When you're reading this I'm supposed to be inspecting the Olympic sites in Utah, weather and luck permitting. On the schedule are Snow Basin, Park City, Deer Valley and Alta. Yes, I know Alta isn't part of the games, but it is such a delightful old-timey place that to miss it would be criminal.
I'm hoping to get a chance to try cat skiing -- the poor man's version of heli-skiing. All depends on the snow -- powder and I'm heading for the cats. Too bad cat skiing hasn't been tried around Tahoe since Northstar-at-Tahoe put in a lift to service its backcountry runs.
Meanwhile, if any of you are wondering what to do about delaminating Volant skis, stand by. Latest word is that Volant got a fresh insertion of cash so that the company may be out of bankruptcy and able to replace skis under warranty. Let us hope.
In the interim I've been demo-ing some skis in case I have to replace the Volant Machetes. Rusty Crook, ski instructor supremo at Mt. Rose, suggested the Rossignol Viper, which I tried at Heavenly's nifty demo booth at East Peak Lodge. I liked the Vipers a lot, great carvers, put 'em on edge and away you carve. Then I tried the Rossi Bandit XX at 187cm. The Vipers are carvers, the Bandit XX is an all-mountain ski, fat under the boot.
The Bandits were a delight, stable, quick-turning. Next day I wanted to try them again but the only pair Heavenly had was out. So I was offered a Bandit XX 177cm, which I tried. Like most of my generation -- read senior --I skied on 198s and 200s for years, even when I was teaching, fool that I was. With the advent of the shaped ski I cut back to 187s. Never had I skied a 177.
It was an education. The 177s carved beautifully, and I was able to make short swing turns down the Dipper trail all the way without a thigh burn. I did the Little Dipper bowl of moguls, and while I am not a mogul skier generally, in this case it was great fun. The Bandits were stable at higher speeds (which is what happens to me when I fail to put the pressure on the shovel). They worked beautifully when completing the turn, a fault of mine when I'm not thinking about it.
The point of it all? I'm moving down in size.
LET IT SNOW
Boreal reported Wednesday that the resort had 3 feet of fresh snow. Other areas were not so lucky, but there's good snow out there. Maybe not much powder around, but the rocks are covered again. And more is on the way.
The Sporting Rage is at it again with a snowshoe hike to Winnemucca Lake. As usual, meet at the Rage on Highway 395 at 9:30 a.m. for sign-in, coffee and refrshments.
Fee for this jaunt is $29.95 and that includes rental gear, morning eats, lunch on the mountain and the Rage's staff of helpful guides. Note: These hikes are designed for beginners and intermediates in reasonably good condition. Snowshoeing is an aerobic activity so be ready to move. Call the Sporting Rage at 885-7773 to make a reservation, not later than 6 p.m. Saturday.
SUGAR BOWL BOARDING
The American Snowboard Tour will visit Sugar Bowl this weekend with Olympic hopefuls on hand. Events include halfpipe Saturday and parallel giant slalom on Sunday. Purse is $25,000, thanks to JanSport.
The event is open to all competitors but requires a USSA membership to compete. Action will be televised on the Fox Sports Network program "Core Culture" Feb. 25 at 11 and 4 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Incidentally, the old slow Silverbelt Express fixed chair has been replaced by the Mt. Lincoln Express high-speed detachable quad. If you've ever ridden the old Silverbelt you've had time to enjoy some of the awesome peaks and the chutes. The new chair has been realigned so that Fuller's Folly and Sisters trails are more accessible.
If your tot 6 and under missed the Kinder Kup race at Heavenly last weekend, hang on. The event will be repeated Feb. 16 and March 10. Entry fee is $15 per race and includes a lift ticket on the World Cup chair, racing at 1 and 2 p.m. with practice runs at 9:30 a.m. Call the Heavenly Ski Foundation for details at (530) 541-7354.
Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.