Mammoth Mountain, in eastern California, recently announced that it has acquired Big Bear Mountain Resorts and Snow Summit in a $38 million deal, making it one of the biggest ski companies in the United States. Together with June Mountain, which is already owned by Mammoth Mountain, the new four-resort group collectively hosts more than two million snow sport enthusiasts each year. In an interview, CEO of Mammoth Mountain, Rusty Gregory, noted that announcements detailing development and expansion plans for all four resorts will be made in the next few months.
Already one of the California’s most popular resorts, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area covers more than 3,500 acres of skiable terrain along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in eastern California, offering traditional alpine skiing and snowboarding, as well as cross-country and snowshoe terrain, snowmobile action and Snowcat tours. The ski area’s top elevation is 11,053 feet, with its base elevation at 7,953 feet. Average snowfall is 400 inches, with snowmaking on 46 trails. Twenty-eight lifts ensure more time on the snow, and an average of 300 days of sunshine adds to the pleasure of skiing at this Californian resort.
To make snow sport in this region of California even more accessible, particularly to visitors from the East and Midwest, Mammoth Mountain recently announced that two new flights into Mammoth Lakes airport will be added in the upcoming season – Alaska Airlines will be flying from Las Vegas, and United from Denver. Mammoth has also initiated its new “Cali4nia Pass” offering unlimited skiing and boarding at all four of its resorts, discounted for a limited time.
The Snow Summit deal includes a golf course, a driving range and a number of parking lots, along with the rights to 438 acres of skiable land which is owned by the US Forest Service. Moreover, Mammoth Mountain’s investors are reportedly planning to build on land around Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, all of which adds to the value of the deal. For skiers the development of the resorts and combined deals that may make snow skiing more affordable, the acquisition of Snow Summit and Big Bear Mountain by Mammoth Mountain is no doubt good news.
The 17th annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon is set to take place on 23-25 January 2015 in an program of events that promises to be bigger and better than ever. For more information visit www.noquemanon.com
Dates: 23-25 January 2015
Country: United States
Participants in this annual event can enjoy cross country sking through historic mining areas, along scenic bluffs, and along the Montreal River, in either the 42K or 21K race. First 500 racers to sign will receive commemorative SISU souvenirs. For more information on this family fun event, which include 3K & 5K Junior events and a 2K Lapset Loppet, visit www.sisuskifest.com
Date: 10 January 2015
Country: United States
Utilizing the American Birkebeiner Ski Trail the Seeley Hills Classic offers 22K and 42K options, the latter being a Birkebeiner qualifying race sanctioned by USSA. There will also be a 5K High School Race. For more information visit www.seeleyhillsclassic.com
Date: 17 January 2015
Venue: Seeley Ski Club
Located in Radstadt Tauern, a subrange of the Austrian Central Alps, the winter sports resort of Obertauern offers more the 100 kilometers of pistes with the guarantee of snow from mid-November through to early-May each year. State-of-the-art lift facilities ensure skiers are transported safely and swiftly to even the highest peak (2,313m) to enjoy maximum time on the snow. Night-time skiing extends the pleasure and all levels of experience are catered for, from beginners through to dare-devil experts. Ski-in/ski-out accommodation offers luxury and convenience of the highest standard.
The history of the village of Obertauern goes back to the Celtic era (4th-1st century BC) and Romans used the pass in the first century, as attested to by relic milestones and tracks of Roman wagons. However the first mention of the pass was in 1207 with records in 1224 noting that a small church had been built at the top of the pass. By 1517, two inns had been built there, and these remain part of the village today. In 1764 a post office was opened with deliveries twice a week.
It is thought that the first skiers discovered the area in 1902, but the first record of skiers visiting Obertauern was in 1920. They arrived on foot with their baggage on horse-drawn sleighs. The official founding of the village is recorded as 8 December 1929, when the Tauern Pass started carrying regular traffic. The first lift was installed in 1948 and the tourism industry in the village of Obertauern started to grow, with more lifts and cable cars installed between 1952 and 1961. Interestingly, between 1948 and 1960, skiers prepared the slopes in exchange for runs, before the first motorized trail groomer was introduced. Piste construction with bulldozers in 1967 created part of the present day Tauern Circuit, allowing access for grooming equipment and more tourists. The first snow cannon was installed in 1985 and major upgrading projects were carried out in the latter years of the 20th century.
