Our view: Snow worth making noise about | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Snow worth making noise about

If there are destination skiers and snowboarders in distant states who have been hesitating this fall to book a ski vacation in Steamboat Springs, there's a good chance news of the ski area's early opening this weekend has their attention.

And we think that's what this weekend's rare occasion on Mount Werner is all about. The bonus of a two-day head start is a nice perk for season pass holders and a nice step in terms of acknowledging people in the region who support the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. with their hard work and hard-earned dollars.

But there's much more to the decision to temporarily open a limited number of lower mountain ski trails Saturday and today, then close back down for two days before Scholarship Day on Wednesday marks the official opening of the season.

We have no guess as to whether the decision to open early will actually profit the ski area in terms of dollars and cents. But we imagine Ski Corp. might be happy to just break even this weekend, because what matters most this time of year is driving bookings out beyond the first of the new year.

When we received four feet of snow on the mountain in the second half of November, that blessed weather trend created an opportunity for Ski Corp. to leverage its "snow message."

Evidence of that opportunity can be found in the special offering Steamboat sent out to its customer base Friday morning via e-mail.

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With skiers and riders drooling over the powder report, Steamboat was ready to offer incentives to vacationers — book an airline flight to Steamboat through Steamboat Reservations and receive 20 percent off on lifts and lodging (yes, some restrictions apply) as well as a $100 discount per airline ticket. But you must purchase by Nov. 30.

The timing of the snow and the "Spur on Winter" package couldn't be better, but the promotion is more than just that. To us, it signals a change in thinking at Ski Corp.

Steamboat had received 47.5 inches of snow at mid-mountain as of Nov. 18. Eight days remain in November for more snow to pile up, but the current total isn't a record, and there have been other opportunities to consider opening early in the past 13 years that weren't acted upon.

The last time the ski area opened early was Friday, Nov. 22, 2002, five days ahead of the scheduled opening day. That was thanks to 52 inches of snowfall in October and November, according to ski area records.

Since 2002, Steamboat has had a nice run of bountiful months of November, including 74 inches in 2003, 54.5 inches in 2004, 83 inches in 2005 and 49 inches in 2006. The unknown variable in those past Novembers is how favorable snowmaking conditions were.

We like the aggressiveness Ski Corp. has shown this November by stepping out and making some noise about a winter that's already off to a fast start.

At issue

Getting the most promotional value out of this month’s abundant powder

Our view

Opening the season early at Steamboat Ski Area is a strong strategic move