The first chair takes off from the Christie Peak Express lift Wednesday morning to kick off Scholarship Day, a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Season passes will be valid starting today.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The first chair takes off from the Christie Peak Express lift Wednesday morning to kick off Scholarship Day, a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Season passes will be valid starting today.

Ski area offers 12 trails today

Officials hope to open gondola and Burgess Creek during weekend

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Watch Steamboat TV 18’s live broadcast from the base area from 7 to 9 a.m. today.

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A snowboarder hits a rail Wednesday morning during Scholarship Day.

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Snow blankets the Yampa Valley on Wednesday morning during Scholarship Day.

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Snow dusts the Billy Kidd statue Wednesday morning at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

— Skiers and snowboarders let out whoops of excitement as they tipped over the top of Sitz to Vogue early Wednesday at Steamboat Ski Area.

Scholarship Day, the first day of the season at Steamboat Ski Area, offered 12 runs and two lifts to skiers as a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. In the past 19 years, the annual event has raised more than $500,000 for local athletes.

Sarah Floyd, director of athletics for the Winter Sports Club, served hot drinks to early-bird skiers Wednesday at a tent in Gondola Square.

“What we’re doing right now is really just trying to show our appreciation to the people who support Winter Sports Club on Scholarship Day,” Floyd said. She also expressed the Winter Sports Club’s appreciation to Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. for putting on Scholarship Day and helping throughout the season.

“The scholarship money from this day has scholarshiped thousands of kids and gave them the opportunity to participate in Winter Sports Club, and we are very grateful,” Floyd said.

Athletes and coaches helped serve hot chocolate and treats to the people waiting for the first Christie Peak Express lift to take off at 8:30 a.m. as skiers and snowboarders battled the subzero base-area temperatures Wednesday morning.

The weather had warmed considerably by mid-afternoon, when Ski Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said there was “a great crowd on the mountain and in the base area.” Kasten said final ticket sales numbers for Scholarship Day likely won’t be available for a few days but that the clear weather, solid snow base and variety of terrain seemed to make the day more popular than it’s been the past two years.

“Our snowmaking upgrades this summer have definitely allowed us to provide more skiing and riding options for this Scholarship Day than on the past two,” Kasten said.

Jeff Good and his 13-year-old son, Jasper, were among the first 100 people to buy tickets and get in line for the first run of chairs. The two skied at Copper Mountain before Steamboat Ski Area opened because they “couldn’t wait to ski,” Jasper said, and added that they were excited for a first run on their home mountain.

Jeff Good said he and his son came out “to support the ski area and support the club.” Jasper Good competes in Nordic combined skiing with the Winter Sports Club.

Terrain update

Kasten said the same terrain available Wednesday would be available today: green runs on Yoo Hoo, Boulevard, Right-O-Way, Beeline, Big Foot, Preview and Stampede; blue runs on Jess’ Cut-Off, Sitz and Vogue; a black run on See Me; and a terrain park on Lil’ Rodeo.

Snowmaking crews have been concentrating efforts on trails near the top of the gondola, Kasten said. Ski area officials hope to open the gondola lift and Heavenly Daze blue run Friday, along with the Burgess Creek lift and Rudi’s Run, Lightning and Ego trails, according to a Steamboat Ski Area news release. No beginner terrain will be available from the top of the gondola down, according to the release.

Chance of snow Saturday

Temperatures were expected to get a bit higher today and into the weekend with the National Weather Service forecasting high temperatures in the mid-40s today and Friday. NWS meteorologist Jim Daniels said there is a slight but “not tremendous” chance of snow Saturday night, as “a fairly weak system … will bring at least a chance of snow to the mountains there around Steamboat Springs.”

Snow is likelier Tuesday night or Wednesday as a cold system moves down from the north, Daniels said.

“That one looks colder, more energetic and should have a greater chance of snow,” Dan­iels said.

Early injury

Steamboat Springs Fire Res­cue emergency responders were called to one reported accident early in the first day of skiing when a teenager reportedly landed on his backside after going off a jump. The teen reported that he hurt his lower back when he over-jumped the landing.

The medical responders took him to Yampa Valley Medical Center in stable condition.

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