On the Slopes: Ski resorts are open, thanks mostly to snow guns | NevadaAppeal.com

On the Slopes: Ski resorts are open, thanks mostly to snow guns

Sam Bauman
For the Nevada Appeal
Displaying the contemporary ski technique Sam Bauman uses angulation of the body to get the edges of his shaped skis carving in the snow at Mt. Rose last season.
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Despite the paucity of natural snow, most major mountain resorts are open for business this weekend. Kirkwood, surprisingly late this season, opens today, and like most resorts it’s operating under limited conditions. Mt. Rose has been running for a couple of weekends and will hold a party celebrating the new Slide Mountain side lodge, a gleaming modernistic affair with great views of Washoe Valley. Squaw Valley and Heavenly are operating with both of these mega resorts offering limited snow sporting. Diamond Peak in Incline Village opes Dec. 10 and Alpine Meadows is also in action. Homewood on Highway 89 hasn’t reported an opening yet but surely will try this weekend.

There are 15 ski and snowboard resorts around Lake Tahoe (more or less; Kirkwood is 50 miles from Carson City) and one is surely enough to satisfy at this early start of the season. Word is that after Jan. 1 we can expect some real dumps – but that word from the national weather seers is iffy at best. Yodel, beg, cry, weep for more snow, please.

NORTHSTAR LIGHTS

Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort started holidays on Thursday with its popular Noel Nights series, along with a month full of events and activities designed to celebrate the season.

An annual tradition, the Village at Northstar’s Noel Nights are offered 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10 and 17. Activities include roasting s’mores, decorated holiday trees, one-horse sleigh rides, photos with Santa, holiday carolers and more. Complimentary ice skate rentals will be offered with the donation of a non-perishable food item (regularly priced at $5). Skiing and riding is up at mid-mountain and if you’re in a spending mood you might want to visit the new Ritz-Carlton hotel at Northstar.

MORE ON SKI TECHNIQUE

In my discussion of “contemporary ski technique” I didn’t get into the two crucial aspects of the new style, which has largely replaced the old “rotational” turning method. The shaped skis do not lend themselves to the old skidding or sliding turns that we all used to practice at awkward times. Rather, they require application of the edges to carve to a marked degree. That’s point one.

So how do you get those edges carving into the snow? Angulation – that is, getting the body out over the skis leaning into the turn, which forces the edge to dig in for smooth, even turns. If you check the ski racers on TV events, you’ll see angulation at work as the skiers thrust their bodies far out from the vertical at each gate.

The deep side cut on the shaped skis creates a natural arc for the ski. Almost all skis now carry the ski’s side cut radius on the tails. A low radius, such as 10 or 11, means the ski is designed for quick, short radius turns; a higher number like 18 or 19 indicates that the ski is happiest with long radius turns.

So match your ski buys or rentals to your ski styles.

Point two with the shaped skis, is that leg strength is important. You’ve got to be strong enough to withstand the pressures of leaning into the turn at speeds that demand quad support. We all have our own workouts for quads, but here’s one I find handy.

I use an electric toothbrush (my dentist demanded it) that works on four 30-second cycles. I stand with my back to a wall, start the brush moving and slide down until my thighs are almost parallel with the floor, with my middle back pushed back. I stay in that position for the full two minutes while the brush works away. Then I hold the position for another minute. I’ve been doing this for years and I seldom have thigh burn on long runs.

You’ll need to make the shift from rotation turns to inside or “reverse shoulder” turns automatic; you won’t have time to think your way through a turn once you’re moving a normal speed. So to build in the automatic new turn, work your way through it repeatedly on an easy slope, linking turns down the fall line. Link turns for several runs to get it down to auto pilot.

One of the great pleasures of the contemporary technique is the ability to ski down the fall line while keeping your speed under control. Longer radius turns will keep speed down; short radius ones will get you back to the lift quicker. And it’s a lot more fun than bringing that shoulder around every turn, not to mention less effort involved once you’ve got it down.

Class for seniors

For those seniors who want to explore the contemporary ski technique, noted ski instructor Rusty Crook holds a clinic for those over 50 beginning Dec. 14 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Mt. Rose ski resort. Meet with Rusty in the bar of the main lodge from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and be ready to hit the slopes at 9:30. Cost is $100 for the season or $10 for a single outing. I assure you Rusty will have you skiing inside the turn with angulation in quick order.

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