Wet storms don't hurt skiing

After a week in the Midwest icebox it was a pleasure to return to a damp if comfortable temperature in Nevada. Problem was that I had heard that the rains came, the snow was washed away and we were facing a bleak January.

Not so. Talked with a Heavenly Ski Resort groomer who reported that the snow was holding, at least as far at the upper half of Heavenly was concerned. "No rocks, no dimples, Comet, Dipper and Olympic runs are fine."

Better than an official ski report!

A couple of phone calls and the conditions were confirmed at Mt. Rose, Kirkwood and other local areas. So wax 'em up and hit the road.

What, you don't wax every time you take skis or snowboards to snow? Lots of reasons to do so:

-- Your gear will last longer. Unwaxed P-tex tends to dry out and become less shock resistant.

-- It's so much easier to turn skis or boards that are waxed. Reason is that a hot wax job or a good hand job puts wax in the pores of the P-tex. Filing those tiny holes eliminates the drag that those holes create in the water under the base created by the friction of the skis. Thus the skis or board turns easier as well as (if desired) moves at greater speed.

-- And if you wax you'll probably also use a gummi stone to smooth off rust and a diamond stone to take out the nicks on the edges.

Back in Minneapolis I visited a ski resort where I used to teach. Memories deceive. I recalled Hyland Hills as a decent ski area. In actuality, it's a modest Midwestern area with about 250 feet of vertical and five chairlifts. One thing I did remember was the bitter cold during night skiing there. I remember that I used to pray that students would want to take a break during lessons so my fingers wouldn't crack off. But not those tough Twin Cities folk.

LAST CHANCE

Those of us who used to teach skiing (I know, now it's "instruct" and teachers are "coaches") at Heavenly's Boulder Lodge were saddened when we heard that Boulder wouldn't be opening this season. Reasons were varied, some blaming the Sept. 11 attacks, other poor business.

But Boulder was opened for the holidays but Saturday is the last day for old Boulder. Too bad, it's a pleasant ski base with a modest lodge and a good bar. Kids' area was pretty decent and while I can't say that the base bump was the ideal place for a novice, it served thousands of area students.

Of course, the two chairs required to get to Dipper and Comet lifts were foot-dragging slow, but they did get you there. And after Stagecoach opened parking was never a problem. Maybe after all the new stuff in California gets opened Boulder will return.

DIAMOND PEAK BONUS

Locals from the Tahoe Basin, Reno and Carson City can ski/board Diamond Peak Jan. 7-11 for $25 adult lift tickets. Personally I'm looking forward to Diamond as soon as I unwind from the Midwest. There's something nice about the long ridge that allows riders to pick a different black or blue run every time.

ALPINE MEADOWS ETC.

Big air competition at the Meadows Saturday at the second annual Fresh Air Bands & Boards Festival. Co-sponsor Snow Bomb and Alpine will offer three bands, a $2,000 purse and other fun things. Call (530) 581-8328.

At the Rose Saturday is Elvis Day with costumes, prizes and a general good time all day. Slogan is "Carve it with the KING on his 67th birthday."

And if you're a skinny-ski type, Spooner Lake Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoe area is open. Lots of hardpack snow and possibly some powder tucked away under the trees. Check at 749-5349.

Northstar at Tahoe will host the Glen Plake Hot Dog Tour also on Saturday. This is a chance to see some of the more innovative tricks and turns on snow. Also, dog sled tours are open. Seems like all of a sudden dog sleds are the hot new thing after tubing. Call (800) GONORTH.

At Boreal on Saturday will be a USASA Slopeside event followed by a halfpipe competition Sunday. Check at (530) 426-3666. Sister area Soda Springs is in full operation with the Tube Express running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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