California and Nevada Skiing Just Got Better: Resorts Invest Millions in Slope Enhancements, Skier Experiences and More

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California and Nevada ski resorts will be offering a range of added experiences for skiers in the 2016-2017 season. Complete listing here.

Ski California

Maximize the season with a Gold Pass

Following the stellar 2015-16 season, Ski California and its 28 member resorts are looking ahead to an exciting 2016-17 winter marked by major resort enhancements and new program offerings up and down the state. Here are some highlights:

Gold Pass
Snow-sport enthusiasts looking to maximize the season can now purchase the ultimate season pass: Ski California’s Gold Pass. The Gold Pass is the only pass that gets access to 32 downhill and cross-country resorts, is fully transferable, and has zero blackout dates. Passes may be purchased at http://www.SkiCalifornia.org/Gold-Pass/ and are $3000 each; sales limited to just 100 passes per season.

Northern California/Nevada
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe made significant investments in trail improvements and snowmaking upgrades in order to enhance guest experience and allow for expanded early season operations. Mt. Rose’s projected opening date for the 2016-17 winter season is October 31, 2016, weather and conditions permitting.

Homewood Mountain Resort is gearing up for the upcoming winter season with the return of its Snowcat Adventures backcountry skiing and riding program, complimentary daily s’mores, and new food and beverage offerings at West Shore Café thanks to the recent hire of the restaurant’s new executive chef, Ben Deinken.

Sugar Bowl Resort and Royal Gorge Cross County welcome the 2016-17 ski season with a $3 million investment into improvements such as new snowcats for grooming steep slopes, racing areas and cross country surfaces; cross country improvements at Royal Gorge; and Village Lodge Food and Beverage enhancements, including a major kitchen upgrade to increase capacity during peak periods and to deliver new menu concepts featuring local, seasonal produce, meats and fish.

Boreal Mountain Resort announces the addition of two Pisten Bully Park Pro 400 grooming machines to enhance slopes and terrain parks; new features at its Neff Land terrain park; and enhanced night skiing with the completion of phase one of an LED slope-lighting project. For learners, full day ski and snowboard lessons are based out of Boreal’s 32,000-square-foot action-sports facility, Woodward Tahoe, which utilizes foam pits, ramps, trampolines and outdoor learning terrain. Food and Beverage enhancements include an expanded Boreal Café menu and a Fresh Food Bar, a new outdoor Waffle Cabin, and the addition of music in the base area.

New for the 2016-17 season, Northstar California offers luxury winter vacation experiences for a day, weekend or the entire season with customizable Platinum packages, which include pass access to exclusive lift lines, Primo mountain-guided exploration, a daily on-snow celebratory Champagne event, readily-available stowed equipment within Northstar’s ski valet, and a member’s lounge offering intimate, elevated après relaxation. Additionally, the resort will debut the EpicMix™ Time mobile application, an expansion of the award-winning ski and snowboard app, EpicMix. The app will allow guests to access real-time lift line wait times enabling them to better navigate the mountain and make the most out of their ski and ride experience across Northstar’s 3,170 acres of skiable terrain.

Sierra-at-Tahoe will offer novice skiers and snowboarders an expanded learning environment featuring SMART TERRAIN®, designated, sculpted terrain that fosters an elevated learning curve so guests can progress more efficiently and gain confidence in their new sport. An expanded guest services space located at the intersection of HWY 50 and Lake Tahoe Blvd in South Lake Tahoe will make lift tickets, reservations, retail and information more easily accessible. On the environmental front, Sierra-at-Tahoe has partnered with Vapur, makers of the flexible, reusable and eco-responsible “Anti-Bottle” and established refillable water stations to discourage the use of one-time, disposable plastic bottles.

