#Winter2014: Skiing, snowboarding at Homewood Mountain Resort

Homewood Mountain Resort has 64 runs and spectacular views of the Lake Tahoe basin from each one of them. (Photo courtesy Homewood Mountain Resort)

Homewood Mountain Resort has 64 runs and spectacular views of the Lake Tahoe basin from each one of them. (Photo courtesy Homewood Mountain Resort)

Continuing our look back at the winter that was, it’s time to visit Homewood Mountain Resort near the west shore of Lake Tahoe.

Season start/finish: Dec. 11, 2013, through March 23, 2014. The opening date was typical of past seasons, and the closing date was two to three weeks than was planned.

Snowfall: Well short of the typical 450 inches per season, although figures were not provided. Snowmaking made up some of the difference.

Season highlight: A series of big winter storms arrived just before the President’s Day holiday weekend and the mid-winter break for many schools in Northern California. “The conditions were the best they had been all season during what is typically a very busy weekend/week for us,” said Paul Raymore, resort spokesman. “At that point, every skier and snowboarder in Northern California had been ‘jonesing’ for fresh powder for months, so it was fantastic to be able to finally offer some when many had time off work or school.”

Comment:The lack of our typical abundance of natural snow in Tahoe certainly made the 2013-14 ski season a challenging one; however, that’s not to say it wasn’t a fun year,” Raymore said. “Savvy Lake Tahoe skiers and snowboarders, who knew where to look to find the best conditions, were still able to find great snow at the smaller resorts such as Homewood, where the lack of crowds really helped to preserve the snow on the mountains.”

Looking ahead: Homewood has major changes planned for the 2015-16 ski season, with a wholesale redevelopment of the resort scheduled to begin in summer 2015. Improvements will include a new high-speed gondola taking skiers to mid-mountain, a new 5-star hotel at the base of the mountain, new skier services buildings and amenities, as well as construction of a number of residences at both of the base areas. Information about the Homewood Master Plan is at www.SkiHomewood.com/MasterPlan

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

#ski #snowboard … opening day updates from the slopes

A bunch of California resorts already are open for skiing and snowboarding. Here’s the latest we have from resorts that have yet to start their seasons. >>>

Bear Valley: Opening Saturday and Sunday for skiing and snowboarding, closing Monday through Dec. 19, then opening for the season on Dec. 20. During the first weekend, this Saturday and Sunday, tickets will be $39 for adults and $19 for ages 6-12. Info: www.bearvalley.com

Dodge Ridge: Opening day is “just inches away” says the resort’s website. Dodge Ridge received 18-20 inches of snow in the 72 hours leading up to Monday. Info: www.dodgeridge.com 

Homewood: Opening Wednesday with limited operations. The Happy Platter surface lift, Happy Park terrain park and Magic Carpet beginner terrain will be available. On opening day, everyone skis and rides for free. Info: www.skihomewood.com

Mt. Shasta Ski Park: “Opening soon!” says the website’s home page. We’re not sure what “soon” means, but the resort is plugging a New Year’s Eve party. Info: http://skipark.com

Snow Valley: Opening today, with 6 inches of natural snow and snow-making on the slopes top to bottom. Info: www.snow-valley.com 

Soda Springs: Opening Friday. No other details about conditions were available on the website. Info: www.skisodasprings.com

Shuttle between North Lake Tahoe ski/snowboard resorts — for free

A free ski shuttle is now ferrying visitors among nine North Lake Tahoe resorts.

The pilot program, which runs on weekends and holidays through March 31, aims to get skiers and snowboarders out of their cars and reduce travel hassles.

Participating resorts are Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Northstar California, Homewood Mountain Resort, Sugar Bowl, Donner Ski Ranch, Boreal, Soda Springs and Royal Gorge.

For the schedule and details, go to www.laketahoetransit.com.

Lil’ Air Kid’s Freestyle Competition set for Feb. 9 at Homewood

The Lil’ Air Festival is returning to Homewood. Geared toward kids 12 and younger, this event will take place in the beginner Happy Park and offers great visibility for parents. Awards will be presented for best trick, best fall, and other “award-winning” moves.

Both skiers and snowboarders are welcome, and registration begins at 9 a.m. at Homewood’s North Lodge the day of the event. Helmets are required.

