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South Shore ski areas hope to open more terrain

The South Shore ski areas called down the snow, and now they’re digging in and hoping they’ll have to dig out.

Representatives of all three South Shore resorts – Sierra-at-Tahoe, Heavenly and Kirkwood – are anticipating the storm moving through the area today and Friday will be the biggest so far this year. While this season has taught skiers and snowboarders no storm is certain until it happens, crews are ready to add terrain.

“If that’s the case, that means we’ll probably pick up in excess of 6 inches,” said Sierra spokesman Ben McLeod.



Sierra may actually be the resort responsible. At the mountain’s annual snow-calling festival Friday, competitors unleashed their best rituals for coaxing the clouds into releasing precipitation.

“We’re hoping it’s kind of a delayed kind of thing,” McLeod said.




But if it works – like it seemed to at the Nov. 134 snow-calling qualifier in Sacramento, which preceded the season’s first storm – the best snow-caller won’t be the only beneficiary. With enough snow to supplement the snowmaking efforts in West Bowl, Sierra could have 20 or more trails open by the weekend.

“With a foot, we could open West Bowl,” McLeod said.

Nor will Sierra be the sole beneficiary of more snow. Heavenly and Kirkwood are expecting more snow, too.

“If it keeps storming through the weekend, we should be able to open some more terrain,” said Kirkwood spokeswoman Nicole Belt. “It looks like we have something coming in Thursday and Friday.”

Tuesday’s weather left Kirkwood with about 4 inches of fresh snow at the base, 6 at the top. The resort has trails open from mid-mountain to the base, but a big dump could open Chair 6 at the top of the mountain, which requires a foot of natural snow to open.

“It looks like we should be able to do that,” Belt said.

Heavenly could add top-to-bottom skiing on the Nevada side, and operations out of the Stagecoach Lodge. Mountain operations has been concentrating on the Round a Bout trail, which could open top-to-bottom skiing on the California side, connecting with World Cup to the bottom of the Aerial Tramway lift. Tuesday’s snow added 5 inches to Heavenly, but how much more terrain opens this week could hinge on how much snow Heavenly gets.

“It looks like it could probably be our most significant event – so far – this year,” said Heavenly communications director Monica Bandows.

Heavenly hopes to open Stagecoach by the weekend. But it might be possible even sooner.

“There’s a good chance that will happen before the weekend,” Bandows said.

Ski and snowboard events

Weekend of Dec. 10-12

Heavenly

Saturday and Sunday One-day women’s ski workshop – Lauren Thomaselli leads one-day, non-competitive women’s workshops. The day features three hours of on-snow training, a morning stretch, warm-up and Lunch. Call Heavenly for advance registration.

Sunday WWSRA demo day – Snowboarders and skiers can demo new technology in a one-day extravaganza at Heavenly. Participants must bring a valid major credit card, and can ride equipment for $5, plus the cost of a lift ticket.

Kirkwood

Saturday Grand opening of Mountain Village – Kirkwood marks the completion of the resort’s $250 million master development plan with the opening of the Mountain Club quarter-ownership property in the heart of the resort’s mountain village. The festivities feature an ice-carving contest at 6:15 p.m., a torchlight parade at 6:30 and a ribbon-cutting, champagne toast and fireworks at 7.

Saturday Soup and Shoe – Snowshoe adventurers with an appetites for snow and hearty soup can meet for a guided snowshoe hike at Kirkwood that emphasizes both. The hike takes participants along the crest of the Sierra before returning down to Kirkwood’s Schneider Camp snowshoe trail system.

The event costs $20, including snowshoe rental, and participants should pre-register by calling (209) 258-7248.

Saturday and Sunday Telemark fair – Pinheads unite at Kirkwood for a two-day demo fair. The $70 registration fee covers clinics and demo skis, but lift tickets are separate. Participants can register from 8-10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Red Cliffs Lodge.

Sunday Kirkwood Ski Education Foundation Skiathon fund-raiser – In conjunction with Carson Valley Soccer, the KSEF will be sending skiers down the mountain for a contest to see how many runs they can make for pledges. A $10 donation earns sponsors a $10 discount off a Kirkwood lift ticket.


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