California Resorts Offers July Skiing Option

When most people think about California in the summer they tend to think of hot weather and beaches. However, the diverse topography and landscape of the state offers many unique opportunities. During the 2019 ski season, California was also a surprisingly great place to ski all the way up until July.  
 
During the winter of 2018 and 2019, the California mountains received more than 150% more snow than they normally do. This included nearly 600 inches of total snowfall, which was more than enough to last all winter and well into the spring. It was so much snow that the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows announced that they would stay open until at least July 7.  
 
The majority of the impressive snowfall came after January 1. At the start of the new year, the total snowfall for the season was only around 67 percent of average. However, this changed quickly when a number of major winter storms impacted the area. By the end of March, the total snowfall for the season was well ahead of the average pace. 
 
While it provided a lot of great late-season skiing options, it also provided a lot of optimism for the state’s water crisis. Once the snow melts, it will soon become part of the total water system across the state, which should help to replenish after recent droughts. 

Cataloochee Becomes First Resort to Open for 2019/20 Ski Season

The United States is well known for having many great areas of the country that are ideal for skiing. This includes the eastern part of the country, which has some of the top resorts and mountains in the world. For the 2019/20 winter ski season, it was widely expected that the resorts in Vermont and other parts of the northeast would open first. However, this year, the first resort to open surprised many people
 
This year, located in the cozy section of western North Carolina, the Cataloochee ski resort was opened in early November. This made it the first resort to open in the eastern region of the United States. While Cataloochee usually provides skiers with several great months of snow and skiing, this year was a bit of an anomaly.  
 
The main reason why Cataloochee was able to open so soon is due to a random weather event that provided it with an unexpected early snow and cold weather. While it is normally rather mild in early November near the resort, the 2019 fall brought some surprisingly cool and temperatures that dropped well below freezing several days in a row. This allowed the resort to make enough snow that they were able to open three different runs. 

Backcountry Skiing Accident Spawns ‘Fido Pro’ Business

As the weather turns more pleasant, more and more backpackers are bringing their four-legged friends on travel and backcountry adventures. This may seem counterintuitive; responsibility is the most crucial aspect of being a backcountry adventurer, and hikers must be prepared to both protect themselves and assist others in emergency situations. As a result, there has been a spike in dog rescue calls from backcountry enthusiasts ill-equipped to handle their dogs’ emergencies.

 

Enter: Fido Pro, a Carbondale-based company building backcountry gear for dogs. Paul Hoskinson, the founder of Fido Pro, says their products are developed with two primary goals: “To assist you in saving your dog should it become sick or injured in the backcountry and to help prevent injury from occurring.” Hoskinson, himself a backcountry skier, ultra-marathon trail runner, climber, and mountaineer, created the company out of personal need.

 

Hoskinson has undertaken countless backcountry adventures with his two German Shorthaired Pointers. In 2017, Hoskinson had an accident. On Memorial Day weekend, he and his dog, Remi, were backcountry skiing with a group of friends. They spent several hours ascending the bowl. After dropping in, Hoskinson realized that Remi quickly caught up; after a series of turns, he felt one of his skis collide with Remi. After stopping to take a closer look, he realized the ski had caused a deep gash on her leg.

 

Luckily, Hoskinson and his friends had the knowledge to tend to the dog’s wound. After wrapping the gash and squeezing Remi into an empty backpack, they began the long ascent out of the bowl to find professional medical help. After a couple of months, the two were back on the trails together.

 

Hoskinson wants people in his situation to be better prepared to take care of their dogs when things go wrong. His company is the first step toward backcountry dog preparation and survival.

 

 

Putting Ski News into Practice

We here at World Ski News love bringing you the best, most current stories in the world of skiing. However, as we enter summer, we understand that ski news won’t be as frequent or captivating; we’ve seen a downturn in coverable stories since the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, we have an idea to keep bringing you ski-related content: publishing ski resources. While we understand that many of you grew up skiing and/or riding, there is a substantial number of readers who have never set foot on the slopes. Maybe you’re interested in the history of the sport, or perhaps you just love the USCSA. Regardless, we figured it was time to start publishing a series of resources for those interested in getting into the sport. By the time we’re on the other side of the off-season, you’ll have the knowledge you need to try it out for yourself.

Though this will be part of a larger series, we figured we’d briefly cover the basics in a concise but broadly-reaching article. Below, we have detailed the four tenants of skiing: equipment, culture, and technique.

Equipment—Skiing, necessarily, requires equipment. You need, at minimum, skis, boots, and bindings. Once you get your mountain legs, you should add poles for balance. Skiers should also incorporate a range of safety and protective gear: helmets, goggles, snow pants, gloves, and a jacket. If this sounds expensive, you’re right—skiing is an incredibly expensive activity. However, you can cut costs with ski rental delivery and by visiting mountains on weekdays for reduced lift ticket rates.

