War of Rails returns to Bear Mountain this weekend

The fifth annual War of Rails, presented by Under Armour, is returning to Bear Mountain on Feb. 28 to March 1. The country’s top freestyle skiers will hit The Scene at Bear Mountain to compete for bragging rights and a $30,000 cash purse.

“War of Rails is the biggest ski competition on the West Coast,” said Craig Coker, the event’s founder.

Coker has partnered with Bear Mountain and title sponsor Under Armour, as well as Red Bull, Bern Helmets, Wahoo’s, Power 106, Windells, SnoCru, Outdoor Tech, and Ion to make War of Rails V possible. Anon will sponsor the Best Trick with a prize of $2,000.

The top 15 competitors from Friday’s qualifying competition will throw down on Saturday among some of the best freestyle skiers in the world for a chance to earn the title of War of Rails champion, as well as the $30,000 cash prize. More than two-dozen top freestyle skiers are already confirmed to compete.

On Saturday, guests can enjoy the perfect spring skiing conditions at Bear Mountain, then make their way to The Scene to catch the non-stop action. Spectators can head to the 13,000-square-foot Beach Bar to soak up the sun and enjoy drinks, live music, games and giveaways, then see one of the biggest and best ski events of the year.

Red Bull will be streaming the competition live from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The live stream will be available at newschoolers.com and freeskier.com For more information, including the invited athletes list, course layout and live updates, visit warofrails.com or Bear Mountain’s website.

“We’re so excited for the return of the War of Rails event this year,” said Rio Tanbara, Bear Mountain’s director of marketing. “The course is the biggest and best one yet, and all the top riders will all be here to throw down their best tricks. We hope that everyone will head up to enjoy this one-of-a-kind event.”

Snowboarding workshop brings strength, healing to veterans

The Southern California-based nonprofit Strength in Support on Thursday will head to Bear Mountain for a snowboarding workshop designed to help veterans overcome challenges resulting from years of service and sacrifice.

Strength in Support (www.strengthinsupport.org) was founded in 2013, and provides mental health services, including counseling, mentoring and workshops to active military, veterans and their families.

“We’re so happy that Strength in Support is hosting their workshop at Bear Mountain,” said Chris Riddle, Big Bear Mountain Resorts spokesman. “We want to say ‘thank you’ to our military service members, and welcoming groups like Strength in Support is one way we can do that.”

The snowboarding workshop is not only for veterans, but is also led by veterans. This “vet-to-vet” experience will allow participants to interact in a fun and relaxed setting, while receiving encouragement from one another to break down isolation issues and foster healthy and supportive relationships.

“Our recreational snowboarding workshop is being offered for the first time thanks to SIS’ board, donors and volunteers, as well as Big Bear Mountain Resorts,” said Jill Boultinghouse, Strength in Support board vice president. “Our vets are looking forward to a fun and healing day on the slopes. We need more organizations like BBMR that are supportive of our veterans, and can help make these types of events a reality.”

Strength in Support is one of dozens of military groups that BBMR has welcomed this season. In addition, BBMR hosts a number of Uniform Days throughout the year. On these special days, all active duty military, firefighters, EMS and police officers can take their identification to any Snow Summit or Bear Mountain ticket window to receive $38 lift tickets.

“It’s just one more way we can salute those who serve,” Riddle said.

The remaining Uniform Days for the 2013-14 season are March 5-6 and April 2-3.

Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows set to host Women of Winter camp

The Women of Winter three-day camp is returning to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows on March 2-4. The camp is designed for intermediate to advanced women skiers and includes three full days of skiing, daily lunch, après ski events, and collaborative teaching for serious on-hill progression.

An innovative program, the Women of Wonder camp is specially designed to help women challenge themselves on the hill in a collaborative and supportive environment. The WOW program embraces a fun, fast-paced approach to ski instruction, allowing women to push themselves on Squaw and Alpine’s expansive terrain and pick up new skills, all while having a great time.

Off the hill, the camp also includes après ski events such as a wine and cheese social in The Village, and a guest speaker and social at Trilogy Spa.

The Women of Winter program is the result of over 35 years of contiguous women’s-specific ski programs at Squaw Valley, the first resort to offer female-specific ski lessons. In the early 1970s, Elissa Slanger, then a Squaw ski instructor, realized that the typical mechanical, and sometimes tyrannical, methods used to teach skiing terrified women and prevented them from exploring the sport and realizing their potential. From that realization, “Women’s Way,” the first women-specific ski program was born, pioneered by Elissa at Squaw Valley. Women of Winter is the latest development in women’s-specific ski programs at Squaw, offering a new, innovative, and most importantly, fun, approach to skiing.

