Snowmaking crews get back to work as Steamboat Resort prepares for Opening Day
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The steady hum of snowmaking guns filled the air Wednesday morning as Matt Lehfeldt took a moment to talk about the first night of snowmaking operations at Steamboat Resort.
“You never know what is going to happen, and each night is always different,” Lehfeldt said. “Last night was an amazing first night. We saw a lot of things go right, and a few things go wrong. But that’s how we roll up here; we roll with the flow.”
Snowmaking crews — including Lehfeldt, who has been doing this job for 14 years — fired up the guns Tuesday night and began building the resort’s snow base ahead of Opening Day on Nov. 21.
Operations began at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, and dropping temperatures throughout the night allowed crews to make snow on Buddy’s Run on upper mountain as well as Heavenly Daze, Sitz, Jess’ Cutoff, Vogue, Short Cut and Stampede on lower mountain.
“The countdown to Opening Day is on with the start of snowmaking,” Steamboat Vice President of Mountain Operations Dave Hunter was quoted as saying in a news release. “We are just about 20 days away, the excitement is building, and our crews are hard at work assisting Mother Nature to create a great early season base for our guests to enjoy.”
The snowmaking effort began with about 100 guns, a combination of high-efficiency HDK towers and fan guns as well as Ratnik land guns, according to the release. Low temperatures and moisture in the air created ideal conditions.
Future snowmaking will continue as conditions permit. Forecasts call for continued favorable overnight lows over the next week, with the possibility of snow.
“It was a really good night, and we are very excited,” Snowmaking Manager Corey Peterson said. “This is what we have been waiting for. This is the earliest start we have had in a few years, so we are really optimistic, and the forecast looks good for the next week.”
City crews ready snow guns
Snowmaking crews also are gearing up at Howelsen Hill, with just six weeks until the Nordic Combined Continental Cup event.
“We are planning to make snow this weekend,” Howelsen Hill Supervisor Brad Setter said. “Saturday is the next night of favorable snowmaking temperatures, so we are shooting for that.”
Setter said city crews are wrapping up some work on snowmaking pipes that supply the guns, but that work will be completed soon.
After that, snowmaking crews will start working on the jump complex and Nordic trails in advance of the Continental Cup, which is slated to take place Dec. 14 to 16. Howelsen also will host an Alpine snowboard race Dec. 9.
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Xcel Energy announced Wednesday morning that it’s committed to avoiding any employee layoffs when closing its coal-fired power plants, including the two stations in Hayden set to retire later this decade.