As March approaches, most ski resorts are heading into the homestretch--except, of course, for some in the Southland that are still waiting to open. Mammoth Mountain, however, is barely halfway through a season that promises to be a record-breaker.
Dave McCoy's huge complex just north of Bishop in the Eastern Sierra Nevada is currently 4% ahead of its all-time previous best pace, set in 1981-82, and with a reported average snow-depth of 173 inches, another Fourth of July closing appears in the offing.
"We were 7% ahead until the recent storm cut into our Washington's Birthday weekend attendance," a Mammoth spokeswoman said Wednesday. "But so far this season, we've had both our biggest-ever one-day crowd (21,000 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving) and our biggest two-day total (37,000 on the Saturday-Sunday of Martin Luther King's Birthday)."
Actually, Mammoth hasn't always been successful in stretching out to July 4. Last year, for example, it closed May 27. The year before, it was June 11. In 1983, however, at least a portion of the mountain was open until July 28.
Right now, Mammoth has spring conditions between its 7,900-foot low point at the bottom of Chair 15 and the 10,000-foot level, and packed powder higher up.
Mammoth Mountain will be the site this weekend of something billed by its sponsor as "the ultimate ski race." The race, at 10 a.m. Sunday on Fascination, is one of seven regional qualifying events in the BMW Corporate Grand Prix of Skiing, and the winning three-man management teams in both the advanced and intermediate divisions will go to Park City, Utah, for the nationals April 3-6.
Now, in what may become an annual battle of the West German automakers, Porsche has taken over sponsorship of the Corporate Ski Challenge, which will be held for the sixth straight year at Alpine Meadows, starting next Monday. The six-day affair includes a giant slalom, a super-G, a steeplechase and a cross-country race.
Predictably, the car with the three-pointed star has so far stayed aloof from all this foolishness.
Two Southern California ski areas continue to operate daily despite the summer-like weather: Snow Summit, with a 6- to 36-inch base, and Mountain High, with 12 to 18 inches on about 50% of its western runs. . . . Snowfest, the North Lake Tahoe Winter Carnival, will begin Friday and continue through March 9 with a plethora of fun and games. . . . Regional competition in the Grand Marnier Ski Club Challenge, originally scheduled last weekend at Mammoth Mountain, was postponed because of uncertain weather until March 15-16. . . . Yosemite's 16th annual Nordic Holiday race, a 15-kilometer trek around Badger Pass, will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m., following registration at 9. . . . GGP Sports will show the recent World Freestyle Skiing Championships at Tignes, France, on Channel 7 Saturday at 2 p.m. . . . World Cup racing: The men will compete at Hemsedal, Norway, in a giant slalom today and a super-G Friday, then go to Geilo, Norway, for a slalom Sunday. The women will resume action in Furano, Japan, with a downhill Saturday and a parallel slalom Sunday. Then, everyone will regroup in North America for the schuss to the finish.