Opening of Steamboat Ski Area gondola, summer attractions delayed | SteamboatToday.com

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Opening of Steamboat Ski Area gondola, summer attractions delayed

The Steamboat Ski Resort has pushed back the summer opening of the refurbished gondola and new mountain coaster until July 15.

The summer opening of Steamboat Ski Resort’s refurbished gondola, and with it, the opening of the new Outlaw Mountain Coaster at the ski area, have been pushed back to July 15, meaning they won't be in play during the busy Fourth of July week.

That also means cyclists won't be able to access the trails on the upper mountain via the gondola.

Asked if setbacks on either the gondola work or on the coaster were causing the delay, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesperson Loryn Kasten attributed the new projected opening date of July 15 to a combination of challenging construction work and adverse weather.

"It's the complexity of construction, some variable spring weather and that awesome (snow) storm last week, but it really comes down to construction," Kasten said. "There's still a lot of work to be done on the coaster, and the gondola is just moving forward."

Kasten reports the new 18-hole Maverick mini-golf course is still on pace for a June 30 opening, along with an expanded urban ropes course that will be built outside Gondola Square near Burgess Creek.

There's also a new concept for Steamboat in the form of summer tubing — no, not in Burgess Creek, but down twin plastic tracks that will operate adjacent to the Easy Rider magic carpet lift at the bottom of the ski trails.

Although downhill bikers who use specialized bike racks attached to the gondola cable to take their cycles to the 9,000-foot level on the ski area will be inconvenienced by the delay, mountain bikers accustomed to riding up the ski mountain — as well as hikers — will be turned loose on the trails as soon as conditions allow, Kasten said.

The ski resort announced the work on the gondola, a collaboration between its own lift maintenance crews and a team from lift-maker Doppelmayr, on Feb. 20. The expectation was that the gondola would be back in motion in time for a June 30 opening.

The further delay will also affect food service operations on the upper portions of the ski mountain as well, and Kasten said the resort is working with wedding parties that had planned to hold receptions atop the gondola early this summer.

"We're always disappointed when we disappoint our guests, but we're thrilled with the investments we're making in the resort's future, so taking the appropriate steps to make the Steamboat experience more exciting is worth it," Kasten said.

Since work on the gondola began April 16, within hours of the gondola shutting down for the spring, Steamboat has hired David Hunter as new vice president of mountain operations. He is the former director of operations at Eldora Mountain Resort outside Boulder.

Roger Perricone, a veteran ski resort manager of competition services, is overseeing the work on the mountain coaster and mini golf course.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1