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows anticipates an exciting 2016-17 season with the return of the Alpine World Cup ski racing for the first time in nearly 50 years. Olympic champions like Mikaela Shiffrin and Squaw Valley’s own Julia Mancuso will compete in events including a women’s giant slalom on Friday, March 10 and a women’s slalom on Saturday, March 11. The March 9-12 schedule of events features concerts, fireworks and parties. Also new for the season: More than $3.6 million in capital improvements to the guest experience, including snowmaking enhancements, upgraded grooming fleets, and four new major installations of Gazex Avalanche Mitigation Systems; new Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows app, the first ski resort app with one-touch “group” creation and tracking to simplify the experience of skiing with friends and family; and new holiday season events December 17-31.

Tahoe Donner recently purchased Crabtree Canyon, an adjacent alpine valley north-west of Truckee, as part of an expansion program to preserve pristine wilderness and provide year-round recreation. The acquisition includes a 640-acre tract of land that will provide 16 kilometers of new cross country ski trails to the already expansive trail system at the Tahoe Donner Cross Country area. This winter will be the second season of full operations for the Alder Creek Adventure Center, a state-of-the-art facility offering streamlined rental services, new wax rooms and locker rooms, improved food and beverage service, and expanded indoor and outdoor seating with fire pits, among other upgrades. The award-winning Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area completed the installation of its new state-of-the-art snowmaking system last winter, allowing for a potentially earlier and longer winter season. While these systems have been utilized in other countries, Tahoe Donner is the first resort in the U.S. to use the Silent PoleCat snowmaking equipment. This superior technology dampens sound levels and reduces energy consumption.

Major announcements at Diamond Peak include the dramatic expansion of its reciprocal season pass privilege program; a Wednesday 55+ ski clinic series, guided after-hours snowshoe hikes; and expanded offerings at Wild Bill’s BBQ at Snowflake Lodge. Additionally, Diamond Peak will celebrate its golden anniversary with a series of 50th anniversary events to celebrate the history of the resort throughout the ski season, including a historic ski/snowboard film and speaker series featuring classic ski films from the 1960s through today, stories and multimedia from the resort’s past, plus decade-specific costume contests and other ways for the public to join in the fun. Diamond Peak’s lodge will also display posters and memorabilia from the resort’s history.

Heavenly Mountain Resort expands its Ski and Ride School offerings to allow guests to customize their day on the slopes thanks to the new "Design Your Own Experience" private lessons. Heavenly has placed new on-mountain kiosks throughout the resort enabling guests to conveniently reserve a lesson, coach or guide. The Tahoe Mountain Lab at Heavenly's Lakeview Lodge is an on-mountain shared workspace for remote professionals who dream of taking a few turns before hopping onto a conference call in their ski and snowboard boots. Guests can cap off a hard-charging day on the mountain by celebrating at Heavenly's "Unbuckle at Tamarack" daily après parties with new themed weeks planned around holidays such as Mardi Gras, Carnival, Spring Break and more. Heavenly and Kirkwood (below) will also debut the EpicMix™ Time mobile application.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is broadening the premium services offered by its flagship Expedition: Kirkwood instructional program. Designed to expand the boundaries of mountain exploration, Expedition: Kirkwood continues to upgrade its next-level offerings from daily mountain guide service to private snowcat tours. E:K's popular Discovery Series focuses on boosting the confidence and skills of intermediates by exposing them to the unique and challenging terrain found only at Kirkwood.

Tahoe Cross Country offers a high quality recreation experience for all ability levels. The 65-kilometer trail system is machine groomed daily with state of the art Prinoth snow groomers. More than 20 separate trails lead skiers and snowshoers through forests, open meadows, and up to views of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding peaks. The system includes trailside warming huts and 8 kilometers of dog friendly trails. Tahoe Cross Country also plans to open their new attraction, the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park Ice Rink, on November 25, 2016, open at noon each day thereafter.

