As the Bull Wheel Turns: Snow dances look to be paying off … but don’t stop | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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As the Bull Wheel Turns: Snow dances look to be paying off … but don’t stop

This is the big weekend that we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve gotten down on our knees and prayed, did the most outrageous snow calls and of course have been doing the snow dances and finally we may see some REAL snow and winter conditions for the first time this season.

Some forecasters originally predicting five to eight feet of snow above 7,000 feet and now could be half that, but what ever we get, I am sure we will all be thankful. A winter storm warning is in effect from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning so keep the energy positive for more.

The good thing is that this system will hopefully open the storm door for more normal winter conditions and more snow will be coming. Remember last year? On this weekend last year, Heavenly reported a packed snow base of 65-90″: Sierra at Tahoe had 43-118″; and Kirkwood on this date last year reported 87-95″. Most of that snow came in December of 2010 with about 4 to 6″ the first week of January 2011 and no new snow through January 30 when another 4-6″ fell. Two more weeks of nice dry weather followed and between February 15-18, about seven to eight feet of snow graced the upper slopes. So, there is still plenty of winter coming, but don’t let up on the snow calling and dancing as forecasters are already stating that the moderate La Nina pattern reflects no more snow until late January or into February for any more big storms.



Heavenly’s snow making on mountain crew, lead by director of snow surfaces, Jim Larmore, did an incredible job to get Skyline Trail open this past week to connect California with their Nevada side of the mountain. They made snow at the bottom of Sky Meadows and loaded buckets full on to Sky Express to transport to the top, then unloaded; and also made snow at the top of Dipper Express in Nevada and groomers pushed from both directions up Skyline Trail 4830 linear feet to create a skiable surface to access Nevada from California.

“This project has been an amazing combination of creativity and hard work, driven by our boundless desire to make things the best they can be for our loyal guests,” said Pete Sonntag, Heavenly’s general manager. “We hope this is a project we never have to do again, but with natural snow being tough to come by this season, we felt that opening Skyline was a critical component to the overall experience for our guests. Now that the two separate mountains are connected, we are functioning as one large resort.”



This has never been done before and you should check out the video on their website, skiheavenly.com.

Kirkwood will be thanking active military members of the armed forces this Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, February 26 with complimentary lift tickets and for locals, the last Wednesday of each month is Frontline Employee Appreciation Day with one coming up January 25. All retail and hospitality employees in the Lake Tahoe area are invited to ski/ride for free. Frontline employees must show a recent paycheck stub and valid drivers license at the season pass office in the Village and receive a free lift ticket.

If you ski or rode Kirkwood during the Christmas/New Years holidays, you may have seen or utilized the US Airbag – Stunt Jump Bag. It went over big and response from users who were able to try out their big air hucks & tricks and safely land on the air bag, has prompted Kirkwood to invest and be the first South Shore resort to offer this amenity at the resort. Kirkwood is targeting mid-February to have the new attraction up and running and they are also offering, to current pass holder, a special new Frequent Flyer Airbag Pass for just $200. This new pass allows holders unrestricted and unlimited access to the airbag. Only 50 of these passes are available on a first come first serve basis.

Diamond Peak is hosting their 3rd ULLR Fest this weekend with several fun events. ULLR is the Norse God of Winter and Snow and planned for, what looks like, a real winter weekend. Saturday, January 21, includes the ULLR Games with uphill/downhill race at 8:00 a.m.; snowman contests & kids obstacle course – 9:00-12:00 p.m.; freestyle jiblet competition – 1:00-3:00 p.m.; poker run – 10:00-2:00 p.m. and a shovel race kicking off at 3:00 p.m. Later, ULLR Fest moves to the Hyatt Regency for cocktails/silent auction followed by dinner with live auction and dancing till 10:00 p.m. Sunday, show up at Diamond Peak dressed in your best ULLR attire and enter the ski race at 10:00 a.m. This 3rd annual ULLR Fest benefits the Diamond Peak Ski Education Foundation. Go to DimondPeak.com for more info.

On a personal note, I have been released to enjoy normal recreation. That’s right I will be able to ski after this week. Albeit, beginner runs and the good news on real snow. Everyone has been blaming me and having my hip replacement for the lack of snow and now with the word of being able to ski, the snow is finally falling.

Many of you may know or not, that I have been a press member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association (NASJA) for the past 20-plus years and with this I will be heading north to British Columbia next week, on a media fam-tour to visit the legendary Red Mountain and Whitewater Resorts with a return trip back to make some schweet turns at Ski Schweitzer in northern Idaho. I will have the whole story and info about that road trip in following columns as well as videos featured on YouTube/Facebook and my winter website: BikeandSkiTahoe.com.

NASJA’s annual national meeting will be hosted in South Lake Tahoe, March 5-9, 2012. An estimated 250 journalists and guests will be gracing the South Shore with ski days at Heavenly, Sierra at Tahoe & Kirkwood. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau has put together a great agenda to inform this national snow sports media group of all there is to do on the South Shore with activities from Borges Sleigh Rides, Moonlight Snowshoe Cocktail Races at Camp Rich to a dinner cruise on the Tahoe Queen and more. This meeting will also features the presentation of a variety of prestigious Harold Hirsch Journalism Awards to members for newspaper column writing, Internet column writing, magazine feature writing, book writing, film making, photography and radio and television broadcasting. I have just been informed that I was selected to receive the Mitch Kaplan Award for Excellence in Snowsports Coverage. This award is named after the late Mitch Kaplan, former NASJA Secretary-Treasurer and multiple Harold Hirsch and Lowell Thomas Award winner. I will be joining the ranks of last year’s recipient, Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel.

