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Sunset great ski getaways.

HISTORY

SUN VALLEY

America's grand resort--from Hemingway to Hollywood

Averell Harriman, chairman of the board of the Union Pacific Railroad, may have built Sun Valley, but promotional wizard Steve Hannegan is the man who put it on the map. It was 1936 when Harriman, looking for a way to increase passenger traffic on UP's lines into the West, decided to build a little lodge near Ketchum as a way to attract skiers to the area.

Hannegan convinced Harriman that to attract people to a ski resort in the middle of nowhere, they'd need to do it right--a first-class hotel, ice-skating rink, outdoor swimming pool, bowling alley, and movie theater. Then Hannegan brought in the creme de la creme from high society and Hollywood.

And it worked. When Sun Valley opened on December 21, 1936, there was no snow on the ground, but there were stars: Claudette Colbert, Robert Young, and Sam Goldwyn were just some of the guests the first night.

Author Ernest Hemingway, who began visiting the area in the late 1930s, drew further attention to the area, as did the filming of "Sun Valley Serenade," starring Sonja Henie, in 1940. Hollywood publicists, eager to get attention for their stars, often sent them up to Sun Valley for publicity photos that Hannegan could almost guarantee would run in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Early publicity stills show Lucy and Desi posed uncomfortably on ice skates, and Marilyn Monroe camping it up for the cameras in a snowbank. Dick Powell and June Allyson are enjoying breakfast at the lodge, while Gary Cooper and Clark Gable are actually out skiing with famed instructor Sigi Engl.

The lack of early season snow continued to plague the resort sporadically until 1990 when Sun Valley spent over $8 million installing one of the most sophisticated automated snowmaking systems in the West. Today, some 435 acres of quality snowmaking guarantee top skiing all season. And while skiers still like to wander through the historic Sun Valley Lodge, a bigger draw is the recently completed 16,360-square-foot, log-cabin-styled day lodge at the base of Warm Springs. For information, call Sun Valley Resort (800/786-8259).

LESSONS

TAOS SKI VALLEY

Some say this New Mexico resort has the best ski school in the nation

It makes perfect sense that a ski area with some of the most challenging terrain in the nation would also want to develop a fine ski school. After all, if you're going to invite guests to a party, it helps if they can dance.

Taos' ski school is named after the resort's founder, Ernie Blake, a ski trooper in World War II who developed Taos because of its steep terrain, not in spite of it. "I thought the skill of American skiers was advancing so fast that they'd want more difficult skiing," he once explained.

At the Ernie Blake Ski School, you can get down some of those black diamond runs, which make up slightly more than half of the area's 1,096 acres of skiable terrain. Especially popular is the Ski-Better-Week, five or six days of lessons, plus video evaluation of your skiing and free Nastar racing. To help accelerate your learning, classes are kept small and geared to all ability levels. Even better, if you really want to step up your skiing ability, are the Super Ski Weeks, offered throughout the year, where you'll get intensive instruction with Taos' top instructors.

If five to seven days sound like too much, consider the special half-day workshops, offered on selected afternoons, where you can fine-tune your mogul skiing or ski with a pro on some of Taos' little known runs.

There are several ski school programs just for kids as well. Junior Elite is an all-day program for kids from three to 12.

While Taos has received a lot of press over the years describing the difficulty of its terrain, you'll be happy to know that there are also plenty of gentle bowls for intermediate and beginner skiers. "Don't panic," reads a sign for lift riders near a particularly fearsome looking run." You're looking at only 1/30th of Taos Ski Valley. We have many easy runs, too!"

To learn more about the Taos Ski School programs, call the resort (505/776-2291).

CORA/MT. BACHELOR

Mt. Bachelor, an extinct Central Oregon volcano, got its name from early explorers because it seemed to stand alone and apart from the loftier peaks in the Cascade Range.

Today Mr. Bachelor stands as one of the most popular ski areas in the state. Here you'll find 54 Alpine runs with terrain for novices to experts, 55 kilometers of machine-groomed cross-country trails and six day lodges.

Opening for the '93-'94 ski season are three new express chair lifts, for a total of ten lifts. One new ticket is computerized and charges for runs you make. For Mt. Bachelor information call (800) 829-2442. CORA (Central Oregon Recreation Association) offers a toll-free number (800/800-8334) for one-stop vacation planning.

JEEP |R~ SPONSORS FREE CLINICS, SKI RACES AT TAHOE, MAMMOTH, AND BIG BEAR

Looking for competition on the ski slopes this season? Free family-oriented ski races and clinics will keep Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, and Big Bear's snowy runs lively for 14 weekends, from December through March.

