Mark the new prez on the hill

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If you're planning to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama you may want to do so at Sierra-at-Tahoe off Highway 50 West. It'll be more fun than standing along a parade route with a couple of hundred thousands elbowing you.

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort is celebrating the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States with a $44 lift ticket.

"We wanted to give our guests a chance to enjoy the presidential inauguration without making the trip to Washington, D.C., and getting dressed up in formal gowns and tuxedos," said John Rice, snowboarding general manager of Sierra Resort. "No matter your personal politics, the inauguration of a President of the United States is a great time to remember what a glorious country we live in."

The $44 lift ticket must be reserved on line at by midnight on Jan. 19. Valid on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, only.

And you can save $20 on the price of an adult lift ticket when you purchase the Sierra 3-Pak. The 3-Pak is available for just $49 per day and has no blackout dates.

A season pass is even better. We've got months of skiing and boarding ahead of us so season passes are a good buy. Heavenly is still offering season passes for $379, a real saving when you consider the $70-plus daily ticket. Locals know a good thing and use season passes to get in a couple of hours on the hill at lunchtime. That's why I'm at Stagecoach lift most mornings or noons for a couple of spins.


If you've never tried Homewood on the west side of Lake Tahoe, you should. I took a Chicago guest there last week and he was impressed with the easy-going style and the low prices " just $38 weekdays, going up to $59 on weekends. Homewood may now be owned by Alpine Meadows but it's still the same old family resort. It's on Highway 89 and if you miss it you can wind up at Squaw Valley or Sugar Bowl. They even have a program where you can rent part of the mountain and one of the lodges for a day. Good deal for a ski or board club. Check for details.

Admittedly, it's not all high-tech modern. The base area (there are two bases, one to the south about a half mile) is practically on Lake Tahoe. The chair at the base is the Madden fixed triple " a long ride that dumps you at a crossroads. On the left you climb a little and then ride down to a nice quad that opens up a lot of runs. On the right is a nice blue slope that takes you to a detachable quad. There are a couple of slopes off to the left from there that aren't too challenging but are nice running. Far left is a terrain park that we didn't try last week as signs warned of thin cover.

There's a nice bar atop the main lodge and a cafeteria there as well. Prices seem to be more reasonable than at many snow resorts. And the parking is close by and, if you get there early, right up to the Madden lift.

On the way down the mountain there are some slopeside feeding stations as well as one of the best views of Lake Tahoe around. (Of course, it's hard to beat the views from Heavenly's halfway stop on the Gondola. You can get off the Gondola and wander around and then reboard to get to the top station.)

There's one minor negative to Homewood and that's getting off the hill. Facing Highway 89 is a nice hill that is usually bumped out and not right for a new knee. The alternative is Lombard Street, a traversing trail that is often jammed up by the less skillful. Once I skied this trail without pay attention and wound up in the trees in very deep snow. No injury but a lot of embarrassment. So much for skill levels.


Diamond Peak has a great program for families and friends to learn how to ski and snowboard. Enjoy sharing a new sport and the Lake Tahoe experience. These lessons are semi-private and the more people sign up, the bigger the savings are. Visit the Ski & Snowboard School or call 775-832-1177.

Also, a Mini Pass works like a gift card. You choose how many days you want credited to the card and each time you ski or ride, present your card at the ticket window, get a lift ticket, and a day is deducted from the card. A Mini Pass makes a great gift plus it's transferable, so you can share it. Groups of 10 or more can use Diamond Peak for as little at $32 a day.


Last Friday night at about 11:30 p.m. I got a call from a reader who took exception to my skiing tips, where I had written that most of the time your weight is 60-40 with the 60 percent on the downhill or outside ski. Caller said that was all wrong; your weight should be on the uphill ski and claimed that he taught that way. We disagreed and we cited the Professional Ski Instructors of America test text that says just what I wrote. He was unconvinced and promised to see me on the slope some day and straighten me out. Be happy to see him.

There is of course a point when you transfer your weight from the downhill ski to the uphill one, but that is when you initiate a turn and it only lasts for a mini-second. So believe me, the downhill ski is the real weight bearer.


Nothing in the way of a snow dump on the horizon, but the December dump on top of the man-made stuff seems to be holding up pretty well. At Heavenly " where I had planned to teach this season but it doesn't look like it's going to happen " Stagecoach runs are fine and access to Dipper and Comet chairs just a glide. Boulder is open and not too busy so if you don't mind the two slow chairs getting to the runs, it's a nice alternative base. The Boulder chair is short and fast, but the North Bowl chair is still a slow fixed triple. If you have visitors who aren't advanced, Boulder is a nice place to take them to get up to speed. They even have an 85-year-old instructor there if you're looking for seasoned help. Just ask for Stan. 

Incidentally, parking at the Heavenly Gondola is very, very limited unless you want to use the garage at $10 a stay. Not bad if there are three or four of you but pricey alone. Many park at Harrah's and hike to the Gondola, not exactly legal but so far Harrah's has not cracked down on snowsport parkers.

Heavenly Deals

Heavenly Mountain Resort ( is promoting teaching offers as it welcomes the new year and celebrates Learn a Snow Sport Month in January with deals on children and adult ski and snowboard school lessons through Feb. 8. Enroll now to receive 20 percent off all kids' ski and snowboard lessons, 20 percent off all private lessons and a new Buy Two Consecutive Days, Get the Third Day Free on adult group lessons taken through Sunday, Feb. 8.

The best way to learn how to make your first turn on skis or a snowboard is to take a lesson, but lessons aren't just for first-timers or beginners. Even intermediate or more advanced skiers and snowboarders can learn a new technique. With the technological advances in shaped skis, the addition of "rocker" in skis and snowboards, development of women's equipment and the progression of terrain park twin tips skis and park/pipe snowboards, skiing and snowboarding has come a long way, as has the instruction and coaching.

Heavenly prides itself on hiring the top coaches in the region. Six of the top 10 spots on the Professional Ski Instructors of America's Western Region Demonstration Team are held by Heavenly ski instructors (Michael Rogan, Robin Barnes, Heidi Ettlinger, Steve Evenson, Tim Rankins, Greg Lyons and Marty Moore). Two of PSIA's six snowboard demo team members are from Heavenly (Josh Spoelstra and Ryan Goralski). And Rogan, Barnes and Spoelstra were selected to PSIA's National Demo Team.

To sign-up for more fun on the hill, visit

Here's a deal for your local visitors or friends considering coming to Tahoe this weekend. Get the third night and day free at Lakeside Inn and Heavenly: $80 per person, per day.

Spend two nights at Lakeside Inn & Casino and ski or ride two days at Heavenly, and they'll give you the third day and night free. This deal is even valid over weekends. They're even throwing in a complimentary pitcher of beer! Prices start at just $80 per person, per day.

- Contact Sam Bauman at 841-7818 or


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