Sierra skiers may find faster lifts, cheaper tickets
By Bob Goligoski
Special to the Mercury News
Posted on Sun, Nov. 13, 2005
Can this year's ski season match the success of last year's?
Ski and snowboard enthusiasm in the Bay Area reached new heights with last winter's frequent and heavy snows: A record 8.1 million daily visits were made to the Sierra Nevada's winter resorts.
"In terms of snowfall, it was one of the top five all-time years in Northern California,'' said Bob Roberts, executive director of the California Ski Industry Association. ``The snow came early. We had resorts open by Halloween, and it stayed long and strong through the season.
"It was a profitable season for many resorts.''
Noting that success, industry observers expect lift ticket prices to change little this season. Some resorts are even cutting prices. Sugar Bowl is dropping adult daily and non-holiday weekend ticket tabs from $59 to $46 and Alpine Meadows has reduced the price of its adult season pass from $929 to $759.
Winter visitors will notice new chairlifts at several resorts, including Kirkwood, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley. These lifts don't open up new terrain; in most cases, they are much faster lifts that will enable skiers and riders to spend more time on the runs and less time on the chairlifts.
Another trend involves terrain parks. No longer are the parks being built only for the daring and super-athletic with high and steeply pitched terrain features. Kirkwood and Northstar-at-Tahoe are among several resorts offering new scaled-down terrain parks to attract skiers and riders with less challenging mini half-pipes, lowered rails and other reduced-size terrain features.
The base at Northstar also looks dramatically different now that the first phase of the long-awaited village has been completed. The village sports an ice skating rink, 100 luxury slope-side condominiums, art galleries, boutiques, a bakery, an upscale restaurant, a sushi/Japanese restaurant and other attractions.
Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Last season I was skiing out my front door already. I was so stoked I bought a season pass for Kirkwood this year. It was so warm up here today I could have been kicking back next to pink flamingos wearing flipflops and having boat drinks! I think I'm getting spring fever already.
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