Busy season for ski resorts

It's been a busy time for ski local resorts.

At Mt. Rose they put the new six-seater detachable lift in service last weekend. It replaces the old Northwest Passage fixed three-seater and winds up just a little higher than the old lift.

This is going to be a great addition to Mt. Rose, not that the lift lines were ever Colorado-length. It's too soon for the Slide Mountain side to be open, but the Kit Carson Bowl is a fine blue run and is in good condition.

Then there's the new detachable quad at Kirkwood, dedicated last Saturday with President Tom Cohee doing the honors and a crowd of 300 snowsporters hanging around in the afternoon for the ceremony. CEO Gary Derck also took part while beer, wine and appetizers were served. And Dopplemayr,the lift manufacturer, chipped in which an aging cow bell, symbol of Swiss cows heading down to the valleys as ski time neared.

Most were happy with the coverage under the new lift, which replaces the old three-seater Cornice lift. Lifts 1, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12 were running. Word is that the new lift makes the trek to the Sentinel Bowl less of a chore, welcome news as the Bowl is always a pleasure to run.

And just two weeks away (Dec. 21) is the opening of the Heavenly $30 million eight-seat gondola. This is really going to put Heavenly on the ski map since it eliminates one of the bottlenecks at the resort.

The new gondola runs 2.4 miles and takes just a shade under 12 minutes to the top. At the two-thirds point that is a deck where riders can debark (but no skiing from there). The gondola ends just a few hundred downhill feet from the six-seat Tamarack lift, which in turn serves the whole of the Nevada side of the resort.

A lodge is under construction (on hold for the winter) and the gentle slopes will make a fine spot for beginner and lower intermediate ski/board lessons.

Base of the gondola practically adjoins Highway 50, which is going to make for some parking and unloading problems. Guests at the casinos and Casino Alley will be able to walk to the gondola, however.

Meanwhile, the base lifts at the California Lodge, Boulder Lodge and Stagecoach Lodge will continue to operate. Stagecoach now has a detachable quad, which has siphoned off much of the traffic at Boulder, which is still served by a fixed three-seater and another lengthy fixed three-seater which means more than 18 minutes of sitting before reaching the landing for Nevada skiing.

All this adds up to four entrances to Heavenly snowsporting. It's wonderful what $30 million will do.

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The Squaw Valley Ski Patrol is tossing a bash at the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge Dec. 16, a benefit for the Squaw Ski Patrol Avalanche Education Fund. Dubbed the ninth annual Winter Solstice Snow Gods' Ball, tickets are $25 if bought before the event at the Squaw Ski Patrol office or $30 a the door.

The patrol has rounded up more than $20,000 in prizes, including a helicopter ski trip in Alaska. Call (530) 581-7260.

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Mammoth Mountain will host the Ford Downhill Series Dec. 14-17. It's reportedly the richest of the ski series running and was formerly held at Heavenly and Squaw.

Taking part will be Tommy Moe and Kyle Rasmussen for the U.S., Felix Belczyk and Brian Stemmle of Canada, Jen Luc Cretier and David Pretot of France, Pietro Vitalini and Alberto Senigagliesi of Italy, Daniel Bahrer and William Besse of Switzerland.

Each racer will have two runs down the Cornice Bowl-Fascination Course. Winner is determined by the combined time of the two runs; team winner is decided by combining the times of the second run for each team.

This is an event worth watching, unlike some such ski events abut as interesting as watching a sailboat race.

Check with Mammoth at (760) 934-0645.

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