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Tahoe resorts deep in snow

By: Jeffrey Weidel, Special to Gold Country News Service
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Although drought discussions continue and plans for rationing water this summer are already in place for many California cities, it would be hard to put too much blame on Mother Nature considering the current rash of storms. The overall rain totals still fall below the average, but the precipitation has come at opportune times this year for Lake Tahoe’s weather-dependent ski resorts. A series of storms made it a Merry Christmas for skiers and snowboarders. Following a dry January, the snow was piling up once again in mid-February, just in time for President’s Weekend. “The powder was totally awesome,” Brad Blakey of Truckee said. “The big storms have come just at the right time this year.” Even though the snowfall has continued into March, conditions are more Tahoe-like right now – meaning the famed Sierra cement. Still, the good news is the snow has arrived in abundance and good conditions will last well into April. “Even in the storms like we’ve had lately people are driving up here, chain controls or not, in bad conditions because they know we have fresh snow,” said Kirstin Cattell, communications manager for Sierra and Northstar. “For people who are biding their time, they can wait until we start having sunny days and come up here and know the snow is still going to be good.” With its base situated at 6,800 feet on the top of Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl annually records some of Tahoe’s highest snow totals. John Monson, Sugar Bowl’s director of sales and marketing, said late last week the resort received 6-8 feet of new snow for President’s Weekend and this week’s storm could add another 4-7 feet to the resort’s rapidly expanding base. Conditions like the ones in recent weeks have people taking days off, calling in sick or simply fabricating a story that they are stuck in Tahoe due to severe road conditions. “Everyone gets excited when it snows, you can just feel the difference, it’s in the air, especially around here,” said Blakey, 32, who works at The Inn at Truckee, just a few miles down the road from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. “Our phones (at the Inn) are ringing off the hook when it’s snowing like this. Snow is our bread and butter.” The snow is prevalent and so are the discounts. Most every resort has some deal going that should further entice its new and established clientele. At Sugar Bowl, for the price of a lift ticket a customer receives a free two-hour group lesson of any level and a free basic gear rental. For its Core Rewards Program, a one-time fee of $19 gives customers $10 off on lift tickets for the remainder of the season. Up to two friends can receive the $10 discount as well. “We know the economy is making things tough for everyone right now, but we have a lot of deals that can definitely make coming up here a lot cheaper,” Monson said. Jeffrey Weidel is a Sacramento-area freelance writer with more than 25 years of skiing experience. RESORT INFORMATION ALPINE MEADOWS Phone: (800) 441-4423 Web site: skialpine.com Web site: bearvalley.com BOREAL Phone: (530) 426-3666 Web site: borealski.com DIAMOND PEAK Phone: (775) 832-1177 Web site: diamondpeak.com Phone: (530) 426-3635 Web site: donnerskiranch.com HEAVENLY Lifts: 30; Trails: 95 Phone: (775) 586-7000 Web site: skiheavenly.com HOMEWOOD MOUNTAIN RESORT Phone: (530) 525-2992 Web site: skihomewood.com KIRKWOOD Phone: (209) 258-6000 Web site: kirkwood.com MOUNT ROSE Phone: (800) 754-7673 Web site: skirose.com NORTHSTAR-AT-TAHOE Phone: (530) 562-1010 Web site: skinorthstar.com SIERRA-AT-TAHOE Phone: (530) 659-7453 Web Site: sierraattahoe.com Web site: skisodasprings.com SQUAW VALLEY Phone: (530) 583-6955 Web site: www.squaw.com SUGAR BOWL Phone: (530) 426-9000 Web site: sugarbowl.com