The North American pro ski tour will come to Snow Summit at Big Bear Lake this weekend for the $40,000 Post-Audi Cup and, as usual, the Halsnes brothers are at the top of the heap.
In fact, Jarle Halsnes and Edvin Halsnes of Norway are tied in the season standings, each with 220 points. Jarle has the lead in the money standings by $750 with a total of $26,950.
The Halsnes brothers have dominated the circuit for the last four seasons.
However, the American contingent showed last week that the Norwegian pair is by no means invincible by placing 1, 2 and 4 in the slalom. Mark Tache of Aspen, Colo., got his first professional victory by beating Dave Stapleton, also of Aspen. Cary Adgate of Boyne Falls, Mich., finished fourth.
Tomaz Cerkovnik of Yugoslavia is third in the standings with 170 points, and Stapleton is fourth at 160. With 70 points available this weekend, they have a chance to make a run at the Halsnes brothers.
Qualifying is scheduled for Friday, from 10 a.m to 11:30, followed by the slalom elimination round from 32 to 16. The slalom will be completed Saturday beginning at 10 a.m., and Sunday the giant slalom will be contested.
The Nestle's Celebrity pro-am race will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The storm that passed through the Southland early in the week did little to help the skiing in the local mountains, but it apparently didn't hurt either.
"It drizzled a little bit and snowed heavily on top," said Jill Marshall of Snow Summit. "There wasn't enough rain to do any real damage.
"We still have full coverage, with no bare spots or rocks. But we haven't been able to make any snow for the past several days because it has been too warm."
At Mountain High in Wrightwood, spokeswoman Pat Akusis said there was light drizzle mixed with wet snow. The area reports one to three feet of snow and offers day and night skiing.
One area the storm did benefit is Mammoth Mountain in the Eastern Sierra, where two inches fell Sunday night, six Monday night and three to four more Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Mammoth is reporting a base of 23 inches, and next door, June Mountain is reporting a base of 26 inches. Both areas are reporting some obstacles.
Officials at Mammoth, suffering through a once-in-a-decade drought, say they have been amused by Southland radio and newspaper advertisements for ski areas in Lake Tahoe, Utah, Colorado and Southern California.
In the best tradition of big business, the other areas seem to be trying to take advantage of the situation. In Colorado, they already have. Aspen reported record crowds over the Christmas holidays, when Mammoth was closed because of lack of snow.
One of the Tahoe ads claims: "It's only two hours further than Mammoth," and another promises "The best skiing currently in California."
Said Pam Murphy, Mammoth's public relations manager: "We're not alarmed by it but apparently some of our customers are. I've been getting about 10 calls a day from people complaining about the ad campaign down there.
"One thing that has hurt us this year is that we are conservative in reporting snow depths. People who have skied here have been pleasantly surprised. They want to know why we are underrating our conditions. We'd rather have that than have people come up here and be disappointed."
Murphy claims that conditions are better than the drought year of 1976-77 even though there has been less snowfall.
She credits that to modern technology.
"There's so much you can do now with a little snow," she said. "The snow-making and grooming techniques have come so far in 10 years. It was worse 10 years ago, even though we had more snow.
"It's a tribute to the improvements in the machinery."
The United States ski team is taking a break from the World Cup schedule for the Subaru U.S. Alpine championship races at Copper Mountain and Crested Butte in Colorado.
Downhill training will be held Sunday through Tuesday at Crested Butte, where Doug Lewis and Hilary Lindh will defend their titles in the first event Wednesday.
The super giant slalom, which will be contested for the first time in the national meet, will be held for both the men and women next Thursday at Crested Butte before the show switches to Copper Mountain.
Tiger Shaw will try for his third straight giant slalom title next Friday and Beth Madsen will defend her giant slalom title next Saturday.
In the wrap-up slalom events next Sunday, six-time champion Tamara McKinney, who leads the women's World Cup slalom standings, will go for her third straight title. The American men will try to win back the title, which went to Henrik Smith-Meyer of Norway last year.
Ski Notes Mountain High and KROQ radio will hold their annual all-night ski party Friday night. Festivities will start at 11 p.m. and continue until 8 a.m. Included will be ski races and a dance at 2 a.m. . . . The 1987 North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Snowfest, called by organizers the largest Winter Carnival in the Western United States, will run from Feb. 27 to March 8. Events include a fireworks display and torchlight parade at Squaw Valley on opening night, and a 30-kilometer cross-country ski race over the mountains between Tahoe City and Truckee March 1. . . . Trying to make the most of the dry winter, Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe has expanded its snow making to include 15%-20% of its terrain. . . . When Suzy Chaffee, former world champion freestyle skier, tore up her knee 18 months ago, she was told she might never ski again. Instead, she began a rehabilitation program with Richard Steadman, physician of the U.S. ski team, that not only led to a full recovery, but the production of a video cassette, "The Suzy Chaffee Ski Workout." . . . The ninth annual John Denver Ski Classic will be held Feb. 20-22 at Heavenly Valley. . . . The World 90-meter ski jumping meet will be shown as part of ABC-TV's "Wide World of Sports" Sunday at 4 p.m. Americans Mike Holland, Zane Palmer and Ricky Mewborn could challenge World Cup leader Ernst Vettori of Austria.