Steamboat Springs It was a chilly night for one Steamboat Springs skier determined to have a spot on the first chair of the 2013-14 ski season.
At about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kerry Lofy set up his tent at the entrance to the Christie Peak Express lift.
“I’m kind of homeless right now, and I've been sleeping in a parking garage the past couple nights because it's 10 degrees warmer in a parking garage,” said Lofy, a sponsored skier who sold his house in Steamboat in the fall. He intends to split his time between Steamboat and Squaw Valley this winter.
As he crawled into his zero-degree sleeping bag, his phone told him it was 14 degrees. Despite the cold and the roar from the snowmaking equipment, he said he slept well.
“It was actually very soothing,” Lofy said.
When he crawled out of his tent at 6:30 a.m., Lofy brushed the snow off his tent and made a breakfast of turkey bacon, eggs and a bagel. Ski patrollers just laughed, but Lofy knew he had secured his spot on the first chair, and he had a story to tell.
As the 8:30 a.m. opening approached, the gondola was where skiers wanted to line up because it would provide access to Storm Peak and Steamboat’s coveted tree skiing. The first ones in line at the gondola arrived at 6:30 a.m.
Just a few people joined Lofy in line at Christie Peak Express, which the ski area historically promotes as the first chair.
This year, though, Lofy rode up the first chair with just two other skiers on the six-passenger lift.
“It's funny," Lofy said. "I slept to get first chair and someone shows up at 8:20 a.m., and they get first chair with me.”
With 735 acres of terrain available for Scholarship Day, there was no shortage of fresh tracks for those willing to pay $30 for a lift ticket. Season passes were not valid Wednesday for the annual fundraiser that benefits the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club scholarship fund. Scholarship Day has raised nearly $760,000 since the 1991-92 season.
“It really allows a lot of kids in Routt County to get the benefits of everything we do here,” Winter Sports Club Executive Director Jim Boyne said.
Boyne was named executive director this fall. He came from the Chicago suburbs, and this was his first Scholarship Day.
“I’ve never been here this early,” Boyne said. “This is incredible. The weather is perfect, the resort did a great job of getting the mountain ready and there is a lot of excitement.”
Boyne described the ski area's opening day as a rallying cry for winter.
“I can’t wait to get up top,” Boyne said. “I hear it’s great up there.”
Boyne heard right.
“The base is fantastic, and anything that’s been shaded is soft,” Conifer resident Gordon Halverson said while having lunch under the sun at the new Four Points Lodge. “Having tree skiing open this early is pretty nice.”
Wednesday was Halverson’s seventh day of skiing at resorts this season, and he said it was the best day yet.
“I’ve been following your conditions, which are pretty good,” Halverson said about Steamboat. “Actually, really good.”
On Wednesday, Steamboat had five lifts operating and 57 trails open, including the famous Closet and Shadows tree runs. Snowmaking operations were continuing on Heavenly Daze, and the ski area did not open it Wednesday. Skiers had to come down from the upper mountain by downloading on the gondola.
Thursday is the traditional Opening Day of the ski area when passes are accepted, and the forecast calls for partly sunny conditions with a high of 40 degrees. Snow is expected to return beginning Saturday night.
“The bigger story will be the cold air and storminess that arrives on Tuesday night and lasts through the rest of the week,” www.opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Wednesday. “It'll be dry on Monday and most of Tuesday, then a general area of storminess (called a 'trough') will settle over Colorado from Tuesday night for at least a few days, or perhaps longer.”
The ski area plans to have Chutes 1, 2 and 3 open Thursday, and part of Heavenly Daze is slated to be open later in the day.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
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