On the Slopes: Powder is all it’s cracked up to be | NevadaAppeal.com

On the Slopes: Powder is all it’s cracked up to be

Sam Bauman
For the Nevada Appeal
By Sam Bauman

Finally, after all these years of skiing, from old Mountain Division wooden skis and GI boots to today’s shaped skis, I finally got power skiing at least under comfortable control. I owe a debt to my skiing friend and nephew David Rittenhouse of South Lake Tahoe and Heavenly Ski School and to Kirkwood Mountain Resort where the recent 4 or 5 inches of fresh powder allowed me to make the leap.

Actually (I say now) powder isn’t that difficult, and I had no problem with it at my Ruby Mountain helicopter adventure several years ago, but I guess I was younger then and had more self-confidence, something that seems to ebb along in tune with aging.

Anyhow, last Friday was a fine day, snow squalls along with the fresh dump, for which Kirkwood is noted. The first run was down the beginner lift and a green hill. I was tentative, unsure of myself and my new knee and David skied along with me, chanting “Weight on both skis, turn both of them simultaneously!”

At a stop be said, “You’ve got to steer both skis at once, keep them side by side all the time. Try this: Instead of turning the outside ski first, steer the inside ski into the turn; the outside ski will catch up as you match the skis.”

So I did several runs on the green hill, turning that inside ski first (standard ski technique is, of course, both at once anyhow, so this isn’t much different).

Then I met David again and he said, “You’re not letting your skis run for any period of time; let them run, the powder will slow you down and you’ll have time to think the next turn through.”

And lo! He was right. The next day I skied Heavenly, not much powder until I got to the Olympic lift, where there is almost always powder in the trees. More straight running, more inside ski first and I actually frolicked in the deeper stuff. Then Tuesday at Heavenly the snow was largely cut up, but here and there, often along the sides of the runs, there were patches of powder. And I was able to forget the knee and just enjoy the flying snow as I made my way down the runs. (Cold, you bet, but it was worth it.)

Tip of the hat to Heavenly. Despite the fresh snow, the resort continues to blow snow on several runs. That’s expensive and usually by this time of the year the snow guns have been turned off, but Heavenly is looking forward to making good conditions for the upcoming Presidents Day weekend.

If you’re having problems with powder, just remember what David said: Ski both skis equally, turn then at the same time, let them run big between turns.

Something else he passed along: Press down on one ski while running and see what happens in powder. Then the other. What happens? Figure it out.


Heavenly has done a fine job with its grading of the crossover from California at the top of Sky Chair to Nevada’s Milky Way. No longer the bunch of snowboarders getting off the boards to hike the uphill section, which has largely been erased. Skiers can make it all the way even to the Dipper run without having to skate or pole. Thanks, Heavenly.

Been trying to get an update on the Heavenly senior ski instruction program but somehow keep missing Ted Pitcher, who is the sparkplug there. With luck next week we’ll have the skinny on this. Senior ski instruction has really taken off this season as the Baby Boomers return to the slopes now that they are starting to retire.


Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort continues to offer guests new on line technology with the addition of interactive radar to http://www.SierraAtTahoe.com. The new program enables skiers and snowboarders to follow storms as they approach the Lake Tahoe area as well as spotlight precise weather patterns directly over Sierra Resort.

 “When snow elevations fluctuate, guests are looking for the sweet spot ” where cold air and moisture turn to snow,” says Colleen Dalton, E-Business marketing director for Sierra Resort. “The interactive radar empowers guests to make their own assessment of the conditions based on a live map that shows snow levels from the resort’s base to the summit, in real-time.”

When a guest first accesses the interactive radar, he/she will see an overview of the Lake Tahoe Basin and how storms are tracking across the wider area. By selecting “spotlight” and “clouds,” guests can zoom in and see how storm moisture is tracking across the resort specifically. To put the map in motion, guests can select “loop” and the radar image will repeat itself, just like on the weather channel. Users will find other helpful tips on the interactive radar page for how to best interpret the available data.

“Since we launched the interactive radar, our Web site analytics indicate that guests are spending twice the amount of time on the interactive radar Web page than our site average,” Dalton said. “Our Web cams are still one of the most popular pages on the site because people are hungry for real-time information. The interactive radar offers more of that genuine, real-time information to whomever seeks it.”


Toyota’s Sick & Twisted Event, presented by Armour Performance, is making a stop at Diamond Peak March 1 with more than $1,000 in prizes and gear.

The Sick & Twisted Freestyle Tour is open to men and women of all skills and ages. Registration is 9 -10:30 a.m. in the base lodge and the competition starts at noon. Helmets are required. The event will be in the new terrain park on the Spillway run. An awards ceremony will follow the competition on the Diamond Peak base lodge deck (weather permitting).

Sponsors of the event include Under Armour, Burton, Volkl, Cholula Hot Sauce, Bern Helmets, Porter’s and more. For current weather and trail conditions, visit http://www.diamondpeak.com or call (775) 832-1177.


If you haven’t driven Hope Valley lately, maybe this weekend would be a nice break from the day to day. The snow is pristine, with only a few snowmobile tracks and cross country ski marks. But brace yourself for Caples Lake ” it almost isn’t there. The authorities drained it last fall to repair the dam and it’s a shock to see all those rocks sticking up and no place for the ice fishermen. Still, Hope Valley with Sorensen’s lodges are always worth a visit.


– Contact Sam Bauman at (775) 841-7818 or sambauman@att.net.