Steamboat hopes night skiing will invigorate ski base

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Reader poll

Do you have concerns about noise or light pollution stemming from Steamboat Ski Area’s plan to add night skiing?

  • Yes, I have concerns about noise and light pollution. 35%
  • Yes, I have concerns about noise pollution. 1%
  • Yes, I have concerns about light pollution. 11%
  • No, I don’t have concerns about either noise or light pollution. 53%

369 total votes.

If you go

What: City hearings on Steamboat Ski Area's permit application for night skiing under the lights.

When:

• Planning Commission, 5 p.m. Aug. 8

• City Council, 5 p.m. Aug. 20

Where: Both meetings will take place at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

— Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. executive Doug Allen told a gathering of about 50 people at Bear River Grill Wednesday night that his company’s new proposal for night skiing has the potential to plug the vitality drain when darkness settles over the base of the ski area this coming season.

Allen, vice president of mountain operations for the resort, reminded his audience that about $35 million in public and private funds have been invested in updating the base of the ski area in the last six years, and he suggested that night skiing is a way to get more out of those improvements.

“This is the next logical step in re-energizing the base," Allen said. “All that vitality we’ve created goes away at dark.”

Initially, the ski area would like to offer night skiing from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, extending those hours to 9:30 p.m. in the spring and to 11 p.m. for some special events.

Not everyone was buying it.

One member of the audience said in his experience, night skiing at Keystone in Summit County attracts a young demographic.

“I don’t think adults are going to be skiing up there at night. Noise on the hill is going to be very problematic, especially if it’s kids,” he said.

Allen said ski patrol would be proactive in dealing with any noise disturbances. He promised that the lower wattage magnetic induction lighting being considered by the ski area would create a better skiing experience with less light pollution than older technologies.

Wednesday’s meeting was informational, and 2,500 invitations were sent to neighboring property owners, many of them with vacation homes and condos at the base of the ski area. However, the Ski Corp. is formally seeking a permit from the city of Steamboat Springs to install the lighting. That process begins with a hearing before the Planning Commission Aug. 8, and the matter is scheduled to go to City Council on Aug. 20.

Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said the Ski Corp. request would be heard as a development plan permit, just as if it was proposing to construct a new building.

What appeals to him most about the project, Allen said, is that it would provide night skiing for people of all abilities accessed by a 5-minute ride on a single lift.

“The real advantage is that when we installed Christie Peak Express (in 2007), we provided the ability to ski green (easiest) runs on Stampede, Vogue’s blue run and See Me and See Ya for black (advanced) runs,” Allen said.

Steamboat resident Barbara Cannizzo, who lives downtown but owns two Bear Claw condominiums, one slopeside and one on the opposite of the building from the night skiing area, said she thinks the Ski Corp.’s proposal has merit. But she’s trying to decide how it will affect the popularity of her rental units.

“Is it going to go from the ski side being popular? Or with the noise, will it become less popular?” Canizzo wondered out loud.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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