Our View: Night skiing at Steamboat Ski Area a welcome addition
August 6, 2013
Night skiing at Steamboat Ski Area
The proposal will add value to the Steamboat ski experience.
The proposal by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. to add night skiing, first announced in April, is gaining traction following a community informational meeting held last week and a pair of city hearings planned for Thursday and Aug. 20. The Steamboat Pilot & Today views the plans as a positive development that will enhance ongoing improvements at the base area and add more value to the Steamboat ski experience.
Night skiing would be a welcome addition to the $35 million in public and private funds that have been invested in updating the base area of the ski mountain during the past six years, including completion of the promenade. At the July 31 community meeting, Ski Corp. Vice President of Operations Doug Allen described night skiing as "the next logical step in re-energizing the base." He added that all the vitality created by the base improvements "goes away after dark."
The addition of night skiing would position Steamboat Ski Area as the only pure destination ski area that offers that amenity and would place it on the short list of other Colorado resorts that offer the option, giving Ski Town USA an edge in attracting visitors, particularly families, who want to ski as much as they can during their visits. The night skiing option would enhance the overall ski experience, especially for those booking four- or five-day ski getaways. When a group checks into its condo on a Thursday afternoon, they could be out on the slopes that evening, creating an exciting start to the visitors' time at Steamboat.
Keystone added night skiing in 1985, and resort officials there said the attraction is very popular and often is cited as the reason visitors choose Keystone over other resorts. Because Steamboat is a resort known for its family atmosphere, night skiing only would add to its appeal and would serve to attract even more visitors to the ski area.
The plan would light about 1,000 vertical feet of lower terrain served by the Christie Peak Express lift, including the Sitz, See Me, See Ya, Vogue and Stampede trails and the Lil' Rodeo Terrain Park. Lights would go out on the mountain at about 8:30 p.m., marking the end of extended ski hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the winter. Those hours could be extended to 9:30 p.m. in the spring and possibly to 11 p.m. for special events.
Ski Corp. is proposing to utilize a sophisticated lighting system designed to minimize glare and light pollution. City officials attended a light demonstration at the ski area in April, and at that time, they reported being impressed with the proposed lower wattage magnetic induction system developed by Ultra-Tech. The lights are lower to the ground and produce less light than the system used to illuminate the slopes at Howelsen Hill.
Lighting the mountain at night might take a little getting used to for those living near the base of the ski area, but we think the benefits of night skiing far outweigh any negatives. It could be argued that night skiing would make ski-in, ski-out properties more valuable from a sales and rental perspective. Additionally, it should increase tourism traffic for mountain village lodging properties, restaurants and businesses, many of which have contributed to base area improvements.
We support approval of Steamboat Ski Area's permit application for night skiing, and we urge members of the Steamboat Springs City Council to vote in favor of it when the time comes. For those members of the public who want to learn more about the proposal, there still are two more chances to attend meetings on the subject. A hearing before the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will be held Thursday, and the City Council will discuss the application at its Aug. 20 meeting.