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New terrain, big investment help to reposition ski resort

JOHN SEELMEYER

The new terrain known as “The Chutes” that opens at Mt.

Rose-Ski Tahoe this year is rated double black diamond very difficult.

But terrain that’s beyond the ability of many skiers allows the ski area to reposition itself in the minds of winter sports enthusiasts, both regionally and nationally.

“We’re adding signature terrain to Lake Tahoe,” says Mike Pierce, marketing director at Mt.

Rose-Ski Tahoe.”Not everyone can ski it.

But everyone can aspire to ski it.” The 200 acres of new terrain feature a vertical plunge of nearly 1,500 feet features that Pierce and his team spotlight with stepped-up advertising into the Bay Area, a key feeder market.

They’re working, too, to get the message into the national markets Florida, Chicago, Texas that provide nearly half of the skiers on the slopes of Mt.

Rose-Ski Tahoe.

The ski area above Reno has a reputation as a locals-only slope, a perception that Pierce terms “pure myth.” Local skiers, he says, account for 50 to 55 percent of the crowds on the slopes.

The new terrain and other improvements at the ski area, Pierce says, are intended to begin moving Mt.

Rose-Ski Tahoe into the ranks of mid-range resorts in the Lake Tahoe region.

With the opening of The Chutes, skiable terrain at the resort increases to more than 1,200 acres and the vertical rise at Mount Rose will increase to 1,800 feet.

The resort is gearing up for increased traffic with the addition of a new six-passenger chairlift for its East Bowl terrain.

The new lift increases capacity by 33 percent over a quad chair that it replaces.

It will carry up to 3,600 skiers and snowboarders an hour to the summit in an average ride time just over three minutes.

Another consideration: The new chairs weigh nearly 1,000 pounds each and are heavy enough to operate in high winds during storms.

Total investment for the new lift as well as moving an older lift to serve The Chutes: About $4 million.

Next up in the development plan for Mt.

Rose-Ski Tahoe are a new lodge at the East Bowl on Slide Mountain and installation of top-to-bottom snowmaking at the East Bowl.

Still, Pierce said,”We’re still farmers.We have to have the snow come when it’s supposed to, and we have to have the cold weather come when it’s supposed to.”