Having a Mammoth time

By: Deric Rothe, Journal editor
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Dozens of Auburn-area families converged on Mammoth Mountain March 9-12 for the state high school skiing and snowboarding championships. While most Placer High School supporters were thrilled by the teams’ banner-winning performances, they were also wowed by Mammoth’s fantastic terrain. “It’s incredible,” said Cynthia Tidd of Auburn, a Placer High ski team parent. “Mammoth is the most massive, beautiful mountain in California. It’s great to have all the families here. You get a great workout at 11,000 feet.” Between races, I skied with Placer High ski team coaches Matt Conley and Toby Covich, as well as fellow Auburn Ski Club instructor Pierre Dermy and several of our team’s teenage athletes. The snow was awesome. Because of the chilly temperatures and high elevation, the snow was dry and crisp and stayed that way throughout the sunny afternoons. Mammoth’s base elevation is around 8,000 feet. The summit is just over 11,000 feet. It feels and looks like you are on top of the world. The views are breathtaking. Dermy, who grew up skiing in Europe and teaches at Tahoe-area resorts all winter, said the skiing at Mammoth was the best he has experienced all year. He said what makes Mammoth better than European ski resorts, is that the lift lines are much shorter, which means more skiing and less waiting. With 28 chairlifts and three gondolas accessing more than 3,500 acres, Mammoth lives up to its name. It’s gigantic. Chair 22 features some of the steepest skiable terrain anywhere. There are a couple of narrow runs between the cliffs on Chair 22 called the Avalanche Chutes. Skiing doesn’t get any better than that anywhere. Chair 23 rises to just over 11,000 feet and features a huge, steep bowl with a jumpable cornice at the top. It’s wide open and offers awesome fun. With several terrain parks and a pipe, Mammoth offers exciting opportunities for skiers and boarders of all skill levels and ages. Whether you are just learning, into the groomers, get off on rails and jumps in the parks or like to hit the fresh powder in the trees and navigate the chutes, Mammoth has it all. The nearby town of Mammoth Lakes has a variety of restaurants and nightlife opportunities. We had sushi one night, pizza another. The shopping opportunities are impressive as well. We found Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream open in the village late in the evening. One night our freshman daughter, Lanae, decided at 8:30 p.m. that she just had to have a new swimsuit for a late-night hot tub. To my surprise, there was a boutique open in the The Village with swimsuits she liked on a Wednesday night. The ski resort is so big you can pretty much stay, play and eat there without leaving. We stayed at Mammoth Mountain Inn right at the base of the chairlift. It is so nice to walk outside and put your skis on without having to drive. Mammoth Mountain Inn has its own restaurant, general store, bar, exercise room, child-care facilities and much more. The staff is friendly and eager to please. Getting back to the reason for the trip to Mammoth – the California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation state championships. On Monday and Tuesday, the Placer High snowboard team rocked, winning the school’s first-ever combined state championship. Led by coach Mark Faulkner and stars Cady O’Connor, Emma Obray and Pete Porata, the Auburn teens overcame inclement weather Monday and carved out a Hillman victory. On the skiing side, coaches Conley and Covich’s girls team won the state championship behind first-place finishes by our daughter Paige Rothe and her lightening-fast teammate Karly Kenworthy in giant slalom and slalom. “Mammoth is great,” said Teresa Kenworthy, one of the Placer parents who skied and watched the races. “The skiing was really fun. Watching the races was a little stressful, but it turned out great.”