Never mind the blinding gusts of wind and snow. Forget the dismal stop-and-go traffic snaking along U.S. Highway 50.
The point is, the powder was fresh and the competitors were smiling and chatting happily with each other.
About 35 skiers, snowboarders, telemarkers and bladers hit the slopes Sunday for the Karving Klassic race at Sierra-at-Tahoe.
The goal of the race was to reach the highest speed while carving the widest turns possible. However, the challenge lay in the fact that the wider the carved turn, the more time would be deducted from straight race time.
After a few practice runs in the morning, each participant was allowed two runs with seven gates and four lanes.
Competitors included men, women and children of all ages and ability levels.
“I’m just here for fun,” said 25-year-old South Lake Tahoe resident, Matt Wakkuri. “I compete in extreme ski events but this was just a good excuse to leave work early and get out here.”
Claude Gunsch, Sierra-at-Tahoe instructor and event organizer, said the competition was the first of four scheduled races during the season.
“It’s for anyone who wants to do something unusual and enjoy themselves while doing it,” said Gunsch, who has worked at Sierra 11 years.
The event, sponsored by companies such as Port of Subs, Salomon, House of Ski and Southwest Airlines, was preceded by a free Karving Klassic Klinic where participants could learn and practice carving techniques.
“I think it gets people excited about the sport,” said Nancy Harrison, public relations manager for Sierra-at-Tahoe. “Plus, it’s free with the purchase of a lift ticket.”
Racing categories included traditional skis, shaped skis, snowboards and ski boards. The day was concluded by an awards party at the Beacon Bar & Grill and a raffle for which the top prize was a round-trip ticket on Southwest Airlines.
The race schedule is Feb. 21, March 21 and March 28 for the finals. For more information, contact the resort at (530) 659-7453.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Officials said conversations are occurring daily in regards to reopening U.S. Highway 50, but there is still no estimated date as to when traffic may start flowing again.