While it last, snow sports are excellent | NevadaAppeal.com

While it last, snow sports are excellent

Sam Bauman column

While the unseasonable warm weather has made spring skiing the best in years, it also brings early closings.

This is the last weekend for Diamond Peak in Incline Village, with Sunday the final day. It’s doubtful that the Ridge lift will be in operation so you’ll be limited at best at the Peak. Already closed is Spooner Lake Cross Country resort, although the back country cabins will remain open throughout the year.

Northstar-at-Tahoe will close April 21 but Lookout Mountain will remain open until the end of the year. Sister resort Sierra-at-Tahoe closes April 15.

Kirkwood out past Hope Valley will be in full operation this weekend but starting Monday will close the back side, Chair 4. The Timberlake Center will close starting Monday. But lift tickets drop to $41 Monday, or the half-day rate, whichever works out best for you.

But while it lasts snowsporting is outstanding. Last weekend we tried Heavenly, Mt. Rose and Sugar Bowl, all of which were excellent. Of course, that means hitting the slope at 9 a.m. and following the sun as it softens the hard stuff and planning on a short day as the slush forms. Heavenly on Thursday and Sunday was fine, no crowds, good snow, good sun and plenty of active snowsporters. No bikinis, however. Mt. Rose was as usual: Slide Mountain side fine early and then a switch to the main runs on the other side. Lakeside run was particularly fine there.

At Sugar Bowl the new Mt. Lincoln detachable quad replaces the old Silverthorn fixed chair, cutting ride time from 15 minutes to about five. The relocation of the top of the lift makes for easy access to a nifty run that is nicely steep and moderately bumpy. With the new Mt. Disney and the other two detachable quads on the new lodge side, Sugar Bowl has definitely moved into destination skiing.

THE BEAT GOES ON

The season may be winding down but Heavenly is keeping the action up. The big event there this weekend is the 180 All-Star Aerial Show, a collection of Olympic and World Cup jumpers bringing a spectacular show to the Launch Pad at the California Lodge.

There will be three performances starting at noon Saturday at the Launch Pad, next to the Gunbarrel lift. The next show will be an evening gala with fireworks blasting off at 8 p.m. The finale will be Sunday at noon.

This will be a demonstration of the most advanced aerials in the snowsport world, am Olympic-level event. There will be limited free bleacher seating.

Heavenly’s annual HuckFest draws more than 40 amateur skiers/riders “hucking” themselves 20 and 30 feet in the air complete with unbelievable landings and spectacular crashes.

The big-air competition is held every other Sunday at Heavenly’s Launch Pad next to Gunbarrel Express. Competitors are allowed two jumps for scoring purposes. Jump scores are based on height, style, and crowd enthusiasm. Competitors are required to wear helmets and must participate in a mandatory training/trial period prior to competing. Open to both snowboarders and skiers, prizes are awarded for best female/best male snowboard jump and best female/best male skier jump.

The grand finale scheduled for this Sunday after three preliminary events.

Interested competitors need not compete in the entire series to qualify for the finals. Entry fees are just $5 per event and lift tickets are not required for those who hike the jump. For details, competitors can log onto skiheavenly.com or call the Race Department at (775) 586-7000, ext. 6208.

This is truly a mind-boggling event as all levels of snowsporters take part. Not to be missed.

A final note from Heavenly is that your season pass is good for a $25 lift ticket for the rest of the season. Just show your season pass at the California lodge or at the base of the Gondola.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.