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Ooutdoors | SKIING / BOB LOCHNER

Weather Is Fickle, but Great for Some

February 14, 1996|BOB LOCHNER

If you like to ski but don't enjoy doing it in icy cold or blizzard-like conditions, your time is fast approaching.

Although the calendar says we're coming up on the long Presidents' Day weekend, it's beginning to look a lot like springtime in the mountains of California, with sunshine and warm daytime temperatures providing a laid-back atmosphere--and sometimes tricky snow conditions.

Most High Sierra resorts are calling their surface "machine-groomed" or "hard-packed." However, Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain still report "packed powder," Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows say it's "loose granular" and Kirkwood opts for a catch-all "variable spring."

By whatever name, those surfaces figure to take a beating this weekend, traditionally one of the busiest of the season. Still, there's plenty of snow underneath, including seven to 10 feet at Mammoth and up to five feet at June. Around Lake Tahoe, Squaw has five to 10 feet, Alpine five to 11 feet, Kirkwood six to 11 feet and Heavenly five to nine feet.

Southland ski areas received a flurry of wet snow early Tuesday, but they would rather get colder nighttime temperatures that would enable them to resume snowmaking.

At midweek, Bear Mountain, Snow Summit, Snow Valley and Mountain High reported bases ranging from 12 to 36 inches, with a majority of lifts running at each location.

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Snow Summit has canceled this weekend's scheduled pro races, preferring to keep its runs clear for recreational skiing and snowboarding.

Austrians continue to dominate the U.S. Pro Ski Tour standings after last weekend's competition at Beaver Creek, Colo. Hans Hofer remains the leader with 320 points, followed by Sebastian Vitzthum, with 298, and defending champion Bernhard Knauss, who has moved up to third with 274.

The next meet will be at Keystone, Colo., on Feb. 22-25.

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Still on tap, so to speak, at Snow Summit is the third event of the $110,000 Bud Light Pro Snowboard Tour, scheduled for Feb. 23-25.

The field will include several top World Pro Tour riders from the Professional Snowboard Assn. of North America and the International Snowboard Federation, including 1995 champions Mark Fawcett, Todd Richards, Jeff Brushie, Michele Taggart and Rosey Fletcher.

A total of $20,000 will be at stake in the dual slalom, halfpipe and BoarderCross competitions, which begin at 10 a.m. each day, with finals at noon.

The circuit stops at Mammoth/June on March 1-3, then winds up at Mt. Snow, Vt., on March 15-17.

Snowboarding will become an official Olympic sport in the 1998 Winter Games at Nagano, Japan, with medals to be awarded in the halfpipe and giant slalom. Still to be decided, however, is which body will be in control--the International Ski Federation (FIS) or the International Snowboard Federation (ISF), which have been conducting rival tours.

Skiing Notes

Bear Mountain skiing will be one of Bob Beattie's subjects on his ESPN show on Tuesday at 7 p.m. . . . The halfpipe competition from the recent pro snowboard competition at Vail, Colo., will be shown, tape-delayed, at 9:30 the same night. . . . Next big race in the World Alpine Skiing Championships at Sierra Nevada, Spain, will be the men's downhill Saturday, with ABC planning a delayed telecast at 1 p.m. On Sunday, American Picabo Street will battle Katja Seizinger of Germany in the women's downhill.

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