Forecast calls for ‘free’zing ticket prices at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Forecast calls for ‘free’zing ticket prices at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs

Skiers and riders will be jumping for joy Sunday as Howelsen Hill hosts the first of its free ski days.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Brad Setter takes pride in the Howelsen Hill Ski Area, and he’s happiest when the lifts and trails that overlook downtown Steamboat Springs are being enjoyed by skiers and riders.

"We are excited to have people come down and enjoy the hill for sure," said Setter, who serves as Howelsen Hill supervisor. "We just like when locals come down and use the hill. We are going to serve Steamboat, and we want to serve the public, so that is what we are looking for as a staff. We enjoy it when it's busy."

Sunday will mark the first of 13 scheduled Free Ski Days at the downtown ski area this winter. The slopes will be free to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday from now until March 11.

The Steamboat Springs City Council approved the idea in October with the goal of attracting more skiers to the historic downtown facility and celebrating Howelsen's long-running Olympic connection in conjunction with the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics.

Howelsen Hill has been home to 90 Winter Olympic athletes dating back to 1915.

"It's a downtown skiing gym,” Setter said. “There is nothing else like it in the country. We have a lot of history and some really good terrain."

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Skiers and snowboarders are asked to stop by the Howelsen Hill Lodge to pick up a free lift ticket that will allow them to access the lifts and Nordic ski trails on Sundays, including Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as well as the Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day holiday weekends.

Setter said crews have been hard at work getting trails ready, and this Sunday, skiers will have access to the Poma and Magic Carpet lifts and the expert trail. The Face, up to the third exit, will also be open along with some beginner terrain around the carpet.

The Nordic trails will be closed to the public Sunday due to the Continental Cup race.

"Even though terrain will be limited this first weekend, the festive atmosphere will not,” Setter said. "The first free Sunday coincides with the Continental Cup, featuring athletes from more than a dozen countries and providing a unique opportunity to enjoy the ski area and its competitive skiing spirit on an international level."

Setter added that terrain may also be limited on select Sundays for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club training on a portion of the Face and some scheduled special events.

Howelsen Hill is owned and operated by the city of Steamboat Springs and it is Colorado's oldest continuously-operated ski area.

To stay up to date on changing conditions, visit steamboatsprings.net/ski or call the Nordic hotline at 970-871-7084.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.