Ski/snowboard resorts are welcoming a pre-Halloween treat: fresh pow!

At Alpine Meadows, the white stuff was piling up this morning. (Alpine Meadows photo)

Alpine Meadows, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, was a winter wonderland this morning. (Alpine Meadows photo)

If it’s cold and raining down here, it must snowing up there. And it is.

In the Lake Tahoe area, Alpine Meadows received 10 inches of snow at the base and 14 inches on the upper mountain last night, while the Squaw Valley totals were 5 and 10 inches, respectively.

Snow also is piling up near Heavenly. (Heavenly Mountain Resort photo)

Snow also is piling up near Heavenly. (Heavenly Mountain Resort photo)

Heavenly was reporting 6-8 inches of natural snow overnight on the mountain, and also was taking advantage of a drop in temperatures to make even more snow – all in preparation for the resort’s planned Nov. 22 opening.

“There is something about this time of year leading up to the winter season,” said Pete Sonntag, Heavenly’s vice president and chief operating officer. “It holds so much promise, and you can feel the anticipation building. Starting up the snow guns signifies the end of one season and the beginning of another.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was forecasting that Lake Tahoe could receive an additional 3 to 6 inches of snow by Tuesday morning.

At Mammoth Mountain, there was 10 inches of new snow during the past 24 hours at the Main Lodge and 12 inches at the 11,053-foot summit. Opening day is Nov. 7.

In Southern California, Bear Mountain and Mountain High were both reporting falling temperatures – and snow – by mid-afternoon on Monday, but offered no additional details via the resorts’ Twitter feeds.

– Jerry Rice

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work you’ll go – after getting the job

Resorts throughout California are ramping up for the 2013-14 snow season by hiring thousands of seasonal employees. Here’s a sampling…

Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley: The Lake Tahoe resorts are looking to hire nearly 1,000 workers, and will host a hiring fair on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Olympic House at Squaw Valley. Interviews will be conducted for a wide range of positions including ski/snowboard school instructors, lift operations, grooming, terrain parks, culinary services, rental services, retail, security, product sales and services, and parking. Opportunities include full-time and part time positions. Skiing or snowboarding abilities are not required for all available positions. Apply online and schedule interviews prior to Nov. 2, however walk-ins will be permitted the day of the hiring fair. For information, call the resorts’ Human Resources Department at 530-452-7112 or visit www.squaw.com and www.skialpine.com.

Boreal: Meet with Boreal Mountain Resort managers in-person on Oct. 19 in the Boreal Cafe located on the second floor of the Boreal Base Lodge. Interview for one or several winter positions available for the 2013-14 ski season. The job fair will offer interviews on a first-come, first-serve basis. Apply at http://rideboreal.com/winter/jobs/benefits.

Northstar: During the 2013 winter job fair on Oct. 26, Northstar will be hiring full- and part-time and holiday/on-call positions. Information: 530-562-3510, www.northstarcalifornia.com

Sugar Bowl-Royal Gorge: The annual job fair will be Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Coldstream Room at Judah Lodge, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Positions are open in many departments, from terrain park, hotel, food and beverage, and more. Managers and supervisors conduct interviews, with many positions offered that day for exceptional candidates. Sugar Bowl employees enjoy free unrestricted season passes, discounted tickets for friends and family, 50 percent off food, discounted lessons and rentals, and more. Sugar Bowl also offers employee housing on property, as well as at Donner Summit Lodge. Information: www.sugarbowl.com

Winter-like system brings snow to Lake Tahoe resorts

Last night, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows received a dusting of snow for the third time this fall. While it may not have been enough white stuff to write home about, the occasion certainly was worthy of an e-release sent out by the resorts’ media relations department.

It also provided the PR staff the opportunity to remind everyone that the Tahoe Super Pass  which offers access to the slopes at both resorts  is on sale through Sunday. Prices are $499 for a Bronze pass, $559 for a Silver, and $789 for an unlimited Gold pass. Those prices will increase starting Monday. Information: www.tahoesuperpass.com

How the resorts looked this morning…

The Emigrant express lift at Squaw Valley this morning.

