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Heavenly, Northstar open this Friday

From a release:

Heavenly Mountain Resort and Northstar California Resort will open for the 2020-21 winter season this Friday, Nov. 20. Opening Day and week-of reservations for Heavenly and Northstar began Wednesday. Pass holders can make early-season reservations from Nov. 20-29 for Heavenly and Northstar.

Priority Reservation Days for the core season (Dec. 8-April 4) for Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood are also available for pass holders. For more information and to make reservations, guests should visit EpicPass.com.

Heavenly and Northstar will follow the State of California’s guidance for indoor dining within the state’s Purple Tier and there will be no indoor dining offered at either resort. While the resorts will not offer any indoor dining options until further notice, both resorts will have grab and go food options available for outdoor consumption. Restrooms will be open with limited capacity. Heavenly and Northstar encourage guests to bring their own water, food and snacks.

Heavenly will have beginner and intermediate trails open for skiing and snowboarding with Patsy’s, Maggie’s and Ridge Run trails open. Skiers and riders must use the California Base Area to access the mountain, with the Gunbarrel Express, Heavenly Tram, Powderbowl Express, Canyon Express and Patsy’s chairlifts opening at 8:30 a.m. To begin the season, there will be no skiing or snowboarding access from the Heavenly Gondola.

The Heavenly Gondola will open for sightseeing on Friday Nov. 20, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 3. The ticket window will be open at 9:30 a.m. Beginning Dec. 4, sightseeing will be open based upon availability determined day-of and will have reduced hours of operation, with day-of purchase beginning at 11 a.m. to prioritize skiers and riders. There will be no online purchase option for sightseeing and guests much purchase at the Gondola Ticket Windows.

Northstar will open with a variety of beginner trails: Lumber Jack, Skid Trail and Upper and Lower Main Street. Skiers and riders will access trails using the Big Springs Express Gondola, Highlands Gondola, Vista Express, Arrow Express and The Big Easy chairlifts. Opening day will begin at 8:30 a.m. and guests can enjoy the mountain until 4 p.m.

Heavenly and Northstar will continue to expand and open terrain as conditions allow. Kirkwood Mountain Resort is planning to open on Friday, Dec. 4. Guests are encouraged to visit SkiHeavenly.com, NorthstarCalifornia.com and Kirkwood.com for updates on terrain, conditions, and our approach to safety this winter.

Early Season Conditions
With limited early season terrain, skiers and riders can expect certain days to book up and as resorts expand terrain, they will be able to accommodate more guests. Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood require all skiers and riders to observe all posted signs and warnings. Closed trails may contain hazards due to limited natural snow coverage and snowmaking operations. For the safety of all guests, please keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

Epic Pass Provides Exclusive Early Season Access for Pass Holders
Prices for Epic Pass options will increase on Sunday, Nov. 22. With Tahoe resort openings just around the corner, Vail Resorts Epic Pass holders get the mountains to themselves with exclusive early season access through Dec. 7 with any Epic Pass product, including the Tahoe Local Pass, Tahoe Value Pass or an Epic Day Pass.

Source: Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood resorts

Squaw’s Cashman takes second in GS at national championships

Local alpine racer Keely Cashman opened this week’s 2020 U.S. Alpine Championships in strong fashion, claiming a runner-up finish in Monday’s giant slalom event at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Squaw Valley Ski Team’s Cashman, 21, finished her two runs with a combined time of 2 minutes, 18.83 seconds, which was 0.63 seconds off the first-place time laid down by Washington’s Katie Hensien. Cashman claimed first place in giant slalom during the 2019 national championships. This year’s event replaces the national championships that were scheduled for last March in Panorama Canada and Aspen, Colorado.

Sugar Bowl Academy alumna Gwen Wattenmaker, 19, claimed 14th with a combined time of 2:22.07. Another Sugar Bowl product Ainsley Proffit, 19, was racing but didn’t finish her second run. AJ Hurt, 19, of Carnelian Bay, was also competing, but didn’t finish her first run.

Racing continues today at Copper Mountain with men’s giant slalom.

