Welcome to our brand new blog feature “Postcard from Steamboat”. Jenny O’Farrell from Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp will be posting regular updates from her desk in Steamboat (we’re a tiny bit envious!) throughout the summer and into winter 2012/2013. Here is Part 1:
It’s another glorious summer day in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with brilliant blue skies interrupted by the occasional puffy white cloud. I should have just enough time for this update before meeting the husband for our 3:10 tee time at the Haymaker Golf Course, a mere 5-minute drive from my hike-in/hike-out office. That’s why I have not done my 5k walk on the mountain today, taking advantage of the rather steep Thunderhead Hiking trail which starts just at the foot of the Gondola building where I spend my work days. I did not even leave my desk today for a little wander around the Steamboat Promenade, a brilliant change to the base area with the newly daylighted Burgess Creek meandering down from Ski Time Square to One Steamboat Place and beyond.
Yes, I absolutely adore summer here in Steamboat. Most folks I know came here to ski or snowboard and then stayed around to discover the charm of the warmer months, but I did it backward. I first came to Steamboat in July of 1992 while living in Spain, and I immediately fell in love with the place. I returned the following June and confirmed my infatuation with this genuinely friendly Rocky Mountain town. When I packed my bags and moved here on my own in July of 1994, I knew that winter would come eventually, but as someone who had never been on skis or a snowboard, I was pretty indifferent to the ski resort concept. I got hired on pretty quickly at Steamboat Central Reservations, the call centre for the resort, and intense product training commenced. Most of the 30+ trainees were new to town and were passionate about snow sports, and they would squeal with delight upon seeing images of powder snow in our employee propaganda videos. I would just discreetly roll my eyes and think, “oh, please, it’s just snow!”
Winter arrived. I took up skiing. I was not quite a natural at the sport, and the people who passed me on snowboards seemed much more joyous and enthusiastic than my beginner skier comrades. So I took up snowboarding…After paying my dues with blood, sweat and tears during the three lessons that always seem to result in creating a snowboarder for life, I was hooked. And then came a gorgeous January day with a fresh 22 inches/55cm of Steamboat’s famous Champagne Powder snow. I ventured out on my own to explore, and I marveled at the excitement of the early risers who were hooting and hollering their way up the Gondola. I made my way to Sundown Lift and ended up riding with another snowboarder who asked me where I’d been so far, and when I said I was just getting out, he smiled, hidden behind goggles and a neck gaiter and said, “Follow me!” And I did.
This day changed me forever! I followed my mystery man all over the Sunshine and Priest Creek area discovering the magic of deep powder snow. I’d been snowboarding for just over a month, and I was a star, floating and turning and bouncing my way down the mountain. At one point we stopped mid-descent to catch our breath, and I asked him where we were. When he responded with “Three O’Clock, “ which I knew to be a big long steep black trail on the map, I considered panic but then remembered my amazing performance of the morning and just grinned. We rode together for a couple more runs and then went our separate ways, and though I still cannot tell you who he was, he is forever an important influence in my life.
Of course, during the following year’s employee orientation session, I was right there with the masses sighing with longing at the sight of powder snow in the trees in Steamboat. If you’ve experienced powder skiing or riding here, you know the feeling. If you’ve not yet had this opportunity, get here next winter and feel the impossibly soft, light, fluffy , dry perfect snow under your skis or board as you float effortlessly down the mountain. Maybe we’ll end up on the same chairlift and I can show you some of my favorite places!