Heavenly becoming more complete resort

Heavenly Ski Resort, Big Brother up on the Hill, has climbed one more step on the stairway to becoming a complete snowsport resort with the opening of its new Mountain Adventure Park at the top of the highly successful gondola. The gondola itself was a major gain, but adding snowshoeing, cross country skiing and tubing and a kids' sled area gives the Tahoe visitor one more reason to sample the gondola and associated pleasures. And that adds up to a profitable ski resort.

True, the cross country and snowshoe area is just 2.5 kilometers long, but that can be enough for a bracing hour or so, and with Forest Service consent in the future that venue can be expanded as it is in the summer for hiking.

And tubing is the poor man's entry to snowsports as well as being one terrific bit of fun. Tubers are served by a specially designed Mighty Mite lift for the 400-foot track. The kids' sled area is a potential dynamite lure for bringing the whole family up the gondola. Cross country skis and snowshoes are available for rent and saucers for the tots are free with gondola ticket.

Heavenly is putting it all together and as soon as the two hotel/timeshares sandwiching the gondola are completed this summer, Heavenly will be one of the truly outstanding destination resorts.

SNOWSHOEING, ANYONE?

The Sporting Rage and Get Outfitted join to lead a group on a snowshoe trip Sunday to Red Lake. The hike is designed for beginner and intermediate snowshoers and some degree of physical conditioning is expected. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Sporting Rage for sign-up, coffee and refreshments. Fee is $29.95 and includes rental gear, lunch on the mountain and the help of expert guides. Call 885-7773 not later than 6 p.m. Saturday to reserve a spot.

RACE TIME

For serious skinny ski racers, head for the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area off Highway 28 at Fabian Way. The 20km Alpenglow race starts at 10 a.m. Sunday. Call (530) 583-5475. And for Alpine wannabe racers, the University of Nevada ski team will be offering free lessons at Diamond Peak on Wednesday. Clinics are every hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. These are geared for all levels of skiing. Call 832-1120 for details.

CHEAP LIFT TICKETS

Alpine Meadows checks in with $35 days for those who pick up a free POWDR card at Northern California and Nevada winter sports shops. POWDR cards are good on selected days, right now including Jan. 16, 17, 21, 22 and 23. Powder snow not guaranteed on those days, however.

And pick up a coupon for a $37 lift ticket at Northstar-at-Tahoe at any Wendy's fast food spot. Regular lift price at Northstar is $54. Offer will continue all 2001-02 season.

HOT RACERS COMING

The East's bad luck is our good fortune as for the first time in a while we're getting a chance to watch some of the best skiers in a downhill race that will be demanding.

Thanks to poor snow on the East Coast the Jeep King of the Mountain Downhill event is moving from Loon Mountain, N. H., to Squaw Valley on Saturday. Race times have not been announced but will probably start in the early afternoon.

The race will be on the 1960 Olympic Downhill Course and is considered one of the tour's toughest and often described as the mini-Hahnenkamm -- steep and fast.

The Jeep race is the only professional downhill tour in the world. The series provides a unique opportunity to witness the best of the best in downhill racing.

Olympic downhill gold medalists Jean-Luc Cretier ('98 Nagano) and Tommy Moe ('94 Lillehammer) are among the elite group of downhill competitors. The Jeep race has an impressive history -- over the past eight years the series has featured seven of the past eight Olympic downhill gold medalists. The event is produced by Eclipse Television and will air on CBS February 17, 2002.

Tommy Moe and Kyle Rasmussen of Team USA are the favorites heading into the Squaw race. Rasmussen finished first at Mammoth Mountain on Dec. 8, winning by a narrow margin of .06 seconds over Daniel Mahrer of Switzerland.

Team Switzerland leads the team competition.

The prize purse is impressive, with $100,000 on the line in each race and the team champions driving away with two new Jeep Libertys.

REMEMBERING THE '60 OLYMPICS

A North Shore effort to revive abandoned cross country ski trails will get a boost with the first-ever Olympic Heritage Week next Thursday.

The four-day event will celebrate the region's Olympic heritage as well as welcome the arrival of the Olympic Torch as it returns to Tahoe on its way to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The festivities kick off Thursday at 10:30 a.m. with the Olympic Nordic Trails Rededication Ceremony at Sugar Pine Point State Park on Tahoe's West Shore. While many recall the 1960 Winter Olympics were held at Squaw Valley, few remember the About 10 kilometers of the original 65-kilometer of trails haves been restored after years of neglect. Many 1960 Olympic Nordic athletes and officials plan to attend the ceremony as well as a special reception that night at Granlibakken Resort.

On Friday there will be a breakfast and film highlights from the 1960 Winter Olympics at 9 a.m. at Granlibakken resort. Later, Olympic Nordic athletes and officials will lead guided tours on the West Shore trails.

A Olympic Heritage Week Dinner and Dance benefit, to recognize community members that have made significant contributions to the area, is set for 7 p.m. at the Resort at Squaw Creek at Squaw. Tickets are $75. Monies raised will benefit North Lake Tahoe athletic programs and the area's future Olympians.

On Saturday, Squaw Valley's racing tradition continues on the resort's Olympic slopes with a NCSA College slalom race in the Ford Olympic Race Arena.

That evening Squaw Valley USA will light up the sky with the largest torchlight parade in the region's history as an estimated 1,000 participants carrying torches while skiing and snowboarding down from the top of Headwall to the base village.

The 2002 Olympic Torch relay will make its way through Olympic Valley Sunday at 11:45 a.m. This is one of two places in the country where the Olympic Torch will actually leave the highway.

Nine local torchbearers will run, cross country ski, ice skate and downhill ski with the Olympic Flame as it makes its symbolic tour through Squaw Valley. The torch will even ride up Squaw Valley's cable car and be skied down the mountain at 12:45 p.m. for a 30-minute reception near the Funitel.

The Olympic Torch will continue on its journey, clockwise around Lake Tahoe through Tahoe City, Tahoe Vista, Kings Beach, Incline Village, South Lake Tahoe and then on to Reno.

Sponsorship packages are still available. Call 530-583-6985.

SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK

The National Ski Areas Association will hold its annual safety week Jan. 19-25 and among others Alpine Meadows is putting the accent on safety that week (as well as year round). If you want to do your part see if you can remember the five basic safety rules for skiing and snowboarding. Answer next week.

SKI TUNEUP

I've suggested regular waxing of skis and snowboards to make life easy. And I've mentioned using a diamond stone on the edges. If you use the diamond stone two things to remember:

-- Keep the stone wet so that the diamond slivers don't get torn off by dry surfaces.

-- And don't square off the edges of the skis. A slight bevel of both vertical and horizontal edges of perhaps two degrees is usually standard and certainly helps with the turns.

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