Central California
Inspired by Travis Rice’s legendary backcountry snowboard events, Mammoth Mountain is enhancing its iconic hike-accessed Hemlocks Ridge powder playground by building jumps and platforms out of snow throughout the massive bowl, allowing riders to pick a line with more flow and airtime. The Unbound Terrain Park crew will work to expertly choose locations for these enhanced natural features, making for a more fun and creative experience. This is also the 20th anniversary of the Unbound Terrain Parks; throughout the 2016-17 season, Mammoth Mountain will be celebrating the history of Unbound and recognizing the impressive achievements of the present through events, parties, on­hill activities, and digital storytelling via #20yearsofUnbound. On the event front, Mammoth will host the US Freeski and Snowboard Grand Prix halfpipe and slopestyle competitions for snowboarding and freeskiing, February 1-4. The 2018 US Olympic Snowboarding Team will be named at Mammoth following the 2017 Grand Prix.

Bear Valley has enhanced its snowmaking and grooming operations. Improvements include a better and more efficient snowmaking system, new snowcats to groom the increased production of snow, and an upgraded pumping capacity to the snowmaking holding pond at the top of the mountain. This important improvement will allow uninterrupted operation of snowmaking for weeks at a time, translating into more snow production. In conjunction with the pumping enhancements, Bear Valley is installing a state of the art, full automation snowmaking control system along with the addition of automated snowmaking towers on the mountain. Automation will provide the ability for the system to respond to optimal temperatures for more efficient snowmaking.

Dodge Ridge welcomes the season with improvements to its rental and demo equipment and learning program. Featuring skis from Rossignol, Blizzard, Nordica, and Volkl and snowboards from Burton, Dodge Ridge’s demo fleet is better than ever. Dodge Ridge’s improved lesson programs include: An Intro to Snow program that provides gentle one-on-one introduction to skiing or snowboarding for kids as young as two years old; Kinder Club, tailored to beginner skiers and riders aged 4 and 5; Kid’s Club, offering full day and half day lessons for ages 5 to 12; and the Progression Pass for guests ages 13 and over, which offers a season’s worth of unlimited beginner lessons, rentals and a lower-mountain season pass. Dodge Ridge’s Master’s Clinics invite veteran skiers, 50 and older, to fine tune their skiing skills in a relaxed, social atmosphere; workshops are offered twice weekly throughout the 16-17 season, starting in mid January.

China Peak has beefed up their grooming fleet with another winch cat, purchased a fixed quad chair for installation in 2017, and completely revamped their food/bar venues and menus, adding decks, additional outlets, exciting new offerings, and expanded bars. Additionally, the resort has added more webcams around the mountain to give guests a better look at the latest conditions.

Southern California
Entering the second full winter of operation under Mammoth Resorts’ ownership, Big Bear Mountain Resorts (Snow Summit and Bear Mountain) continue to evolve as Southern California’s premier winter sports destination. Mammoth Resorts’ continued investment will be evidenced in 2016-17 by a number of improvements at both resorts, including behind-the-scenes facilities upgrades and guest-facing enhancements that will be ready when the season kicks off. Improvements include: The Summit Kids Center, a new, efficient, 3,000 square-foot learning center at Snow Summit offering rentals, tickets, and sports school registration; the newly renovated Methods Sports Bar at Bear Mountain’s main lodge; and a new 30-foot rock climbing wall that will remain open through the winter, weather permitting. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Snow Summit hosting the inaugural Winter X Games, which both resorts will celebrate with a variety of activities, both on and off the slopes, that pay homage to Snow Summit’s place in action sports history.

Updates about California and Nevada resorts will be added to the SkiCalifornia.org Newsroom on an ongoing basis.

About the California Ski Industry Association (CSIA)
The California Ski Industry Association is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association representing 28 ski resorts in California and Nevada under the brand “Ski California.” CSIA develops and maintains strong relationships with government officials, tourism groups, media, and ski industry leaders to advocate key industry related initiatives, including environmental stewardship, mountain safety, technical training, and public relations. CSIA monitors existing and proposed legislation to ensure that national and state legislators hear and consider the industry perspective on issues affecting mountain communities and businesses. CSIA researches, analyzes, and pursues safety while preserving the integrity of mountain sports and the natural environment in which they are enjoyed by millions each year.

NOTE: Photos are available for download under the Newsroom tab of the website: http://www.skicalifornia.org.

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Denis Wolcott

Michael Reitzell
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