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Skiers still hitting Sierra slopes, despite lack of natural snowfall

National Weather Service says snow in the Sierra could come as early as Thursday
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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BOREAL – Snowboarders and skiers aren’t letting the absence of natural snowfall during an unusually storm-free early winter keep them from enjoying Sierra slopes. At Boreal Mountain Resort in Placer County, Auburn’s Dimitri Masumbuko made the hour’s drive to take in some snowboarding runs early Friday. The sun was out, the temperature was hovering around freezing and there was plenty of machine-made snow on the groomed runs. “They’re making a lot of snow and you can still have fun,” Masumbuko said. “Everything’s been pretty decent and I’ve been coming out a lot.” Fabian Lozano, of Milpitas, left the Bay Area community at 5 a.m. with a group of friends to ride Boreal. “Even with the lack of snow in the mountains, it’s actually been good,” Lozano said. “They have nice slopes and good obstacles. It’s a pretty good experience for the money.” Grass Valley’s “Graffiti” Mike Condon said that people who love snowboarding are hoping to see some natural snow but will settle for the machine-made type until then. The National Weather Service is forecasting the possibility of a storm dropping measurable precipitation in Auburn and snow in the Sierra by Thursday or Friday. “For anyone who loves snowboarding, any time is better than no time,” Condon said. “Beggars can’t be choosers but the choosers will have to wait. The weather is the way it is and you can only take what you have.” Condon said it was the second time boarding this winter. “It would be nice to see some color on the radar screen,” Condon said. After a ski season that stretched into the late spring and early summer at some Sierra locations because of a cold, wet spring, ski resorts like Boreal, about 70 miles east of Auburn, were depending on snow-making machinery this year to keep skiers happy. So far, things have been working out, said marketing director Jon Slaughter. “We’ve been doing really well,” Slaughter said. “We’re open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Despite the rumors, we’re open and we’ve got a good product.” Snow-making machines have kept Boreal in snow during a long drought in snowfall that has followed a very early dump of the white stuff in October that prematurely coated the Sierra. While a few patches of natural snow still clung to the ground in shady areas Friday, the mountains along Interstate 80 through Donner Pass appeared as they would in early summer. But Boreal’s open runs were shimmering white in the morning sun, with the promise of a busy weekend. “We’ve blown a little over 35 million gallons (of water to make snow),” Slaughter said. “Normally, we would use 19 million gallons all year. We’re looking good and it looks as if we have some weather just around the corner.” Franco Perez of Milpitas said that while the lack of natural snow could make some shy away from the Sierra, the drive was an easy one with no chain controls and the snow was good enough to enjoy. “You get what you can out of it and make it worth it,” Perez said. “And you get away from the city, where you never see snow around. It’s the best feeling riding.”