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SKIING / BOB LOCHNER

Wintry Concoction Has Right Ingredients

December 25, 1996|BOB LOCHNER

Sure, skiers and snowboarders need snow to slide on.

But eight feet in one weekend? That's ridiculous.

And that's exactly how much fell in some parts of the High Sierra just before Christmas, setting up some of the best powder skiing imaginable for the holiday onslaught that will peak during the next few days.

The near-record Pacific storm also improved conditions in the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains, spreading a layer of natural powder atop the man-made base at the four major ski areas.

What's more, the weather has cleared, most highways have reopened--and the outlook is for nothing more than possibly a flurry or two by this weekend.

So for now, it's the ideal situation: powder skiing in the sunshine.

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In the Southland, Bear Mountain, Snow Summit, Snow Valley and Mountain High picked up six to 14 inches of fresh snow over the weekend, meaning more lifts and runs are available for the anticipated hordes of skiers and boarders.

Bear Mountain is operating eight lifts serving 16 runs, Snow Summit seven lifts for 11 runs, Snow Valley seven for 10 and Mountain High five for eight. All have top-to-bottom coverage on at least some of their slopes, with depths ranging from 18 to 60 inches.

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In the Sierra, you can forget the inches. We're talking feet now.

Of course, it's the top foot or so that counts, and it currently ranges from powder to packed powder just about everywhere, from Mammoth Mountain north to Sugar Bowl.

Mammoth reports a base of seven to 12 feet, with 29 lifts running--all but chair No. 19. Nearby June Mountain is also open, with a six- to eight-foot base and five lifts going.

Resorts in the Lake Tahoe Basin still are digging out some of their loading ramps, but nearly all are approaching 100% operation. A few sample snow depths after the big dumping: Sugar Bowl seven to 11 feet, Squaw Valley four to 12 feet, Alpine Meadows 10 to 14 feet, Northstar-at-Tahoe six to 13 feet, Heavenly five to 11 feet and Kirkwood 13 to 17 feet. That should last us a while.

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Americans AJ Kitt, Kyle Rasmussen and Tommy Moe will get another shot at making the podium when the World Cup men's circuit resumes Sunday with a downhill at Bormio, Italy.

In last weekend's downhills at Val Gardena, Italy, Kitt placed eighth Saturday after being 26th on a shorter course the day before; Rasmussen finished 19th and 26th, and Moe was 21st and 27th.

Hans Knauss of Austria tops the overall standings with 421 points, 90 more than runner-up Michael Von Gruenigen of Switzerland.

The women, who will compete in slaloms Saturday and Sunday at Semmering, Austria, had last Sunday's scheduled giant slalom at Morzine, France, wiped out by fog, warm temperatures and soft snow--your basic troika for crummy skiing.

Germany's Katja Seizinger leads the overall race with 494 points, with Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg right on her ski-tails, 32 behind.

The top U.S. racer is Megan Gerety, 26th with 88 points.

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American Hilary Lindh indicated she is far from heartbroken that Picabo Street is out for the season. After Friday's downhill was canceled because of wet weather and fog at Crans Montana, Switzerland, Lindh told Associated Press:

"I've been on the U.S. ski team a long time, and Picabo is a relatively new addition. I did fine before she became part of the team, I did fine when she was on the team and I'm doing fine when she's not here now."

Lindh is 60th overall with 21 points.

Skiing Notes

ESPN will repeat Bob Beattie's post-injury interview with Picabo Street on "Chevy Truck Ski World" today at 1 p.m. . . . Peter Wirnsberger, 38, of Austria won the first race of the five-event Jeep King of the Mountain Downhill Series earlier this month at Mammoth Mountain. . . . Italy's Alberto Tomba hopes to race again Jan. 5-6 in a slalom and giant slalom at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. His goal is to be in peak shape for the World Alpine Ski Championships on Feb. 2-16 at Sestriere, Italy.

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