Culture—This is more in line with the stories we cover. Skiing and snowboarding have very distinct cultures, stereotypes, and terminology. Do you know what a glade is? What about a blue square? Do you know the difference between crud and cashmere? Skiing has developed its own language and cultural currency; many of us take this knowledge for granted but learning the necessary information can be incredibly rewarding.

Technique—We’ve finally arrived at what is perhaps the most important tenant of skiing—actually doing the thing. Technique can be broken into three categories: movement, stopping, and turning. Once you learn these basic skills, you’ll be able to better assess how your personal skiing style affects speed and agility. A technique will change in different conditions—you won’t exercise the same turning motion in a glade as you will on a groomed slope.

We look forward to covering the above topics in the coming months. Hopefully, with a bit of time and application, you’ll exit the summer season better understanding what It’s like to be a skier.

Strong Start to Snow Season in Much of Western U.S.

The start to the 2018-19 ski season is such that we could be in line for a banner year across much of the country and in the western U.S. especially. More than just its ski terrain and slopes, Colorado has been leading the way this year in weather and snow conditions. A recent report from The Denver Post’s The Know has some eye-opening figures and comparisons from last year.

 

Vail has been able to take full advantage of its enormous 5,000-acre terrain since mid-November with the famous Back Bowls open for Thanksgiving and one of the earliest openings ever for the resort. In Winter Park, there is 90 inches of snow compared to 52 inches at the same time the previous year and considerably higher than the yearly average of 71 inches. At more than 1,300 acres, the skiable terrain is more than 10 times larger than it was last year. Copper Mountain has about 5 times as much skiable terrain and skiable trails as the same time the previous year. The snowfall amounts have just about tripled. In southern Colorado, there isn’t the same eye-popping numbers, but even these resorts, most notably Telluride are still slightly above average.

 

In fact, it’s not just Colorado and what stands to make this a banner year for skiers and snowboarders is the breadth of the snow-driven weather. USA Today reports that there is similarly strong snowfall in Utah, Wyoming, and California, which together with Colorado comprise a sizable share of the overall U.S. ski industry. From the news report:

“In Wyoming, Jackson Hole has collected 114 inches of snow and already has stretches of steep upper terrain open. Snowbird and Alta, on the Salt Lake side of the Wasatch in Utah, have come alive after a slower start compared with other states, with 110 inches of snow having fallen in just a few weeks.”

 

And it’s not as if the eastern U.S. is that far behind or even behind their own seasonal averages. In particular, Stowe in Vermont has had its own notably strong start to the season with many parts of the ski area that don’t typically open till January already doing so by the end of November.

Lake Placid Jumping Complex Prepares Olympic Hopefuls

Aerial Freestyle Skiing is a notoriously difficult event to follow. Skiers perform incredibly complex maneuvers, creating both suspense and awe. While this esoteric sport is a wintertime favorite, the athletes involved must train year-round. In areas with temperate climates, this can be difficult. Luckily, aerial freestylers can practice outside and in the middle of the summer… in Upstate New York.

 

The Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid has been around for a while, but it continues to be an invaluable resource for athletes in the area. There are currently eight Olympic hopefuls in training, living nearby, and jumping at least twice a day. In November, they’ll pack up their skis and head out to Park City, Utah to apply their new skills.

 

The Lake Placid ramp consists of a dampened plastic surface, which simulates the feeling of moving across snow. Air is pumped into the pool to break the surface tension of the water, lessening the sting of impact. Skiers launch from large ramps to fly over the length of a football field. This safe, season-defying, and (dare we say) fun alternative to the real deal allows athletes to build skills without risking serious injury. Mistakes can be made in the water that might result in career-ending accidents out on the snow.

 

In addition to providing an excellent training opportunity, the Olympic Jumping Complex is an excellent resource for those interested in trying the sport for the first time. This is the best way to learn the sport and build skills from the ground-up. Plus, these water jumps can qualify for the Olympics—qualify in the water, then compete on the snow.

Forest Service Proposes Ski Expansion in Vegas

Lee Canyon, formerly known as Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, sits just an hour’s drive from downtown Las Vegas. The resort boasts summertime activities like disc golf and scenic chair rides, hiking and archery. However, Lee Canyon is known primarily for its abundance of winter activities, which include snow tubing, snowshoeing, a snowplay area, and lots of skiing. That’s right—skiing in Las Vegas.

 

The base lodge of Lee Canyon Ski and Snowboard Resort sits at the base of Lee Peak and has an elevation of around 11,300 feet. The resort is owned and operated by Powdr Corporation in partnership with the United States Fores Service under a special use permit. Typically open from November through April, the best snow is available in February and March. The mountain offers a total of 385 skiable acres, 11 alpine trails, and 4 lifts.

 

Recently, Lee Canyon announced a $35 million expansion and upgrade plan in conjunction with the Forest Service. The plan includes doubling the ski area’s acreage, adding chairlifts, and introducing increased snowmaking capacity. This upgrade would also add a range of summer thrills, including a zip line and a mountain coaster. The public has 45 days to comment on the initiative, but there has—so far—been little opposition.

