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California: Winter finally arrives at Tahoe, Mammoth ski resorts

Winter has returned to the eastern Sierra. Or, in the case of Lake Tahoe, has finally arrived, just in time for the Presidents Day weekend and the start of the second half of the ski and snowboard season.
 
John Monson, a spokesman at Sugar Bowl on the northwest rim of Lake Tahoe, said his resort received a whopping 61 inches of snow — that's more than 5 feet — on its highest peaks, greatly improving conditions and allowing the resort to open additional terrain, lifts and trails.
 
"While the snow itself was a little on the wet and heavy side, truth be told that's exactly the type we need right now because it creates an excellent base for the remainder of the season," he said. "This storm was very well timed as well, improving conditions for the busy Presidents Week ahead."
 
To lure schussers back to the slopes, Sugar Bowl is extending its special $89 learn-to-ski-and-ride development program, which offers a two-hour group lesson with a pro instructor from the Mountain Sports Learning Center, rentals for the day and a limited lift ticket.
 
Homewood, perched on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, received more than 4 feet of snow. It is offering free intermediate and advanced lessons to attract people to its slopes. See skihomewood.com/freelessons
 
Northstar, which also got 4-plus feet, now has most of its runs open. The same is true for Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, where 15 and 7 lifts, respectively, were open Tuesday. At the south end of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Valley received more than 3 feet, allowing it to open 65 trails and 19 lifts.  At Kirkwood, which got a whopping 82 inches of snow from the last storm system, much of the mountain is now open and forecasters are predicting a possible foot or two of drier snow this weekend.
 
Closer to home for Southern California skiers and riders, Mammoth got more than 3 feet of new snow. That means 100% of the big mountain's terrain will be open this weekend for the first time this season, officials said.
 
To thank patrons for being patient with Mother Nature, Mammoth is offering 2-for-1 ticket offers and free flights from LAX and San Diego when skiers or riders stay three nights or more at any of the Mammoth Lodging Collection properties. These deals must be booked by March 23 by calling (800) 626-6684. 
 
A bit farther afield in Utah, resorts in the Wasatch Range also got 3 to 4 feet of snow, with more predicted this weekend. For details and deals, go to Ski Utah.  The same weather system also blessed Colorado with many resorts receiving more than 3 feet. Go to Ski Colorado.
 

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