Still plenty of good skiing left |

Still plenty of good skiing left

Sam Bauman

While there is snow in the air, Saturday promises to be partly cloudy and a great time to enjoy the winding down ski and snowboard trails.

Last weekend was fine. Last Friday at Northstar-at-Tahoe was outstanding, with the Iron Horse run in fine shape. Skiing down to the village base in mid-afternoon it was possible to avoid the moderate slush on the Woods trail.

Then Saturday at Heavenly was superb. The light powder allowed for some fluff skiing and the small crowd meant you could just point ’em downhill and ride. A friend said he got more runs in the morning than at anytime this season. Even a bowl of chili couldn’t slow him down.

Sunday was a tactical error at Kirkwood. After an early arrival the snow in the back bowl was hockey pucks and ice ridges. I left too early; my friends stayed and said things softened up and became hot stuff.

Most resorts will be closing this Sunday, not because of a lack of snow but because the Bay Area folk think it’s tennis time. They just don’t understand that spring skiing is the best.

But don’t fret: Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley will remain open, Squaw to May 26 and Alpine with no closing date set. Mammoth Mountain down Highway 395 also hasn’t set a closing date and the backcountry will be good for weeks.

But if you decide to hang it up after this weekend, remember that you don’t just stick the skis or boards in the garage and take up hiking. Boards pretty much take care of themselves, although edges should be smoothed and oiled. Wax (if snowboarders wax, and I’m not sure they do) can be left, but if you’ve been out in the spring snow you may have accumulated a smudged coating of crud from grease and oil coming up through the melting snow. Wax remover will take it off.

For skiers it is a different problem. First thing to do is check the sole of the boots. If the toes or heels are worn down to the base, figure on getting them replaced. Worn boots often cause safety bindings to release early.

Also, check the linings. Pull the inner boot out and check for worn spots and creases. Personally, it’s time for a new inner boot. Five years on a Raichle is about as long as they last when hitting the slopes often.

For skis, start with the bases. Remove leftover wax and crud and look for P-tex gouges and cuts. If deep you might want to drop them off at a ski shop before they all close out winter stuff.

Run the fingernail along the edges and if you have the gear clear off the burrs and rough spots. Watch that you don’t change the bevel of the edges or you could wind up on railroad tracks or beer bellies.

Then tackle the bindings. Lately there has been talk that there is no need to back off bindings, that the springs hold up just fine.

Maybe, but it’s so easy to take a screwdriver and back the DIN marker down to zero. Just don’t forget what your DIN setting is.

You might want to go through your winter wear for those loose quarters and matchbooks you picked up during the season. And add your season passes to the stack that you have built up.

— Homewood will be open this weekend with three lifts running, lift tickets $34.

— Alpine Meadows has rescheduled its Pig Air affair from April 23 to May 3. It’s a Boys & Girls Club benefit with competitors trying to outdo each other on a big air jump. If a competitor outdoes another in a similar stunt then that competitor picks up a letter. Three spell PIG and you’re out. Star Tom Burt will take part, and Sacramento Brewing is providing two kegs of fresh brew for those legally allowed to indulge. Music at 2 p.m. will be provided by Ground Up. No citation from music columnist Karl Horeis but the group has a rep as a sought-after punk band.

Registration for the PIG event is at 8 a.m. day of the event, entry fee is $15 with a season pass. Or purchase a terrain pass for $19, flash a season pass from any resort and get a lift ticket for $20.

— Squaw Valley has been offering all U.S. sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guard personnel on active duty free lift tickets and discounted rental equipment all spring and so far more than 1,000 military personnel have happily taken the resort up on the offer.

— The second Annual West Coast Invitational returns to Mammoth Mountain May 2-4, bringing back names in skiing and snowboarding, concerts, parties and events for spectators and competitors alike.

This year Mammoth is introducing the Orage Masters and an outdoor concert featuring rocker Andrew W.K.

The Orage Masters will get things going on Saturday, May 3. The athletes will compete on a skate-influenced jib course, including a junkyard car with rails. They will be battling it out for the rights to a Yamaha YZ250F, YZ125 or PW50 motocross bike.

On Sunday snowboarders take to the hill for the WCI Metal Fest — a rider-judged pro snowboard rail contest. The winner claims bragging rights and a brand new plasma TV.

West Coast Invitational is the biggest spring party on the West Coast, so it is fitting that Andrew W.K. is headlining the outdoor concert. The concert will rock Main Lodge on Saturday starting at 2:30 p.m., flowing into a full afternoon of music. Admission is free with the WCI lodging package, $5 in advance, or $10 at the door.

— You know it’s spring when the Sporting Rage store on Highway 395 offers a kayaking class. This time it’s May 3 at Washoe Lake State Park, call 885-7773.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.