Heavenly has made many improvements | NevadaAppeal.com

Heavenly has made many improvements

Heavenly Ski Resort staged a “Big Bang” affair Wednesday night at Harrah’s in Stateline to offer a report what has changed at the resort since Vail took it over 18 months ago and a peek at the future as well to premiere Warren Miller’s latest movie, “Journey.”

Blaise Carrig, Heavenly’s chief operating officer, served as master of ceremonies. He ticketed off the many improvements made by Heavenly with the assistance of almost $16 million from Vail Associates.

Biggest improvement from snowsporters’ point of view is the construction of a new high-speed detachable quad chair to replace the antiquated Ridge and Canyon triple fixed chairs. This is going to take the pressure off the Sky Express, which on weekends could get overwhelmed.

Now with two detachables from the Sky Deck restaurant area lines should be much shorter. The new lift will offer immediate access to the advanced terrain park on the California side of the mountain.

For novice and beginner skiers and snowboarders there will be a new learning area just off the top of the gondola. There 15 acres will furnish students with gear and instruction, using a slow quad chair, a surface tow and a magic carpet for tots.

This has got to be a real upgrade because the former ski school spot at the California lodge always faced the problem of early melt-off. The new area will be higher and thus colder. And 15 acres is a lot more than the old base area.

Carrig also said that the old Boulder ski school will continue to operate, after being used only sporadically last season. Many of us spent many days teaching there and while it was the poor relation in the school it was a fun place to instruct.

Also new will be better snowmaking on the World Cup run, which serves as an exit from the Roundabout trail as well as a good, fairly steep run for practicing gates. Five new groomers have been added to the Heavenly fleet. And expect to see new signage around the resort.

Glen Plake, on hand with his usual marlin-fin hairdo, was introduced as Heavenly’s “Ski.E.O.” Planke noted that he grew up skiing at Heavenly and was on the race team at one time (“although I didn’t listen to the coaches all that well”).

National competition will return to Heavenly with the 2004 Chevy Truck U.S. Freestyle Championship March 26-28. And speaking of dates, tentative opening is Nov. 21. Skiers, start your engines!

The Miller film was, as always, a good way to jump start thinking about the season. Heavenly super instrctor Mike Roggan was credited in the film for an unnamed appearance. If you weren’t there for the film, don’t fret, it will be back in December at Caesars.

— There are still pockets of snow up in the Sierra Nevada, not that there’s enough to cause any hiker a problem. At Kirkwood last Saturday during the chili cook-off chair No. 6 was running. Last year I took the chair up and hiked along the top of the ridge over to Highway 88. This year I tried the other way, heading to the top of the West Wall chairlift.

It’s a nice trek, about 2 miles across a saddle that drops and rises about 400 feet.

If you’ve skied the West Wall you know it is probably the steepest run at Kirkwood. Without snow around the base it’s a little forlorn but the surrounding views are magnificent. Along the way there are several canyons created of conglomerate from volcano days framing the valley below. Some even look like mini Grand Canyons.

While you can hike this trail from Highway 88, no word on any more operation of the Cornice lift until ski season. From Highway 88 it could be a long but not particularly demanding trek.

— The season finale is fast approaching for the closing of the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. By ordinance, Oct. 15 is the official last day of trail building for the 2003 season.

The Rim Trail Association will celebrate all the hard work that has gone into the trail this season with a fun work day Saturday Oct.11. All tools and instruction will be provided by the association.

Lunch is being provided for all volunteers courtesy of Aramark at Alpine Meadows.

Those pitching in for this last work crew will meet at 9 a.m. at the summit of the Mount Rose Highway. There is a one-mile hike to and from the work site.E

Volunteers shold wear long pants, long sleeves, sturdy boots and bring work gloves, extra layers of clothing, sunglasses and at least two quarts of water. Preregistration is required at info@tahoerimtrail.org or (775) 298-0012 by Oct. 8.E

The Association works in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and Nevada Division of State Parks.

— The Lake Tahoe premiere of MSP’s latest ski movie “Focused” is Sunday at the historic Olympic Village Lodge in Squaw Valley.

Presented by Helly Hansen, “Focused” features world-class skiers Seth Morrison, Pep Fujas, Sarah Burke, Wendy Fisher, Mike Douglas, Eric Pollard, Hugo Harrisson, Vincent Dorion and local super stars Shane McConkey, C.R. Johnson, and Aaron McGovern as they traveled the globe filming from helicopters and snowmobiles and world class resorts. Some highlights of the year include Seth Morrison sticking huge rodeo 720s, Jay Quinlan whopping a back flip in his snowmobile and Shane McConkey skiing off 600-foot cliffs with his parachute.

The crew hauled their cameras and equipment from the terrain parks of local Tahoe resorts to the remote peaks of Alaska and Norway. The results speak loudly as the footage is some of the most intense ski footage ever produced. From Johnson’s 20-foot airs in the Aspen superpipe to McConkey’s incredible base jumps, “Focused” is going to be the movie that everyone talks about next year.

Two shows are scheduled for Sunday at 7 p.m. and the second at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. Sponsors of “Focused” include, Helly Hansen ,Smith, Powder magazine, Salomon, Freeze magazine, Giro helmets, K2 skis, Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado Ski Country and Red Bull.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.