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Steamboat Magazine

By the Decade

01/31/2023 09:14AM ● By Eugene Buchanan
(Photo: Steamboat Resort in the 1960s. Courtesy of Tread of Pioneers Museum.)

From Steamboat Magazine Mountain Ed. 2023

Steamboat Springs, CO - Cue the Grateful Dead. Because what a long, strange trip it’s been, indeed, for Steamboat Resort, which heralds in its 60th season this year with its biggest investment in resort history, and – perhaps more importantly – great early season snow. 

Alterra Mountain Co., a joint venture between KSL Capital Partners, LLC and Henry Crown and Co., purchased parent company Intrawest five years ago, joining Steamboat with 12 other resorts in North America. The ski area is wrapping up the second phase of its $200 million Full Steam Ahead base area redevelopment and on-mountain improvement project. This winter you’ll see a new après ski plaza, a ski beach, Skeeter’s ice rink and Steamboat Mountain Stage for live performances. 

Lift-wise, this season you’ll also see the new Wild Blue gondola, leading to the Greenhorn Ranch beginner’s area near Bashor Bowl. Next year, Wild Blue will become the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in the U.S., taking riders from the base all the way to the top of Sunshine Peak. New lifts and terrain, including a 650-acre expansion into Pioneer Ridge, will make Steamboat the second largest resort in Colorado at 3,620 acres. 

“It’s exciting times,” says resort President and COO Rob Perlman. “Celebrating our 60th anniversary as the Full Steam Ahead project comes to life illuminates how far we’ve come. The spirit and vision that created Steamboat Resort 60 years ago is truly alive and well.” 

For a trip down memory lane, we combed the archives for a few decade-by-decade highlights from the ski area over the past 60 years.

The first race was on Storm Mountain in 1959. Racers, including Olympic ski legend Moose Barrows, rode switchback to the top of Bear Claw in a Jeep prior to lift access. Courtesy of Jeff Temple.


1963: Steamboat Resort opens on Jan. 12 with Storm Mountain Express double chairlift and an A-frame warming house, with total lift ticket sales tallying $13.75 (at 25 degrees below zero). Cowboy hats off to ranchers and resort pioneers Jim Temple and John Fetcher, who drove to California to pick up the bullwheels. 

Skeeter and Buddy Werner are two members of Steamboat’s “first family.” Both were Olympians. After Budddy’s death in 1964, Storm Mountain was renamed Mount Werner in his honor. Courtesy of Tread of Pioneers Museum.

1964: Billy Kidd, soon to become Steamboat’s director of skiing, wins silver in slalom at Innsbruck Olympics, joining Jimmie Heuga (bronze) as the first American men to win Olympic medals in Alpine skiing; Olympian Buddy Werner dies in avalanche in Switzerland. 

1965: Storm Mountain renamed Mount Werner in honor of hometown Olympian Buddy Werner (locals hint: tap his statue’s head at the top of the mountain for good luck); Thunderhead lift is installed. 

1968: Buddy’s Run is named by Olympian Gordon Wren, honoring Buddy Werner; Four Points lift – the first in the country to feature bullwheel loading/unloading – is installed; Thunderhead Restaurant opens at mid-mountain. 

1969: LTV Recreational Development Inc. begins a $10 million base area development; White Out run is cut. 


Olympian and Steamboat ski ambassador Billy Kidd wears his iconic cowboy hat. Today Kidd dons a helmet. Courtesy of Ron Dahlquist.

1970: Stagecoach six-passenger, three-tower Bell gondola is built (reaching a height of 252 feet with a record 3,330-foot span) to the top of Thunderhead; sportscaster Verne Lundquist first visits Steamboat; Billy Kidd wins gold at the World Alpine Championships and becomes the resort’s director of skiing; Summit Poma lift is added, opening the face of Storm Peak. 

1974: The Cowboy Downhill started in 1974 when six-time All-Around World Champion cowboy Larry Mahan and Billy Kidd invite cowboys from the Denver Stock Show up for a day of racing. (“Larry called me up and said, ‘I want to learn to ski,’” Kidd says. “The next year, he brought up a couple friends, and when you get rodeo cowboys together, you’ve got a contest. That was the beginning of the Cowboy Downhill and we haven’t looked back since.”) 

1977: Drought forces the resort to close, but it reopens March 5; Ethel Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Olympian Bruce Jenner attend the inaugural International Winter Special Olympics; Chute One opens. 


1980: The Cardboard Classic debuts. 

1981: Another bad snow drought year; snowmaking is installed on 160 acres serviced by nine lifts. 

1983: Sundown and Storm Peak triple chairs are installed and Summit Poma is removed. 

1984: Rendezvous Saddle and Ragnar’s restaurant open. 