Emigrant express lift at Squaw Valley

 

Base lodge at Alpine Meadows, near the Roundhouse chairlift

Base lodge at Alpine Meadows, near the Roundhouse chairlift

Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows invest big both on and off the slopes

Kids ski, too, and Squaw Valley's new Teaching Tykes program will give parents the pointers they need to help their little ones get the most out of the experience. (Jeff Curtes/Squaw Valley photo)

Kids ski, too, and Squaw Valley’s new Teaching Tykes program will give parents the pointers they need to help their little ones get the most out of the experience on the slopes. (Jeff Curtes photo)

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will be unveiling nearly $8 million in capital improvements for the 2013-14 winter season. The improvements are part of the resorts’ five-year, $70 million renaissance designed to improve all facets of the resort experience.

The investment for the first two years of the renaissance totaled $38 million and brought new chairlifts, expanded kids’ activities, new restaurants, redesigned terrain parks, and the world’s first ski-in/ski-out Starbucks to the resorts. The improvements continue this winter with a new yoga studio, $1.2 million in lodging improvements, electric car chargers, food trucks and a mid-mountain beer garden. The highlights:

Teaching Tykes program
This winter, Squaw Valley is offering a new program called Teaching Tykes, designed for parents who want tips on how to teach their little one (ages 3-5) to ski or snowboard. Available for $169, the price includes a one hour lesson for parent and child, beginner lift ticket for parent and child if 5 years old (ages 3 & 4 are already free) and kids ski or snowboard rentals.

Kids programs
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are each offering a new kids team program for the 2013-14 winter season. The snowboarding equivalent of Squaw’s long acclaimed Mighty Mites program, the new Mighty Riders program will offer young riders ages 7-13 the opportunity to develop skills and passion for snowboarding over the course of the winter season at Squaw Valley.

At Alpine Meadows, the new Snow Rangers program will offer winter adventures and on-mountain training such as backcountry touring, snow science, avalanche awareness, snow camping and more for past ski team members ages 12-18 who have a solid base of alpine skiing.

Wanderlust Yoga Studio
Squaw and Wanderlust have partnered to open the new Wanderlust Yoga Studio. In addition to classes seven days a week, the new yoga studio will offer workshops that incorporate Squaw’s extraordinary landscape, including pairing yoga classes with hiking and paddleboarding in the summer and skiing and riding in the winter. Squaw Valley was the original birthplace of the Wanderlust Festival, now the world’s largest and fastest growing music and yoga festival.

Lodging renovations
The slope side condominium suites at The Village at Squaw Valley have received $1.2 million in renovations in summer 2013. Each bedroom in every rental unit at The Village at Squaw Valley has been upgraded with new mattresses and triple-sheet bedding with a sophisticated feel. Many units have also received new furniture, carpet, additional flat screen TVs and air conditioning. The Village offers spacious condominium suites in one-, two- and three-bedroom options complete with a full kitchen, fireplace, balcony and one bathroom per every bedroom in the unit.

The food truck phenomenon has made it to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. (Matt Palmer photo)

The food truck phenomenon has made it to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. (Matt Palmer photo)

Mtn Roots Food Trucks
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have purchased two new fully-outfitted food trucks to serve fresh, new dining options at the resorts this winter. The food trucks, named Mtn Roots, will offer an eclectic mix of regionally and sustainably sourced food. The Mtn Roots trucks will serve up quick bites as well as more substantial options for sit-down meals that can be enjoyed on nearby outdoor tables. The food trucks will feature rotating menus based on the ingredients available locally as well as feedback from diners.

Many of the sustainable menu offerings will be created in partnership with the Tahoe Food Hub, a local nonprofit organization committed to increasing the availability of nutritious, ecologically grown food by connecting small-scale, regional food producers with schools, restaurants and resorts like Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. More information on the Tahoe Food Hub can be found at www.tahoefoodhub.org. In partnership with K2 Skis, the food trucks will also offer a signature K2 dish. One of the food trucks will be parked primarily on First Street at The Village at Squaw Valley and the other at the base of Alpine Meadows – though both trucks will roam for special events.
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Squaw Valley plugs in a new feature for electric vehicles

Up to four vehicles at a time may plug into the new electric vehicle charging stations at Squaw Valley. (Squaw Valley photo)

Up to four vehicles at a time may plug into Squaw Valley’s new electric vehicle charging stations. (Squaw Valley photo)

Squaw Valley recently installed four new electric vehicle chargers, which will be free for resort guests to use throughout the year. Squaw appears to be the first ski area in California to offer the service.

We are committed to making Squaw an environmental pacesetter for the Lake Tahoe region,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. “We know the region’s success is dependent on our dedication to protecting the special mountain environment, and these new charging stations are a part of our extensive efforts that we’re taking on as part of our environmental stewardship efforts.”

