Skip to main content

Steamboat Magazine

50+ years At the Steamboat Ski Area

12/02/2012 09:36AM ● By Christina Freeman

1963-John Fetcher and Gordy Wren at the base of Storm Mountain Ski Area. Courtesy Fetcher Family Collection/Bill Fetcher.

The Steamboat Ski Area started in 1955 with one man’s dream. Rancher Jim Temple looked up at Storm Mountain, looming over the tiny town, and dreamt that one day it would become a ski area of international renown. Through tough financial times, drought and the early death of Steamboat’s favorite son, Buddy Werner, the ski area and the community around it has stood fast. Today, more than 50 years after Temple first opened Storm Mountain Ski Area, his vision has not only been realized, but surpassed.

1955 "The Dream" includes plans for a gondola from the base to the summit of Storm Mountain

1958 Groundbreaking; first trails cut on Christie, then called Bearclaw

1959 First ski races held on Christie; access via snowcat 

1961 First lift, the Cubclaw Poma lift

1962 A-Frame warming hut

1963 Official opening of the ski area
Sitz, Yoo Hoo, See Me, Voo Doo, Vogue, Main Drag, Swinger and Right-O-Way runs

1964 Hometown Olympian Buddy Werner dies in an avalanche in Switzerland

1965 Mount Werner named in Buddy’s honor

1968 Four Points double chairlift

"Weather front" runs: Cyclone, Tornado, Twister, Hurricane and Rainbow

Thunderhead Restaurant built

1969 Burgess Creek and Headwall double chairlifts
White Out, Norther and Blizzard runs

1970 Billy Kidd becomes director of skiing

Stagecoach 6-passenger gondola built. 3,300 ft. span between Tower 1 (near Ptarmigan Inn) and Tower 2 (top of Christie) is world's longest. Height above Heavenly Daze between Towers 2 and 3 is 252 ft.

Summit Poma lift added, opening the face of Storm Peak and Buddy's Run.

1972 Priest Creek — first lift planted by helicopter

Priest Creek area opens with Closet, Shadows, Twilight, High Noon, One, Two and Three O'clock.

1974 Bashor double chairlift opens Bashor Bowl for beginners

1977 Snow drought, area closes; reopens March 5

WJW and Bar UE double chairlifts

Big Meadow, Crow Track, Flying Z, Triangle Three and Drop Out runs cut

Chute One opens

Ethel Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Olympian Bruce Jenner attend Inaugural International Winter Special Olympics

1979 Southface and Christie III and Arrowhead triple chairlifts open.

Ted's Ridge cut.

1980/81 Another snow drought; snowmaking installed

1983 Storm Peak and Sundown triple chairlifts installed. Storm Peak lift crosses over Four Points lift at the top of Twister

1984 Jean-Claude Killy and Billy Kidd make the first “official” run down Rolex

Sunshine Bowl ("Wally World") — Tomahawk, Quickdraw and Flintlock runs open

South Peak triple chairlift installed

Rendezvous Saddle and Ragnar's restaurant open

1985 Sunshine triple chairlift opens

Rudi’s Run named in honor of Rudi Schnackenberg.

1986 Silver Bullet 8-passenger gondola and Hazie's restaurant open

Valley View run cut

Direct ski flights to Yampa Valley Regional Airport

1987 Snowboarding permitted

1989 Steamboat hosts two women’s downhill and giant slalom World Cups: one in February and the next in December

Rough Rider Basin and Broadway run open

1990 Mountain trails open in summer.

Chutes Two, Three and Christmas Tree Bowl open

1991 Billy Kidd statue installed

1992 Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express open.

Nelson's Run named in honor of Olympian Nelson Carmichael

The "Toutes" (East Face) brought within ski area boundary

Typhoon, a gladed area between Cyclone and Tornado, developed

1993 President Gerald Ford drops in to Hazie Werner’s home (unannounced) for lunch.

Mother Nature run created by a mudslide

Four Points Hut built

1996 Morningside Park expansion

1997 Pioneer Ridge trails cleared

1998 Pony Express chairlift installed

1999 The Park Smalley Freestyle Complex is dedicated; includes Voo Doo and adjacent aerial jumps

2000 Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel opens

2001 Mavericks Superpipe opens

2006 Sunshine high-speed quad opens

2007 Headwall regraded

Christie Peak Express and Wildhorse gondola are installed

2010 Steamboat Springs becomes Bike Town USA®

Nordic Combined “Moment of Glory” with 7 Olympic medals

2011 Base area promenade opens

Permanent stage built next to Gondola Square

Specialized downhill trails open in summer

2012 Steamboat Ski Area celebrates its 50th anniversary

Billy Kidd turns 70