Major additions at ski resorts |

Major additions at ski resorts

Susan Wood

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Heavenly Mountain Resort terrain park crew, from left, Mike Thomas, Mike Borror and Eric Eckles, move a rail on the World Cup run where a nighttime park is being built.

Lake Tahoe night owls who like to soar in snow on planks may have quite a treat at Heavenly Mountain Resort this ski season.

The South Shore ski resort will add a nighttime terrain park on the World Cup Run that could be designed as much for spectators as riders. The High Roller Nightlife Terrain Park will offer a slew of plastic and steel boxes and rails for all levels of riders – some will be illuminated from within the features.

The park will make its debut mid-December and will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 9 p.m. It was established after Heavenly officials heeded the call of enthusiasts who for years had asked for a place of their own after the slopes close at 4 p.m.

“This was created for the locals. Everybody in town has talked about this for years,” Heavenly terrain park manager Rob Guistina said. The South Shore native has skied Heavenly for 32 years. Twelve of them were taken up building and designing parks. Between working at Sierra-at-Tahoe and now Heavenly, Guistina worked in event planning. He said he helped organize Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding Tour and Championships, NBC’s Gravity Games and ESPN’s Freeride Championships.

Guistina has empathized with the youth in the community looking for something to do at night, when their older friends and siblings go to bars or nightclubs.

“I wish I had something like this when I was growing up here,” he said.

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Mike Moreali, 20, and Taylor Morgan, 18, two snowboarders who work at the Village Mountain Surf and Sports, said they’ll be there.

“It’s definitely something that will be fun,” said Moreali, who’s been riding for eight years.

Even the older riders may take part. Dick Yost, who owns the shop, thinks the addition of the night park will be “epic.”

“This is huge. It’s going to be the meeting place. This segment of the sport is huge,” Yost said, referring to rail riding.

He’s curious whether Heavenly will have to deal with parties in the area.

Heavenly spokesman Russ Pecoraro said the resort plans to keep the same level of security.

It may also open its California Base Lodge to food service or add a concessionaire at the bottom of World Cup near the Aerial Tram to accommodate the park goers.

The park will receive a late afternoon grooming of which Heavenly plans to beef up this year with new machines.

Full-day lift tickets and season passes can be used at the park after hours. Or, riders may buy a nighttime ticket. That price is yet to be determined.

South Lake Tahoe’s back yard ski resort has also added more signs and snow guns off the lake-facing Gunbarrel run.

With more changes in the coming years including a longer and swifter North Bowl chairlift, Heavenly will offer skiers and boarders four terrain parks and one super pipe that’s cut with a 22-foot Zaugg pipe cutter.

A cut above

Sierra-at-Tahoe has added a 17-foot Zaugg pipe cutter to its grooming fleet for its terrain park off the Broadway run.

Theme parks appear to be all the rage and Sierra’s no exception.

For the youngsters visiting the ski area 12 miles west of Meyers, adventure zones will be expanded on the mountain. The names match the themes – Bear Caves, Pony Express, Maidu Meadows and the Gold Rush.

The interactive displays allow children to climb in and out of treehouses, caves and secret hideaways.

Sierra has also placed a lot of thought into its food service. It will take out Mountain Munchies in the main lodge and put in the Happy Hippie snack shack. Motorized bike taxis will shuttle skiers and boarders around the parking lots.

“We’re ready. We just need the snow,” Sierra spokeswoman Nicole Belt said. The resort experienced a few dustings, but staffers are awaiting those large dumps that launched the ski season last October.

California ski areas reported a record 8 million visits.

Looking north

Sierra’s sister resort, Northstar-at-Tahoe, has been added to Aramark’s ski shuttle program in which a rider takes a bus from the South Shore and the Tahoe Queen paddlewheeler on the way back. The aqua ski shuttle is scheduled for Northstar on Wednesdays and Fridays beginning Jan. 18 at a cost of $104 per person. Squaw shuttles are slated for Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The biggest news out of Northstar is the opening in December of its village, once a hole in the ground almost two years ago. Guests strolling through the village will see a maze of cafes, art galleries and shops. Phase I will contain 60,000 square feet of commercial space.

Squaw makes village additions

Squaw Valley has the ticket for decadence this winter. In the village, Trilogy Spa has opened, along with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and a men’s clothing store. At mid mountain, Squaw will offer a demo center at the Gold Coast Lodge and add more rails to its three terrain parks.

Spicing up the Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl has expanded another 14,000 square feet to its day lodge in the Mount Judah area, adding a bar, restaurant and medical clinic. The lodge is due to open Dec. 17.

“We need all this. Sugar Bowl has grown tremendously in popularity,” spokeswoman Nikki Streegan said.

On an expedition

Kirkwood is still planning on running a new high-speed chairlift to replace the pokey Hole ‘N Wall, cutting the 15 minutes spent on Chair 7 down to four. The $4 million chairlift near the Mighty Mountain Lodge, which will probably open by Thanksgiving weekend, helps get skiers and boarders riding the ridge above Cornice Express to the Sentinel and Palisades bowls get back to the central part of the mountain faster and easier.

“Whether or not we’ll have snow or not is another story. But this is normal. I just know that it’s just going to (explode) all over the mountain soon,” spokeswoman Tracy Miller said. The resort picked up a few inches over Thunder Saddle, but the snow level has remained high at 8,400 feet.

When the snow comes, Kirkwood will add on more areas for high-angle grooming opening up more terrain on the 2,300-acre Alpine County resort.

Also this year, Kirkwood plans cat skiing to Martin Point, a crown-like rock at the top of the southern ridge resort above Timber Creek.