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Skiing / Bob Lochner : Thanksgiving on the Slopes Could Be a Turkey

November 21, 1986|BOB LOCHNER

Skiers who want to hit the slopes over Thanksgiving are probably going to have to hit LAX first and hop on a plane to Denver, or maybe Portland.

With the start of the long holiday weekend just a week away, only one ski area is open in California and the run is a mere 1,000 feet long. So it figures to be a bit crowded if all of the state's million or more skiers show up at once.

Boreal, just off Interstate 80 on Donner Summit, opened for the Veterans' Day weekend, then reopened last Saturday for daily skiing. Two chairlifts are running, and the snow--all man-made--ranges from 12 to 14 inches deep, with three or four inches added nightly.

That's it, folks. That's your California ski report for this week--although there is some snow in the Sierra forecast for Friday.

At Mammoth Mountain, spokeswoman Pam Murphy said: "We're not worried yet. We have some snow on the top of the mountain left over from a September storm, and if we get another one in the next few days we could open within 24 hours."

The last time Mammoth failed to open for Thanksgiving was in the drought winter of 1976-77.

"We barely made it in 1980," Murphy said. "But the skiing wasn't too good for the first few days."

Mammoth, which now also owns and operates nearby June Mountain, has only limited snow-making capacity on both hills, due mainly to its normally adequate natural snowfall.

Two Oregon ski areas--Timberline and Mt. Bachelor (near Bend)--are operating daily, with bases of 43 and 28 inches, respectively, and will accept all California skiers who manage to slip past the state's border patrol.

In Colorado, which has already experienced some cold, stormy weather this fall, seven resorts are operating daily, with two more open on the weekends.

They're using about half natural and half man-made snow, with generally fewer than one-third of the runs fully covered.

Now going daily are Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Loveland Basin, Monarch, Winter Park and Wolf Creek. They are joined on weekends by Berthoud Pass and Ski Sunlight.

Purgatory hopes to open Saturday, and Vail-Beaver Creek, Steamboat and Aspen-Snowmass are among those aiming at a Thanksgiving start.

Like their counterparts in the High Sierra, the operators of Utah's 16 resorts are also casting their eyes westward, scanning the horizon for a major storm. Brighton is the only one in operation, using a combination of natural and man-made snow.

Park City is scheduled to hold the opening women's races on the World Cup circuit Nov. 29-30, and spokesman Eddie Bowers said Wednesday that "everything is go," with or without any additional snowfall.

"We've been making snow on the Payday run around the clock for the last three weeks and now have about three feet covering the slalom and giant slalom courses," he said.

"It's possible that we could open the top of the mountain to the public this weekend just from snow-making, but a storm would sure be helpful."

The World Cup competitors are due to arrive Monday to begin training.

Elsewhere, Sun Valley, Ida., also has its snow guns firing on the Warm Springs side of Baldy and is shooting for a Thanksgiving start, and Grand Targhee, Wyo., reports a 30-inch depth at its summit, with two chairlifts running.

Skiing Notes Warren Miller's 1985 feature, "Steep and Deep," was given a German sound track and is touring Europe this fall and winter. . . . The men's World Cup season will open Nov. 29 at Sestriere, Italy. . . . Serge Lang, 66, who founded the World Cup 20 years ago, has stepped down as president of the International Ski Federation's World Cup Committee and has been replaced by Erich Demetz of Italy.

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