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What a way to start

Nobody asked me but this has been one of the best opening for snowsporters in a long time. Heavenly opened in October, Mammoth a week later and by Thanksgiving almost all resorts were open.

And now over the holidays Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe reports its biggest day ever on Dec. 29 by surpassing the earlier record of Feb. 16 (Presidents’ Day) by almost 11 percent. This also puts Mt. Rose 10 percent ahead of last season’s skier days to date.

A nice touch is that Mt. Rose is finally attracting guests from the San Francisco Bay area rather than just the Reno crowds.



Heavenly reports “fantastic crowds, exceeding expectations,” with the Perfect Turn (ski school, that is) booked solid over the holiday period, with boarders’ classes nearing the level of ski classes.

At Sierra-at-Tahoe, biggest day of the season was Monday when all parking lots were full. Sales are about even with last year but twice as much terrain is open as at the same time last season. Kirkwood is in full swing, back bowl with the new quad chair in operation, condo sales apparently booming.




It’s that way all around the lake, and after a rocky start the new 15-passenger Funitel at Squaw Valley is soaring away. Now if they can just get that lift connecting Gold Coast with High Camp things will really be rosy there.

There’s a lot to be thankful for in the snowsporting area.

At Heavenly, for instance, the innovative style of management continues. Despite the problems back East with American Skiing Co. (poor to no snow at Eastern resorts, moderate to poor snow in Utah and Colorado), Heavenly has continued to stress consumer service, making fresh snow long past former cutoff dates. And the early opening energized the whole Tahoe snowsport community.

The additional of three new lifts at Heavenly-two detachable quads and a sorely needed two-seater for the beginners- has speeded access to high terrain greatly. That’s after adding the six-pack Tamarack chair last season.

And the World Cup Freestyle event coming to Heavenly Jan. 22-24 will put the Tahoe area on the map as seldom before. An hour before the Super Bowl, the World Cup will be presented on national and international television.

And Homewood, thanks to a purchase by a new owner, has funding to purchase needed grooming machines and other upgrades.

At Squaw the Funitel (wrongly dubbed “Cushing’s Folly”) adds a new dimension to skilift technology. Virtually immune to wind hold problems, the Funitel at $20 million is a unique additional to the winter outdoor world of sports. And the replacement of the two cable cars with modern super-vision ones is another plus at Squaw.

At Sugar Bowl, progress continues with the beautiful new $7.5 million lodge at the base of the Mt. Judah twin quads. The replacement of the old Christmas Tree lift at the Bowl with a quad opens a bottleneck that has plagued the area for years.

We could go on, but you get the idea. Within the next few years projections are for almost a half-billion dollars to be spent on snowsporting around Tahoe.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

Camp Richardson Resort on Hwy. 89 notes the it has 30 km of cross country trails open, 10 groomed and 20 skier packed. Richardson is offering guided snowshoe walks daily through Jan. 3.

Alpine Meadows is staging a Big Air Contest Friday, Jan. 8 with registration at 9, practice at 10:30, Kangaroo competition at noon and awards at 3:30. Beginner and advanced divisions open. Registration is $15, $50 includes registration and lift ticket. Helmets required (cheers!). This is open to skiers and snowboarders, minor 17 and under need parent or guardian to sign liability waivers.

At Kirkwood two-time Olympian and world tech champion Eva Twardokens will host her ski Workshop for Women Jan. 2-3. Clinics are open to women of intermediate skiing ability or better. First 30 get in, call (209) 258-7245.

And for those wishing to “free the heel” a telemark clinic will be offered at Kirkwood Jan. 3 and is open to all levels. Fee is $65 with lift ticket, $40 without. Gear is available for $10. Kirkwood’s cross country trails are 90 percent open with 70 km of groomed trails with skating lanes.

At Diamond Peak, the monthly full moon tour slides off Jan. 1 (yep, Friday!). Not too late to join in. Meet at dusk at the Peak cross country center for a short guided tour to Knock Your Socks Off Rock. It’s free and dogs are welcome.

Jan. 3 the Peak X-C hosts she Sierra Ski Chase 10 km freestyle race. Entry is $15 and includes trail pass and snacks. Info on both events, (775) 742-7957.

At Northstar-at-Tahoe. Merchants’ Day returns Jan. 12 for the benefit of employees and shop owners along the West Shore to Incline Village. Lift tickets will be just $15. Tickets will be sold at Truckee-Donner and Incline Village/Crystal Bay chambers of commerce and at the North Lake Tahoe Resort Assn. in Tahoe City. You’ll need proof of a local ID, business card or recent pay stub.

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