"Fun-for-all" Jeep |R~ Challenge Series events feature free public race clinics on Saturdays, when all ages and skill levels learn the finer points of downhill skiing. On Sundays you test your new skills during Dual Giant Slalom races.

Prizes for all participants will especially appeal to the kids; adults will like the entrance fees-free! (But you do have to pay for lift tickets at the host resort.)

For the experts, Jeep also sponsors Hard Corps Skier Challenges January 7 and 8 at Heavenly Valley and April 1 and 2 at Mammoth Mountain. At these, skiers of intermediate-to-Olympian abilities will test their skills in four Alpine Olympic ski disciplines--slalom, giant slalom, Super G and moguls.

Over $50,000 in prizes from top ski equipment and apparel manufacturers go to winners and runners-up. To the man or woman who wins all Jeep Hard Corps Skier Challenges, the California Jeep and Eagle Dealers will present a brand new 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee worth over $24,000.

PERSONALITIES

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Billy Kidd, the original "outlaw" skier

In 1970, the Steamboat Springs Ski Area hired a brash, opinionated cowboy skier, named William Winston Kidd, as their director of skiing.

Kidd had quite a reputation, even then. In 1964, he became the first American man to win an Olympic medal in Alpine skiing. Six years later he topped that with a Gold Medal in the World Championships, turned pro, and went out and quickly won the World Pro Championships.

So when Steamboat asked Kidd to be director of skiing that same year, they had no illusions that the cocky 27-year-old, riding an avalanche of national adoration, was giving the company much more than his name. Steamboat was looking for an image--rugged, resilient, maybe even a little dangerous--and Kidd, who had made a Stetson and boots his calling card at 14, fit the bill to a T.

One promotional poster from that time is a stylized image of Kidd. Kidd looks cool, insolent, ready--an "outlaw" skier.

The thing is, Kidd was nothing like the poster of the outlaw skier. Fact is, he loved skiing with the public. If you're just in Steamboat for the day, look for Kidd around one o'clock at the top of the Silver Bullet gondola. He's still there almost every day, ready to serve up a little Steamboat hospitality--and some great skiing.

In 1991 he created the Billy Kidd Center for Performance Skiing, an innovative concept in ski instruction that offers intensified lessons using video analysis, afternoon seminars, a personal skiing profile, and lots of hands-on instruction. Kidd guarantees you'll leave the two- to three-day camps a better skier. Camps run from December through April. For more information, call Steamboat Springs Ski & Resort Corporation (800/922-2722).

VALUES

SKI NEW MEXICO

Looking for a Deal? Try New Mexico

Most of New Mexico's ski resorts are located in the northern part of the state, where the Rockies jut suddenly out of the pinon and juniper hills around Santa Fe. Here, in the enchanted beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, are a half dozen ski areas with names like Angel Fire, Sipapu, and Taos, that are as diverse as the land itself.

There are a lot of great money- saving deals to be had at New Mexico ski resorts, if you know what to look for and can be flexible in your ski vacation plans. For example, Angel Fire has an annual White Sale from December 9 through 17, and again from January 3 to February 17, when all-day lift tickets (normally $30) go for $20. Contact Angel Fire (800/633-7463). Here is a complete breakdown of other great ski values.

Last year, Taos Ski Valley introduced Low Season discounts on tickets. Normally all-day adult tickets are $35, but from November 25 to December 19, and again March 28 through April 10 next year, you can get the same ticket for $22. For kids, a $20 ticket goes for $11. Taos Ski Valley (505/776-2291).

One of the best deals at Red River gets you half-price tickets the weekends of December 3 to 5 or 10 to 12. Several lodges in Red River also offer a "Kids-Ski-Free-Stay-Free" program throughout the year. Call the Red River Chamber of Commerce (800/348-6444). Maybe the best deal in lodging can be had at Sipapu where you can get a dorm room for as little as $8.50 a night, if you supply the bedding. Sipapu (505/587-2240).

Get out your tape measure and see if your child is 46-inches or shorter (in ski boots). If so, he or she can ski free at both Santa Fe and Sandia Peak ski areas. Santa Fe Ski Co., (505/296-9585). You have to be 41-inches or shorter to ski free at Snow Canyon, where you also can pick up two-for-one lift tickets mid-week, except for holidays and spring break. Snow Canyon (800/395-6343).

