Steamboat Springs resident Clinton Vits does a grab on a feature in the Lil’ Rodeo Terrain Park on Thursday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs resident Clinton Vits does a grab on a feature in the Lil’ Rodeo Terrain Park on Thursday.

Skiers, riders take pre-turkey turns

Gondola, Burgess Creek lift, 7 more trails to be available today

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— Skiers and riders dusted off the cobwebs and got their leg muscles burning Thursday, the first regular day for season-pass holders at Steamboat Ski Area.

Brightly colored snow gear speckled the 12 open trails as people made their way down from the Christie Peak Express and Preview lifts.

A few took tumbles getting off the lifts, and others ended up prone or supine on the fringe of the trails, summoning the will to go vertical again.

Yes, it’s official: The 2009-10 ski season has begun.

Chelsea Marie tucked her iPod earbuds into her ears next to her mom’s car in Knoll Parking Lot. The pair was headed up at about 11:30 a.m. — 15-year-old Chelsea on her snowboard and mom on her skis.

“Considering it’s Thanks­giving, before we have to get started with cooking and all that, we wanted to check out the mountain and see how it’s coming along,” Chelsea said.

The sunny, 40-degree day was a far cry from a frigid Wednesday, when the ski area opened for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Scholarship Day.

Amy and Margaret Dick­son, another mother-daughter team, were finishing their morning of skiing and had landed at the base. The Steamboat family skis every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas, Amy Dickson said.

“Now, I race home and try to get stuff ready,” she said. “And all my guests know I’m out skiing now, so they’re a bit nervous.”

Nearby, Antonio Jarana and Ir­vin Sev­illa stood with a snowboard and skis near the beginners area, brushing off snow from their first turns. Jarana planned to head to a Thanksgiving dinner with co-workers from Cantina after snowboarding, and Sevilla was skiing before going to work at Rex’s American Grill & Bar.

Both were out to experience their first day of the season. Jarana said he was pleased with his runs.

“It’s a little bit icy, but it’s nice,” he said.

The ski area plans to open the gondola and Burgess Creek lifts today, according to a Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. news release. That will add seven trails to the mix, for a total of 19 and more than 130 acres.

Open runs will be: Arc, Big Foot, Boulevard, Flat Out, Preview, Right-O-Way, Stampede, Why Not, Yoo Hoo, Ego, Heavenly Daze, Jess’ Cut-Off, Lightning, Rudi’s Run, Sitz, Tower, Vogue, See Me and Lil’ Rodeo.

Upper Why Not and So What beginner runs will be open from the top of the gondola to the bottom of Burgess Creek, but those who don’t ski blue or black runs will need to ride the gondola back to the base.

The Knoll lot nearly was full by midday Thursday, and lines for Christie Peak Express stretched past the railings.

Curt Comeau made his way forward in the singles line. He said he’s lived in Steamboat for 35 years and skis about half of the opening days.

“This is really quite decent for this time of year,” Comeau said about the snow and open trails.

Someone else was taking care of the holiday cooking, he said, so he could take advantage of the gorgeous weather for some pre-football exercise.

Although he doesn’t always make Opening Day, look for Comeau on April 11, for sure.

“I always ski Closing Day,” he said, “good, bad or ugly.”

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