In technical terms, the two new CS-40 pedestal chargers from Clipper Creek feature four 30-amp, 240-volt J1772 charging stations. J1772 is an SAE standard, meaning the chargers will be compatible with most electric cars on the market today.

We’re proud to provide this service to our guests who currently own electric vehicles, and we hope that this might even compel a few more people to look into electric-powered vehicles,” Wirth said.

The charging stations are located at the western edge of the Far East Building at Squaw Valley, next to the Cornice Cantina. They will be available seven days a week.

The EV chargers are an example of Squaw Valley’s ongoing environmental and sustainability efforts. In 2013, the resort hosted the first carbon-neutral U.S. Alpine Championships, reduced the carbon footprint of its infrastructure by 10 percent, and launched a new farm-to-table menu option at the Rocker@Squaw restaurant.

Squaw Valley also has been a key player in the region-wide Green Bucks program. Proceeds from the program support the Tahoe Fund, the Truckee River Watershed Council and other public and nonprofit organizations, which work to improve, enhance and restore watersheds, hiking and biking trails, and boost environmental stewardship initiatives.

California Ski Industry Association reports successful season

By Bob Goligoski

Skier and snowboarder visits to Sierra winter resorts were up “substantially” during the 2012-2013 season, according to the California Ski Industry Association. The association, which represents about 30 resorts, said early and timely snow storms insured that the season would be a success.

Bob Roberts, association CEO and president, said in an interview that “we got off to a tremendous start with good snow for the Christmas season.” Then the other two big money-makers for the resorts – President’s weekend and Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend – also still had abundant snow that drew thousands of skiers and riders to the mountains.

Most of the resorts had profitable seasons, noted Roberts, and “this should result in a few more lifts and runs being developed this summer. But these likely will occur only at the major resorts.”

It was a strange season because after the splendid start, the snow gods virtually turned off the tap for the rest of the season starting in mid-January. The snowfall totals at Squaw Valley mirrored those of most resorts. Only 326 inches of snow fell at Squaw during the season compared with 355 the year before and 810 inches in 2010-11.

“Most of the resorts took a financial bath during the 2011-2012 season,” said Roberts.

During that season, skier and snowboarder visits were down about 25 per cent from the previous year as only six million visits were recorded. The exact numbers for the season just concluded have not been tabulated, but Roberts is confident they will be up “substantially” from the previous season.

One bright spot for resort owners was an increased number of Asian and Latino skiers and riders. But this was partially offset by the continuing downward trend among snowboarders as growth in that segment of the market has flattened out in recent seasons.

Vail Resorts Inc., which operates seven California and Colorado resorts including Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, reported good growth during the past season including a 5.5 percent increase in skier-snowboarder visits and an 11 percent hike in ski school revenue.

USSA taps Squaw Valley Ski Team as alpine club of the year

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has named the Squaw Valley Ski Team the 2013 USSA Alpine Ski Club of the Year. The award, an important national ski team recognition, comes in addition to several other regional ski racing awards received by Squaw Valley’s athletes, coaches, volunteers and the ski resort itself.

The Club of the Year Award is presented to a USSA competition club in each sport that has distinguished itself in providing direction to young athletes through high-level competition programs resulting in athletic success. The USSA athletic management team manages the selection with direction from each USSA sport director.

“The Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows teams have a remarkable history, yet we’re striving to achieve so much more and have set our sites on being, consistently, among the top programs in North America,” said Andy Wirth, president and chief executive officer of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. “This award is an important affirmation of our work to date, but there’s more to accomplish.”

In the resort’s nomination, USSA’s Alpine Sport Committee noted, “The Squaw Valley Ski Team wrapped up a year marked by tremendous growth, athletic success and excellence in event production. As one of the largest youth programs in the country, if not the largest, over 33% of its USSA members were new USSA members this year, a signal of movement through its development programs.”

At its top levels, Squaw Valley had eight skiers qualify for the U.S. Alpine Championships, not counting its named U.S. Ski Team members. At the U-18 National Championships, Squaw Valley skiers claimed 15 front page finishes, more than any other club. Eight top 10s at the Western U-16 Championships and an impressive 15 top fives at the Far West U-14 Championships show the depth of talent in the program, according to a press release from the resort. In addition, the Squaw Valley Ski Team helped host the successful U.S. Alpine Championships.

Under the leadership of Todd Kelly, the program this year joined with the neighboring Alpine Meadows Ski Team to combine resources and enhance opportunity for a larger group of skiers as they move through the pipeline. Veteran coaches, including last year’s USSA domestic coach of the year, Konrad Rickenbach, direct high-level training opportunities, including more focus on year-round conditioning.