 

While encouraging skiing in all its forms and locales is an essential mission of this news site, we have to wonder: for how much longer will skiing remain sustainable in places like Las Vegas? Northern American ski resorts are already hustling to introduce more snowmaking initiatives, and one has to wonder how much longer a ski resort will last in this hot, dry part of the country. Furthermore, it takes around 160,000 gallons of water to make one acre of snow one foot deep. In a dry part of the world, this is not a sustainable practice. We appreciate the novelty of and ability to ski in strange places, but this ski expansion feels like a short-term investment.

 

What do you think about warm climate skiing? Leave us a note in the comments.

Spokane Man Proves the Impossible by Skiing 12 Months in a Row

In September of 2017, Mike Brede and his wife created a seemingly impossible task. They had been visiting the Up Up Lookout in the Lolo National Forest; it had snowed just one day before their hike, so they decided to bring skis. The two skinned up the trail and ended up catching some quick turns off Gold Peak before heading down. Though this moment was brief, it planted a seed. The two wondered: was it possible to ski a full year, sequentially, within a few hours of Spokane?

 

In October, the Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area got close to two feet of snow in a freak storm. After skinning up the runs, Brede realized he already had two of the hardest snow months in the bag. That day, he decided to go for it. He would not allow himself to drive more than two and a half hours away from Spokane, but he would get in at least one run each month.

 

Finding winter snow was no problem, but as June drew closer, Brede wondered if this ambitious goal would fail. Luckily, the weather was on his side. In the first month of summer, he found himself skiing fresh powder near Beehive Lake in the Selkirks. In fact, Brede skied near Beehive three times—he also went to the Cabinet Mountains in Montana and the Bitterroot Range.

 

To complete the task, Brede used satellite imagery to look for lingering snow, then drew upon his knowledge of local mountains and weather patterns to pounce on the opportunity. In the summer months, his skis drew strange looks from neighbors and hikers alike; they’d see him trekking along, skis and poles tied to his backpack, in 90-degree days.

 

Though Brede completed his mission this month, carving around 100 turns on lingering snow between St. Regis and the St. Joe River, he doesn’t plan to stop skiing anytime soon. If he can find worthwhile snow in September, he’ll be there.

 

 

Aspen Skier Visits Down 7 Percent

A company spokesperson has reported that skier visits at Aspen Skiing Company-owned resorts fell 7% in winter 2017-18 from winter 2016-17. However, Jeff Hanle, SkiCo vice president of communications, said that he was “pretty pleased and surprised with that.” The area experienced little natural snowfall prior to mid-January, bringing skier visits down some 20% for both November and December. However, Hanle said the resorts, “definitely picked up steam,” in the second half of the season.

 

The report also showed that local season pass use fell more than daily ticket sales, and additional business from Latin America helped the resorts recover their numbers. Overall skier visits at Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) resorts were down 2 percent this season from last. At its annual downtown Denver meeting, CSCUSA announced that its 24 resorts saw 7.1 million visitors during the 2017-18 winter season. Though slightly lower than last year, it is still slightly ahead of the five-year average.

On this topic, CSCUSA President and CEO Melanie Mills said, “We faced historically low snowfall in the early part of the season and resort operation crews deserve credit for their tireless work to get slopes open and operating during an extended period of early-season conditions.”

 

Additionally, two new resorts joined CSCUSA this year: Echo Mountain in Idaho Springs and Kendall Mountain in Silverton. Though this year may not be remembered as the snowiest, it will stand as a testament to the resiliency of Colorado’s ski industry. The reported figures have caused resorts to put more money into snowmaking projects than planned. Skier numbers won’t affect plans for next season, but they have sparked interest in creating larger snowmaking budgets.

Man Dies 3 Months After 1,000-Foot Skiing Fall

Bryce Newcomb, a Jackson pro skier, has succumbed to a severe head injury he suffered in March. The man, 30, had been in a long-term care facility in Boise, Idaho.

 

The accident occurred on Mach 27th. First responders believe that Newcomb hadn’t buckled his helmet to ski Cody Peak when a cornice gave way and he fell nearly 1,000 feet. Newcomb remained in a critical state during the nearly three months he spent in hospitals. For the duration of his care, friends and family rallied around him, eventually raising $130,000 for treatment via the online platform GoFundMe.

According to friends and family, Newcomb was an incredible athlete and even better friend. He grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho, and had been a Jackson resident for the last few years, doing promotional work for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

A spokeswoman for the resort, Anna Cole, said in a statement: “Bryce was an incredible athlete, and his passion for skiing, the mountains, and life were a tremendous joy to be around. He was a memorable, strong, and talented individual.”

 

On Friday, June 15th, Newcomb was taken off of life support. His family would like to thank every person who has reached out, donated, or shown their love and support in any way over the three critical months. Any remaining funds will be paid forward and donated to worthy causes that directly relate to Newcomb’s accident.

A celebration of life service is set to take place on June 27th in Ketchum, Idaho.