Black diamonds are a girl’s best friend at Breckenridge

Black diamonds can be a girl’s best friend in Breck – black diamond runs that is – especially during the ski area’s inaugural Women’s Ski Week, Feb. 14-22, 2015.

Women’s Ski Week at Breckenridge Ski Resort will highlight the resort’s offerings just for women to help moms, sisters, daughters and girlfriends get the most out of the mountain and town the way only women know how: by providing a welcoming, supportive and fun place to improve skiing or snowboarding skills, meet new friends and take the stress out of planning a family vacation.

Women’s Ski Week at Breckenridge will offer women of all ages unique ski and snowboard lessons, gear demos, fashion tips, and more!

Women’s Ski Week Schedule:
Feb 14 – 16           Ski Girls Rock – Created by the most successful woman skier of all time, Lindsey Vonn, Ski Girls Rock features lessons for girls ages 7 to 14 from our top women instructors. The lessons are headed up by devoted women instructors who have had an opportunity to meet with Lindsey recently to understand her vision for Ski Girls Rock and hope to convey this same sense to each of their students.

Feb 14 – 22           Women’s Ultimate 4 / Ladies First - With a maximum of four women per class, the Ladies First lesson gets you more individualized attention with experienced female instructors.

Feb 18                   Women & WineSometimes, a full day lesson can just be a little too much. That’s why we’re introducing Women & Wine – a half day lesson for women only (starting at 1:15 p.m. every Wednesday) followed by a complimentary glass of wine for après. Ski, sip, and play for just $69 as you learn from the best women instructors at Breck. Special for the Feb. 18 session, Gallo wines will join to show off the best wines in their line and explain the proper pairings. This class is held every Wednesday through March 4.

Feb 20                   Women’s First Tracks - Join Breck February 20 for first tracks on the mountain! Anyone who books a women’s program or lesson this year at Breck will get free access to this event!

Feb 20 – 22            Women Ski/Snowboard Camp – At Breck’s three-day Women’s Camp, you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for — whether that’s just a bit more confidence in the bumps, or just a better understanding of the equipment on your feet. Our supportive and fun female instructors will break the group down by ability and guide you and your friends around our incredible mountain at your pace.  And speaking of feet, Smartwool will be giving out free socks to the ladies during the clinic.

Feb 21                   Bombshells - Specifically for the moms of our Bombers and BAM kids, we’re offering discount lessons for women of any level looking to get the most of their time on the mountain. Held from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each Saturday, this lesson is the perfect length to let you drop your kid off, grab a coffee and catch your lesson right on time.

Feb 21                   Get the Girls Out – Join women’s outdoors organization SheJumps for a fun women-only ski day. Meet the ladies at the Starbucks at the base of Peak 8 at 10:00 a.m. to ski in an all-woman, all-fun ski or snowboard day.

Feb 21 -22             Breck Sports Women’s Gear Demo Days – Try out new gear before you buy! Demo a pair of skis or a snowboard on the slopes at Breck at a special price for Women’s Ski Week ($30!). Gear experts will be at the base of Peak 8 offering great demo selections tailored to your ski/ride style and ability. Demo days are brought to you by Breck Sports.

Learn more about Women’s Ski Week and the five new Breckenridge Ski and Ride School programs tailored to women only at WomensSkiWeek.com.

FIS Alpine World Ski Championships list concerts

2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Organizing Committee added four more headlining names to its free concert lineup for the Championships, including CeeLo Green, KC and the Sunshine Band, Craig Wayne Boyd and Andreas Gabalier.

Scheduled from February 2-15, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek are expected to showcase athletes from more than 70 nations, with an estimated 750 million-plus worldwide television viewers and an onsite media and broadcast entourage of approximately 1,800 members.

The concerts, scheduled in conjunction with the nightly Medals Presentation at Vail’s Championships Plaza, located at Solaris, will be free to the public with the live show kicking off each evening at 6:30 pm. It is recommended that guests arrive early to ensure a prime viewing spot.

“Each of these four artists are an amazing addition on their own, and we are over the moon with excitement for our nine total free concerts now confirmed during the World Championships,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee.

