Sierra resorts see banner season

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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With the arrival of spring, the end of ski season is just weeks away. Resorts will be closing on a high note, according to Andy Chapman, director of tourism for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “I think everyone is pretty happy,” he said. “We had a little bit of planetary alignment, with the early snowfall, good momentum through the holiday season and consistent snow that kept customers interested.” The resort hub also got a boost from some big events. “Certainly the Ritz-Carlton (hotel opening) had a lot of buzz around it,” Chapman said. “It is only the second (Ritz) that has opened in snow country. So a lot of fanfare built for the past three years. “Olympic Heritage was a great celebration of what really started winter sports in this area and it coincided very nicely with 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. So we had a lot going on and a lot of momentum.” That, plus a campaign directed at close-by Sacramento, the foothills and the Bay Area, translated into a lot of travel into the Sierra. “We’re going to see this year definitely as one of best year in the last five or six,” Chapman said. For most resorts, the season ends in mid-to-late April. Boreal Mountain Resort will close April 11, spokesman Jon Slaughter said this week. “We did decide to extend nights for one more week,” he said. “Traditionally it runs through the last week in March. This year, it will actually go to April 3.” Boreal has packed the final few weeks with events. The Red Bull Buttercup for snowboarders was held Friday. The NorAm FIS ski half-pipe event was held Saturday and continues today. And there will be an academy snowboard camp the last week of March. “You can sign up and get instruction on the terrain park from pros of the academy’s snowboard team,” Slaughter said. This winter’s snowpack was a magnet for the resort. “It has had huge impact,” he said. “We’re way up and we’ve already hit our budget for the year. It leaves us really optimistic for next year. It’s been a phenomenal season.” At Northstar at Tahoe, spokeswoman Jessica VanPernis said the resort will close April 18. “It’s right on par with previous years,” she said. This was a banner year for Northstar. “The snowpack has been incredible,” VanPernis said. “One storm after another came through. We’re looking forward to some incredible spring skiing. It’s about 60 degrees out there today.” Sugar Bowl stayed open a little later last year, and will do the same this year, keeping operations going through at least April 25, said John Monson, director of sales and marketing. “This year with the snowpack being as impressive and deep as it is, I feel confident we can have quality conditions at least until then,” Monson said. “(At that time), we’ll evaluate and, based on conditions, could remain open until the end of April.” The resort recently held its signature special event, the Silver Belt Banzai, with Daron Rahlves taking first place. “I would consider this a very, very good season,” Monson said. “We’ve enjoyed great snow conditions with well-timed storms that didn’t negatively impact the roads, meaning skiers and riders could get here on peak holiday weeks. Overall, we’re enjoying numbers up significantly from last year across the board.” Many of the resorts are offering late-season deals. ---------- Late-season deals Web sites • Boreal Mountain Resort — • Northstar at Tahoe — • Sugar Bowl — • Squaw Valley USA — • Alpine Meadows —