Registration is $10 and competitors are eligible for a discounted $15 lift ticket. Bring the camera for this exciting and fun kids event!

For more information, visit the Snowbomb-Homewood Lil’ Air Event page.

San Francisco Bay Area rain means happy skiers at Lake Tahoe resorts

By Peter Delevett
San Jose Mercury News

Tahoe, tallyho!

The clammy Christmastime weather may be no fun in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it’s a boon for Lake Tahoe ski resorts that a year ago were suffering through a dry, nonwhite season.

Since Friday, more than seven feet of snow have fallen on the Sierra. And people from here and elsewhere have been flocking to the slopes.

Snowboarders enjoy the snow at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. (Patrick Tehan/San Jose Mercury News photo)

“We expect to have a great holiday season,” said Paul Raymore, spokesman for Homewood Mountain Ski Resort on the lake’s western shore. “Conditions at all the resorts are pretty much all-time.”

Raymore said Homewood is already seeing brisk season-ticket sales, and his counterpart at Squaw Valley said lodging at her resort is virtually sold out through Jan. 4. “Our phones are ringing off the hook,” said Jenny Kendrick, who also represents Alpine Meadows.

Kendrick called it the second-snowiest Christmas for her resorts since 1970.

Continue reading

Santa sightings on the slopes

By Jerry Rice

Santa Claus has a big job to do come Dec. 24, so if the Big Guy wants to have some fun before the Big Day it’s probably best to cut him some slack — otherwise you may find coal in your stocking on Christmas morning. The Jolly Old Elf has been visiting several ski resorts during the last several days …

Santa offers a helping hand to the snow-making crew at Mountain High. (Mountain High photo)

One cameraman caught him making snow at Mountain High (www.mthigh.com). The Wrightwood getaway was in big need of the white stuff, as there was none of it on the slopes as recently as Dec. 12. That was just before a storm moved through and dumped 6-12 inches of snow, and also brought with it the below-freezing temps that were desperately needed for the resort to turn on its extensive snow-making system.

Santa carves up some fresh powder at Snow Summit. (Snow Summit photo)

Elsewhere in Southern California, Santa parked his sleigh for a fun outing at Snow Summit (www.snowsummit.com), where he pulled off a maneuver that yours truly has never attempted — at least not on purpose.

At that Big Bear Lake resort, St. Nick found favorable conditions — 12-18 inches of snow, with a surface that ranged from machine groomed packed powder to hard pack — to perform all sorts of acrobatics.

We’re not sure how Santa landed a second or two after this shot on the right was taken, but we would like to see how it scored with the judges.

We recall last winter when the ski/snowboard season got off to a disappointing start at resorts throughout California. Mammoth Mountain (www.mammothmountain.com), for example, didn’t receive its first significant snowfall until late January. By then, much of the lucrative ski/snowboard season was lost.

Santa jumps for joy at Homewood Mountain Resort. (Homewood Mountain Resort photo)

This winter, thankfully, has been different. Mammoth has a base of 7.5 feet, and since early November it has received nearly 13 feet of snow — with more on the way tonight and Saturday.

Snow also is in the weekend forecast at Lake Tahoe, where Homewood Mountain Resort (www.skihomewood.com) reports as much as 45 inches of it has fallen this winter on the slopes at the higher elevations. That news apparently has Mr. Claus, at left, really excited.

We figure there will be Santas galore at Whistler Blackcomb (www.whistlerblackcomb.com) on Saturday morning. That’s when the resort will be giving a free lift ticket to the first 75 people who arrive at the Garibaldi Lift Company in full Santa or Mrs. Claus attire. They will be invited to ride up the hill at 8 a.m., then board or ski to the bottom of the Emerald Express for a group photo.

At Whistler Blackcomb, lots of Santas will be checking their lists while riding the lifts. (Whistler Blackcomb photo)

It’s an annual tradition at the Canadian resort. A cameraman for the local Pique Newsmagazine captured last year’s festivities, and some of the highlights were edited into a cute 48-second YouTube video. It shows a sea of red suits and bushy white beards moving down the mountain, some more gracefully than others.

With that, we offer Santa this important reminder: There are only three more skiing/snowboarding days left until Christmas.