Cookin’ for the masses
It took a good deal of time, money, and volunteer staff for Heavenly Ski Resort to host this weekend’s Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National.
The event drew nearly 9,000 spectators who enjoyed the fast-paced, entertaining and somewhat chaotic atmosphere.
It all kicked off Friday night with a fireworks show and concluded with aerial competitions on Sunday. It marked the second straight year the resort has hosted the World Cup event, which hadn’t taken place in South Lake Tahoe since 1985.
The National USSA, which recommends location sites to the International Federation of Skiing “felt that we had the perfect venue for a World Cup event,” said Monica Bandows, spokeswoman for Heavenly.
Having Sprint as the event’s current corporate sponsor helps alleviate expenses.
In a normal year, such an event can cost between $350,000 and $450,000, but Bandows said it was more expensive this year because of the added snow production costs.
Snow machines produced 9,369 tons of snow for the aerial mound and 7,384 tons for the mogul course mound.
Fortunately, the event’s 80 volunteers were on hand to assist wherever they were needed.
“We have a very supportive community,” Bandows said.
Jimmy Lawrence, volunteer coordinator for the event, said each morning 25 volunteers “chopped ” the aerial mound with shovels. “My wrists are still sore,” Lawrence said of the group effort which took as little as 45 minutes and up to 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.
Aerial course maintenance volunteers also shaped jumps and filled in holes.
Volunteers were responsible for a number of tasks. A small delegation greeted guest athletes when they arrived at the Reno airport and helped them check in to their South Shore lodgings. A group of volunteers worked as course stewards to make sure only credentialed individuals were allowed access to the premises. Others worked as timekeepers for the mogul races.
Howard Kyle and his wife, Brune Hild, from South Lake Tahoe, volunteered for their second time. “We did it last year and had so much fun we decided to do it again,” Howard said.
Kyle worked with security at the VIP tent and also helped side slip the acro course. His wife worked security at the athletes’ lounge and used her German and Russian language skills to translate.
The couple live at the South Shore during the winter, where they hold season passes at Heavenly. During the summer they reside in San Rafael, Calif. Howard’s favorite part of the event was the non-skier spectators. He said a “horrendous” amount of people came to watch this year and that the competitors really enjoy the audience participation.
It truly was an international event. In addition to a bulked-up staff, the resort had to provide media, who came from as far as Japan and The Czech Republic, with an additional 15 phone jacks for laptop computer and phone access.
Onlookers trudged through snow and over thick lines of television wires filming the competitions to catch a chair lift up the hill to ski and watch competitions from bleachers at the base of the hill. Plenty of food and beverages were around to keep spectators’ cheeks rosy.
Patti Samp, who coordinated the food for the special event, said that $60,000 was spent “at cost” on food for the weekend, which is significantly less than it would have cost at a supermarket.
Bill Brown, the special events lead cook, worked extra hours to ensure guest satisfaction. “I heard a lot of compliments about the food here,” Brown said. And that was no small task when more than 1,000 pounds of food was prepared.
Brown and his staff of four cooked 300 pounds of tri-tip beef, 220 pounds of red potatoes, 250 pounds of lasagna, 60 pounds of turkey, 60 pounds of salmon and various desserts for the VIP tent, production crews, and the athletes’ lounge.
Leslie Packwood, day care manager at Heavenly, said, “last year it was definitely quieter.” The day care center has been operating for a year, but with the only infant/toddler facility in the Lake Tahoe Basin, it was up to capacity on Saturday.
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