The Women of Winter camp is available for intermediate to advanced women skiers, ages 13 and older. The camp is $536 without lift tickets, and $689 with lift tickets. Reservations are required. To book, call 530-452-4349 or email wow@Squaw.com.

Spring conditions combine with specials at Bear Mountain, Snow Summit

Despite the warm temperatures this winter, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have been taking advantage of snow-making capabilities to improve conditions on the slopes. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

Despite the warm temperatures this winter, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have been taking advantage of snow-making capabilities to improve conditions on the slopes. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

It may have been a warm winter, but Big Bear Mountain Resorts does have plenty of snow and more than 85 percent of both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are open.

“We have up to three feet of snow at both resorts and we continue to make snow at every opportunity,” said Chris Riddle, Big Bear Mountain Resorts spokesman. “We’re excited to have such great spring skiing conditions right now. We’re featuring some of the best deals of the season to get skiers and boarders up the mountain to experience it for themselves.”

Skiers and snowboarders can take advantage of some serious deals before hitting the slopes for some early spring skiing, including:

Plenty of snow Sundays
Skiers and boarders can enjoy a Sunday fun day at BBMR with mid-week priced lift tickets every Sunday. That’s a full day adult lift ticket for $60, young adults (13-21) and seniors (62+) for $50 and children for $25. Restrictions may apply.

Calling all season pass holders
Season pass holders from any other resort – from Mammoth to Squaw Valley to Mountain High – can head to Big Bear and receive half off their BBMR lift ticket. Restrictions may apply.

Bring a friend for half price
BBMR season pass holders can now bring a buddy for half price. Pass holders can bring their season pass and a lucky friend to the Guest Services office at either Snow Summit or Bear Mountain to score 50 percent off a buddy lift ticket for that day.

Half-off blacked out passes
On any day that a BBMR season pass is blacked out and not valid for use, pass holders can now take it to the Guest Services office at Snow Summit or Bear Mountain and receive 50 percent off a lift ticket for the day.

On all of the above offers, see the resort’s discounts and specials page for additional info.

Dropping in for a Sochi to California comparison on vertical descents

Sochi Downhill

We’ve been watching a lot of NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage – speed skating, slopestyle skiing, halfpipe, hockey – and have been wrapped up in much of it.

A few minutes ago, @NBCOlympics posted on Twitter the image above with course info on the downhill portion of the men’s super combined. The vertical drop of 3,205 feet caught our attention, and we thought it would be worth checking http://mountainvertical.com to see how the mountains near Sochi compare with the ski resorts in California. Here’s what we found:

Mammoth: 2,885
Heavenly: 2,735
Squaw Valley: 2,389
June Mountain: 2,420
Northstar-at-Tahoe: 2,276
Diamond Peak: 1,741
Bear Mountain: 1,665
Mt. Rose: 1,635
Homewood: 1,625
Kirkwood: 1,622
Sierra-at-Tahoe: 1,590
Mountain High: 1,588
Alpine Meadows: 1,555

The best U.S. match to the 3,205 vertical descent of the mountain where the Olympics competition is happening now is the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort – the area where the 1932 Winter Olympics took place.

– Jerry Rice

‘Amazing’ ski, snowboard conditions at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood

Northstar has some of its best conditions of the winter for skiing and snowboarding. Spectacular views of Lake Tahoe are available year-round. (Northstar photo)

Northstar has some of its best conditions of the winter for skiing and snowboarding. Spectacular views of Lake Tahoe are available year-round. (Northstar photo)

Heavenly Mountain Resort, Northstar California and Kirkwood Mountain Resort have received 5 to 8 feet of snow during the most recent winter storm at Lake Tahoe – which adds to a two-week accumulation total of more than 10 feet.

“With such powerful recent storms, the ski conditions at Kirkwood, Heavenly, and Northstar are amazing, and guests on both sides of Lake Tahoe are so excited for more terrain,” said Bill Rock, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “We’ve worked around the clock to offer a bounty of new terrain, and each resort plans to open some their most legendary terrain and trails for the approaching holiday weekend.”

The three resorts have a combined 173 trails via 39 lifts available for skiing and snowboarding. Newly opened signature runs – such as Wagon Wheel Bowl and Palisades at Kirkwood; Milky Way Bowl, Pinnacles and Ski Ways at Heavenly; and Challenger, Rail Splitter and Sierra Grande at Northstar – are among many trails now available to guests.

