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Heavenly has early start

Sam Bauman

They did it again at Heavenly Ski Resort, opening Sunday for skiing and snowboarding a week earlier than last year. First in the Far West, of course, and beaten out of the gate only by Loveland Basin in Colorado.

Among the early snowsporters was Heavenly’s ski ambassador and Olympic gold medal winner Jonny Mosley, who arrived late in the afternoon to make some turns.

Television stations jumped at the news and seven different crews were on hand to tape the action.



Mosley was filmed in action in preparation for his Thursday morning appearance of the NBC Today show. A special ramp and artificial show was being prepared in New York City so that Mosley could demonstrate his aerial skills live.

The manmade snow was surprisingly good, with lovely rolls and bumps on Patsy’s Run. Snowboarders rushed to build a ramp for jumping and caught some fine air.



It was a last-minute decision to open, made by Dennis Harmon, Heavenly’s managing director, and Malcolm Tibbets, mountain operations chief. Both were up testing the snow at 7 a.m. and made the decision to open then.

“We’ll be open as long as the weather lasts,” said Harmon after his opening day test runs. “Thanks to our snowmaking system and lots of overtime and hard work by our snowmaking crew, we’re extremely proud to be the first resort in California this year.

“We had an all-time record season last year and this year is shaping up to be just as exciting. We’ve been continually refining our snowmaking system over the past several years and we’re happy to report it’s working at full capacity with no glitches.

Getting the word out about the opening was a challenge to Heavenly communications staffers, who first off began calling local coffee shops with the news. “Where else will you find people early in the morning,” said Monica Bandows, PR chief at the resort.

“We’ll stay open as long as we can,” said Bandows, “but we’re suggesting people call the snow report for hours and to make sure the lifts are running.” The telephone number is (702) 586-7000 and press 1.

New long snowmaking booms from the American Skiing Co., Heavenly’s parent company, are scattered around ski trails, upgrading snowmaking capacity to the point where the resort has more capacity than “Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley and Northstar-at-Tahoe combined,” Bandows said.

Lift tickets are $12 for adults, $7.50 for children.

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