The late Ron Dahlquist, who went on from a distinguished career as a ski photographer to become one of Hawaii’s most famous surf photographers, snowboards in the 1980s. The photograph was taken by Dahlquist’s then-apprentice Larry Pierce. Courtesy of Dahlquist/Pierce Photo Collection.

1985: Rolex is named after Loris Werner requested the use of the watchmaker’s name to go with the other time-themed runs (France’s Jean-Claude Killy visits to ski it for its official opening); Rudi’s Run is named in honor of Rudi Schnackenberg. 

1986: Stagecoach gondola is replaced with Doppelmayr (“Silver Bullet”) gondola, ballast-tested by beer kegs, becoming world’s first eight-person gondola; Hazie’s restaurant opens; Valley View run is cut. 

1987: Snowboarding is allowed for the first time. 

1988: The resort locks away a time capsule for its silver anniversary. 

1989: Steamboat Resort is purchased by Japan’s Kamori Kanko Co. Ltd.; the resort hosts two women’s downhill and giant slalom World Cups; Tom Barr becomes the first official snowboard instructor. 

Nelson Carmichael, the first Steamboat skier to win an Olympic medal (bronze, moguls, 1992, Albertville), catches air on Storm Peak in 1995. Courtesy of Larry Pierce. 


1990: A halfpipe is added in Bashor Bowl; Chutes Two and Three and Christmas Tree Bowl open. 

1991: The Billy Kidd statue is installed at the base area.

1992: Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express high-speed quads are installed; Nelson Carmichael wins Olympic bronze in moguls (he is the first Steamboat skier to win an Olympic medal and Nelson’s Run is named after him). 

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

1994: Snowmaking reaches 390 acres. 

1995: Mountain cams are installed. 

1996: The resort sets a single-day summit snowfall record at 29 inches on Thursday, Jan. 25; Morningside Park, 179 acres with CTEC triple chairlift, opens. 

1997: American Skiing Co. purchases Steamboat Resort from Kamori Kanko Co. Ltd.; 260 acres in Pioneer Ridge are developed for hike-to access. 

1998: Pony Express high-speed quad is installed in Pioneer Ridge; “More Steamboat, Less Otten” bumper stickers emerge, created by anti-Ski Corp locals lambasting CEO Les Otten. 

1999: The Park Smalley Freestyle Complex is dedicated. 

Steamboat’s three terrain parks are designed for different skill levels. Mavericks Park, Steamboat’s largest terrain park, features jumps, rails and a full-size half pipe. Mavericks is when you’re ready for the big leagues. Courtesy of Steamboat Resort. 



2000: Steamboat Grand Hotel opens; First Tracks program starts; Bear River Bar & Grill opens.

2001: Mavericks Superpipe is installed.

2004: Wind-powered Burgess Creek chairlift is installed.

2005: New commercial-grade espresso coffee machine goes in at Gondola Joe’s; mountain bike racks are installed on gondola. 

2006: Sunshine Express high-speed quad opens; Cody St. John is voted 2006 Colorado Ski Country USA Patroller of the Year.

2007: $16 million in improvements include installation of Christie Peak Express, the resort’s first six-pack; Deb Armstrong is named technical director for Steamboat Resort while Scott Anfang is named snowboard technical director; Wildhorse gondola is installed. 

2009: Private developments One Steamboat Place, Edgemont and Trailhead Lodge come to the base area.

1,100 vertical feet of terrain is illuminated  for night skiing at Steamboat Resort. Courtesy of Noah Wetzel. 



2011: Steamboat Bike Park previews first three downhill trails; base area promenade opens.

2012: On Monday, Feb. 20, Steamboat sets a single-day mid-mountain snowfall record (27 inches overnight); Gondola Square Plaza debuts with promenade and outdoor stage; Steamboat Bike Park opens.

2013: Night skiing opens on the lower mountain. 

2015: Steamboat air program grows to service nonstop flights from 11 major cities.

2017: The resort is purchased from Intrawest by a new ownership group comprised of Henry Crown & Co and KSL Capital Partners, LLC, lumping Steamboat together with 12 other resorts (including Mammoth Mountain and Deer Valley); Outlaw Mountain Coaster opens.

2018: Timber & Torch opens in Gondola Square; Taco Beast on-mountain snowcat debuts.

2019: A new Doppelmayr gondola replaces the current gondola.


2021: The Gondola Square building is demolished; a new gondola terminal is installed off the promenade; grading of the new Greenhorn Ranch begins; an escalator is installed at the resort entrance.

2022: Phase II of the $200 million Full Steam Ahead project is completed, including a new après ski plaza, ice rink, Steamboat Mountain Stage, and stage one of the new Wild Blue gondola, leading to Greenhorn Ranch. 

Steamboat Magazine Mountain Ed. 2023