Obertauern continues to upgrade equipment and facilities, reinforcing its status as one of the top ski resorts in the world, often mentioned on “Best Resort” lists in magazines and on websites dedicated to the snow sport industry.
While artificial ski slopes are not likely to replace the real thing, they can come in very handy for skiing enthusiasts to brush up on their skills out of season, and provide and exciting pastime in areas that don’t traditionally get real snowfall or conditions cold enough to maintain artificially generated snow. Dry ski slopes attempt to mimic the attributes of snow in various ways, and some centers use mist or mini water jets to moisten the slopes to reduce friction and heat buildup and increase speed.
The United Kingdom has quite a number of dry slopes, generally as part of larger sports and entertainment centers. The most commonly used dry slope surfaces are Dendix and Snowflex. Both are made with plastic bristles, but Dendix has diamond-shaped spaces between strips of bristles, while Snowflex has bristles with no gaps. Skiers who have made involuntary contact with the bristles tend to agree that Snowflex is more forgiving than Dendix when falling on it, while those who have enjoyed the real thing agree that snow remains the preferred substance to collide with. Nevertheless, these artificial slopes provide a lot of fun and great opportunities to tone the muscles used in snow skiing while working on the basics of this popular snow sport.
Snow simulators offer another option for skiing without snow. Also referred to as ‘infinite slopes’, snow simulators are available in various sizes and with different levels of capability, from the most simple treadmill-style model, through to slopes that move to increase and decrease the level of decline one would experience when traveling down a real slope. Some even have large screen displays for skiers to focus on to enhance the real ski-slope experience.
Other snowless skiing experiences include roller-skiing, which uses specially adapted skis on wheels to travel on tarmac in much the same way as cross country skiers glide across the snow, and grass skiing which uses skis with rolling treads or wheels to travel downhill over grass. In addition to helping alpine skiers hone their skills, grass skiing has developed into a sport in its own right with competitors vying for the annual Grass Skiing World Cup.
Ski Vermont resorts will not be waiting around for Mother Nature to be gracious enough to deliver snow timeously during the 2014-2015 snow sport season. It was recently announced that resorts represented by non-profit trade association Ski Vermont, together with Efficiency Vermont, will be undertaking a $15 million upgrade of the ski area’s snowmaking system to ensure skiers and riders will be able to hit the slopes when the season begins.
In addition to bringing business to the area, the upgrade makes sense from an environmental point of view. Up to 1,800 older model snow guns will be scrapped and 2,300 new low energy snow guns will be installed for the upcoming season. To determine what models of snow guns would be most suitable to meet Ski Vermont’s goals, engineers from Efficiency Vermont conducted tests on fifteen different models, taking note of water, air and energy consumption, as well as their overall performance. Advances in technology have resulted in new model snow guns using up to 85% less energy to operate than older snowmaking equipment. It is anticipated that the upgraded snow guns will result in saving of around $2 million per annum, while attracting more snow sport enthusiasts to the area, thereby contributing to the economic welfare of the state.
While the energy saving of the new equipment is significant, snow sport fans will no doubt be thrilled that it will produce better quality snow and has the capability to create slopes even when temperatures are above ideal, thereby extending Vermont’s snow skiing and snowboarding season.
Vermont Ski Areas Association President, Parker Riehle, noted that an upgrade of this magnitude has never been seen before, going on to thank Efficiency Vermont for its dedication to the Vermont ski industry. Snow skiing and snowboarding are the official state sports of Vermont, which is a leading international snow sport destination.
The Perisher Cup first took place in 1953 and is one of Australia’s most prestigious ski competitions as well as being a great interclub social weekend. Each four-member team must compete in all three events – Giant Glalom, Cross Country and Jump – to achieve the best aggregate score. For more information visit www.perisher.com.au
Date: 20 September 2014
New South Wales, Australia
Starting with XC Freestyle and XC Relay on Wednesday 10 September, the Subaru Australian Interschools Snowsports Championships include Snowboard GS, Snowboard X, Moguls, Skier X, and Alpine. Online Entries and Volunteer Registrations Close 3 September. For more information and to register visit ausinterschools.com.au/
Dates: 10-14 September 2014
New South Wales, Australia
Open to skiers and boarders from 8 years-old and up, the PlayStation Night Slopestyle Series’ third and last event for the season takes place on 2 September at Perisher. Cash and prizes up for grabs, so don’t miss it. For more information visit www.perisher.com.au
Date: 2 September 2014
State: New South Wales