2014 U.S. Alpine Championships returning to Squaw Valley

The U.S. Alpine Championships, which brought thousands of fans to Squaw Valley this spring, will be returning to the resort next year.

Set for March 19-23, the championships will be staged after the XXII Olympic Winter Games, which will be held Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.

Athletes expected to compete at Squaw include Julia Mancuso, who won the Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom at Turin in 2006 and claimed two silver medals at the 2010 Games in Vancouver; Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller and Mikaela Shiffrin.

“It’s great to get to race at my home mountain, and it’s awesome to have Squaw’s support for ski racing,” Mancuso said.

“We had a hugely successful event this year, but will be offering even more programming in 2014 as we welcome our American Olympians home from Sochi with a community-wide celebration honoring athletes across the winter disciplines,” said Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO and president.

Skiers, boarders make waves during Squaw’s Lake Cushing Crossing

How did the chicken cross the pond? On skis, of course, during Squaw Valley’s Lake Cushing Crossing, which returns on Saturday. (Squaw Valley photo)

Get your best water-ski and -snowboard moves ready for the 23rd annual Lake Cushing Crossing at Squaw Valley on Saturday.

The Cushing Crossing is the resort’s acclaimed pond skimming event that challenges participants to cross the vast and chilly waters of Cushing Pond on skis, a snowboard or any ski or snowboard-based vessel. The event is known for colossal crashes, hilarious costumes, and ultra-creative pond skimming contraptions.

Since the event’s creation more than 20 years ago, plenty of ski resorts have come up with their own pond-skimming events, yet none rival this one. Perhaps it is because the characters at Squaw are a little more creative. Or maybe it is because Cushing Pond is a real pond, rather than a tarp-lined ditch or kiddie pool. Whatever the reason, the Cushing Crossing blows other pond skimming events out of the water, as demonstrated by the thousand plus spectators that come out for the event every year.

Prizes for the Cushing Crossing winners are…

  • Overall: 2013/14 Bronze Season Pass, GoPro Hero 3, $200 cash
  • Men’s Ski: GoPro Hero 3, Oakley Goggles, $100 cash
  • Men’s Snowboard: GoPro Hero 3, Oakley Goggles, $100 Cash
  • Women’s Ski: GoPro Hero 3, Oakley Goggles, $100 Cash
  • Woman’s Snowboard: GoPro Hero 3, Oakley Goggles, $100 Cash
  • Unlimited: GoPro Hero 3, $100 cash
  • Most Creative: Oakley Goggles, Squaw swag, $100 cash
  • Skinny Ski (70mm or less): Oakley Goggles, Squaw swag, $100 cash

In addition to the legendary pond skimming event, this weekend boasts an incredible lineup of spring fun at Squaw Valley with a Saturday pool party at High Camp, great ski conditions, sunny skies in the forecast, and music at the KT Base Bar.

The Cushing Crossing is open to the first 50 registrants. Registration will take place at the KT Base Bar at 9 a.m., and the competition kicks off at 1 p.m. The cost to participate is $20. All entrants must be 18 or older. A life preserver and a helmet are required.

Information: www.squaw.com

It’s snow, snow and more snow on the slopes at Lake Tahoe, Mammoth

Squaw Valley has a base depth of 2 to 8 feet, and expect that to increase as fresh powder keeps falling today at the resort. (Jeff Engerbretson photo)

As of 5 a.m. today, Squaw Valley reported up to 6 inches of new snow while sister resort Alpine Meadows said it received up to 5 inches – and the white stuff was still coming down, at a rate of about an inch per hour.

This storm follows another one that recently rolled through, dumping up to 4 inches of snow. The two-storm total was expected to be 10-15 inches by Wednesday evening.

Skies were expected to clear by mid-day Friday, making for easier travel this weekend to all of the Lake Tahoe resorts.

Mammoth Mountain already has the most snow of any resort in North America, and it could receive another 2 feet by this weekend. (Mammoth Mountain photo)

Mammoth Mountain also was reporting fresh snow this morning, with 6 to 10 inches falling in the past 24 hours and a base depth of 7 to 16 feet.

The Weather.com forecast for Mammoth has a 60-70 percent chance of snow on Thursday and Friday, followed by partly cloudy to sunny skies on Saturday and Sunday when highs are expected to be in the 40s and 50s. For more information, click here.