Top collegiate golfer set to make Barracuda debut

The Barracuda Championship is set to tee off tomorrow at Old Greenwood Golf Course, and will feature a number of top and up-and-coming PGA players.

Among those competing will be three-time NCAA All-American and winner of the Haskins Award and Ben Hogan Award, Sahith Theegala.

The Pepperdine University standout, who is making his sixth PGA Tour start, is set to make his Barracuda debut tomorrow, and earlier today, gave his thoughts on competing at the tournament.

“Its nice to be playing in my home state of California,” said Theegala during a Wednesday press conference. “I’ve always loved the Tahoe and Reno, Truckee area.”

Theegala was Pepperdine’s first National Player of the Year. In his final collegiate year he won the Southwestern Invitational, Alister Mackenzie Invitational and the Australian Master of Amateurs. In four playing seasons over five years, he ended with the best scoring average (70.61) in Pepperdine history.

He said that after his first couple of PGA events, he’s beginning to settle in and find his groove.

“I’m transitioning pretty well. I feel like my game is coming along pretty well, and I’m starting to get really comfortable being out here, and that was a big thing … the first couple of weeks I was too excited,” said Theegala.

“Just the first couple of weeks, seeing guys like Rory, DJ, Brooks. Seeing them in person it’s like, ‘wow, I grew up watching these guys, and they’ve been dominating and all of a sudden I’m competing against them’ … the star-struck part of it definitely took a little bit to get over.”

Coming into this week’s tournament, Theegala said the layout at Old Greenwood along with it being the only event to use the Modified Stableford scoring format, suits his style of play.

“I’m a cutter of the ball so this course really sets up well for me because I can hit 12, 13 cuts off the tee, which is awesome,” said Theegala.

“Pretty much every par-5 is reachable and a couple of drivable par-4s, so it’s definitely exciting.”

Theegala and a field of more than 60 PGA golfers are set to tee off tomorrow at 7 a.m. for the opening round, which will be aired on The Golf Channel.

“I’ve always been a competitor and I wouldn’t play a tournament if I didn’t want to win, so obviously the end goal is coming down the stretch Sunday to give myself a shot at the championship,” added Theegala.

High school sports delayed until January

Fields and courts will be empty this fall following an announcement by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

High school sports won’t begin until January under new framework laid out Thursday evening by the association and seasons for all sports it governs will be shortened to six competitive weeks.

Prep sports in Truckee and North Tahoe will start with traditional winter sports like basketball and wrestling. The first practices are set to begin on Jan. 2, with the first contests on Jan. 15. The winter sports season will come to a close on Feb. 20.

High school sports that are played in the fall will begin their first practices on Feb. 20, except for football, which will be allowed to hold practices on Feb. 13. The first games will be played March 5 and will run through April 10.

For sports like soccer and football, competing and holding practices in the Truckee-Tahoe area during the winter months will likely be challenging.

“I think I have enough support in the town to make sure the football field is consistently cleared,” said Josh Ivens, head coach of Truckee’s varsity football team. “As long as the ground is hard enough, we will keep that football field cleared.”

Ivens said the Class 3A Northern League has already begun talks about the format of a six-week season, which may include five league games followed by a matchup in week six of the two teams with the best records from the newly formed divisions in the Northern League.

Spring sports will open practice April 3, and will start competition on April 16. The season will run through May 22.

“The adjustments were reviewed by and have unanimous support of the NIAA Legislative Commission which is made up of the superintendents of each Nevada school district with an NIAA member high school,” said the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association in its release on Thursday. “The NIAA staff consulted closely with northern and southern league/region presidents of each of the classifications in crafting the adjustments.”

The association said no state tournaments are expected to be held for 2020-21 high school sports.

Top-ranked collegiate golfers receive sponsor exemptions to Barracuda Championship

This year’s two top-ranked collegiate athletes – Sahith Theegala and Peter Kuest – will play in the upcoming 22nd annual Barracuda Championship on sponsor exemptions.

This year’s tournament will debut at its new home at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Golf Course in Truckee, July 27 through Aug. 2, without on-site spectators.

Recently the United States Golf Association announced that the Barracuda Championship will serve as a qualifier for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y. The top two players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties will earn spots in the field for the championship tournament in late September.

