TAHOE/TRUCKEE — You know it’s spring when a pale, hairy man in an American flag Speedo, an afro wig and bright green ski boots stumbles by on his way to Squaw Valley’s KT-22.
Glorious spring. When the slopes turn to slush under sunny skies. When shorts and snowboard boots are decently appropriate. When the smell of hamburgers grilling on the lodge deck wafts into the lift line.
Oh yes, it’s pond-skimming season once again.
“The sun’s out. It’s warm. People are excited to be out,” Heavenly Mountain Resort spokeswoman Sally Gunter said. “And there’s still plenty of good skiing and riding to be had.”
Resorts around the lake are packing their last few weeks with finely groomed corduroy, fresh terrain park setups and a bevy of wild events meant to put an exclamation point on the end of the season.
At Squaw Valley, professional and amateur skiers and riders kicked off the spring season with the Pain McShlonkey Classic, where mullet wigs, snow blades and, well, American flag Speedos were par for the course. Coming up, Squaw has scheduled its Retro Ski Day, numerous competitions and its end-of-the-month music bash, Mountain of Strings.
Across the lake, Heavenly Mountain Resort launched into spring with the flips and twists of the U.S. Freestyle Championships. The mountain will present the High Roller Hold ‘Em, an intricate evening snowboard competition, featuring some of the world’s top riders, hosted by Shaun White on April 6, as well as daily spring events and its annual Ski Patrol fundraiser on April 14.
“We’re looking forward to a busy spring,” mountain spokesman Russ Pecoraro said.
Other distinctly spring events include Diamond Peak’s Dummy Downhill, in which contestants send homemade dummies mounted on skis or a snowboard off a jump; Alpine Meadows’ Red Bull Schlittentag, in which participants ride creatively devised sleds off a jump; and pond skims at Northstar California and Squaw Valley
“Spring skiing encapsulates all the best things about skiing in California,” Squaw Valley spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said. “You’ve got really fun snow conditions, but you also have warm temperatures, sunny skies and all kinds of fun activities.”
Though the season is on its tail end, events and activities aren’t the only thing going off up at the resorts. Conditions are still ripe for making turns and terrain parks are groomed to a T.
“Essentially, we’ve got excellent spring conditions,” said Mike Pierce, a spokesman for Mt. Rose Ski Resort. “We’ve got great coverage top to bottom. It’s perfect up here.”
Sierra-at-Tahoe held its first Tanner Hall Invitational on a monster truck of a jump with top skiers from around the world. With another big event coming up, the Billabong Flaunt It Finals hosted by Jamie Anderson, the resort has been fine tuning their terrain park for the end of the season.
“We’re excited to host these world-class events,” Sierra-at-Tahoe spokesman Steve Hemphill said. “It’s allowed us to give our guests a great terrain park product.”
Alpine Meadows — April 14, move to Fri, Sat, Sun until conditions permit
Heavenly Mountain Resort — April 14
Homewood Mountain Resort — April 7
Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort — April 15
Kirkwood Mountain Resort — April 21
Squaw Valley — April 28
Northstar California — April 14
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe — April 21
Diamond Peak Ski Resort —To be announced
Boreal Mountain Resort — April 14
Sugar Bowl Resort — To be announced