With snow guns poised to fire, Sierra Nevada mountain resorts are gearing up for another season.
Not quite yet, however, thanks to a temperature inversion that blocked snowmaking efforts this week. As soon as the mountain resorts can make it, we'll let you know. Take the holiday time to wax those skis and boards.
Meanwhile, last weekend was too nice to pass up one more hiking day. Again, the Santa Cruz Mountains beckoned and we did two modest treks, one at the Roaring Camp Railroads site near Felton in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
The railroads are pretty much a tourist affair, but there are plenty of hiking trails in the park. Many of them cross and recross the railroad tracks, and while there is no magnificent view, just catching that old lopsided train huffing and puffing away is a treat. The engine is an alternate design, with vertical rather than horizontal pistons, working complex gears to the driving wheels. Hiking up the well-maintained trails takes one to the top of Bear Mountain, where the train ends up. Nothing terribly demanding, but the greenery is lush still, although no flowers are blooming.
Other hike was along the marshlands on the Stevens Trail. Again, easy, but a pleasant Sunday morning stroll. Millions of birds, from herons to white pelicans.
But back to skis. Picked up an old pair of original aluminum black Head skis in the Bay Area, which will soon join a pair of Volants on the garage front. These were the first metal skis to really make an impact in the ski world, and I had a pair - the only pair at the time - in Japan.
Wishing you were on the hill, shooting along? Can't help the weather, but this year's Warren Miller ski movie unreels at 7:30 p.m., Carson City Community Center. This is a benefit for Carson High School ski team, call Jack Reinhardt at 283-1768 for information. The film will be shown next weekend in Stateline, sponsored by Heavenly Mountain Resort. Amazing how year after year Miller, now in his 70s, creates a exciting night out of the same old stuff.
KING OF MOUNTAIN RETURNING.
The Jeep King of the Mountain Series, now in its 13th season as one of professional snow sports most prestigious events, has picked Squaw Valley as a host site for the 2005-2006 Professional Skiing & Snowboarding World Championships.
The Jeep King of the Mountain Series, which offers the richest cash purse in snow racing, will feature 32 of the world's top skiers and snowboarders competing head-to-head to capture the title of World Professional Champion as well as a share of the record prize payout topping $450,000, plus $20,000 in additional bonuses from John Paul Mitchell Systems. Adding to the allure of the event, this year the keys to four new 2006 Jeep Commanders will be presented to the men's and women's ski and snowboard champions.
The event begins with a qualifier Saturday Feb. 25, allowing top amateur and professional ski and snowboard racers to earn a spot. Qualifier registration information can be found at www.jeepsports.com. Sunday Feb. 26 is the grand finale.
A national audience will be able to view each Jeep King of the Mountain Series event on CBS Sports.
NEW BURTON PARK
After being ranked among the top 10 resorts in all three categories of terrain parks and halfpipes by Transworld Snowboarding, Northstar-at-Tahoe was selected to be the West Coast home of the first-ever Burton Progression Park, to debut in December.
Featuring smaller versions of freestyle terrain features, gentle landings and plenty of elbow room, these parks provide a laid-back, non-intimidating environment for riders of all ages who want to develop their terrain park skills. The Progression Park concept is a collaborative effort between the Burton Resort Team, Booth Creek Ski Holdings and Snow Park Technologies (SPT), led by Chris (Gunny) Gunnarson.
The Burton Progression Parks are designed to attract entry-level park riders and to be used as a tool for Northstar's coaches and ski/snowboard instructors to incorporate freestyle terrain into their teaching programs. The park will be open to the general public.
Northstar's park will be on Sidewinder, off the Vista chairlift, and will feature six small jumps, boxes and rails, with some features located mere inches from the ground. The features are designed so that they become slightly more difficult as riders work their way down the park.
A "Stop & Drop Zone" will be located before each feature, to allow a group lesson to stop, check out the feature and discuss the proper method of riding the feature.
Northstar will host a Grand Opening for its Burton Progression Park Dec. 30, featuring demos, drawings, prizes and a lesson/trick tip booth.
Call (800) GO-NORTH.