“In addition to watching the world’s best alpine ski racers for two weeks here in Vail and Beaver Creek, our guests from near and far will be able to enjoy some of the greatest musical acts on the stage today, all for free. We are proud to deliver this experience and hope that it adds to the growing excitement as we approach February 2,” Folz said.

Five-time Grammy Award Winning singer-songwriter-producer, television personality, actor, entrepreneur, and pop culture and fashion icon CeeLo Green will take the stage on Valentine’s Day (February 14). Known best for his worldwide hit “Forget You,” which received five Grammy nominations and won the category for “Best Urban/Alternative Performance,” he’ll also perform top hits like “Crazy,” “Bright Lights Bigger City” and more.

KC and the Sunshine band have been entertaining audiences around the world for forty years and are slated for a free performance on the evening of Tuesday, February 10. Topping the charts with seven No. 1 singles and three triple platinum albums, including hits like “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s The Way (I Like It),” “Boogie Shoes,” and “Rock Your Baby,” KC and The Sunshine Band defined disco music and forever influenced music with its timeless sound and mission of getting people out of their seats and onto the dance floor to celebrate.

Harry Wayne Casey, named “Founder of the Dance Revolution,” and his band will get the crowd dancing with their greatest hits as well as new music from their soon-to-be-released album, Feeling You! The 60s, which is slated for national release on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

To compliment this legendary band, the 2015 World Championships will also feature a fresh new artist just coming onto the scene – recent winner of “The Voice,” Craig Wayne Boyd on Sunday, February 8. The Texas-born country singer and multi-instrumentalist will most certainly bring a flare to the Championships, with his easy musical versatility, sure to appeal to everyone’s tastes.

Rounding out this list of heavy hitters will be international sensation Andreas Gabalier, who will take to the free concert stage on Wednesday, February 4. Not only was Gabalier the artist behind the 2013 World Championships’ Official Song in Schladming, Austria, he is also a celebrated folk singer throughout Europe and recipient of both the ECHO music award in folk music category and the Amadeus Austrian Music Award in 2012.

Five headliners were previously confirmed for the 2015 World Championships lineup, including Michael Franti & Spearhead on February 3, Mix Master Mike on February 5, American Authors on February 6, O.A.R. on February 7 and Phillip Phillips on February 12. The 2015 Organizing Committee intends to book concerts every night during the two weeks of the Championships.

Lack of snow closes small Sierra ski resorts

By Bob Goligoski, Correspondent

Melting snow and warm 50-degree temperatures in the Northern Sierra have forced three smaller ski resorts, and one large cross country ski area, to shut down this week. The four resorts plan to re-open as soon as the next decent-sized snow storm hits.

The alpine resorts – Dodge Ridge, Badger Pass in Yosemite Park and Donner Ski Ranch near Truckee – are all lower elevation resorts with limited or no snow making systems. Tahoe Donner cross country ski area, also on Donner Pass, turned off the lights on December 20.

Skiers returning this week from larger Lake Tahoe area alpine resorts with snow-making systems reported good snow cover at places such as Northstar and Sierra Tahoe with about two-thirds of the runs open.

Sean Waterman, a Dodge Ridge spokesman, said, “We probably could have limped along with some of our learning terrain open. But it’s not quite the experience that we want people to have.”

A spokeswoman for the Tahoe Donnar cross country area said, “We regret to inform you that after doing our best to keep trails open for skiing and snowshoeing, we are closing due to limited snow. When more snowpack allows, the facility will reopen and all programs, clinics and events will resume as scheduled.”

The nordic area is among the largest in the Sierra with 50 plus trails spread over more than 100 kilometers of terrain. The downhill ski area at Tahoe Donner has better snow and remains open.

Forecasters say that the high-pressure system that is blocking storms from reaching the Sierra appears to be weakening and more snow is a possibility for late January and early February.

