Ski resorts creating good experiences despite lack of natural snow |

Ski resorts creating good experiences despite lack of natural snow

Dylan Silver
Dylan Silver / Tahoe Daily Tribune

At Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort Wednesday beginners hurled themselves down the Broadway run alongside more experienced riders popping and sliding through a small terrain park.

South Lake Tahoe snowboarder Greg Collard cheered for his friend’s first attempt at the corrugated rail. They both smiled and pulled into the lift line for another run.

“That was her first time,” Collard said. “She’s been wanting to do that all day.”

Though little natural snow has fallen around Lake Tahoe during December, resorts are doing their best to create good experiences for their guests. And many of the skiers and riders taking runs are having a great time.

“I’m loving it,” said snowboarder Stephan Saede in between runs at Sierra. “I’ve done this run right here about 25 times, give or take.”

With parking lots just a fraction full, the crowd at Sierra was small. Few people made for little waiting in line and great conditions for beginners.

“We heard there was only one slope open,” said Glennon Ng, who’d come up from Fremont for his first go at snowboarding. “But we’re all beginners, so we’d probably only be on this run anyway.”

While Sierra normally operates solely on natural snow, they’ve fired up their pair of snow guns to create more coverage and they’ve dropped ticket prices in light of the amount of terrain they have open.

Heavenly Mountain Resort is also upping their offerings with a slew of events and continuous operation of their giant snow-making system. The resort now has three lodges open, Stagecoach, Tamarack and California along with more than 11 miles of trails, including a terrain park with dozens of rails, boxes and jumps.

At California Lodge Thursday, kids played in the freshly made snow while snow guns blasted in the background. Skiers and riders prepped their gear for the ride up Gunbarrel Express chairlift.

“It’s good actually,” said Claire Townsend, who brought her 2 year old and 4 year old up from Folsom for some runs. “Heavenly does a great job of making snow.”

The clear roads, sunny weather and smaller crowds make great conditions for bringing the kids up to ski, Townsend added.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, known for its deep powder, steep lines and deep snow, is also trying to put on a fun time for its guests. The resort recently held a “locals ski free” day, where residents of El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties all got a free lift ticket.

The resort has been promoting numerous activities from tubing and night snowshoeing to ice skating on Caples Lake and they’ve set up a special air-bag jump for eager skiers and snowboarders to safely huck themselves into. But it’s still been somewhat difficult to attract the “powder hound” crowd, said spokesman Michael Dalzell.

“Our skiers are just so dialed in to what’s going on with the weather,” Dalzell said. “We can’t pull the wool over their eyes, but we’re doing what we can to make the best of the situation.”

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