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Skiing / Bob Lochner : Spring Break: Time for a Final Fling on Slopes

In the East and Midwest, spring break means heading for Florida to thaw out. In much of the West, it is just as likely to mean heading for the mountains and one last fling on the slopes.

Just depends on where you’ve been all winter.

Conditions are still relatively good as the Easter holidays get under way today, and most major California ski areas plan to operate into April. It’s definitely spring in the San Gabriel Mountains and at Big Bear Lake, but the Sierra appears to be reverting to winter, at least for a few days, as another storm passes through.

Mammoth Mountain reported a foot of new snow on top of a six-foot base Thursday, with more coming down, and the resorts around Lake Tahoe have also picked up a layer of fresh powder.

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Bear Mountain, in Big Bear, will celebrate “Spring Break I” Saturday through March 26 with live music on the lodge sun deck, daily contests and giveaways. Neighboring Snow Summit, not to be outdone, also has several special events scheduled, including the Suzuki Snowboarding Safari, which offers free demonstrations and lessons in this new sport, Saturday and Sunday.

Snow Valley and Mountain High (West) are also still operating daily in the Southland, and Kratka Ridge plans to reopen for the weekend. Mt. Waterman, Mt. Baldy and Ski Sunrise are closed pending the arrival of more snow.

National champions will be determined this weekend on both the men’s and women’s circuits of the U.S. Pro Tour.

The men are at Sugarbush, Vt., for their finals, with Phil Mahre poised to overtake Jorgen Sundqvist of Sweden and win the 1989 Audi Quattro 200 that goes with the season-long championship, not to mention a bundle of cash for gas.

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Mahre, 31, three-time World Cup champion and 1984 Olympic gold medalist, swept both races last weekend at Snow Summit and trails Sundqvist by just 15 points, 500 to 485.

“I think my chances are as good as Sundqvist’s,” Mahre said this week. “Right now, I’m looking at winning both those races at Sugarbush (and earning 35 points in each). I’m really confident.”

The women’s competition, at Mammoth Mountain today through Sunday, is being billed as the Isuzu World Championships, and three racers remain in contention for the title--rookie Catharina Glasser-Bjerner of Sweden, with 331 points; Birgit Hussauf of Austria, with 303, and defending champion Roswitha Raudaschl of Austria, with 300.

Raudaschl is streaking. She won the slalom last weekend at Hatoriko, Japan, and placed second to Andreja Leskovsek of Yugoslavia in the giant slalom.

The U.S. Ski Team, which wound up 11th out of 18 in the Nations’ Cup standings this season, is competing in the National Alpine Ski Championships at Crested Butte, Colo., this week and next.

The men’s giant slalom Thursday was won by Kyle Wieche, 21, in 2:31.72, with Joe Levins, 20, second in 2:32.09 and Tommy Moe, 19, third in 2:32.81. The remainder of the schedule: today--women’s giant slalom; Saturday--men’s and women’s slaloms; Sunday--men’s and women’s giant slaloms; next Thursday--men’s and women’s downhills.

Switzerland won the Nations’ Cup with a total of 2,305 points on the men’s and women’s circuits, which included victories in 31 of the 59 World Cup events.

Austria was second with 2,061 points, followed by West Germany with 878. The United States had 232. Bernhard Gstrein of Austria defeated Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland, and Chantal Bournissen of Switzerland beat Michaela Gerg of West Germany in the finals of the parallel slaloms last Sunday at Shiga Kogen, Japan, which counted toward the Nations’ Cup but not in the World Cup standings.

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Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg ended the season with 357 points, 48 more than runner-up Zurbriggen, in winning his third men’s overall World Cup. Vreni Schneider led a 1-2-3 Swiss women’s overall sweep with 376 points, 115 ahead of Maria Walliser, who was only 13 in front of Michela Figini.

Tamara McKinney of Olympic Valley, Calif., who was third in the parallel race, finished 11th in the overall standings with 116 points.

The 1989-90 World Cup schedule will open with a men’s slalom and giant slalom at Thredbo, Australia, on Aug. 12-13, and a women’s giant slalom and super-G at Las Lenas, Argentina, sometime in mid-August. Then there’s a long break until action resumes Nov. 24-26 at Park City, Utah.

Skiing Notes

Skiing on the tube includes last weekend’s World Cup racing at Shiga Kogen, Japan, on Channel 4 Saturday at noon; “American Skier” with Hank Kashiwa on Channel 7 Saturday at noon; National Alpine Ski Championships at Crested Butte, Colo., on Channel 3 (Santa Barbara) Saturday at 2 p.m. and on Channel 7 Sunday at noon; “Ski World” with Bob Beattie on ESPN Sunday at 2:30 p.m., featuring Sun Valley, Ida., and the mogul finals of the World Freestyle Championships at Oberjoch, West Germany, on ESPN Sunday at 3 p.m.

The Jeep/Eagle Challenge, a free recreational race on a NASTAR-type course, will be held Saturday at Mountain High and Sunday at Heavenly Valley. Registration is from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on race day, followed by the first of two runs at 11 a.m. . . . Former U.S. downhill racer Holly Flanders is conducting daily racing clinics this week for women competitors in the Corporate Ski Challenge at Alpine Meadows. . . . The U.S. Ski Assn.'s National Junior Freestyle Championships are scheduled today through Sunday at Telluride, Colo. . . . Gregory Evangelatos of Los Angeles won three gold medals last week in the U.S. Blind Alpine Championships at Vail, Colo.

The Great American Ski Chase, a series of seven cross-country races, concludes Sunday with the 50-kilometer California Gold Rush at Royal Gorge, near Donner Summit. Less experienced skiers can enter a 25K race. . . . Gunde Svan of Sweden won the Nordic World Cup men’s championship with 170 points, 16 more than Vegard Ulvang of Norway, who was 14 ahead of Torgny Mogren of Sweden. Elena Valbe of the Soviet Union took the women’s title with 167 points, followed by Alzbeta Havrancikova of Czechoslovakia with 105 and Tamara Tikhonova of the Soviet Union with 93.


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