Sugar Bowl is rated a sweet place to tie the knot on the slopes

While offering skiing and snowboarding in the winter, Sugar Bowl also is a popular wedding venue throughout the year. (Sugar Bowl Resort photo)

While offering skiing and snowboarding during the winter, Sugar Bowl also is a popular wedding venue throughout the year. (Sugar Bowl Resort photo)

Sugar Bowl isn’t just a place for skiing and snowboarding. It’s also for weddings, as the resort recently earned three awards – including its fourth consecutive “Best of Weddings” award – from The Knot, the nation’s most visited wedding planning website.

Sugar Bowl also was inducted into The Knot’s Best of Weddings Hall of Fame, making it one of only six venues the Sacramento/Lake Tahoe/Reno area to earn the distinction.

Wedding experts at The Knot select the annual award from top venues nominated by the site’s brides. Venues selected for a Best of Weddings award four or more times receive an honorary place in the Hall of Fame.

Sugar Bowl’s wedding venue, a secluded mountain lodge with an adjoining private lake, is just hours from the Bay Area, and run by expert staff noted for their attention to detail and personalized approach to wedding planning, according to the resort.

In addition to being recognized by The Knot, Sugar Bowl also was selected for a 2015 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award, ranking it among the top 5 percent of venues listed on the website. The recognition is given based on reviews by couples who chose Sugar Bowl as their wedding venue. Dozens of brides and grooms gave Sugar Bowl high ratings for attributes such as “responsiveness,” “professionalism” and “value.”

Tahoe Unveiled also included Sugar Bowl in its Top 5 Receptions of 2014 for “Venue with the Best View.” Tahoe Unveiled was impressed by photographs of a wedding reception at Sugar Bowl that illustrated the rich depth of the scenery experienced by a newlywed couple and its party.

The resort’s High Sierra location features blooming wildflowers, a rolling creekside lawn, and large, open-air fire pits. Sugar Bowl also offers unique details like a private chairlift ride to the top of Mt. Disney for drinks and appetizers on a mountaintop sundeck.

“Sugar Bowl is honored to be selected numerous times this year as an award-winning wedding venue by the brides who have been married here,” said Meghon Shrewsbury, wedding and event manager for Sugar Bowl Resort. “Wedding parties choose Sugar Bowl because of the resort’s unmatched natural beauty and the secluded and intimate setting, but also because our wedding staff is dedicated to getting each detail perfect.”

Sugar Bowl is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a ski resort. On Feb. 14, the popular destination will host its anniversary celebration at Mt. Judah Lodge. There will be live music, numerous activities, and giveaways.

Information: www.sugarbowl.com/weddings

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at June Mountain

One season pass — the Cali4nia Pass — is good for skiing at June Mountain and three other resorts. Mammoth, Bear and Snow Summit also are part of the deal. (June Mountain photo)

One season pass — the Cali4nia Pass — is good for skiing at June Mountain and three other resorts. Mammoth, Bear and Snow Summit also are part of the deal. (June Mountain photo)

This is the fifth in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new: The Cali4nia Pass allows all-winter access to the slopes at June, Mammoth (where they’re generally more crowded), Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

For the family: Kids 12 and younger ski for free at the resort all season long.

Hidden gem: “The face at June has some of the best power skiing at any resort — and I’ve skied most of them, particularly in the U.S.,” says Rusty Gregory, chairman and CEO at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, which also operates June. “It’s not that hidden because it’s the first run you see. The geography at June is very European oriented, so it’s steep at the bottom. The face is my favorite run there, and on a powder day my favorite run period.”

Social connections: @JuneMountain on Instagram and Twitter; www.facebook.com/JuneMountain

Information: 800-586-3686; www.junemountain.com

— Jerry Rice

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at Snow Summit

Skiing and snowboarding at Snow Summit offers this bonus: spectacular views of Big Bear Lake. (Snow Summit photo)

Skiing and snowboarding at Snow Summit comes with this bonus: spectacular views of Big Bear Lake. (Snow Summit photo)

This is the fourth in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new at Snow Summit: Like its sister resort, Bear Mountain, the season’s biggest new attraction is the Cali4nia Pass, which allows access to the slopes at Summit, Bear and also Mammoth and June mountains.

Best eats: The View Haus, at the top of the hill, dishes up delicious barbecue and, as its name implies, great views of the San Bernardino National Forest. Specialties include the Blazin’ Pulled Pork, with pork shoulder; and the tri-tip sandwich, with meat that’s grilled outdoors and served on bread that’s baked fresh daily.

