Heavenly makes enough snow for World Cup
Snow arrived a little too late for the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National, an International Federation of Skiing event scheduled Jan. 21-23 at Heavenly Ski Resort.
However, Heavenly’s preparedness through snowmaking has lessened the worries as the World Cup comes to town next week.
“We’re on schedule,” said Malcolm Tibbetts, Heavenly’s vice president of mountain operations. “We certainly have a lot of work to do, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll have it all together.”
A half foot of snow fell on the Sierra on Tuesday and additional snow presumably is on the way this weekend, but Tibbetts indicated it won’t help ready the Gunbarrel and World Cup runs.
“It’s almost too late for the snow because the jump site and the moguls course will be built by this weekend, but if we get snow this weekend it’s going to make everything go much nicer,” Tibbetts said.
Heavenly began covering the moguls course with manmade snow as temperatures allowed three weeks ago. Preparing the aerials site has required even more snowmaking and time. Heavenly began constructing a 60-foot high and 100-foot wide table of snow for the aerialists to jump on soon after Thanksgiving.
“The lack of natural snow is probably giving us another $10,000 in expenses,” said Tibbetts, whose snowcat drivers are collecting snow from the World Cup run area and below Gunbarrel to hasten the construction of the aerials mound.
Rising temperatures have turned off the snow guns, but Tibbetts feels their is ample snow to finish the job.
“If it didn’t snow all the way through the 23rd and we didn’t make any snow, we’d still be OK,” he said. “For this very reason in the bidding process we argued to have the latest date possible.”
The World Cup acro, moguls and aerial skiers will begin arriving at Stateline on Monday, with training starting Tuesday. Competition opens on Jan. 21 with acro, and continues through the weekend with moguls on Jan. 22 and aerials on Jan. 23.
An intense snowstorm didn’t deter spectators from attending the World Cup freestyle premier last January at Heavenly.
“I was surprised how many people came out last year, considering the weather,” said Heavenly’s Monica Bandows. “I can’t imagine how many might come out this year if the weather is nice.”
Bandows said Heavenly received favorable reviews from World Cup and FIS officials and athletes and their families after last year’s event. Consequently, the resort plans to hold the event annually as long as sponsors help with the costs.
“We’re looking at a contract for next year, but it really depends on sponsorship dollars,” Bandows said. “We lose money as it is, and if we have to carry the whole burden there’s no way we can do it.”
Attendance should be aided by the entries of five area bump skiers, including Travis Ramos, Travis Cabral and Brooke Ballachey of the South Shore, Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City and Shelly Robertson of Reno.
“It’s gonna be one of most awesome courses the World Cup has ever seen,” said defending national champion Cabral, who finished 15th in his World Cup debut Jan. 8 at Deer Valley, Utah. “If they are blowing snow, the course will be just fine. If we receive no more snow, it should be just fine.”
Spectators can watch all three events free of charge. First-come, first-served bleacher seating will be available for the acro and aerials contests.
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