North America and particularly California and Utah in Western USA have seen the biggest snowfalls anywhere in the world of the past week, with particularly huge accumulations reported at Brighton in Utah with 228cm (7.6 feet) in seven days. Snowbird, Alta and Solitude have also reported more than two metre (6.7 feet) accumulations.
It’s almost as good in California where almost all resorts have reported between 1 and 1.5m (3.3-5 feet) of new snow over the Easter weekend. It’s a shame the majority of ski areas in the region have closed already or close in the next seven days.
There’s been new snow elsewhere in Western North America too, with Colorado resorts benefitting and Grand Targhee in Wyoming the latest to announce an extended season. 1.6m (63 inches) of snow have fallen there this past week, and another 35cm (14 inches) has arrived yesterday morning.
Grand Targhee will run Dreamcatcher chairlift for an extra week, through to Sunday April 18. The chair will run from 10 am to 3 pm, and offer limited facilities.
To the north Whistler Blackcomb has announced the decision to extend skiing and riding on Whistler Mountain by one week. Whistler Mountain’s last day of operations will be Sunday, April 25 while Blackcomb Mountain’s last day of operations will be Monday, May 24.
“With over 1,353 centimetres (533 inches) of snow so far this season and a current snow base of 363 centimetres (143 inches), this incredible season is far from over,” says Dave Brownlie, president and chief operating officer at Whistler Blackcomb. “The great snow was a key factor in deciding to keep Whistler Mountain open an additional week, but guest feedback about Whistler Mountain closing during the second week of the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival played a big role in the decision as well. We listened to the feedback, then reviewed and revised the required lift maintenance schedule, allowing us to extend Whistler Mountain’s winter operations by one week.”
By Sally Brookes
Courtesy of skiinfo.co.uk
Whistler, host venue for the men’s and women’s alpine skiing competitions, will athletes training on the Olympic courses from today. The first alpine competition is the Men’s Downhill on February 13th, the first day of Games competition.
“International Olympic Committee delegates recently skied the course and were very pleased with the results,” says Tim Gayda, Vice President of Sport for the Olympic organisers VANOC. “From the beginning of the season, VANOC and Whistler Blackcomb crews have worked hard together to prepare the courses to create a very dense base of snow that involved a massive snowmaking effort.
Add to that the incredible amount of natural snow that has fallen in Whistler this season, and we’re now ready to deliver an Olympic-class alpine skiing venue that will live up to the reputation that the renowned Dave Murray Downhill course holds the world over. We look forward to debuting the spectacular new woman’s course on Franz’s Run. We’re in to the home stretch on our final preparations.”
Deep snow at Whistler Blackcomb is not unusual, but reaching the average annual snowfall (10.13 metres/ 33 feet) this early is truly unique. Since snow reporting began in the 1979/80 season, this is the first time that Whistler Blackcomb has received this much snow by the end of January. The prior record was set in 2006/07 when 945 centimetres or 31 feet of snow fell by January 31.
The news is not so good at Cypress Mountain, the Olympic venue for snowboarding and freestyle events, is continuing to battle to be Games Ready however, although Olympic organisers insist it will be. Cypress is close to Vancouver which has been unseasonably warm all year and most of the snow at resort level has melted. The venue has been using hay bales to build structures like the half pipe and has been trucking in snow to cover them, rather damaging the ‘green’ reputation the Games have been striving for.
With no good news on lowering temperatures as the Games get closer the organisers are now using a Sikorsky S64 Skycrane, the second largest helicopter in the world, to transport snow onto the Olympic competition areas. Snow from the upper regions of the mountain will be moved by the helicopter and transported to the areas they are needed.
Elsewhere in North America there have been snowfalls at most resorts, particularly on the US West Coast in California and further north in Alaska, where Alyeska has had the biggest snowfall in the world over the past 7 days – 107cm or 3.6 feet. Other resorts across the West have had big falls of 2-3 feet, although the snow hasn’t been quite as abundant in Colorado and other ski areas in the Rockies, although most have had good falls there too.