Keep watching the Weather Channel and continue to pray for snow. There is never enough snow and now that I am released to ski the slope, bring it on! And, bring me some nice soft powder!This is the big weekend that we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve gotten down on our knees and prayed, did the most outrageous snow calls and of course have been doing the snow dances and finally we may see some REAL snow and winter conditions for the first time this season.

Some forecasters originally predicting five to eight feet of snow above 7,000 feet and now could be half that, but what ever we get, I am sure we will all be thankful. A winter storm warning is in effect from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning so keep the energy positive for more.

The good thing is that this system will hopefully open the storm door for more normal winter conditions and more snow will be coming. Remember last year? On this weekend last year, Heavenly reported a packed snow base of 65-90″: Sierra at Tahoe had 43-118″; and Kirkwood on this date last year reported 87-95″. Most of that snow came in December of 2010 with about 4 to 6″ the first week of January 2011 and no new snow through January 30 when another 4-6″ fell. Two more weeks of nice dry weather followed and between February 15-18, about seven to eight feet of snow graced the upper slopes. So, there is still plenty of winter coming, but don’t let up on the snow calling and dancing as forecasters are already stating that the moderate La Nina pattern reflects no more snow until late January or into February for any more big storms.

Heavenly’s snow making on mountain crew, lead by director of snow surfaces, Jim Larmore, did an incredible job to get Skyline Trail open this past week to connect California with their Nevada side of the mountain. They made snow at the bottom of Sky Meadows and loaded buckets full on to Sky Express to transport to the top, then unloaded; and also made snow at the top of Dipper Express in Nevada and groomers pushed from both directions up Skyline Trail 4830 linear feet to create a skiable surface to access Nevada from California.

“This project has been an amazing combination of creativity and hard work, driven by our boundless desire to make things the best they can be for our loyal guests,” said Pete Sonntag, Heavenly’s general manager. “We hope this is a project we never have to do again, but with natural snow being tough to come by this season, we felt that opening Skyline was a critical component to the overall experience for our guests. Now that the two separate mountains are connected, we are functioning as one large resort.”

This has never been done before and you should check out the video on their website, skiheavenly.com.

Kirkwood will be thanking active military members of the armed forces this Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, February 26 with complimentary lift tickets and for locals, the last Wednesday of each month is Frontline Employee Appreciation Day with one coming up January 25. All retail and hospitality employees in the Lake Tahoe area are invited to ski/ride for free. Frontline employees must show a recent paycheck stub and valid drivers license at the season pass office in the Village and receive a free lift ticket.

If you ski or rode Kirkwood during the Christmas/New Years holidays, you may have seen or utilized the US Airbag – Stunt Jump Bag. It went over big and response from users who were able to try out their big air hucks & tricks and safely land on the air bag, has prompted Kirkwood to invest and be the first South Shore resort to offer this amenity at the resort. Kirkwood is targeting mid-February to have the new attraction up and running and they are also offering, to current pass holder, a special new Frequent Flyer Airbag Pass for just $200. This new pass allows holders unrestricted and unlimited access to the airbag. Only 50 of these passes are available on a first come first serve basis.

Diamond Peak is hosting their 3rd ULLR Fest this weekend with several fun events. ULLR is the Norse God of Winter and Snow and planned for, what looks like, a real winter weekend. Saturday, January 21, includes the ULLR Games with uphill/downhill race at 8:00 a.m.; snowman contests & kids obstacle course – 9:00-12:00 p.m.; freestyle jiblet competition – 1:00-3:00 p.m.; poker run – 10:00-2:00 p.m. and a shovel race kicking off at 3:00 p.m. Later, ULLR Fest moves to the Hyatt Regency for cocktails/silent auction followed by dinner with live auction and dancing till 10:00 p.m. Sunday, show up at Diamond Peak dressed in your best ULLR attire and enter the ski race at 10:00 a.m. This 3rd annual ULLR Fest benefits the Diamond Peak Ski Education Foundation. Go to DimondPeak.com for more info.

On a personal note, I have been released to enjoy normal recreation. That’s right I will be able to ski after this week. Albeit, beginner runs and the good news on real snow. Everyone has been blaming me and having my hip replacement for the lack of snow and now with the word of being able to ski, the snow is finally falling.

Many of you may know or not, that I have been a press member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association (NASJA) for the past 20-plus years and with this I will be heading north to British Columbia next week, on a media fam-tour to visit the legendary Red Mountain and Whitewater Resorts with a return trip back to make some schweet turns at Ski Schweitzer in northern Idaho. I will have the whole story and info about that road trip in following columns as well as videos featured on YouTube/Facebook and my winter website: BikeandSkiTahoe.com.

NASJA’s annual national meeting will be hosted in South Lake Tahoe, March 5-9, 2012. An estimated 250 journalists and guests will be gracing the South Shore with ski days at Heavenly, Sierra at Tahoe & Kirkwood. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau has put together a great agenda to inform this national snow sports media group of all there is to do on the South Shore with activities from Borges Sleigh Rides, Moonlight Snowshoe Cocktail Races at Camp Rich to a dinner cruise on the Tahoe Queen and more. This meeting will also features the presentation of a variety of prestigious Harold Hirsch Journalism Awards to members for newspaper column writing, Internet column writing, magazine feature writing, book writing, film making, photography and radio and television broadcasting. I have just been informed that I was selected to receive the Mitch Kaplan Award for Excellence in Snowsports Coverage. This award is named after the late Mitch Kaplan, former NASJA Secretary-Treasurer and multiple Harold Hirsch and Lowell Thomas Award winner. I will be joining the ranks of last year’s recipient, Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel.

Keep watching the Weather Channel and continue to pray for snow. There is never enough snow and now that I am released to ski the slope, bring it on! And, bring me some nice soft powder!


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