Ski L.A.? Maybe--it all depends on the elevation of your backyard. The snow level dropped to the top floors of several of the city's taller buildings Wednesday, but the somewhat precipitous vertical drop prevented even expert skiers from taking advantage of it.
Everyone, however, should be able to head for the local mountains by this weekend and find his or her favorite ski area open with plenty of snow to go around.
Goldmine, Snow Summit, Snow Valley and Mountain High have been operating for some time, of course, through the wonders of snowmaking, and they're in even better shape now.
Mt. Baldy, Ski Sunrise and Snow Forest all said they plan to open Friday, while Kratka Ridge and Mt. Waterman reported that nearly a foot of snow had fallen by late Wednesday, and if the storm continues, both could be in operation by Saturday.
The timing of this storm--just before the Christmas-New Year's holidays--couldn't be better, both in the Southland and in the Sierra, where Mammoth Mountain picked up six inches of powder by Wednesday morning for a total of three feet.
For a $35 donation to the American Lung Assn., Southland skiers may obtain a Ski Privilege Card that will entitle the holder to nine free days of skiing--a day each at Snow Summit, Snow Valley, Ski Green Valley, Mt. Baldy, Mt. Waterman, Ski Sunrise, Shirley Meadow, Snow Forest and Kratka Ridge.
The card is available at the association's office, 371 W. 14th St., San Bernardino, or by calling (714) 884-5864.
Felix McGrath of Norwich, Vt., gave the U.S. Ski Team its first points in the World Cup Alpine men's standings Sunday when he finished eighth (for eight points) after starting No. 37 in a giant slalom at La Villa, Italy.
Wednesday, he wasn't as fortunate, missing a gate in the first run of a slalom at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. Alberto Tomba of Italy won the race--his fourth straight World Cup victory of the season--and widened his lead in the overall standings.
Tomba, who will be 21 Saturday, has 100 points to 59 for runner-up Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland, the defending champion. Rudolf Nierlich of Austria is third with 40.
Michela Figini of Switzerland tops the women's standings with 77 points, followed by Blanca Fernandez-Ochoa of Spain with 61 and Anita Wachter of Austria with 60.
The final pre-holiday races are scheduled Friday and Saturday. The men will compete in a slalom and a giant slalom at Kranjska Gora, Yugoslavia, while the women will do likewise at Piancavallo, Italy.
That's it for 1987, except for a men's downhill at Schladming, Austria, on New Year's Eve.
Bill Johnson can't be blamed if he skips any further races at Val Gardena, Italy.
He returned there last weekend, a year after suffering the knee injury that finished his 1986-87 season, and this time strained the same left knee, stretching it backward to full extension when he fell on a downhill training run.
The 1984 Olympic champion raced the following day but finished 80th in a field of 82, more than 10 seconds behind winner Rob Boyd of Canada.
Johnson, 27, was quoted as saying: "It's really tough to throw yourself down the mountain where you almost ended your career."
With Johnson on the World Cup circuit this winter is his new wife, Gina Ricci, 22, whom he met last January at Lake Tahoe. They signed legal marriage papers last month in Austria and are planning a family wedding ceremony April 9 in Southern California.
Skiing Notes Last Saturday's World Cup men's downhill at Val Gardena, Italy, will be shown this Saturday on Channel 7 at 3:30 p.m., PST. . . . The World Cup women's super-G held last Saturday at Leukerbad, Switzerland, will be shown Sunday on ESPN at 3 p.m., PST, following "Subaru Ski World with Bob Beattie," which will be on ESPN at 2:30. Beattie will talk with 10th Mountain Division veterans Pete Seibert, who later founded Vail, Colo., and Fritz Benedict.
After three events on the U.S. Pro Tour, Joakhim Wallner of Sweden leads the men's standings with 120 points, 5 more than runner-up Tomaz Cerkovnik of Yugoslavia. . . . Among the Christmas book possibilities for skiers is "Colorado Ski Country," by Charlie Meyers, containing all the latest information on that state's resorts, with 111 color photos and illustrations. It's published by Falcon Press of Billings, Mont. . . . World champion and Olympic silver medalist Billy Kidd is again conducting his ski racing camps at Steamboat, Colo., with three-day sessions just about every week and six-day sessions set for Jan. 25-30, Feb. 15-20 and March 14-19.
Sun Valley, Ida., opened the entire Warm Springs side of Baldy last weekend, with a total of 35 inches on the slopes. . . . Taos Ski Valley, N.M., will open additional terrain Saturday following the recent storms in the Southwest. . . . Ski Incline, on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, will start running three lower lifts this weekend but needs more snow to launch its new Diamond Peak quad chairlift.