Forecasts predict healthy winter season

Marc Leier of Craig prefers winter to any other time of the year.

His passion is evident as he always purchases his ski pass to the Steamboat Ski Area when official ticket sales begin in August. Although it was essentially Leier's job as a professional telemark skier to hit the slopes every day last year, the popularity of the sport probably doesn't rank as high among most Craig residents, he said.

"There's a small contingency here that won't give it up," Leier said some residents committed to the 80-mile roundtrip commute to the Steamboat Ski Area. "I think a lot more people here use their snowmobiles to get into the backcountry to ski."

Some reasonably priced opportunities are available in Craig for people eager to hit the slopes this year, said Dave Pike director of Craig's Parks and Recreation Department.

Youths in first through fifth grades can join the city's Trailbusters program. The program, which begins Dec. 4, provides transportation and all-day ski instruction. The two-session program typically attracts about 20 youths, Pike said.

The city also offers a ski club for older youths and adults. Costs to join the club are $10, but lift tickets are substantially reduced, or may be about $35 a day for youths, Pike said. That program attracts as many as 30 people each Saturday during the ski season.

"I'd say that's a pretty good representation," he said.

"We really have discounted rates, so it makes skiing more affordable."

According to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, the ski season may be flush with the white stuff.

Typically, areas in Routt County along the Continental Divide are some of the snowiest places in Colorado, meteorologist Jim Pringle said.

Last year, the Yampa and White River drainage basins were recorded at about 80 percent of average precipitation.

Weather professionals anticipate the ski season will get off on the right foot with a healthy dose of snow as a winter storm is expected to start tonight and trickle off by Tuesday, Pringle said.

It could dump as much as a foot of snow in some of Routt County's mountains. The lower elevations in Northwest Colorado are expected to get 1 to 3 inches of snow, Pringle said.

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