Just 4″, says the official snow measurer?  Either your measuring stick is wonky, or that was a mini-me out there enjoying fresh, knee-deep blower on the Priest Creek lift line  this morning. This is the snow that made Steamboat famous, by far the lightest dump we’ve had in recent weeks, and it’s still coming down. Giant crystalized globs are floating out of the sky, piling up on delicate aspen branches, filling in our tracks.

It’s Winter Carnival weekend. Traffic comes to a standstill downtown as the snow heaps up on Lincoln Avenue for all kinds of ski and shovel-riding horse-drawn feats. The competition is fierce. It is proof that Steamboat kids are fearless. And here’s the big hint: Because the entire town will be partying on Lincoln Avenue on Saturday and Sunday mornings, those who take advantage of early ski days will feel like you have the ski area and a ton of beautiful snow to yourself.

Knee-deep blower under Priest Creek Lift, and the snow is still coming down.

Yep. It’s another powder day in the ‘Boat. Today’s frothy four inches (wink, wink) is whipped cream on top of so many powder days in a row that I’m losing track. Official count says we’re at 269″ for the season.  I rode up Storm Peak Express with the nicest couple from Montreal who is at the end of their first-ever glorious week skiing in the West. They are still wondering where they might find some well-tailored corduroy.  It’s probably under there somewhere.

Kind of like the bumps. They’re soft and buried, for the most part. Vagabond to Surprise proved a floating start to the day. The bumps on Surprise are merely bitty rollers that add to the fun.  Same scenario proves true with the long shot that is the bottom pitch of Three O’Clock. The aspens in Closets are at their best. The edges of Valley View are an unadulterated treasure on the way down to the base.

Still snowing: the view from Surprise.

Adding to the carnival festivities on Saturday, MarchFourth! plays a free après ski concert in Gondola Square. This is groovy, booty-shakin’ music coupled with stilt walkers and acrobats who roam the audience in wild costumes. It’s a festive nod to Steamboat’s Winter Carnival, but also a kickoff to the celebration of Mardi Gras. This Oregon-based band is back in town because they are bona fide fun.

After dark, on Saturday night, the Lighted Man will slalom his way down the face of Howelsen Hill in a LED suit with pyrotechnics soaring from his backpack. Ski jumpers will fly through a fiery hoop. A mega-huge fireworks display will blast over the Yampa Valley. They call it the Winter Carnival Night Show Extravaganza for a good reason. I have often thought it would be a beautiful sight across the valley to enjoy while night skiing.

My lucky day, capturing my little friend in her first-ever ski race, the Soda Pop Slalom, on Stampede.

Happy Winter Carnival weekend, everyone! Go Broncos!  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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