Steamboat ski season ends with events |

Steamboat ski season ends with events

Closing Day includes Pond Skimming competition, costumes

Jack Weinstein
Members of the Sankey family — Kevin, Laura, 10-year-old Nolan and 8-year-old Colton — fly down the mountain for their final run of the 2009-10 ski season.Joel Reichenberger

— It wouldn't be Closing Day at Steamboat Ski Area without the goofy getups.

Skiers and snowboarders were decked out in all sorts of costumes Sunday. The guy wearing an orange tuxedo and top hat was hard to miss. So were the people in banana suits. There were little girls wearing tutus, men dressed as cowboys and women wearing bikini tops with their ski pants.

And, of course, Closing Day wouldn't be complete without the countless skiers and snowboarders wearing multi-colored, one-piece snow suits from a bygone era.

The last day of the 2009-10 season was marked with clear skies and temperatures in the 60s at the base area by the afternoon.

"It's beautiful," Steamboat resident Brandon LaChance said. "People are happy."

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Resident Mark Stewart said that in addition to the costumed youths who flew down the groomed trails, it was nice to see families also enjoying the last day of the season.

"Everybody's having fun together," he said. "That's what I like about Steamboat. It's really a family-friendly place.

Resident Steve Eggleston said this was the first season in his 18 years living in Steamboat that he didn't buy a season pass. He said despite little snowfall, the five days that he did get to the ski area were good.

The ski area recorded 261.75 inches of snow this year. More than 400 inches fell the past two seasons. The last time less snow was recorded than this season occurred during the 1993-94 season, when the ski area got 255 inches, according to figures provided by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

Intrawest, the parent company for Ski Corp., doesn't disclose skier visit numbers, said Andy Wirth, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Ski Corp.

But Wirth did say Steamboat's skier visits in 2009-10 were "slightly below" last year's.

"In all, Steamboat performed very well even with a very challenging economic environment and a snow year that was well below average," he said. "When one considers how well we performed in the face of the economic headwinds and the relatively low snow year, we're generally pleased with the results."

Unlike last year's visitors, whom Wirth described as "thrifty," this year's visitors spent more. He said the ski area didn't need to offer as many discounts to get people to spend money on services such as rentals, food and beverages and Ski & Snowboard School lessons.

Wirth added that despite the challenges of a down economy and little snowfall, Steamboat received its highest service scores. He said it's typical to see low service scores in a low-snow season.

Closing Day concluded with the third annual Splashdown Pond Skim and a free concert by Donavon Frankenreiter with special guest John Oates, of Hall and Oates.

About 50 participants competed in the Pond Skim, twice as many as last year, Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said. Competitors were judged based on costumes and style as they attempted to cross a 75-foot-long icy pond.

Kyle Case, 9, competing as "Captain Underpants" (wearing only his underwear and a cape), was awarded third place. The duo of Kerri Loafy and Mike DeCoske, as the "3-Legged Mono Skier," came in second. Jon Subr, as "Batman," took first.

Few competitors were able to successfully cross the pond, including Subr, whose costume included wings. Subr was awarded a 2010-11 season pass for winning the event.

"My strategy was to have a really good time and go fast," he said.

Steamboat residents Georg­iana and Henri Stetter brought their dog, Kateau, to watch the Pond Skim and the Closing Day events.

"It's a good way to end the season," Georgiana Stetter said. "Everyone comes out. Everyone is in good spirits. There are colorful costumes. The weather is beautiful. And everyone has smiles on their faces."