More unusually large falls have been reported in South eastern US states like Virginia where ski areas have reported 50cm (20 inch) accumulations an there have been similar large falls in other southern US states to the west like Arizona and New Mexico.
By Patrick Thorne
Courtesy of skiinfo.co.uk
Despite the fluctuating weather conditions in Vancouver for the Olympic Games, most of the rest of North America’s ski areas are reporting great ski conditions.
Mt Washington, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic training site close to the Games sites is currently leading the world with the greatest reported snow accumulation of 4.6m (15.3 feet) to date. Mount Washington also had the most snow in the past week with nearly 90cm (three feet) more. In the US all 50 states reported snow lying at some point on their terrain during Valentine’s day.
With fresh snow right across North America, it’s the US and Canada that have seen the most fresh snow of the past seven days anywhere in the world.
Falls have been particularly heavy on the West coast and while there has been rain at lower elevations causing major headaches for Olympic organisers, Whistler has actually seen some of the most snow in the world in the past week with 68cm (2.3 feet) accumulated on middle and upper elevations.
Other western resorts reporting big falls include Jackson Hole, Vail, Big Sky, Breckenridge and in Alaska, Alyeska, all of which have received more than 60cm (two feet).
There’s been snow on the east too, with the excellent ski area of Mt Sutton in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, for example, receiving more than 40cm over the weekend. Cold weather has also allowed for snowmaking at many resorts in the East.
By Sally Brookes
Courtesy of skiinfo.co.uk
By Patrick Thorne
In the north there’s been yet more now at Whistler, with the Olympics now just over a fortnight away. Its season-to-date snowfall is now nearly 10 metres (30 feet). Fellow host Cypress Mountain also had a respite from the thaw and rain that is threatening the snowboarding and freestyle venues, with some fresh snow there too.
To the south of the region thousands of southern Californians who flocked to Mountain High resort in the San Gabriel Mountains, which has received five feet (150cm) of snow in recent storms, were turned away by police due to dangerous road conditions and diminishing fuel and food supplies. Truck convoys were organised to deliver food, supplies and fuel to the area on Monday, with roads re-opening that evening. However more snow is forecast, if on a smaller scale.
John McColly, Mountain High’s Director of Marketing said, “There is a reason I am in this business. And this is it. Skiers and snowboarders that braved the storm are grinning from ear to ear. And I’m one of them.”
With the fresh snow there is an enormous temptation to go out of bounds but both Mountain High and the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s department advise against that.
Says McColly, “Anything outside of Mountain High’s boundaries is not patrolled so if you run into any trouble, you are on your own. There is plenty of terrific tree skiing and natural terrain within Mountain High’s permitted area so stay in bounds, enjoy the fresh snow, and be safe.”
It’s a similar story at other western resorts, Jackson Hole has reported more than three feet of new snow, Snowbird in Utah, seven feet in seven days.
Up in British Columbia, monumental snowfall over the last week has created perfect conditions at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. With a mid-mountain snow base of 320cm and 399cm at the top, the resort is once again the home of Canada’s deepest snowpack. The news couldn’t be any better for the first wave of Olympic athletes who arrive this week to train at the Island mountain.
“We received over a metre and a half of snow in the last six days,” says Resort spokesperson Brent Curtain.
The Chinese Biathlon team arrived in the Comox Valley late Thursday and hit the snow on Friday, January 22nd. The team will train at the mountain’s popular Nordic Centre, an obvious choice for numerous cross-country and biathlon teams over the next month. A total of 26 teams from 15 countries are performing their final on-snow preparations at Mount Washington before heading back to the Lower Mainland and Whistler for the Games.
It’s been less promising on the East coast with warmer weather and some resorts reporting rain over the weekend, but it’s now colder in most areas and Smugglers Notch in Vermont is among those reporting fresh snow in the past 24 hours.