Rusty is a great senior ski instructor

For those of us of the senior persuasion, one of the best deals in the Sierra Nevada is at Mt. Rose where Monday-Wednesday-Friday super instructor Rusty Crook leads his band of intermediates and up through a merry chase.

It's a freebie starting at 8:30 in the bar for a continental type of breakfast and some chat time with Rusty.

Then it's out on the hill as Rusty shares his years of experience as an instructor, racer, examiner and general know-all skier. It was from Rusty that this skier finally got powder skiing under control and learned the less-than-graceful but fun gorilla turn -- you come out of the curve faster than when you go in. I don't think it would work with gates but it's a lot of fun even if it does make you look, well, like a gorilla.

Mt. Rose is a fine place to brush up on your ski skills. The back bowl or Slide Mountain offers nice long and moderately steep runs with plenty of chances to wander through the trees. At the far end of the eastern side of the back bowl you can see Lake Tahoe if you climb a little. And the lift lines are rarely longer than a few minutes.

Mt. Rose offers the highest base level in the Sierra and has added snowmaking gear in recent years. The six-pack chair has a nifty staggered feature that reduces congestion when boarding the chair.

Rusty himself could qualify as a mountain man -- he's been on the snow for more years than most of his students have lived. His language tends to be a bit salty, but it's always loaded with good advice. I'll be there today. The boardwalk around the main lodge is one of the best in the Sierra with plenty of tables and fine views.

What's happening:

Homewood over on the west side of Lake Tahoe is offering a three-day weekend lift ticket for $75 -- Jan. 25-27. And you can get that $25 price Monday through Thursday (except holidays) at Homewood.

Diamond Peak is offering $15 all-day lift tickets Sunday and again March 9. This is only good for residents of Carson City, Dayton, Minden and Gardnerville. Bring a picture ID and proof of residence to the Guest Services Window to qualify. This is a fund-raiser for the Carson City Junior Ski/Snowboard Program, so show up!

Alpine Meadows is planning a Sick & Twisted Big Air Competition for Saturday, Feb. 8. The event will be open to skiers and snowboarders of all ages and offers a cash purse prize of $2,000, Alpine midweek passes, skis, snowboards, clothing, goggles and other swag provided by K2, Ultra Nectar, SPY, Leedom helmets and Huck Doll.

Event employs a 60-foot table built at the bottom of Alpine's terrain park, from which contestants will be expected to show off their newest aerial tricks.

Local and regional pros are scheduled to compete as well as local amateurs.

Competitors will receive an hour of practice and two runs for the prelims, and finalists will battle head to head. Registration is from 8 to 9:30 a.m. in the main lodge. Entry fee is $25. Lift tickets are available for contestants for $35, and helmets are required.

Ground-Up, a slick new California punk band, will play after the event and during awards and gear toss. Call (530) 581-8382.

Kirkwood's new ice rink is alive and well and home to some pretty nifty skaters. It's nestled in the heart of the new Kirkwood Village. And at the entrance to Kirkwood on weekends is a dog sled concession. Rides are out on the cross country trails and there's no need to feel sorry for the dogs -- they love the runs.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.


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