Ski resorts gearing up for season

Boreal to host Jibassic Public Invitational
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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The past week’s nip in the air is warming expectations for an early ski season in the Sierra. “Boreal Mountain Resort fired up its snowmaking system at 1 a.m. Sept. 30, marking the earliest snowmaking effort in the resort’s history,” marketing director Jon Slaughter said Monday. “Our earliest opening is Oct. 11. We’d love to beat that.” An early snowfall that left 3 to 5 inches on the ground has preparations looking good for this weekend’s annual Jibassic Pro Invitational — now renamed Jibassic Public Invitational. Last year’s JPI attracted nearly 4,000 skiers and snowboarders. “This year the public can compete for cash rather than the pros,” Slaughter said. “We’re giving away $2,000 in $20 bills.” Judges will be on the hillside ready to hand out the dough. “They’ll be giving out money on the spot — if they see a cool trick or a kid trying really hard or someone taking a hard fall,” he said. “Somebody doing something really awesome might get three $20s.” A second contest will award the best video. Teams of four who signed up on Oct. 1 will film the event and then have 36 hours to put together their production and post it to a Web site of their choice, such as YouTube. Then the videos will be embedded at the blog. “The winning team will get $2,000,” Slaughter said. In addition the best rider depicted in the videos will win two airline tickets to anywhere Southwest flies in the U.S. The contest was limited to 15 teams and filled up within 45 seconds after it opened, Slaughter said. The exact date and times for the Jibassic Public Invitational was to be decided today, based on snow-making expectations, and will be announced online and by e-mail and text messaging. Gearing up for snow season means a hiring blitz, with many resorts planning job fairs. “We’re seeing a lot of great applicants,” Slaughter said. Boreal’s job fair will be Nov. 7, with hiring in all categories. “People can go ahead and call into Human Resources and book appointments,” he said. Sugar Bowl’s job fair will be Oct. 24. “We already have 800 applications,” sales and marketing director John Monson said. “We’re getting highly qualified, very proven, quality applicants coming through.” The resort is celebrating its 70-year anniversary this season with some new attractions and special deals on prices, he said. “We have a new chairlift this year. It is the summit chair and accesses the Judah Bowl,” Monson said. “It allows people to leave the resort to go back-country skiing. “ As part of that, the resort’s backcountry adventure center will offer professional guided tours outside Sugar Bowl’s resort boundary. “People can learn how to be versed in the science of snow, snow safety skills and how to use an avalanche receiver,” Monson said. “They’ll be educated in safe back country travel while having some fun skiing.” Northstar at Tahoe has some new additions, too. There’s a new gondola connecting the Village at Northstar and the Ritz Carlton hotel, which is set to open in December. The resort has also replaced a two-person lift in the beginners teaching area. “It’s now a four-person lift and connects mid-mountain to the hotel as well,” communications manager Jessica Van Pernis said. Resorts looking to make the most of a likely El Niño banner snow year are also creating ways to buffer the economic impact on disposable income. So, skiers and snowboarders can expect to see a lot of good deals on lift tickets and lessons. Northstar-at-Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe are offering some learn-to-ski and snowboard value packages, Van Pernis said. Sugar Bowl and Boreal also are offering specials. The down economy is not only reflected in special deals and discounted offers, but in marketing emphasis as well, according to Andy Chapman, director of tourism for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “We’ve refocused a good percentage of our effort back into the Northern California drive market — people who tend to drive to their destination as opposed to those who fly,” Chapman said. Gloria Young can be reached at --------- Boreal Mountain Resort Jibassac Public Invitational — entrance fee $10; date and time to be announced Sugar Bowl — Northstar at Tahoe — Sierra at Tahoe — North Lake Tahoe Resort Association —