SPECIAL EVENTS

SKIING IN COLORADO

From horse-drawn ski races to the Flauschink Festival, Colorado offers something for everyone

The Crested Butte locals are a little leery about explaining their traditional Flauschink, usually held the first week in April. What, after all, is the point of having a parade down Elk Avenue with a queen and king who look somewhat like plumbers? The Flauschink--or flushing--Festival celebrates the end of winter, the time when skiers officially depart, and this old mining town is returned to the locals. It's all done in good fun, of course, and nobody seems to enjoy it more than the tourists, who line the streets egging on the polka bands and synchronized snowmobiles.

From opening day to the slush of April, you'll find a grab bag full of special winter events--from the highly competitive Men's Pro Tour ski races to the purely fun and ridiculous--like Flauschink. A partial list follows. For more information, call Colorado Ski Country USA (303/837-0793).

Most Colorado ski resorts open sometime between November 13 and Thanksgiving. Crested Butte (303/349-2333) traditionally marks its season opener with a free ski day. It also offers free learn-to-ski lessons in November.

Few sights are more magnificent than an old steam locomotive plowing through a snow-covered pass. Purgatory-Durango (303/247-2733) starts up winter sightseeing train rides on November 25.

If you think running a 10K in high altitude is a real trick, try the 10K Snow Shoe Race held at Ski Cooper (719/486-3684) on December 11. Christmas celebrations, of course, are big at most resorts. You'll find torchlight parades and special events at Ski Sunlight (800/445-7931) December 18 and at Telluride (800/525-3455) on Christmas Eve. Also, December 24 at Snowmass (303/925-1220) is the annual torchlight parade with Santa.

Watch the ski patrollers fly over your head while you're enjoying lunch out on the deck at Aspen Highlands (303/925-5300) and you'll know why it's the place to be on January 7, during the Freestyle Contest. Just to see which cook is also the best skier. Winter Park (303/726-5514) hosts the Chef's Cup, also on January 7.

One of the oldest (and biggest) Colorado events is the Aspen (303/925-1220) Winternational Celebration, complete with parade and fireworks, held January 12 through 16. Another favorite winter carnival takes place at Steamboat (800/922-2722) February 7 through 13. On February 25, Keystone (303/468-2316) hosts a cross-country Moonlight Tour.

On March 12, Silver Creek (800/448-9458) puts on an annual Fireman's Feud Race, which sounds a lot more serious than it is. And from March 14 to 20, Vail (303/476-5601) hosts the 1994 Alpine World Cup Finals--a very serious event, indeed. If you're more in the mood for frivolity, check out the Beach Party Weekend at Arrowhead (800/332-3029) March 26-27.

IDAHO'S SECRET

SILVER MOUNTAIN

The skiing is great and the crowds are non-existent at this resort near Coeur d'Alene

What do Telluride, Crested Butte, Park City, and Aspen have in common? They're all former mining towns that endured many boom-to-bust cycles before turning to tourism for salvation. Now you can add a new name to that list: Silver Mountain.

Silver Mountain is located in Kellogg, Idaho, about 70 miles east of Spokane. Once a small, single-lift ski area, it was transformed in the late 1980s with the construction of the world's longest single-stage gondola. It transports you on a 19-minute ride above part of the old mining town to the ski area.

From here you have your choice of five chairlifts over two mountain peaks that can take you to some of the steepest terrain in the West, or to the smooth, well-groomed novice runs beneath the gondola. Wherever you choose to ski, you'll find few crowds and the runs wide open.

The bed base in Silver Valley is still small, though several B&Bs have sprung up in old Victorians. Patrick's Inn & Steak House, a renovated rooming house built in 1912, is near the gondola base. It has 12 comfortable rooms and a communal hot tub. For complete Kellogg lodging information, call Silver Valley Central Reservations (800/443-3505).

The nearby Coeur d'Alene Resort, one of the finest hotels in the Northwest, has a variety of ski packages that include lodging, lift tickets, continental breakfast, and transportation from the resort to the ski area. Call (800/688-5253) for details. Call Silver Mountain (208/783-1111) for additional information on the ski packages.

DIVERSIONS

VAIL

Did you ever wonder what it must be like to pull 3 Gs in a bobsled race?

When it gets really cold out, Doru Anghel likes to get up early, zip up to about the 10,000 foot level of Vail Mountain on a snowmobile, and begin hosing down one of the resort's 2,900 foot long runs until it is slicker than a squirming trout atop an ice skating rink. When the glassy finish gets so slippery you could roll a marble on it for a mile just by dropping it, the run is ready.

