Skiing : Skiers Are Running Out Before the Snow Does

What do skiers do in the summer, after the snow runs out?

Most just put away their gear and turn to other activities--sailing, golf, climbing, whatever turns them on--until next Thanksgiving.

But then there are those who can't get enough. The word for them is to head south. To accommodate the fanatics, Argentina and Chile have built ski resorts that are usually open from June to October, and so have Australia and New Zealand.

Racers and would-be racers can train on Mt. Hood or Mt. Bachelor, in Oregon, during June, then either go south or fly to Europe, where glaciers such as those at Kaprun, Austria, and Zermatt, Switzerland, hold their snow year-round.

This summer, there will be World Cup races in mid-August at Thredbo, Australia, for the men, and at Las Lenas, Argentina, for the women, with points counting in the 1989-90 standings. Las Lenas will also play host to the first Pan American Winter Games in early fall.

At the other extreme are ski-resort employees who have just spent five months or so shoveling snow and slipping on the ice. As soon as the lifts shut down, their only thought is to be "outta here" and on a plane for Hawaii or the beaches of Mexico.

Of course, the season hasn't ended yet. Although only two ski areas, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, are still open in the Southland, recent storms in the Sierra mean that most of the major resorts to the north will continue operating well into April, or for as long as skiers keep showing up. Alpine Meadows, near Tahoe City, will again shoot for a Memorial Day closing, and Mammoth Mountain always likes to come as close to July 4 as possible before bringing out the bikes.

Sugar Bowl, near Donner Summit in the Northern Sierra, is reviving the Silver Belt race, which it held every spring from 1940 through 1975. Today's competition will attract about 100 men and women in the U.S. Ski Assn.'s Masters division for a 10 a.m. start on the Mt. Lincoln giant slalom course.

Next year, as part of Sugar Bowl's 50th anniversary celebration, the Silver Belt will be an invitational for top racers of all categories, past and present, plus a sprinkling of celebrities.

The biggest winner in the National Alpine Ski Championships at Crested Butte, Colo., this week was Diann Roffe, 21, who took the women's giant slalom and tied Tamara McKinney, 26, for first place in the slalom.

The other women's champions were Kristin Krone, 20, in the super-G and Hilary Lindh, 19, in the downhill.

In the men's competition, the winners were Kyle Wieche, 21, in the giant slalom; Felix McGrath, 25, in the slalom; Tommy Moe, 19, in the super-G, and Jeff Olson, 23, in the downhill.

Phil Mahre's bid for the U.S. Pro Tour's championship in his first season on the circuit fell 25 points short as he finished third in the season's final slalom last Sunday at Sugarbush, Vt. Sweden's Jorgen Sundqvist, who was fourth in the race, won the title with 550 points and $92,450.

Mahre, 31, who had 525 points and earned $53,500, said: "It's been a fun season; it's been long--14 weeks--and it's hard to believe the whole thing is over, but I'll be back next year."

Actually, it's not quite over. Mahre and the other pros are competing at Sapporo, Japan, this weekend in the Fujitsu World Ski Festival, and then they'll return for the $120,000 Audi Quattro World Pro Championships April 5-9 at Aspen, Colo.

The Women's Pro Ski series, which ended last weekend at Mammoth Mountain, was also won by a Swede, rookie Catherina Glasser-Bjerner, who compiled 372 points, 34 more than runner-up Andreja Leskovsek of Yugoslavia.

U.S. freestyle skiing is alive and well after Coach Wayne Hilterbrand's strong team brought home the Nations' Cup, finishing just ahead of Canada.

Jan Bucher of Salt Lake City won the final World Cup event of the season at Suomu, Finland, this week to wind up as the women's ballet champion, and Nelson Carmichael of Steamboat Springs, Colo., took the men's mogul title. Lane Spina of Reno finished second in the men's ballet standings to Hermann Reitberger of West Germany.

The National Freestyle Ski Championships will be held next Saturday through April 6 at Breckenridge, Colo., and one of the contenders will be Bruce Graybill, 31, of Brentwood, who is coming back from injuries and hopes to be on the U.S. team in the 1992 Winter Olympics at Albertville, France.

Although aerials are his specialty, Graybill finished second in a dual mogul event earlier this month at Bear Mountain.

After the Nationals, he plans to spend his summer working out at Lake Placid, N.Y.

Skiing Notes

Skiing coming up on television includes the World Freestyle Ski Championships on ESPN Sunday at 3 p.m., PST; the National Alpine Ski Championships on Channel 7 next Saturday at 12:30 p.m., and the U.S. Pro Tour finals on ESPN next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ESPN will also show taped highlights of the National Freestyle Ski Championships April 9 at 3 p.m. and the World Pro Championships April 15 at 11 a.m.

Jim (Moose) Barrows, former U.S. Olympic racer and coach, expects more than 600,000 runs to be made this season in the Marlboro Ski Challenge, which he manages. "A total of 18 American resorts are now involved," Barrows said. "This has enabled recreational skiers throughout the country to get a taste of racing on an easy, 18- to 20-gate course for just 50 cents a run." Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley are the only California ski areas participating in the program, now in its sixth year.

Winter Park, Colo., will play host to more than 150 athletes in the weeklong National Alpine Disabled Ski Championships starting Sunday. The event should also provide the resort with a chance to prepare its forces for the 1990 World Disabled Ski Championships, which it will conduct next Feb. 24 through March 7 in conjunction with First Interstate Bank of Denver.

More than 300 law-enforcement types, including a team from the L.A.P.D., are expected to take part in the eighth annual Saab National Peace Officers Ski Race next Tuesday through April 1 at Snowmass in Aspen, Colo. . . . Copper Mountain, Colo., will hold its second annual Toyota Celebrity Ski Challenge next weekend. Among the anticipated entrants are Shari Belafonte, Esai Morales and Michael Nouri.

Sun Valley, Ida., said it will operate through May 1. . . . Homewood, at North Lake Tahoe, plans to open 160 acres of expert ski terrain in its Quail Face Bowl next winter. . . . Big Mountain, near Whitefish, Mont., announced that it will spend $4.8 million on expansion this summer, with a big chunk going to the construction of a high-speed, detachable quad chairlift to replace the existing No. 1 double chair.

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