Desperately seeking snow

Upcoming winter season full of promise for local skiers, snowboarders
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Motoring/Real Estate Editor
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With jack-o-lanterns aglow and the leaves turning a bright orange, it can only mean one thing — the ski and snowboard season is just around the corner. And after a few lackluster winters, some feel this will be the year for great wintertime fun. “We’re just waiting patiently for Mother Nature to unleash on us this year,” said Eric Isenberg, floor manager for Boards N Motion snowboard shop in Auburn. “After the last two seasons, we’ve earned our record-breaking season. It takes peoples’ minds off the economy and lets them go play in the mountains.” While Isenberg and his staff get ready to suit up customers for the snow, the ski and snowboard resorts up Interstate 80 in Truckee and Lake Tahoe are counting down the days until they can welcome the masses. And a handful of resorts have put in upgrades for the 2008-09 ski season, thus giving riders and skiers more of a reason to make the trip. “First off, we are installing a new quad (chair) called the Castle Peak Quad,” said Jon Slaughter, marketing director for Boreal Mountain Resort. “We’ve gotten rid of the old Gunnar’s double chair. We installed a quad that will go 400 feet further than what Gunnar’s did.” Along with the new quad chair, Boreal has added a new snowmaking system that allows them to make more snow in less time than their previous system. With this new system, the resort hopes to be open on Halloween, Oct. 31, weather permitting. “It’s going to make a huge difference, we’ve already seen a major difference,” Slaughter said in regards to the new snowmaking system. “We made more snow in three nights (recently) than we opened on last season — with only a quarter of the system working.” Boreal has spent a total of $2.6 million in upgrades for the season. Another plus for the resort that’s only 57 miles from Auburn is that it’s only one of two in the Lake Tahoe region that offers night skiing. On Nov. 28 night skiing will be available, making the resort open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Next is Sugar Bowl, which offers plenty of downhill fun, and a little bit of Winter Olympics fever. New for the 2008-09 season, Sugar Bowl is offering a skier- and boarder-cross training run that will be open to professional athletes training for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the debut of boarder- and skier-cross events, and is open to everyday riders and skiers when not in use by the pros training for the Olympics. “We’re obviously very excited to now have a dedicated skier-cross course on which to train,” Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl-sponsored athlete and former U.S. Olympic Team downhiller, said in a release. “And we’re certainly appreciative of Sugar Bowl’s efforts and support to grow the discipline. This will directly equate to better chances of medaling at the games.” Along with the boarder/skier-cross run, there are other specials that Sugar Bowl will be offering that should be enticing to those heading up the hill. “We are offering free rentals and free lessons with the purchase of a lift ticket, ages 13 through 69, Monday through Friday,” said Jennie Bartlett, marketing manager for Sugar Bowl. “This is a great package if you’re just getting into the sport, or to improve your skills.” Looking for a one-stop shop a little closer to Lake Tahoe? Northstar-at-Tahoe is another resort offering upgrades and a bountiful amount of amenities. “The most exciting thing is we expanded the terrain and look of the mountain on the area of our advanced line. We went from 1,247 vertical feet to 1,722 vertical feet,” said Jessica VanPernis, communications manager for Northstar at Tahoe. “So there’s a lot more terrain, We’ve also added an intermediate trail and additional snow making.” The resort has also cleared out some of the trees on some of its runs to make it more enjoyable for those seeking glade skiing and boarding, and there’s been more ticket booths installed through the village and the rental shop as be redesigned to get skiers and boarders out on the slopes faster. And for those of you who are just coming along with the family to get away but don’t want to hit the slopes, Northstar At Tahoe’s village will offer all sorts of shops and restaurants. “Northstar, their village is fantastic, all the shops for everyone to peruse and check out if not you’re not into skiing or snowboarding,” Isenberg said. Northstar plans for a Nov. 22 opening, weather permitting. Make your way into the North shore area of Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City and you’ve got your pick of some best resorts next to the lake, including the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley, and Alpine Meadows. New features at Alpine Meadows this year includes an expanded beginner area and new instructional surface lift, additional day children’s camps for ages 3 and 4, new multi-day Steep Camps for advanced skiers coached by one of the country’s top skiers, a new partnership with Burton Snowboards, offering the Burton Learn To Ride snowboard beginner equipment and instructional technique for both children and adults and a new telemark ski camp, just to name a few. Squaw Valley also has a few new tricks up sleeve as well, including the Night Riviera Superpipe and an upgrade and expansion of the terrain park. With so many options out there for skiing and snowboarding, there’s only one thing missing. “Everybody is waiting for that snow to fall and hope it doesn’t stop falling,” Isenberg said. “A little bit of snow can go a long way.” The Journal’s Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at