Après hot spot: Summit’s Slopeside Pub, which serves a variety of brews and hot chocolate.

Hidden gem: Dickey’s Run will reward the more skilled skiers and riders with beautiful views of the Snow Summit pine tree forest and Big Bear Lake. “Exhibition Run (at Bear Mountain) and Dickey’s Run are the favorite spots for locals looking for some good, challenging slopes,” says Dustin Murphy, spokesman for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “The powdery white snow and the steeper inclines are what makes these runs unique.”

Spotted last season: Paula Abdul, Coolio, Emilio Estevez, Justin Timberlake and Dennis Quaid have been at Snow Summit or its sister resort, Bear Mountain, in recent years.

Social connections: @snow_summit on Instagram and Twitter; www.facebook.com/SnowSmt

Information: 909-866-5766; www.snowsummit.com

— Jerry Rice

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at Mountain High

As its name might suggest, it's possible to see Catalina Island from Mountain High's quarter-mile Catalina Run. (Mountain High photo)

As the name might suggest, it’s possible to see Catalina Island far in the distance from Mountain High’s quarter-mile Catalina Run. (Mountain High photo)

This is the third in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new at Mountain High: Terrain features for both beginner and advanced riders, increased snowmaking and the debut of the fourth edition of the resort’s app for iPhone and Android. It features new map tracking to record your runs, a calorie counter and digital badges to earn.

Best eats: The family owned Grizzly Café (760-249-6733, http://grizzlycafe.com) is a casual dining spot known for its large, delicious burgers. For breakfast, order a cinnamon roll then burn off the calories on the slopes.

For the family: The North Pole Tubing Park is the largest tubing facility in Southern California. Tickets are $20 for two hours of tubing.

Hidden gem: Catalina, a quarter-mile run that’s off the beaten path at the top of the East Resort. “It’s one of the highest and most scenic runs in Southern California,” says John McColly, resort spokesman. “You can see the Pacific Ocean and Catalina to the west, the backside of Mount Baldy and Mount Baden Powell to the north and south, and the Mojave Desert stretching out to the east. It’s a unique experience, and you feel like you’re at the top of a mountain range, at Mammoth or Tahoe, looking over the Sierras.”

Spotted last season: Adam Sandler

Social connections: @mthighsnow on Instagram; @mthigh on Twitter; www.facebook.com/mthigh

Information: 888-754-7878; www.mthigh.com

— Jerry Rice

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain is known as a hotspot for snowboarders. (Bear Mountain photo)

Bear Mountain is a hot spot for snowboarders. (Bear Mountain photo)

This is the second in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new at Bear Mountain: The Cali4nia Pass was introduced in late September and is good for unrestricted, season-long skiing and boarding at Bear and three other resorts — Snow Summit, Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain.

Best eats: Silver Mountain Eatery offers three primary cuisines — Asian, Mexican and Italian — along with salads, smoothies and more.

Après hot spot: World Famous Beach Bar has live music acts performing regularly on a 13,000-square-foot sundeck.

Hidden gem: Exhibition Run, which is one of the steeper runs at the resort. “Most intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders enjoy this run because it’s the least-crowded run,” says Dustin Murphy, spokesman for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “Riders can take their time enjoying the slopes and cruising down, while taking in the view of Big Bear Lake.”

Spotted last season: Eva Longoria and Dermot Mulroney out on the runs. In recent years, Paula Abdul, Coolio, Emilio Estevez, Justin Timberlake and Dennis Quaid have been at Bear or its sister resort, Snow Summit.

Social connections: @Bear_Mountain on Instagram and Twitter; www.facebook.com/BearMtn

Information: 909-866-5766; www.bearmountain.com

— Jerry Rice

On the slopes: 2015 guide for skiing, snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain

(Mammoth Mountain Ski Area photo)

Mammoth Mountain has received more than 75 inches of natural snow this winter, as of Jan. 15. When conditions have allowed, the resort has added to that total with machine-made snow. (Mammoth Mountain Ski Area photo)

This is the first in a series of updates from mountain resorts in California and Nevada.

