The Centerpiece of Steamboat Square: Skeeter’s Rink
With Full Steam Ahead in full swing these days, excitement is building over the impending improvements that Steamboat Resort has in store. The centerpiece of Steamboat Square at the base area will be Skeeter’s Ice Rink, welcoming all resort guests to a very festive winter scene. Skeeter’s Ice Rink is currently under construction and slated to be completed by the upcoming winter season.
The rink itself will be 133 feet by 58 feet, which is not the size of a hockey rink (200′ x 85′), but is large enough to accommodate a variety of winter activities. The sides of the rink will not be typical plexiglass, instead, the rink will be surrounded by open rails, which will create quite the dreamy winter experience. Outside of the ice rink there will even be some “drink rails” where spectators can watch the activity in the ice rink while sipping on hot chocolate or their beverage of choice, of course.
During Phase I of Full Steam Ahead, the foundation and some of the infrastructure for the ice rink was already completed, but the more visual construction for the rink will start in about one month. The curb, mechanical installation and actual construction of the rink itself will begin in early July, and will give a much more visual perspective to the public by the end of July or early August. The railings aren’t slated to go in until October, but by that point, you’ll have been able to see the rink really take on an exciting new shape.
Steamboat Resort has some exceptionally fun ideas and concepts surrounding Skeeter’s Ice Rink, for the winter and summer seasons alike. As for winter, which will be the true season of the ice rink, Steamboat plans to have the rink open from 10 A.M. until 8 P.M. every day. Guests can enjoy daytime skating or nighttime skating, or both, with an open skate concept where if you bring your own ice skates, you can skate for free. A skate rental kiosk in the form of a converted horse trailer will also be stationed close by the ice rink to assist guests. Figure skates and hockey skates will be available for rent, along with helmets and some trainers for the youngest or most beginner skaters, to enhance their experience and enjoyment.
While nothing is set in stone, Steamboat Resort is exploring the idea of facilitating a curling league, figure skating lessons and other special activities on ice. Earlier I mentioned that the rink will be surrounded by open rails instead of plexiglass, so there will not be hockey on the rink at this time. Within the rink’s mechanical system will be a cooling system, which will make the rink not dependent on Mother Nature and open from the start of the winter season through the end of March.
Next to Skeeter’s Ice Rink will be the new Range Food Hall featuring a variety of foods like Pioneer Pies, Twister Tacos, Sunshine Bowl Ramen and Why Not Sweet Spot, along with a full bar, catering to indoor and outdoor diners alike. Surrounding the ice rink will be rocking chairs and fire pits for guests to enjoy while either spectating or simply taking a break from skating.
During the summers, Skeeter’s Ice Rink will be covered in a soft turf, allowing for other activities to come to fruition like yoga, lawn games and outdoor movies. As for the outdoor movies, the large screen would be towards the base of the gondola, giving viewers the experience of an outdoor movie with a backdrop of Steamboat Resort. The idea here is to take the wintertime centerpiece of Steamboat Square and also make it a summertime centerpiece that guests can enjoy in a more summery way.
Photo Credit: Tread of Pioneers Museum, Steamboat Springs, CO
Now that I’ve painted the visual and given you the details on Skeeter’s Ice Rink, one question that you may have left for me is: Who is Skeeter? Good question. Skeeter, also legally known as Gladys Werner, was the oldest child in the famous Werner family that included Buddy and Loris. She was born in 1933 and began skiing in 1934, at the age of one. In 1949 she rose in the ranks of competitive skiing and garnered national attention by winning the West of the Mississippi Championship in Sun Valley, Idaho. From there she continued in competition and became the youngest member of the U.S. FIS team and placed 10th in downhill. Skeeter was featured on the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine and went on to marry Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker in 1969.
Skeeter started the Steamboat Ski School, serving as director and owner until 1969. She also coached for the Colorado Junior National Team and the infamous Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. In 1984, Skeeter was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame and went on to receive the Hazie Werner Award in 1989. In 2001, Skeeter passed away at the age of 67. Her legacy lives on in the Steamboat Springs community today, and Skeeter’s Ice Rink will soon be a wonderful reminder of her impact on the world of women’s skiing and Steamboat Resort.
Opening day for the winter ski season at Steamboat Resort will be November 23, 2022 (subject to change). Skeeter’s Ice Rink is also planning to open that day, bringing a new and more exciting facade to Steamboat Square. Stop by and check out the construction progress at the base area and get ready for a winter of skiing and skating alike!
Written by: Erin Campbell