Skiers pleased that snow season has returned

Local ski resorts kicked off their 2000-2001 ski season this weekend with a little help from mother nature, and those snow-making machines. The snow may have been a little light in spots but the skies were clear, the weather was close to perfect, and the skiers were glad to be back.

"We're glad that there is snow up there this weekend, but we want more,"

15-year-old Michael Warm said as he headed for the slopes at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe. "We'll take what we can get, but one more storm would be nice."

Josh Billingsley, who'd driven up from Bakersfield and is a newcomer to the sport, was less judgmental. There was plenty of snow on the jumps, and that's all that mattered.

The following is a brief run-down of some of the conditions on the slopes this weekend.

- Heavenly Ski Resort

Skiers found seventeen groomed and packed runs with a snow base of 12 to 36 inches on the upper California and Nevada sides of Heavenly Ski Resort this weekend.

The resort consistently opens early, usually before Thanksgiving due in part to their snow-making system. According to communications representative Kristen Aggers, seventy percent of Heavenly's runs can be covered with man-made snow as long as the temperatures stay low.

"As of yesterday, we had made snow for 17 days straight, and that's a record for November," Aggers said, noting that these are the best conditions Heavenly had has on opening day in several years.

"We're very happy with the crowd, everyone seems to be happy with the conditions, and we're looking forward to a great season," she said.

An all-day pass at Heavenly is $45 for adults, $38 for young adults, and $22 for children and seniors.

- Kirkwood

About 2,500 skiers showed up Saturday for Kirkwood's opening weekend. Seven lifts and 21 trails were open, and snow machines were augmenting the natural snowfall for a total of between 16 and 40 inches on groomed runs and trails.

"We're off to a great start with phenomenal coverage for this early in the year. It won't be long until we're fully operational," marketing representative Nicole Belt said, noting that with a chance of snow Tuesday, all lifts could be operationing by next week.

About 75 percent of Kirkwood's open terrain park was available this weekend along with their new Cornice Express high-speed quad (lift), which gets skiers to some of the most popular runs in about half the time.

She said the number of skiers had dropped to about 1,500 on Sunday, but that is normal because those coming from California on the weekends usually leave early.

"It's a great time to come out, save money and enjoy early-season skiing," Belt said.

For awhile at least, costs for a lift ticket are reduced: $39 for adults, $29 for young adults, $10 for children 6-12, and children under 5 are free.

- Northstar-at-Tahoe

Clear skies and mild temperatures greeted skiers at Northstar's opening this weekend, where about 1,000 hit the slopes on Saturday according to Maggie Adams, marketing representative.

About eight runs, four lifts, and the gondola opened this weekend. Surfaces are machine groomed, with an average snow depth of 18-24 inches.

"We're getting good coverage and making snow around the clock," Adams said, noting the resort needs about one more good snow to open all the runs.

Lift tickets will be discounted until the mountain opens completely, with all-day tickets costing $40 for adults, $36 for young adults, and, $15 for children.


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