A few inches of water didn’t stop Steamboat Springs resident Ben Ratliff from riding his bike along the flooded Yampa River Core Trail this summer. Record high-country snowpack resulted in flooding in parts of the county. An article about the Yampa River spilling its banks on the east side of the city cracked the list of most-read stories at No. 10.

Photo by John F. Russell

A few inches of water didn’t stop Steamboat Springs resident Ben Ratliff from riding his bike along the flooded Yampa River Core Trail this summer. Record high-country snowpack resulted in flooding in parts of the county. An article about the Yampa River spilling its banks on the east side of the city cracked the list of most-read stories at No. 10.

Top stories of 2011 in Steamboat Springs

Pilot & Today readers captivated by animals, weather, crime

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Top 20 most-read stories of 2011 on SteamboatToday.com

1 Ride through Steamboat a nostalgic 1 for some; Dec. 12; 19,567 pageviews

2 Strong winds close ski area, cause havoc in Steamboat; Dec. 1; 10,058 pageviews

3 Woman killed in wreck in west Steamboat; Feb. 5; 9,965 pageviews

4 Teen stabbed after altercation at library; April 4; 8,037 pageviews

5 Steamboat man arrested in dog shooting; March 22; 7,299 pageviews

6 Another rockslide near Mount Harris raises safety questions; March 28; 6,019 pageviews

7 Ghost Ranch Saloon closes indefinitely; Oct. 30; 5,964 pageviews

8 Steamboat man dies in Yampa River; June 15; 5,940 pageviews

9 Walgreens project approved by City Council; Feb. 1; 5,492 pageviews

10 Yampa spills over its banks in eastern Steamboat; May 31; 5,404 pageviews

11 Oak Creek man killed in Colo. Highway 131 crash; April 29; 5,322 pageviews

12 Steamboat city manager flown to Denver hospital; Jan. 2; 4,790 pageviews

13 Steamboat school district cancels school; Feb. 2; 4,671 pageviews

14 Steamboat-raised Blake Julian competes on ‘The Bachelor’; May 25; 4,628 pageviews

15 Moose prowl streets of Steamboat; Dec. 22; 4,464 pageviews

16 2 teens arrested in connection to burglaries; May 17; 4,344 pageviews

17 Family, friends remember Jenna Erickson; Feb. 9; 4,209 pageviews

18 Man arrested in connection with church vandalism; Nov. 17; 4,205 pageviews

19 Steamboat man dies after falling from roof; March 18; 4,193 pageviews

20 Hot springs employee robbed at gunpoint; Jan. 23; 4,130 pageviews

— Routt County has seen it all in the past 365 days, from record snowpack in the spring to a phenomenally dry start to winter, from horses and riders hoofing through bars to tragedies and stories of survival.

There was no shortage of newsworthy, captivating and eye-opening stories to tell in 2011, but Pilot & Today readers helped reveal a different story — that of what interested the community the most during the past year.

There are a few surprises in the list of the most-read stories of 2011 on SteamboatToday.com, but mostly it offers a well-rounded look at the year’s biggest headlines.

The No. 1 most-read story of 2011 was the Dec. 11 article about a trio of Routt County residents who spent a day joyriding through the city on horseback. Among other stops, Michael Miller, Kenneth Recker and Roxanne Lange clip-clopped through Safeway and then inside the Old Town Pub. The ride ended when police said Miller refused to cooperate with officers and was hit by a stun gun and arrested.

The No. 2 story also came from December, but this one involved a fierce windstorm that closed down Steamboat Ski Area, ripped the roof off a condo building and caused other damage across town. Video and photos from that day in Steamboat were syndicated on national TV.

Steamboat residents and visitors love weather and weather stories. Those stories took on a new twist this spring and summer, when record high-country snowpack resulted in flooding in parts of the county. An article about the Yampa River spilling its banks on the east side of the city cracked the list of most-read stories at No. 10.

The list also reveals a clear fascination with animals: Two stories about the shooting of the Arnone family’s dog cracked the top 10, while at No. 15, thousands of readers clicked on a story rife with photos and videos about moose on the prowl in downtown Steamboat.

Entertainment news was sparse in the top-read stories of the year, but readers clearly were interested in the closure of the Ghost Ranch Saloon in late October (No. 7) and by Steamboat-raised Blake Julian’s stint on the TV show “The Bachelor” (No. 14).

Tragedies also piqued the interest of readers here and across the country who have a connection to Steamboat. Other stories in the list of the most-read articles of 2011 include the untimely deaths of residents Jenna Erickson and John Noonan. At No. 4 is the story of the stabbing at Bud Werner Memorial Library in April that injured a teen.

Also telling is what didn’t crack the top stories.

No articles about the 2011 Routt County election cracked the top 20, despite the presence of hotly contested ballot questions like a new tax to support the commercial jet service to Yampa Valley Regional Airport and questions about whether to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Voters supported the air tax, which takes effect today, and shot down attempts to ban the dispensaries.

The arrival of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Steamboat in late August was a hit among residents and visitors, but none of the coverage cracked the list of most-read stories.

The saga of oil and gas exploration in Routt County blossomed in 2011, and is one story that certainly will carry over into 2012. And, of course, so will the moose, elk and bears that share our city with us. Something tells us wildlife will be a hit with readers again in the new year.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 907-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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