Additionally, all three resorts forecast opening some of their mountains’ most famous, iconic terrain prior to the weekend:

  • Kirkwood anticipates opening 100% of the mountain – the first Tahoe resort to do so this winter.
  • Heavenly aims to open some of its most popular terrain, including Mott Canyon and Galaxy.
  • Northstar expects to offer 100 percent of its Backside trails.

Combined, the resorts will offer more than 8,500 acres of skiable terrain starting this weekend.

Blanketed in white, a view from above Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows

This is what 68 inches of new snow looks like at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

By this weekend, the resorts plan to have 32 lifts and more than 100 runs available. Beginners will be able to ski from High Camp for the first time this season. In addition to jaw-dropping views, the green runs at High Camp are ideal for learning to turn.

The terrain parks also are being ramped up. There will be 27 features including seven small to medium jumps by Saturday in the Gold Coast Park. At Alpine Meadows, look for 16 features including three small jumps in Tiegel.

Here’s the line-up for lift openings:
• Granite Chief (today)
• Scott (today)
• Big Blue (today)
• Lakeview (Friday)
• KT-22 (by Saturday)

Winter returns in a big way to Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Mammoth

After going way too long without major snowfall from Mother Nature, the storm system that rolled through much of California at the end of last week left mountains coated in white.

In the Lake Tahoe area, Squaw Valley received 68 inches – more than 5 and a half feet – of snow while sister resort Alpine Meadows received 63 inches. The new snow has created a tremendous base at both resorts and will allow both mountains to open new terrain this week.

At Mammoth Mountain, the storm dropped more than 3 feet of fresh snow, bringing the base depth at the summit to 70 inches. The new snow will allow the resort to open 100 percent of the terrain this weekend for the first time this year.

In addition, Mammoth has some great deals:
  • The resort is selling 2-for-1 lift tickets. For more information, click here.
  • Mammoth is also offering free flights from LAX and San Diego when guests stay three or more nights at any of the Mammoth Lodging Collection properties.
  • To earn the free flights, reservations must be made by March 23 by calling 800-626-6684. Guests can stay through April 6.

Back in the Lake Tahoe area, Squaw Valley had 15 lifts operating today and Alpine Meadows had seven. Lifts slated to run this week for the first time this season include Solitude at Squaw Valley, and Scott and Lake View at Alpine Meadows. Siberia Express also is set to reopen at Squaw Valley starting Tuesday.

“The new snow was just what we needed to really get winter going here at Squaw and Alpine,” said Mike Livak, executive vice president for Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. “Thanks to the storm, we are now able to open new lifts so that our guests can truly experience the diverse terrain that these two mountains have to offer.”

Here’s what Squaw Valley is looking like with its fresh coat of snow. >>>

Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows ready for 4 feet of new snow

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are set to receive up to 4 feet of snow by Monday afternoon thanks to a significant snow storm sweeping through the Sierra Nevada, according to a forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As of Friday morning, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows had both received 4 inches of new snow, with heavy snowfall continuing throughout the day. This weekend, skiers and riders at Squaw and Alpine can expect an additional 23 inches of new snow by Saturday morning, with snowfall continuing Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Both resorts could have a total of 46 inches of new snow on the slopes by Monday afternoon.

Skiers and riders looking to take full advantage of the fresh snow can purchase the Tahoe Super 4 Pack, which offers four unrestricted days of skiing and riding anytime this season for less than $88 a day for adults, $75 for young adults and seniors and $50 for kids with no blackout dates. Tahoe Super 4 Packs are available at www.squaw.com and www.skialpine.com, or by calling 800-403-0206.

Fresh snow means new terrain opens at Sugar Bowl

Thanks to 13 inches of new snow on Wednesday night and Thursday, Sugar Bowl Resort will open its Mt. Disney chairlift on Saturday, Feb. 8, adding new terrain for skiers and riders.

The Donner Summit resort plans to operate seven lifts for top-to-bottom skiing and riding over the weekend, as heavy snow from a powerful storm continued to fall on the resort on Friday. Forecasters expect the highest elevations of Sugar Bowl Resort to be coated in more than 4 feet of new snow by Monday morning.

Sugar Bowl Resort plans to operate Mt. Disney, Mt. Lincoln, Jerome Hill, Christmas Tree, White Pine and Nob Hill chairlifts, as well as its gondola, over the weekend.

Information: www.sugarbowl.com