No, Anghel isn't some hooligan out to cause trouble. Nor is he filming pratfalls for "America's Funniest Home Videos." Anghel is the director of Vail's bobsled track--one of only three in the United States--and it's his job to get the track, located below Mid-Vail on Lionsway near the Black Forest Trail, in pristine condition.

"Skiers may love it when the flakes fall, but there's only so much snow I can use to shape the course for the best results," says Anghel who has a degree in bobsled track management from the University of Bucharest. That means clearing the track of any excess snow that may have fallen overnight and hosing it down to get just the right glaze for propelling the custom-designed sleds at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

The sleds, which are built of laminated foam covered in vinyl, operate without brakes or a steering device. Gravity is your engine. Four-inch thick walls are the only things guiding you through a series of curves that, according to Anghel, can generate more than three Gs of force. Skiers compare the ride to a rollercoaster--but more fun.

Vail's bobsleds run daily from mid-December to late March from 11 to 3:30, weather permitting. Skiers can get to the mountain track by taking either the Avanti Express (chair 2) or the Vista Bahn (chair 16) and skiing down to the course. Ride operators will take your skis down to the bottom of the course via snowmobile. For more information, contact Vail Associates (303/476-5601).

REMEMBERING

Sure it was cheap, but how comfortable were your boots?

"An all-day lift ticket in 1946 was $2.50. So I got a weekend job at Alta, Utah, cooking hamburgers for $5 a day and all I could eat. All told, our vacation at Alta, aside from Ace bandages and liniment, cost $2.50 a week."

DRIVING TIPS

How to avoid slip-sliding away on snow and ice

Here are some simple tips to keep you moving when snow or ice make driving difficult.

* When traveling in snow country, always carry chains. Some automotive specialty stores will refund the price of chains at the end of the season if you didn't use them.

* In the winter, carry a plastic bag in your trunk with a few emergency supplies including flares, a pair of gloves (for installing chains), a small plastic tarp, and a plastic poncho (to keep your clothes clean and dry).

* To slow on ice, tap your brakes several times, rather than keeping your foot down on the brakes--which could cause you to go into a slide.

* If your car has rear-wheel drive, carry a bag of sand in your trunk to give you traction. Better yet are four-wheel sports vehicles, like the Jeep Cherokee, or front-wheel drive automobiles, where the weight of the engine is over the driving wheels.
JEEP CHALLENGE SERIES SCHEDULE OF EVENTS 1993/1994

Date Location

Dec. 4-5 1993 Alpine Meadows
Dec. 11-12 Boreal
Dec. 18-19 Mammoth Mountain
Jan. 8-9 1994 Snow Summit
Jan. 15-16 Squaw Valley
Jan. 22-23 Northstar-At-Tahoe
Feb. 5-6 Snow Valley
Feb. 12-13 Bear Mountain
Feb. 19-20 Dodge Ridge
Feb. 26-27 Bear Valley
March 5-6 Mammoth Mountain
March 12-13 Bear Mountain
March 19-20 Sierra Summit
March 26-27 Sierra-At-Tahoe


HEALTH

Tips to help avoid altitude sickness

The root cause of high-altitude illness is a lack of oxygen. The symptoms include a headache, touch of nausea, feeling unusually tired, or experiencing shortness of breath. Here are some tips from the Colorado Altitude Research Institute on minimizing high-altitude illness:

* Exercise in moderation the first few days

* Drink more water than usual

* Reduce alcohol intake, which has a greater effect at this altitude

* Eat food high in carbohydrates: grains, pasta, fruit, and vegetables

* Avoid salty foods

HIGH TECH

In the beginning was the word, and the word was plastic

About the time Dustin Hoffman was born, but still twenty years before "The Graduate" came out, a single word began to reverberate within the ski industry-plastic. A Swiss firm invented p-tex (don't ask us why they called it that), and in 1946 it got its first practical application when it was used as the running surface on a pair of Holly skis. Holly skis are no longer with us, but p-tex is going stronger than ever.

In 1964, Robert Lange introduced a plastic ski boot with buckle bindings. The ski publications said it was "too hot, too hard, and too expensive. We'll stick with leather." They were about the only ones who did.

CALIFORNIA'S FIRST RESORT

The ski instructor was really Mickey Mouse and all the lift attendants were Goofy

California's first resort, Sugar Bowl, was, like Sun Valley, originally only accessible by train. One young man who visited Sugar Bowl early on and liked what he saw was a cartoon animator named Walt Disney. He was one of the first stockholders, and the Tyrolean village of today's Sugar Bowl is situated at the base of Mount Disney.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related articles
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Words:3348
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