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Snowsporting on Fourth of July is all about appearances

It was a cool windup for the 1998-99 ski season at Squaw Valley last weekend. If you were looking for bikini-clad skiers, you were wasting your time. The winds weren’t exactly howling; but they were strong enough to demand windbreakers at the least; some were wearing mid-winter one-piece suits even.

It was a goodly crowd, however, skiers outnumbering boarders for a surprise since the riders are usually the fanatics wanting to be the first out and the last to quit. The vast Squaw parking lot was well over half-filled, with the bulk snowsporters.

Skiing itself wasn’t exactly mid-winter stuff. One had to walk from High Camp to the last run to the right looking downhill to reach the snow. And that run was about five feet wide at the start, obviously raked together at the last moment.



But the Shirley Lake runs were all right, some bare spots but then enough snow to furnish several routes to the bottom of the lift. A lot of snowsporters went exploring and hiked up toward Granite Chief, which was unskiable. But there was lots of brownish open territory, which was easy skiing.

By 10 p.m. the cable car was full of skiers heading back to the parking lot. It wasn’t a matter of how good the skiing was, it was just the fact that you could ski at all on July 4.




SEASON SKIPASSES

Kirkwood is offering a deal that is hard to pass up for local skiers and boarders. Through July 30 you can pick up a midweek pass for next season for only $199. That’s a bargain for anyone who can get off on weekdays! Also tossed in: Passholders can buy five all-day lift tickets for friends or family at half price.

Sierra-at-Tahoe is also offering season passes early along with all the other extras that make lift lines a thing of the past. Midweek passes go for $199 as well, a reduction from last year. The midweek pass is good from opening day to Dec. 19 all week, then again from March 18 to closing.

A full seven-day pass goes for $399. All-season pass holders will receive a $20 certificate good toward equipment, rentals, lessons or gear at the sport shop. Kids seven-day season passes are going for $99. Hard to beat!

AND THEN THERE WAS SUGAR BOWL

The people at Sugar Bowl keep on adding stuff. This summer it will be a new high-speed quad chair on Mt. Disney. The original single chair lift there was built in 1939 and has been replaced several times. The new chair will load directly in front of the lodge. Also at the Bowl: a new beginner quad chair based right in front of the lodge, and five new trails will be added to Mt. Judah.

And super coach Fritz Vallant will be joining Sugar Bowl as ski team coach next season. He coached the Austrian national team to all kinds of records in his seven years with the team. He has since moved to Truckee with wife Kristin Krone Vallant, former U. S. Olympic team member.

THE SHAUN PALMER REPORT

Extreme sports hero Palmer will go for his second World Cup victory at Squaw Valley July 9-11 at the Diesel/UCI Squaw Valley World Cup Mountain Event. He scored his first-ever World Cup win last week at Snow Summit Ski Resort in Southern California.

This will be the 14th stop on the international cycling tour and will include cross country, downhill and dual racing. There’s also a non-race event, a broomball game at the ice rink July 8 and a concert by the Mermen afterwards.

DEATH RIDE

It’s that time of year again for the men of steel (iron won’t do) to face the challenge of five mountain passes, 16,000 feet of vertical and 129 miles of road in one day.

It all takes place starting at Markleeville in Alpine County July 10.

Expect 2,500 riders to take part (entry has been sold out for weeks) with more than 500 volunteers needed to help.

Riders have a choice of one to five passes: Monitor, 42 miles, 3,400 feet of climb;Monitor/Monitor, 58 miles, 7,000 feet of climb; Monitor/Monitor/Ebbetts, 76 miles and 10,000 feet of climb; Monitor/Monitor/Ebbetts/Ebbetts, 88 miles, 12,000 feet of climb; or (pant) Monitor/Monitor/Ebbetts/Ebbetts/Carson, 129 miles, 16,000 feet of climb.

Four of the five passes will be closed to cars (highways 89 and 4) on Saturday so if you want to watch/take part in the race get up there early. I was thinking of entering for one pass but sanity prevailed. But there will be plenty of South Lake Tahoe riders on the road,and those who don’t make the Death Ride will be doing the multi-event Donner Lake grind the following weekend.

LIFE IN THE MOUNTAINS DIVISION

At a barbecue a few weeks ago on a side street of Kingsbury Grade, 30 or so outdoor types were milling about, enjoying the hospitality of Tracy Nash of Embassy Suites fame. At one point Robin Rittenhouse of South Lake Tahoe looked into the back yard and cried out, “Look! There’s a bear.”

Sure enough, there was a big black bear shuffling along about 20 yards uphill. Partygoes turned to watch as the bear plodded along, stopped and glanced at the people, seemed to shrug and moved on.

Being Tahoe people, the bear was quickly forgotten. Nobody even bothered to take a photo.


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