Theegala is a member of Pepperdine’s nationally top-ranked team and winner of both the Haskins Award and Ben Hogan Award, Theegala will continue his newly minted PGA TOUR career at this year’s Barracuda Championship.

Theegala was Pepperdine’s first National Player of the Year and three-time NCAA All-American. In his final collegiate year he won the Southwestern Invitational, Alister Mackenzie Invitational and the Australian Master of Amateurs. In four playing seasons over five years, he ended with the best scoring average (70.61) in Pepperdine history.

A finalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award, he made his professional debut at this year’s Travelers Championship in June.

Brigham Young University’s Kuest finished his award-winning collegiate career as a PING First-Team All-American. Kuest is one of the most accomplished golfers in BYU history with 10 tournament wins.

Kuest also recorded the best single-season stroke average in school history with a 69.42, beating his own record from last season (69.79). He was a final watch list honoree for the Haskins Award, named the Ben Hogan Award October Golfer of the Month as well as WCC Golfer of the Month for September.

He capped off his final collegiate year winning the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate, Saint Mary’s Invitational and finishing T1 at the Nick Watney Invitational. Kuest also made his professional debut at the Travelers Championship.

For more information on the 22nd annual Barracuda Championship PGA TOUR event, visit www.BarracudaChampionship.com.

Fish caps record-breaking ACC victory with dive into Lake Tahoe

STATELINE, Nev. — Mardy Fish capped off a record performance in the American Century Championship with a dive into Lake Tahoe.

Fish birdied the 18th, hoisted and kissed the crystal trophy then joined Steph Curry, Canelo Alvaraz and others in running and diving into the lake.

The former tennis Olympic silver medalist has been a favorite over the last several years, but he finally reeled in his first ACC title with 76 points, nine better than first round leader Kyle Williams.

The victory wouldn’t have happened, Fish said, without his record-breaking second round where he broke the Edgewood Tahoe course record and scored the most points ever in a round at the ACC.

“Thankfully I put it all together Saturday, because it wasn’t today and it wasn’t Friday,” Fish said. “I didn’t light it on fire, I had one great day. Maybe I was just due to win.”

Fish opened the door, slightly, two shots into the final round. Leading Williams by three points, 55-52, Fish found the water on his approach to the first hole while Williams hit a short iron to about 6 feet. 

Fish recovered by knocking a wedge close and making his putt while Williams missed his birdie attempt. What could have been a five-point swing ended up with Williams gaining a point, 55-53. 

That’s as close as it would get. Fish’s only weakness in the tournament was the first hole where he recorded bogey in all three rounds.

Fish birdied hole seven and his lead swelled to seven points.

“I’m proud of Mardy and am really happy for him,” Williams, the former NFL Pro Bowl lineman, said. “I know he has been beating on the door for a long time. I had my opportunities. I didn’t make today what I’d been making. I played pretty solid. I’m not going to complain.”

MLB Hall of Famer John Smoltz birdied No. 18 to slip past Curry into third with 58 points. 

The Golden State Warriors superstar started Sunday with four birdies in eight holes and was the top point scorer in the final round with 26.

NFL quarterback Case Keenum was fifth (54), three-time champ Mark Mulder eagled the final hole to move into sixth (52), Dell Curry, Derek Lowe and Vinny Del Negro ties for seventh and former champ Jack Wagner rounded outj the top 10.

Two-time defending champion Tony Romo withdrew before the final round after injuring his wrist on Saturday.

Squaw’s Travis Ganong hosts fireside chat

Squaw Valley Olympian Travis Ganong recently hosted a roughly hour-long discussion with girlfriend and fellow alpine racer Marie Michele-Gagnon and Canadian World Cup alpine skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis on everything from returning from injuries to their thoughts on the 2020-21 ski season.

The video was released yesterday by U.S. Ski & Snowboard via its Instagram page.

New sports museum granted more county funding

The Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation received another $150,000 in Transient Occupancy Taxes from Placer County for environmental work and planning for the Sierra Nevada Olympic and Winter Sports Museum, or SNOW Sports Museum.

