Chance for increased destinations for local skiers

While the Tahoe area ski resorts are almost all open, those back in Utah and Colorado are only now starting to run. The Canyons in Utah, for example, is just 58 percent open. So cheer the Snow God who was to bring us more cover last night.

This may well be the time to expand on destinations. For instance, Diamond Peak is 100 percent open, and that means that long ridge run with all the blacks and blues down from the ridge are open. And there's the advanced run to the right from the ridge that opens a long and fun run. It's labeled a black but is truly just a good blue.

Incidentally, when it comes to labeling ski/snowboard runs, each resort classifies its trails according to its own standards. Thus, a black at Homewood Mountain might well be a blue to the same skier at Kirkwood.

For cross country skiers, Spooner, Royal Gorge and Tahoe Cross country are all open, with Royal Gorge running all four lifts starting today. Skinny ski fans have rarely had so much mileage available so early.

Kirkwood has a problem, however. It's that there is too much snow.

The problem part of that is that the new ice rink, due to open for gliding by now, is buried under so much snow that the builders can't finish the flooring. About 10 days of clear weather are needed to finish the rink. Skates are in, freezing equipment is in place -- but there's all that snow -- 101 inches in just one storm.

Kirkwood will open the entire mountain Saturday, including the superb back bowl where one can ski or board along the old pioneer trail of Needle Peak.

While it's great to see Kirkwood moving into the big time with all the new condos and village, locals may wish for the old days when it was strictly a locals' area. But fear not, CEO Tom Cohee vows that the virtues that made Kirkwood great are still there, which means lots of snow and lots of challenges.

For your flat lander visiting friends who don't ski or board, suggest a trip to the Soda Springs tubbing area. This can be a lot of fun for those willing to twirl down the run in an oversized inner tube, and the price is right -- $14 for two hours, for ages 8 and up, $16 for all day, ditto. Super seniors 70 plus ski free at Soda Spring.

And at sister resort Boreal night skiing is in full swing up to 9 p.m.

TRY HOMEWOOD MOUNTAIN

Every year I suggest that all those snowsporters heading for Alpine Meadows or Squaw Valley might enjoy a stop at Homewood on the west side of Lake Tahoe and every year nobody pays attention to me.

OK, once more. Don't be fooled by the unimpressive view on Homewood as you zoom by. That one lift that you can see isn't even the tip of the iceberg. Back in those mountains are some excellent runs and superb views of the lake. Lift tickets during the week are a modest $25, going up to $42 on weekends and holidays. Senior all day tickets are a mere $10.

And as a "super value" Homewood is offering for $50 two consecutive days of skiing. That's this weekend only. Not a lot of black diamonds at Homewood, but this early in the season blue should help fine tune the turns.

At Northstar-at-Tahoe the good news is that the new area Lookout Mountain is open. Those four new trails feeding off the chair look to be great fun; haven't had a chance to try them yet but can hardly wait. All-day adult tickets are $54.

And Heavenly is holding a women's ski clinic this weekend, call (775) 586-7000 for details.

TLC FOR SKIS

I know, waxing and tending to skis is a chore that can be shuffled off to your friendly ski shop, but you can muddle along by doing some tuning yourself. Invest in a gummi stone and a diamond stone (both for about $15) and you can clear off the rust that quickly forms on edges and take out the nicks and deep scratches left by rocks.

Wet the gummi stone and run it along the edges both vertical and horizontal to the bases. Then take the diamond stone (again, wet it as when dry the thin slivers of diamond the slip off) and carefully follow the bevel of the edges. Few skis are made to have a 90-degree set. Most take a degree or two off the vertical and horizontal edges for easier turning. If you want to get an exact bevel you may want to invest in an edge tuner where you can dial in the bevel, about $25.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.

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