A couple of incidents recently put skiing in a different perspective for this snowsporter. One may mean something to most skiers or riders, the other is I hope unique.
At the recent Heavenly Wake-up call for the media, I tried out the new Bandit XXs at 160-cm length. The day before I had been out on my old 187cm Volants. While the length was not to my liking, the glide of the Bandits was impressive. Little poling involved in the flats, and the turns were effortless.
The Volants have always been poor gliders, heavy they are. And a look at the bases showed the wax in good shape, although I had not brushed out the tiny channels which whisk water away from the base. So why the drag?
Talking with ski shop people, I found that major advances had been made in ski base technology since the Volants - originals from the 1990s - had been manufactured. So no matter how well I wax and brush the Volants, they will never glide as well (or turn as easily) as the newer skis. Perhaps it is time to actually consider replacing the veteran Volants.
The other incident happened on the first day on the slopes at Mt. Rose. The first run was the usual series of corrections - keeping the uphill ski on the snow in the steeps, getting plenty of extension and retraction. But when I got to the lift line something new - panic. I suddenly forgot how to ski, to stop, to turn. I floundered to a halt, made it to the lift for another run. At the lift line again the panic. It was obviously off-putting.
Next day, however, whatever the problem was it disappeared. Nobody seems to know what happened, although some thought it might have been a carryover from a small TIA I suffered in June. Happily, life and skiing does go on.
BIG AIR FEST AT ALPINE MEADOWS
The Sick & Twisted Big Air Festival returns for a fifth season at Alpine Meadows on Jan. 8. This festival was created by the Tahoe based SnowBomb.com in order to give local skiers and snowboarders a season-long series of freestyle competitions at their hometown resorts.
"The Alpine Meadows Sick and Twisted event is traditionally our biggest and best event of the season," says Jim McAlpine, president of SnowBomb.com. "A sixty-plus foot tabletop jump is being built at the bottom of Alpine, making it easy for spectators to enjoy the event from the sundeck. And the $5,000 cash purse and great prizes generally draws the area's top talent. A past winner of the Alpine Sick and Twisted event, Nate Holland, is now on the U.S. Olympic team and going for the gold in the upcoming winter Olympics."
Competition divisions include skier and snowboarder, professional and amateur, men and women and all ages are welcome. Registration takes place from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the cafeteria on event day. Practice takes place from 9 to 11:15 a.m. with competition from noon to 3:30 p.m. Awards follow immediately after the event. The registration fee is $25 and discount lift tickets are available to competitors at the registration table. All competitors under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign a liability release form at registration. Helmets are mandatory.
Upcoming Sick & Twisted events in the series include a superpipe competition at Sugar Bowl on Jan. 21, a slopestyle event at Homewood on Feb. 5, two amateur only slopestyle competitions at Diamond Peak on Feb. 11 and March 12, and a slopestyle at Kirkwood on March 25.
Call (530) 581-0553.
DEALS AT NORTHSTAR AND SIERRA
Double Whammy passholders get two mountains for the price of one, but now Northstar-at-Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe are sweetening the deal with incentives in pass purchases.
With Double Whammy Pass prices beginning at $309, after just five visits passholders are already breaking even. The Double Whammy is the passport to ski/ride terrain spread over 4,480 acres, 115 trails, 27 lifts (including 10 high-speed quads), 11 award-winning freestyle terrain parks, four halfpipes, snowshoeing trails at both resorts - plus 50 kilometers of cross-country trails at Northstar-at-Tahoe.
Ski and ride all day during pass blackout dates for the discounted afternoon rate. Guests simply need to show their Double Whammy Pass at any ticket window to receive this special offer.
Passholders can purchase the Double Whammy Food & Beverage card which allows them to receive 20 percent more for their money. Guests who pay $25 receive $30 in food and beverage value.
Double Whammy passholders can join the vertical plus frequent skier/rider program at Northstar/Sierra for just $69, a savings of $20. In addition, they receive one free lift ticket valid Monday through Friday, excluding blackout dates. With prizes for frequent riding and skiing and "members only" lift access, members are rewarded based on the number of vertical feet they accrue and purchases made at the resorts.
Double Whammy passholders can treat friends to deals on skiing and riding. Passholders can bring one guest per day to Sierra or Northstar on any day their pass is valid and receive $10 off an adult all-day lift ticket (ages 23-69) or $5 off a young adult all day ticket (ages 13-22), excluding holiday blackout dates.
For a detailed list of all Double Whammy Pass benefits visit www.doublewhammypass.com.
LEARN TO SKI/RIDE
Sierra-at-Tahoe invites all aspiring skiers and snowboarders to get out of the office and head to the slopes to enjoy a week dedicated to learning to snowsport. Sierra's Learn to Ski/Ride Week has returned and will take place Monday Jan. 2-8.
Learn to Ski/Ride Week is designed with beginners in mind and will include daily giveaways, demos, special deals and lessons. All guests need to do is visit www.SierraAtTahoe.com to download a coupon for savings off the resort's First Timer Package. The package includes a limited lift ticket, two-hour lesson and rentals for $20. The package regularly costs $75 so Learn to Ski/Ride Week participants can save $55. The coupon is valid for first-time skiers and snowboarders ages 13 and above.
Lessons will be offered three times a day at 9 a.m., 11 and 1:30 p.m. Guests should plan on arriving at least an hour before each lesson time in order to allow enough time to purchase tickets and rent equipment. First-time skiers/riders who get hooked can upgrade to the resort's Learn to Ski/Ride Guarantee, a package allowing guests to return for two more days of lessons, rentals and lift tickets for $54. By the third day Sierra guarantees that participants will be skiing/riding from top to bottom on Sugar n' Spice or the fourth lesson is free.
Call (530) 659-7453.
SQUAW'S NEW RESTAURANT
The Blue Onion Café has moved into the spot that Mother Barclay's used to occupy and is now open for breakfast and lunch at Squaw Valley. While locals may miss Mother Barclay's, the Blue Onion Café is a cheerful replacement.
The Blue Onion is at the base of the mountain between Le Chamois and Olympic House in the Village Green.