Phil Mahre, currently sandwiched between two Swedes near the top of the U.S. Pro Tour standings, will attempt to ski into the lead this weekend during the WinterFest races at Snow Summit.
The former World Cup and Olympic champion has 415 points so far in his comeback at the age of 31, placing him second to Jorgen Sundqvist, who has 465. Mahre, with $41,650, has earned $650 more than Sundqvist, but both have made less than Niklas Lindqvist, third in the standings with 375 points but first in line at the ATM window with $47,730.
Action at the Big Bear Lake resort gets under way today with qualifying for Sunday’s slalom. The giant slalom is set for Saturday. Racing starts at 11 a.m. each day on Widowmaker Run, and there will also be a pro-celebrity event at 2 p.m. Saturday.
After 12 stops on the 16-meet pro circuit, Mahre has six slalom victories to his credit in the dual, head-to-head elimination format. Each first place is worth 35 points on a scale that drops to five points just for reaching the round of 32.
Phil’s twin brother, Steve, who hadn’t won a race since the opening slalom in November at Park City, Utah, is out for the rest of the season. He injured a knee last weekend at Winter Park, Colo., and underwent surgery Wednesday at Dr. Richard Steadman’s clinic in South Lake Tahoe.
Spring conditions prevail at ski areas throughout California, where depths range from two to six feet in the sunny Southland, and up to 10 feet in the Sierra.
Mammoth Mountain reported eight inches of new powder and a 6 1/2-foot base Thursday, but relatively warm temperatures in midweek meant rain and wet snow farther north, around Tahoe.
Skiing seems assured about everywhere at least through Easter.
Other activities in the next few days include:
--U.S. Ski Assn.'s Freestyle Mogul Finals Saturday and Sunday on Showtime Run at Bear Mountain.
--North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Winter Carnival through Sunday at Northstar and Squaw Valley.
--Corporate Ski Challenge, with 124 teams, Monday through March 18 at Alpine Meadows.
--Top Gun on Gunbarrel mogul competition, for $10,000 in prizes, next Wednesday and Thursday at Heavenly Valley.
--National Masters’ Championships, for skiers 30 and over, Sunday through next Friday at Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
And, oh yes, full-time residents of snow country will compete in their favorite ski-season pastimes during the Tahoe Local Man Winter Triathlon today at Homewood, near Tahoe City. The three sports: Installing tire chains, splitting firewood and shoveling snow.
World Cup racing, which began last November in Europe, is screeching to a halt this week at Shiga Kogen, Japan, where the schedule calls for a men’s slalom today, a women’s slalom Saturday and parallel races for both men and women Sunday. Alberto Tomba of Italy still has a chance to make up for a disappointing season by pulling out the slalom title today. He is third in the standings with 100 points, behind three-time overall champion Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg, who has 106, and Armin Bittner of West Germany, who has 102. Vreni Schneider of Switzerland, who has already won the women’s overall cup, will be trying for a record-breaking 14th victory in one season Saturday. . . . The Alps, mostly bare throughout early winter, are becoming more skiable. Some sample snow depths passed along by Powder Ski Adventures in Mission Viejo this week include: Austria--St. Anton 12 to 100 inches, Kitzbuhel 4-46; France--Avoriaz 53-63, Chamonix 19-85, La Plagne 53-87, Val d’Isere 39-63, Val Thorens 53-79; Italy--Cortina d’Ampezzo 28-67, Val Gardena 16-55; Switzerland--Davos 18-69, Saas Fe 12-59, Verbier 12-94. . . . Tennis star Chris Evert and her husband, former U.S. downhiller Andy Mill, will be Bob Beattie’s guests on “Ski World” Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. . . . Friedl Pfeifer, 77, who “discovered” Aspen, Colo., and first developed it for skiing in the mid-1940s, was the honored guest at Ski magazine’s annual Legends of Skiing banquet last Saturday night at Beaver Creek, Colo.