Kirkwood earns its highest rating ever

Kirkwood won its highest ratings ever in national snowsport publications. Kirkwood was joined by Mammoth and Squaw as top ranking Sierra Nevada resorts in Transworld Snowboarding, Freeskier and SKI magazine.

"We're only going to get better and better," commented resort president, Tim Cohee. "With the addition of added amenities such as the Village Ice Rink, a Recreation Center with pool, spa and exercise room, a superpipe, added terrain features in the parks, a snowskate park, and renewed commitment to families, we expect that our national ratings will be even higher next year."

At Mammoth Panorama Gondola was opened last week, marking the earliest top-to-bottom mountain access in recent history.

This provides a total of seven chairlifts with access to over 1,500 acres of terrain. Grooming crews and ski patrollers have been working around the clock to make this additional terrain available.

Meanwhile, thanks to last week's storm most resorts are opening this weekend. Include Sierra-at-Tahoe and Northstar-at-Tahoe in the list, with a $229 season pass still available. At Squaw Valley seven lifts are in operation daily accessing terrain for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Early season ticket prices are $42 for adults, $21 for juniors and seniors and $5 for children 12 and under. At Heavenly, there will be 10 lifts running over the weekend, starting today -- that's eight in California and two in Nevada. They will fire up the bullwheels at 9 a.m., providing access to terrain in two states, including the upper side of Nevada. Plus, with the West Coast's largest snowmaking system cranking out the snow, there will be good early-season conditions with more terrain opening daily.

Kirkwood is open with four lifts and a surface two in operation. The new ice rink there opens over Thanksgiving. And venerable Sugar Bowl is running the Mt. Lincoln and Nob Hill lifts. Alpine Meadows is running two lifts, one to mid-mountain and the other to the top. The Hot Wheels lift may open over the weekend. Of course, Boreal has been running for weeks on a limited basis, no night action yet.

The operating room

While arthroscopic surgery has become common in the Sierra Nevada in recent years, many who might benefit from it know little about the process. That includes this writer, who last Thursday underwent arthroscopic surgery on the right knee. This is to share a peek into the medical world of small operations, often resulting from skiing or snowboarding.

The operation was to repair damage from a ski accident of four years ago when in a fall a flailing ski slammed into the right kneecap and cut through ski pants right down to the bone. At the time a few stitches were made, X-rays taken and everything forgotten.

However, over time while hiking a clicking in the knee developed and discomfort became common. A consultation with Dr. Michael Edmunds of the Tahoe Fracture Clinic in Carson City was arranged. One look at the X-rays and Edmunds spotted the problem: the meniscus or cartilage between the femur and tibia was badly worn and there were indications that a flap has been created in the cartilage, causing problems.

Thus, arthroscopy.

Arthroscopic surgery is the name given to the process of using a tiny camera and a tiny surgical device inserted into the area to examine and treat cartilage or tendon, joint and muscle problems. A portal or incision is made at two points, the two instruments inserted. Looking on a TV monitor the surgeon can see the damaged area and make repairs.

In my case, I was babied, dressed in a hospital robe, had an EKG and hooked up to a saline IV. One nurse carefully took all kinds of medical history, then wrote on my left knee a series of X's and O's "to make sure the operation went on the right knee."

I met Dr. Chris Duncan, the anesthesiologist, who told me he would be using a drug fed into my bloodstream through the IV and that "it would burn a little."

Wheeled into the operating room at Carson Tahoe Hospital I was surrounded by a crew and medical experts, including Jennifer, Stacy and Terry, cheerful nurses all. I felt like a movie star.

Then the burning hit my arm and ....

I woke up in the recovery center a hour or so later. A wide elastic bandage enclosed my leg from mid-thigh to mid-calf. I felt pretty good, thanks to pain killers, and was anxious to get out and have something to eat after 24 hours of fasting. A taxi took me home, I fixed a light fast-food dinner and turned in. The leg felt fine.

Friday morning was a different story. The knee didn't exactly hurt but I couldn't find a comfortable position on the sofa. I had turned down the offer of pain killers in foolish bravado, but I did find some Tylenol in the bathroom as well as a prescription medicine, Oruval, for muscle discomfort. I took both but Friday night was not pleasant.

Saturday morning was better; I could get around using a single crutch without too much pain. I had been told to remove the elastic bandage on Saturday and I did so.

Exposed were two small openings closed with black thread. Small bandages went on them. I spent much of the day with the leg elevated and ice pack in place.

Sunday was better and by Monday I figured I was out of the pain patch.

A post-op conference with Dr. Edmunds resulted in directions to continue the ice packs for 30 minutes a day with the elevated leg. I felt pretty chipper Monday evening.

Unfortunately, I did too much walking and too little resting on Monday and on Tuesday things tightened up.

Now it's Thursday and while most of the time the knee feels fine, I still have discomfort when walking downstairs.

How soon before I can ski? I've been invited to Vail in early December and Heavenly has its annual Wake-up Call Dec. 13-15. I'd hate to miss either event, but we'll have to wait and see.

I'll keep readers posted on recovery, but I hope an outline of the procedure will help others in the future.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.


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