Mono ski demo set for this weekend at Heavenly |

Mono ski demo set for this weekend at Heavenly

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

An elusive snow sport will make a rare appearance at Heavenly Ski Resort this weekend.

A demonstration of monoskiing is planned for Saturday and Sunday at the top of the Heavenly tram above the California Base Lodge, beginning around 8:30 a.m.

Sponsored by the United States Monoski Association, this is the first “official mono demo event” held at Heavenly, according to local aficionado Tom Wendell, a 23-year veteran of the sport.

Wendell describes mono skiing as “Alpine skiing on one, wide ski with bindings mounted side-by-side.”

The USMA defines it as “like having the best of skiing and the best of snowboarding at the same time.

“Monoskiing uses one single, wide ski with both feet attached side-by-side, pointing lengthwise straight down the ski,” the USMA says on its website: “From this stance, we ski with a motion essentially the same as dual skiers, with our shoulders square to the fall line, rolling our knees from side-to-side as we turn. We also enjoy much less physical stress on our lower bodies. This provides a low-impact way for many folks who have been forced to abandon skiing because of injuries to continue enjoying the snow.”

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“I got involved through friends who were doing it up here in 1980,” Wendell explained. “I had had three knee surgeries by then and I found the monoski much easier on the knees and lots of fun in any soft-snow conditions.

“Since then, they have undergone a revolution,” he continued. “Now we have monoskis that carve on firm snow and they even have a twin-tip halfpipe model that came out. All I ski on is the monoski.”

Wendell estimates that about 20-30 people own monoskis in South Lake Tahoe, with about a dozen true practitioners and a half-dozen hardcore fanatics.

“There are pockets of monoskiers all over the world, (but) Lake Tahoe, and Heavenly Valley in particular, has been one of the hotbeds,” he said. “They have been testing boards here for years and giving the manufacturers feedback. This has been a proving ground.”

Wendell says the purpose of the demo this weekend is “just to promote the sport and let people know that it’s still around, with new materials and shapes.

“We have a reputation for being kind of rebels,” he added.

More information on monoskiing can be found on the Internet at or