Ski season coming to a close in the Sierra

Heavenly Mountain Resort will close this weekend following the closure last weekend of the Boulder base in Nevada. Heavenly spokesperson Russ Pecoraro strong denied that the resort planned to close the Boulder base for good next season.

"There is no truth whatsoever to the rumor that Boulder is closing for good. Boulder's last day of operation for the 2008-09 season (was) Sunday, April 12. Stagecoach is forecast to operate through our closing day of April 19. They will both re-open next season, as all our facilities will."

That's good news for those of us who cherish Boulder and for the many locals who prefer it to Stagecoach or the Gondola or Cal base. Yes, the Boulder base lift is a slow-fixed chair and the North Bowl lift is long, but Boulder offers a touch of the old Heavenly as well as a much improved beginner teaching area, including an easy surface lift.

Closings are now upon us, with Kirkwood already closing its back bowl, a prime advanced sporting area. The new T-bars are down as well. I was there Monday and while the snow cover was good, it turned mushy quickly. Kirkwood will shut down April 26 for the season, although the Red Cliff lodge and ticket sales are already shut down.

SIERRA-AT-TAHOE CLOSING, SPECIAL DAY

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort will host its 15th Annual Customer Appreciation Day April 20, the final day of winter operations.

Skiers and riders of all ages can purchase a lift ticket for $20. All of the proceeds raised from the day's lift ticket sales will be donated to local sports teams including South Tahoe High School's baseball, softball, basketball and football teams, as well as High Sierra Soccer League.

Anyone who purchases a $20 Customer Appreciation lift ticket on April 20 will also receive a $10 coupon to come back and welcome in next year's winter season. The coupon will be valid for an adult or young adult lift ticket from Opening Day 2009 through Dec. 18.

Sierra Resort will operate a limited number of lifts from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All guests are invited to join John Rice, general manager, and the rest of Sierra Resort's managing team for the official "last run of the season" from the top of Grandview Express beginning at 2 p.m. Last call at the Sierra Pub will be at 2:45 p.m., in time for the cessation of all winter operations at 3 p.m.

MORE CLOSINGS

Diamond Peak Ski Resort will close Sunday, April 19 for the season, conditions permitting. All Homewood season pass holders can ski or ride at Alpine Meadows through April 19. Midweek pass holder can ski midweek. Take a season pass to special tickets for a lift ticket.

While many view Sunday, April 19 as an early closing date at Alpine Meadows, many major resorts have already announced 2009 closing dates within one week or earlier than Alpine, including Sugar Bowl (April 26); Northstar (April 19); Telluride (April 5); Jackson Hole (April 5); and Sierra-at-Tahoe (April 20).

Squaw Valley hasn't announced a closing date as yet. The Shirley Lake runs are still good with the Funitel and Cable car the best ways up the mountain to the 8,200-foot level.

Mammoth resort hasn't even suggested a closing date yet and there's plenty of snow there. I want to hit Mammoth after all the local resorts shut own. A couple of years ago I went to Death Valley for hiking and then stopped at Mammoth on the way back for an afternoon of fine spring skiing. 

Helmets Mandatory for at Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts announced that beginning with the 2009-10 winter season the company will require all employees to wear helmets when skiing or riding on the job at each of its five mountain resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly. Helmets will be provided to every employee next fall as part of their standard uniform for working on the mountain. "This new initiative is part of Vail Resorts' overall commitment to skier and snowboarder safety programs," said the announcement.

Vail also announced that it will require all children, ages 12 and younger, who participate in a group lesson through one of its five resorts' ski and ride schools to wear a helmet. A helmet will become a required part of any child's (ages 12 and younger) ski and snowboard rental package offered at all of Vail Resorts' retail and rental outlets, unless a parent or legal guardian signs a waiver to decline use of the equipment.

"We firmly believe when children are participating in our ski and ride school programs that we must provide them with the proper equipment that promotes enjoyment of the sport while also reducing the possibility of injury," said Blaise Carrig, co-president of Vail Resorts' Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Heavenly Mountain Resort.

- Contact Sam Bauman at 841-7818 or sambauman@att.net.

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