Resorts rush to be the first on the hill

RENO, Nev. - Tempted by the first light winter storm of the season and armed with sophisticated snowmaking equipment, at least two Sierra ski resorts are moving up the traditional Thanksgiving opening by two weeks, offering a run or two as early as Thursday.

''We always try to be traditionally first open,'' said Boreal spokeswoman Carrie Roberts.

The resort near Truckee, Calif., north of Lake Tahoe, will have two lifts operating on Thursday, beating Heavenly by one day.

''It's definitely exciting that we get to open first,'' Roberts said. ''On Veteran's Day, a lot of people have the day off.''

At Tahoe's south shore, Heavenly Communications Coordinator Molly Cuffe said 4 to 8 inches of snow from last weekend's storm is being augmented by machine-blown crystals to open up about 1,200 skiable feet on one run with a foot to 18 inches of snow.

The resort was able to open in October the past two years.

Roberts said Boreal was being teased by a light snow on Wednesday to add to the 10 to 11 inches on the ground.

''It's small flurries. I'm just glad it's not raining,'' she said. ''Watch for obstructions and don't bring your brand new skis.''

The resorts are benefiting from colder temperatures that don't melt the snow. Heavenly's vast snowmaking network covers about 69 percent of the mountain, which straddles the California-Nevada state line.

The forecast through Thursday calls for no precipitation, variable clouds and highs in the 50s with lows just below freezing.

Both resorts are offering reduced rates - $20 per day for adults at Boreal and $15 at Heavenly. Kids can ski at both areas for $10.

Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley plan to open Nov. 20. Other resorts are waiting to see what the weather brings.

At Kirkwood, spokeswoman Tania Magidson is torn between loyalty to the resort, which hopes to start operations Nov. 19, and her wedding plans.

''My personal projection is Dec. 8,'' she said. ''It's wishful thinking. I'm getting married outside on the 22nd of November and if the resort opens on the 19th, I am in huge trouble.''


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