Snowboarder Brandon Harrison tests out the new jumps on lower Giggle Gulch before opening at Steamboat Ski Area. Since the end of the winter holiday season, snowmaking and terrain park crews have focused on getting the Mavericks Terrain Park, including the half-pipe and other features, fully functional.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Steamboat Springs After a more than two-week delay, the Mavericks Superpipe could open as soon as Thursday.
Steamboat Ski Area spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said Tuesday that the opening of the Mavericks Superpipe was delayed because early season snowmaking efforts were focused on getting other terrain open in time for the busy holiday period.
“When we cranked our guns, we had a lot of terrain to cover,” she said. “With our snowmaking, we were prioritizing what we could get open for our holiday customers.”
The half-pipe typically opens at about Christmas, Kasten said, but warm weather during the early season caused problems for snowmaking, and the focus was getting snow on skiable terrain.
Kasten said snowmaking and terrain park crews since the holiday period ended have focused on getting the terrain park fully functional, including opening the half-pipe and other features in the Mavericks Terrain Park.
The delayed opening of the ski area's biggest terrain park has put a strain not only on the resort but also on at least one scheduled competition as well as on-snow training time for local skiers and riders.
A USSA Rocky Mountain Freestyle half-pipe event scheduled for last Friday had to be canceled because the pipe wasn’t ready. The Rocky Mountain Freestyle website reported the pipe wasn’t ready because of mechanical problems with the grooming equipment.
Kasten, however, said the USSA event was canceled because the half-pipe wasn’t ready. She said the resort's half-pipe equipment is working.
The USSA event brought competitors for moguls and half-pipe competitions, but when the half-pipe wasn’t ready, those registration fees had to be refunded.
“I love Steamboat’s mountain and everything about it,” said Steamboat skier Penn Lukens, who was the half-pipe Revolutions Tour champion two years ago and was scheduled to compete in the USSA event here earlier this month. “It’s hard to compete and keep up to the level of other skiers when we don’t have anything to train on.”
The half-pipe at Copper Mountain has been open since Nov. 26, and Breckenridge's half-pipe has been open since Dec. 13.
“The priority was getting other parts of the mountain open for guests, and that’s certainly understandable,” said Jon Casson, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s snowboard director. “What I don’t understand is we had 100 inches in December and cold temperatures, and we’re still two to three weeks behind schedule. ... We’re a month behind other teams that have had a pipe.”
It's all part of the process, Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos said. Before the start of the ski season, DeVos said, club and ski area officials sat down and outlined the season ahead. When you're in the snow business, DeVos said, you always should expect changes.
"I recognize it's frustrating for some people, but this is the reality of the business we work in," DeVos said. "But you do what you do. Sometimes you get 3 feet (of snow), and you’re canceling events. For this particular group this year, everyone wants it to happen, but it’s not a guarantee. (The ski area) provides so much for the Winter Sports Club, from access to terrain to season passes. They are the backbone of why we exist."
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com