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Skiing : Sun Valley Still Finding Better Ways to Go Up

December 04, 1987|Bob Lochner

It will be happening in Sun Valley again next summer.

The Idaho resort, which built the first chairlift in the United States 52 years ago, said Thursday it plans to spend $6 million to construct three detachable quad chairlifts in time for the opening of the 1988-89 season.

It will be the first major lift project up in the Sawtooths in eight years, according to Max McKinnon, Sun Valley's director of mountain operations.

One of the new lifts, the Lookout Express, will climb 3,094 feet from the bottom of Warm Springs, giving it the greatest vertical of any detachable quad in North America. It replaces two double chairs built in 1965 and will be the third-longest of its type on this continent, stretching 9,057 feet.

The others will be named Greyhawk, running from Warm Springs to Upper Greyhawk, and Christmas, replacing the present Christmas and Ridge double chairs from Roundhouse to the top of Baldy.

Of more immediate importance to skiers, Sun Valley is shaping up well for the Christsmas-New Year's holidays. A midweek storm dumped an additional 15 inches of snow atop the man-made base, with more due, and McKinnon said it's possible that the Warm Springs side of Baldy could be open from top to bottom by this weekend.

Closer to L.A., Brian Head, in southern Utah, continues to offer some of the best skiing in the West, with a 60-inch base. Park City and Snowbird have opened with marginal conditions, but they definitely could use some more of that Wasatch powder in the canyons outside Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, back in the Southland, snow-making has enabled Goldmine, Snow Summit, Snow Valley and Mountain High to maintain operations on 10 to 30 inches of packed powder and hard pack.

In the Sierra, Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain are making the best of a somewhat skimpy natural snow cover, with a total of 18 lifts running daily, and farther north, Boreal, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Heavenly Valley and Kirkwood are also trying to hang in there on a limited basis.

Dates have been announced for two of the proliferating celebrity ski events this winter:

--Steve Garvey's little soiree is set for Jan. 7-10 at Deer Valley, Utah.

--John Denver's 10th-anniversary party is on tap for Feb. 5-7 at Heavenly Valley.

World Cup racing resumes today at Val d'Isere, France, with the first of two women's downhills. The second will he held Saturday, and the men will take to the course Sunday.

Edith Thys, whose seventh place in a super-G at Sestriere, Italy, is the top American finish so far, was among the leaders in this week's training runs, and Tori Pillinger and Pam Fletcher were also impressive.

Debbie Armstrong, who is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in Argentina last August, decided this week to skip the early downhill races and concentrate on getting ready to defend her giant slalom championship in the Winter Olympics at Calgary, Canada, starting Feb. 13.

"I really wanted to race downhill this season but I know I've got to play it smart with the knee," she said.

Doug Lewis and Mike Brown are the main U.S. contenders in the men's downhill, which also marks Olympic champion Bill Johnson's return to international competition.

Johnson, 27, has apparently recovered from last December's knee injury at Val Gardena, Italy, and subsequent back surgery, but a U.S. ski team spokesman said Thursday: "Bill looked technically sound, for the most part, in training last month on the glaciers in Austria and Switzerland, although he's not in the best of condition yet. Does that sound familiar?"

Skiing Notes The second half-hour show in the 14-week series, "Subaru Ski World with Bob Beattie," will be on ESPN Sunday at 2:30 p.m., PST. . . . The men on the U.S. Pro Tour went east after a successful opening meet at Park City, Utah, but will pop up in California for two events--at Heavenly Valley Jan. 7-10 and Snow Summit Feb. 11-14. Prize money for this season's circuit, which ends with the World Pro Championships at Aspen, Colo., March 31-April 4, after a hop over to Sapporo, Japan, the week before, will approach $1 million. . . . Josh Thompson, 25, of Gunnison, Colo., is the favorite to head the U.S. Olympic biathlon team, which will be selected in trials beginning Saturday at West Yellowstone, Mont. The competition was shifted from McCall, Ida., to take advantage of better snow conditions. . . . Royal West Airlines is scheduled to begin direct service to Mammoth Lakes from San Diego and Los Angeles this weekend. . . . Mt. Bachelor, Ore., which reported a 37-inch snowpack Thursday, will dedicate its new Outback Super Express quad chairlift Saturday.

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