute tourist babes AND the cute gaper babes! Steeeeeve always says, "A babe in the hand is worth two in the Gondy!"

Or is that, "A hand on the babe is worth 2 in the penitentiary?"

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jk 5 years, 8 months ago

Have fun Steeeeeeve that's what it's all about.

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fartpark 5 years, 8 months ago

2strokesmoke said "condom" instead of condone. Funny. I think sickofitall stated it perfectly!

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1999 5 years, 8 months ago

People who appear to be intoxicated also could be barred from lifts, he said.

really...so today they make it a big deal but routinley allow people to get drunk at thier restaurants and ski.

ever watch people leave stoker bar ????? freaking wasted. on a daily basis but thats okay?

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2strokesmoke 5 years, 8 months ago

fartty

thanks for the corection, but y not chime in with your own thooghts insteed of giving someone else a reech around..

hope that isn't to r-rated for anyone.

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TWill 5 years, 8 months ago

What exactly did sickofitall say that was so astute? All I got from him was a bitter message. What's your point sickie- who is pathetic and whining?

People should have a good time skiing- that's what its all about. But I don't see any place for drunken, knuckleheads out during "amateur hour" acting like idiots and ruining other people's good time on the hill either.

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jk 5 years, 8 months ago

Well with 3 new feet of snow it's not amature hour out there today. Maybe we will here about some local hero saving some gaper from certain death as he left the groomers in search of freshies, Ya never know it is April Fools Day after all.

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TWill 5 years, 8 months ago

Right you are jk. As a matter of fact- I should be up there right now instead of posting on this thread.

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