What’s new at Mammoth Mountain: While there were no major capital projects to introduce this winter, the resort is part of the new Cali4nia Pass, which also includes June, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Also, four acres of bowls, berms, banks and bumps await all skill levels at Mammoth’s Rhythm Ridge. This winter’s expansion of direct air service from Las Vegas and Denver is making it easier for skiers and boarders from the East Coast and overseas to get to the resort. (The United Kingdom has long been a big market for Mammoth.) Flights to and from Denver started Dec. 20, while service to and from Las Vegas started Jan. 15. Also new: a promotion for kids 12 and younger who will get to ski and stay free in February and March.

Best eats: The Brasserie at Mammoth Rock ’n’ Bowl (www.mammothrocknbowl.com) has a menu that was created by executive chef Fredric Pierrel, who was classically trained in Gerardmer, France, and graduated with honors from Lycee Hotelier et Culinairer. Selections include braised Australian lamb shank, elk medallions and natural pork mignon — certainly not your traditional bowling alley fare. For pre- or post-dinner entertainment, there are 12 bowling lanes, ping-pong tables, foosball, dartboards, golf simulators and a bar/lounge with a dance floor.

Après hot spot: Mammoth Tavern (www.mammothtavern.com). “They serve up the freshest cocktails in the coolest rustic alpine space with fun, creative dishes like the swordfish BLT and fried chicken sliders,” says Lauren Burke, Mammoth spokeswoman, adding that the Tavern Margarita is a must-try. “I’m claiming it as the best in town,” she adds. Another option is the Mammoth Brewing Company tasting room (www.mammothbrewingco.com), which is located at Main Street and Lake Mary Road just below the gondola, and has 13 beers on tap, including Imperial Root Beer.

For the family: Woolly’s Tube Park has high-speed snow tubes, a large snow play area and merry-go-round tubes for the littlest ones. There will be tubing under the disco lights on select dates in January and February.

Hidden gem: Coyote, between chairs 3 and 5. “People know about it, but it’s not intuitive how to get to it,” says Rusty Gregory, Mammoth’s chairman and CEO. “You ski down the face of Chair 3 and make a right and kind of go past some trees and then you’re in this great run that drops you to the bottom of Chair 5. That’s my favorite getaway spot at Mammoth.”

Spotted last season: Jonas Brothers, Gavin Rossdale and his family, Adam Sandler, Seal, Gwen Stefani, Harry Styles from One Direction, Ashley Tisdale

Social connections: @MammothMountain on Instagram and Twitter; www.facebook.com/MammothMountain

Information: www.mammothmountain.com

— Jerry Rice

Lake Tahoe resorts score big during the holidays

By Bob Goligoski

Blessed by early December snow storms and sunny bluebird days during the Christmas-New Year’s Day span, Lake Tahoe area resorts saw the biggest holiday crowds in four years.

“The ski resort business in the Sierra over the holiday period was up substantially over last year, and the resorts had more people coming since the holiday season in 2010-2011,” said Bob Roberts, CEO of the California Ski Industry Association.

Cold nighttime temperatures during most of December allowed the resorts to generate plenty of additional snow with snow-making systems that resorts have been expanding in recent years.

A report from Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows corporate headquarters was typical of comments from Sierra resorts. “With all of the early season snow – 110 inches total at 8,000-feet in December – we saw great crowds over the holidays and New Year’s, including locals driving to the resorts and visitors staying in the Village at Squaw Valley,” said Melissa Brouse Matheney, a spokeswoman for Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. “We were even able to run the aerial tram until 7 p.m. Dec. 27-30 so guests could get some turns in under the lights.”

In years gone by, many Sierra ski resorts collected a third of their annual revenue during the Christmas holiday season. But now, explained Roberts, a resort may generate half of its annual ticket sales with the early season sale of annual lift passes.

Many skiers and riders have discovered that if they only get out on the slopes five or six days a season, that pretty well pays for the price of an annual pass, he added.

All of the 27 ski resorts in the association had enough snow to open for the holiday season.