Like almost any year, 2011 brought proverbial highs and lows. The 2011 front-page headlines tended toward the negative: the Japanese tsunami, the European economic crisis and the Penn State scandal. Skiing and snowboarding provide an escape from the worries of the world, so not surprisingly, the big snowsports stories were more light-hearted.
5. IOC Adds Snowsports Olympic Events
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will mark the debut of ski halfpipe, women’s ski jumping, snowboarding parallel slalom, slopestyle skiing and slopestyle snowboarding. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision for ski halfpipe and women’s ski jumping in April. The IOC needed a little more time to ponder the snowboarding parallel slalom and slopestyle events but finally gave them the green light in July.
4. 2011-12 Season Snow Starts Slow
La Nina, the “little girl” in Spanish, was apparently washing her hair during the first part of the ski season. The cool water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific with the Spanish nickname were supposed to produce a parade of snowstorms starting in the Pacific Northwest. Instead, the weather transpired exactly the opposite of the long-range forecasts.
With a few exceptions including favorable conditions in the Southwest and a few bright spots in the Northern Rockies such as Grand Targhee in Wyoming, North American ski resorts rang in 2012 with less natural snowfall than anticipated (especially compared to the previous banner season—see story No. 1). Many resorts’ investments in extensive snowmaking proved valuable as die-hard skiers and boarders were still able to enjoy good times on the slopes. A top story for 2012 might be the season’s major snowfall turnaround, because meteorologists have already seen seen hints of a shift in January.
3. Lindsey Vonn Wins at Beaver Creek
Europe didn’t start the 2011-12 season strong for snowfall either, but the good news was that Lindsey Vonn had a chance to compete at home in a World Cup race originally scheduled for snowless Val d’Isere, France. The Vail, Colo., resident captured the super-G victory just down the valley in Beaver Creek on Dec. 7.
2. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Tie the Knot
A pair of California resorts near Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, announced a merger in September. After decades of anticipation, the seemingly inevitable business merger of the neighboring ski areas started serious speculation about a connection of the terrain. Troy Caldwell, the owner of the small parcel of land between the two areas, has long been open to the idea of joining the resorts. He could even provide a head start with 17 chairlift towers already standing on his land. Caldwell’s original plan to operate a private lift there never materialized.
1. Snow Piles Up to Record Levels in 2010-11 Season
Skiing on July 4th was common after a huge accumulation of snowfall in the 2010-11 ski season. For Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, the July 4th opening was just the fifth in its history. After a record-breaking 810 inches for the season, Squaw Valley had plenty of snow for July skiing and riding. Utah’s Snowbird Resort also set a record with 783 inches and wrapped up its season in July.