Any day is a good day in the Sierra

Last weekend's snowsporting was weird with the fog like a wet blanket over Carson Valley.

True, there was fog at most ski area bases, but up higher it was bright sun and glorious skiing.

At Mt. Rose on Friday we managed to join Rusty Crook's seniors' clinic, and as usual he straighted out the bends in the class' skiing. Fine snow, bright day. The Chutes were in limited operation and do to time contraints I didn't get on them. Next time, for sure.

Saturday at Homewood was another fine day, except for one little mistake. Fog was thick on the nice, steep run at the bottom of the hill so we took the messy Lombard cat track roundabout. Skied it a hundred times with no problem, which may be why I carelessly went over the edge into the trees at a pretty good clip. Happily, the helmet was strapped on. Skis popped off against the first tree; then I skidded for about 15 feet on my back between the trees, winding up with both boots planted against a thick trunk.

Luckily, no serious problems, just a scrape on one shin. Biggest problem was getting out of the trees, through 6-foot-deep snowdrifts and then finding the skis. Both were lodged against that first tree - with the bindings unopened. Go figure.

Sunday at Sierra-at-Tahoe the crowd was immense so we skied to the West Bowl. Fine weather there but on some of the runs the snow was boilerplate. Still, any day skiiing in the Sierra is a fine day.

• Summit Snow Depths (and counting): Alpine Meadows 121 inches; Diamond Peak 110 inches; Homewood Mountain Ski Resort 168; Mt. Rose/Ski Tahoe 96-168 inches; Northstar-at-Tahoe 112 inches; Squaw Valley USA 165 inches; Sugar Bowl 168 inches.

• It's Last Tracks at Diamond Peak on Saturday with appetizers and wine tasting at the end of the day at Snowflake Lodge. Guests will then ski or board down freshly-groomed slopes at sunset. Thre's a cost but it sounds like a fine way to end a day on the slopes.

• Mt. Rose has gone where no ski resort has gone before in planning wild and wacky events. This season, the resort is once again offering a winter full of events catering to the sense of adventure inherent in every snowsporter.

Feb. 12: Mt. Rose invites skiers and boarders to travel back in time to the decade that gave us everything from Pac Man to Prozac during the third annual Slide Back '80s Retro Ski Party. From once popular feathered hairstyles to stretch pants and skinny skis, visitors are invited to sport their finest '80s fashions. Breaking all of the ski fashion laws may even earn skiers and boarders new gear in the "Most Fashionable" contest at Slide Lodge at the bottom of East Bowl.

March 5: It won't take a genius to enjoy the Ninth Annual Dummy Downhill at Mt. Rose. Visitors to the resort can breathe life into their dummy creations by placing them on skis or snowboards, then sending them racing down Show-Off run, in front of the Mt. Rose main lodge. The contestants are judged on style and shear carnage. Registration is from 8 to 10 a.m. on race day; racing begins at noon.

• Alpine Meadows' women's ski clinics are a fine way to get into leading with the inside shoulder. It's amazing how many good skiers still lean into the hill rather than downhill. Clnics like these help get that shoulder out front. Details: www.skialpine.com or (530) 581.8221.

• If skill improvement and fun riding is what you're after come join High Cascade for the winter and spring experience. Ride great snow conditions while HCSC takes care of everything else, complete with transportation, accommodations, lift tickets, meals, after-riding activities, and evening entertainment. Accomplish your first link-turn, achieve carving perfection, get in some powder turns, work on your superpipe and park skills, and learn tricks with perfect style. Pricing and registration details: www.highcascade.com.

• Alpine Meadows Telemark Freeskiing Championships are Feb. 25-27. Presented by Tough Guy Productions and beckoning the world's top telemark skiers, this three-day event challenges competitors to negotiate Alpine's big-mountain terrain on Keyhole and Buttress slopes, superpipe, and terrain park features. Drawing top freeheelers from around the country and adding in the talent of Tahoe's locals, this telemark competition will prove to be fun for both competitors and spectators. It's sponsored by Atomic, Red Bull and Black Diamond. Visit www.toughguyproductions.com or www.skialpine.com.

• NorAm Halfpipe & Dual Mogul Competition, a United States Ski Association Event, is on tap Feb. 26-27 . Top freestyle skiers compete in Alpine Meadow's superpipe Saturday and up the ante on Sunday by going head-to-head through a high-speed mogul and jump course. For details, call (530) 581-8296 or visit www.skialpine.com.

• As just one way to give back to the local community and help those in need, Northstar-at-Tahoe has donated $46,593 to charitable causes in the past six weeks.

Included were Tsunami Relief Fund, where Northstar-at-Tahoe and its sister resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe, donated $30,593 to the American Red Cross International Response Fund and Surfaid International. Northstar and Sierra raised $13,604 throughout both resorts' Tsunami Relief Day last Monday. Each resort collected $2 from every adult, young adult and child lift ticket. The resorts also raised $2,385 from resort employees.

• Sierra-at-Tahoe will again hold Snowsports Week from Feb. 7-10, an annual event that allows skiers and riders to support local nonprofit organizations while skiing and riding for less than half of the regular ticket price.

Full-day adult lift tickets are on sale now for $25 at select South Lake Tahoe locations, including the Meyers and Ski Run Chevrons, Sports LTD at the "Y," 7/11 on Kingsbury Grade, Alpine Animal Hospital, Coldstone Creamery, New York Pizza, the Lake Tahoe Community College bookstore and the South Tahoe and Tahoe Douglas Chambers of Commerce. These discounted tickets must be purchased at a participating location in advance. Tickets will not be sold at Sierra-at-Tahoe at the discounted rate.

All proceeds from Snowsports Week benefit the Barton Hospital Foundation, Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation, Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care and Tahoe Youth & Family Services.

In past years, proceeds from this event helped purchase 20 defibrillators for community facilities and emergency vehicles in both El Dorado and Douglas Counties. Ticket sales also funded scholarships at Lake Tahoe Community College and provided books, materials and assistance to students, as well as helped build a state-of-the-art track and field facility for South Lake Tahoe Middle School.

Call (530) 543-5614 or Sierra-at-Tahoe at (530) 659-7453.

• Northstar is the site of the inaugural Vans Cup snowboarder event Feb. 11-13. Danny Kass, Shaun White, Marc-Frank Montoya and Tara Dakides will compete in Innovative new competitive format, the Best All-Around Rider.

The event is expected to be the most important professional snowboarding competition on the West Coast this season with nearly every big name in the sport in attendance and a total prize purse of more than $200,000. The Vans Cup at Tahoe will air on Fox Sports Net nationally in two parts at 3 p.m. March 18 and March 25.

This year Vans is raising the bar by switching to an invite-only event with a night-time rail jam, a superpipe competition and a new event that is sure to challenge even the most versatile riders.

Instead of a standard slopestyle course, Vans contest organizers are merging the three major elements of freestyle snowboarding (rails, jumps, transitions) into one. The course starts with a series of rails flowing into a huge kicker and finishing with a quarter-pipe/hip combo. The winner of this event needs to be versatile in all the major elements earning them the title and major bragging rights as the Best All-Around Rider.

The event is free and open to the public. Spectators without lift tickets can receive a free gondola ticket thanks to Tylenol.

Sam Bauman is a Nevada Appeal Staff Writer. Contact him at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-136.

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