When the snow would fall hard in Steamboat, and it was still the dead of night, you would frequently find a crew of groggy-eyed men, shoveling out Gondola Square Plaza. They would show up with shovels, and one hearty Bobcat, at around 4 a.m., to start shoveling away the snow so that skiers and riders could get to the ticket window and gondola safely. That won’t be the case anymore. One hundred thousand individual pavers have been added to Gondola Square Plaza this summer, and they all sit neatly on top of a new sidewalk snowmelt system. Steamboat gets over 30 feet of snow annually so there won’t be any more sore backs from shoveling.

Steamboat is also sending people downhill faster, but not necessarily on boards. Another big change at Steamboat this summer has been the addition of three freeride downhill mountain bike trails. One is an expert jump trial and the other two are downhill beginner trails, which kick off the future Steamboat Bike Park. Two more trails are in the works by Gravity Logic and resort crews. The inaugural season for the Steamboat Bike Park will be summer 2012.

Dead lodgepole pines were also cut down and removed throughout the mountain. About 100 acres of trees that were killed due to pine beetles were removed on the lower mountain. It’s called the Big Spark Project, and similar lodging work completed last summer resulted in powder hounds rediscovering newly gladed terrain that hadn’t been enjoyed for years.

More changes were made behind the scenes. Seven new snowmaking tower guns have been added, a new Prinoth Bison grooming machine has been added, restrooms at Thunderhead will now be auto-flush with shut-off features, saving thousands of gallons of water annually, and the 75,000 pound, two-mile long wire haul rope on Storm Peak Express has been replaced.

Click here to check out video of the future Steamboat Bike Park and here for more from Steamboat.