The proposed 16,000-square-foot building will include state of the art exhibit galleries, a community meeting and event space, a multipurpose community room, a library, gift shop and café, and an archival and preservation area.

“We continue to retain and acquire more amazing memorabilia products,” said Jill Milne, executive director of the Squaw Valley Ski Museum Foundation. “We look forward to finding ways where we can get many exhibits out into the community so they can start to see some of the products.”

The museum will feature exhibits and displays dating back to the 1800s and offer educational opportunities for students and adults with lectures, films and interactive workshops, according to the museum’s website.

During fiscal year 2017-18, the foundation applied for the $150,000 grant for environmental analysis. The Board of Supervisors decided not to grant the funds until an environmental questionnaire was completed, which was done earlier this year.

Moving forward, Milne said they have grown their board of directors and advisory board, and are working on a dozen grant applications.

“We have developed a strong committee and we have a strategic plan to launch and reach out into a greater region beyond the Sierra Nevada,” she said.

Since 2008, the county has approved $712,000 in Transient Occupancy Tax funding for the project, including $225,000 in February for completion of architectural plans and project management.

“There’s a long history for support of the project by the board as well as the community and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association starting as far back as March 2008,” said Erin Casey, Placer County principal management analyst.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

Day 1: XC Junior Nationals get underway at Auburn Ski Club

The first day of competition at the 2020 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross-Country Junior National Championship is in the books.

The top young Nordic racers from across North America opened the weeklong championships today at Auburn Ski Club, returning one of the marquee competitions for up-and-coming cross-country racers to Donner Summit for the first time in five years.

Following Sunday’s opening ceremonies, which brought hundreds of racers and spectators to The Village at Squaw Valley, the championships got underway this morning with 5- and 10-kilomter classic races.

Nearly 200 female skiers, representing 10 different divisions, got things underway on a bright, warm day at Auburn Ski Club. Racers competed on a 5-kilometer course that had received a few inches of fresh snow from last weekend’s storm.

“The snow was really nice,” said women’s U20 champion Anna Parent. “It was a bit hard and slippery — it was good.”

Parent, a junior in high school from Canmore, Alberta, Canada, said competing at Donner Summit’s elevation played a big part in her strategy going into today’s event, which featured a field of 29 skiers.

“The elevation is significantly different. I definitely felt the elevation for sure,” she said.

Parent’s hometown of Canmore sits at around 4,800 feet, while the trails at Auburn Ski Club are at an elevation of roughly 7,200 feet.

“I went out nice and slow,” said Parent on her strategy. “I paced the hills, and then I went really hard on the flats, which, I thought paid off because if you go really hard over the hills at high elevation you’ll just die.”

Parent, who competes for Canmore Nordic Ski Club, finished today’s race with a time of 14 minutes, 53.4 seconds to claim a junior national title, and said the result is the highlight of her 2019-20 season.

“I came here because I wanted to prove myself in the U.S., because my goal is to get a scholarship for NCAA (Nordic racing),” she added. Canmore, who is in the Truckee-Tahoe area for the first time, said her goal is to attend the University of Denver.

Pearl Harvey, of the Intermountain Division (Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Western Wyoming), took second place with a time of 15:13.2. Johanna Craig, of Great Lakes Division, took third place with a time of 15:18.3.

Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy’s Grace Cisler led local skiers out of the Far West Division, claiming 21st with a time of 16:56.1.

The girls’ U18 division featured 94 skiers, and was won by Nina Seemann, of the New England Division’s Stratton Mountain School. Seemann finished the 5-kilomter course faster than any other female, regardless of age group, to claim first place with a time of 13:58.8.

From there, a pair of Rocky Mountain Division racers, Emma Reeder, of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, and Kate Oldham, of Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, took second and third, respectively. Reeder’s time of 14:28.7 edged Oldham by 0.1.

Auburn Ski Club’s Lily Murnane posted the fastest time of any local racer, finishing in 14th place with a time of 15:26.1.

