With the Flat Tops in the background, Mike Hodder, left, and Chris Welch load a work sled with materials to be used on the upper mountain in preparation for its opening this weekend. The ski area's avalanche team will be back at it today for more control and set-up work.

Larry Pierce

With the Flat Tops in the background, Mike Hodder, left, and Chris Welch load a work sled with materials to be used on the upper mountain in preparation for its opening this weekend. The ski area's avalanche team will be back at it today for more control and set-up work.

Gondola to open Friday

Storm Peak lift to bring top-to-bottom terrain Saturday

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Larry Pierce

Mike Hodder watches as the bomb he just threw explodes in the Triangle 3 area of Storm Peak on Tuesday. The Steamboat Ski Area plans to open additional terrain beginning Friday, providing top-to-bottom skiing for the first time in the 2008-09 season.

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Larry Pierce

Ski area avalanche team members Craig MacDonald, Kyle Lawton and Bob Cordell stand by as Chris Welch, second from right, throws a bomb in the Triangle 3 area of Storm Peak on Tuesday.

Eager skiers and riders will be greeted by top-to-bottom terrain at the Steamboat Ski Area this weekend. The gondola and Burgess Creek lift are scheduled to open Friday, followed by the Storm Peak Express lift Saturday.

Final terrain decisions will be made day-by-day and are weather-dependent, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said Tuesday, but the ski area is poised to open access to more than 20 additional runs this weekend.

Priest Creek terrain off High Noon to Duster will be accessible from the Storm Peak lift.

"The early season snow we've gotten in the last week has really helped," Lane said. "We have decent snowmaking temperatures in certain areas too."

The ski area reported a 21-inch base at mid-mountain and 30 inches of snow at the summit of Mount Werner on Tuesday. The Preview and Christie Peak Express lifts have been ferrying skiers and riders to limited lower mountain trails since opening day last week.

Terrain and runs expected to open this weekend include: Buddy's Run, High Noon, Duster, upper Shadows, upper Closet, One O'Clock, Two O'Clock, Three O'Clock, Twilight, lower Rainbow, White Out, Rudi's Run, Lightning, Blizzard, Ego, Norther, BC Liftline, Arc, So What, Flat Out, Tower and Skyline.

Thunderhead Food Court and The Stoker Bar & Restaurant will start their daily operations for the season Friday, followed by the Four Points Hut on Saturday.

Snow expected this week

A fast-moving storm system was due to begin making its way across Northwest Colorado on Tuesday night, bringing an expected 4 to 8 inches of snow at high elevations through today, according to the National Weather Service.

"There's a chance of snow pretty much every day for the rest of the week, but we don't expect too much accumulation," said meteorologist Jim Daniels.

Three to 5 inches were forecast to fall overnight at the Steamboat Ski Area, followed by an additional 1 to 3 inches today. The flakes are not expected to stick in town, Daniels said.

"Maybe a little bit of accumulation in the valley but not too much," Daniels said.

Overnight temperatures were poised to dip as low as 15 degrees, with today's temperatures forecast in the high 20s and low 30s, Daniels said.

A weaker storm system is expected to arrive Thursday and Friday, likely bringing light snowfall, Daniels said.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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