In girls’ U16 racing, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Samantha Smith brought the Intermountain Division another podium finish by claiming first place with a time of 14:09.0. Sofia Scirica, of the New England Division, took second with a time of 14:53.7. Elsa Perkins, of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, was third with a time of 14:54.3.

Sugar Bowl’s Hayden McJunkin finished 25th out of 74 skiers to lead the area’s skiers with a time of 16:41.1.

Alaska, New England teams shine on day one

Skiers from the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center put together a dominant showing in the U20 male division, posting the four fastest times of the morning on the 10-kilometer course.

Ari Endestad led the team with a time of 26:02.3 for first place. Everett Cason (26:11.4) was second, followed by Kai Meyers (26:13.7) and Garrett Butts (26:21.1).

Auburn Ski club’s Nikolas Burkhart led the area’s skiers with a time of 27:3.1 to claim 10th place out of 53 racers.

In U18 racing, Will Koch, of the New England Division, took first place on the 10-kilomter course, topping the field of 101 racers with a time of 25:03.4. Koch had the fastest time of any male skier, regardless of age.

Alaska Division’s Alexander Maurer was second with a time of 25:25.9, followed by Walker Hall, of the Pacific Northwest Ski Association, in third place with a time of 25:43.1.

Auburn Ski Club’s Phoenix Sanchez was the fastest local, claiming 40th with a time of 27:59.9.

The final event of the day was the boys’ U16 5-kilomter race. Park City Ski and Snowboard’s Wes Campbell took the national title with a time of 13:36.1. Jack Lange, of the New England Division, was second with a time of 13:39.3, followed by Alaska Division’s Aaron Power in third place with a time of 14:04.6.

Auburn Ski Club’s Matthew Deluna led the local racers with a time of 14:57.7 to take 24th place.

Remaining schedule

The field of Nordic skiers will get a break from competition tomorrow as they prepare for Wednesday’s 1.3-kilomter freestyle sprints. Qualifying for the event will begin at 9 a.m. at Auburn Ski Club.

Following another break from racing, the athletes will return to Auburn Ski Club on Friday for the final individual event, a mass start freestyle race, featuring distances of 5, 10, and 15 kilometers.

The competition will come to a close on Saturday with a 3×3 kilometer classic relay. An awards ceremony will follow at 1 p.m.

For more information, visit XCJuniorNationals2020.com.

North Tahoe’s Nina Burt wins GS snowboard state title (UPDATED)

North Tahoe senior Nina Burt captured gold in giant slalom at today’s California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation snowboard state championships.

Mount Shasta senior Tate Harkness held more than a 5-second lead after the first run at Northstar California Resort, but crashed near the bottom of her second run, keeping Burt in first place. Harkness’ first run time of 39.41 seconds was the fastest of the morning, regardless of gender. The fastest boy was Colfax rider Tyler Suddjian, who finished his first run with a time of 43.51.

“I feel bad,” said Burt. “She’s really good. (Harkness) definitely deserved it more than I did.”

Burt finished with a combined time of 1:31.56 to win this year’s giant slalom title, which brings the top racers from the federation’s two snowboarding division’s. Oak Ridge sophomore Skylar Gray was second with a total time of 1:32.46. Foothill’s Clara Lindsay was third with a total time of 1:37.51.

From there, Truckee riders Ashley Parisi (1:37.65) and Morgan Just (1:40.22) took fourth and fifth, respectively.

Colfax rider Suddjian defends GS gold

On the boys’ side, Colfax junior Tyler Suddjian defended last year’s giant slalom state championship, finishing today’s event with the two fastest runs

“Today was a lot better than I expected,” said Suddjian on the course conditions. “I had raced here about two weeks ago and it was all solid ice, so today, definitely, was a lot better. That last snow we had, that’s what made a huge impact.”

Colfax junior Tyler Suddjian comes to a stop after winning today’s CNISSF giant slalom state title at Northstar.

Suddjian finished today’s giant slalom race in first place, claiming the state title by more than a second with a total time of 1:27.99.

“It means a lot to me,” said Suddjian, who won the combined state title last year. “It’s definitely one of my goals that I’ve been looking forward to all season.”

Suddjian has been dominant during the regular season, winning five of the six races this year. He said the regular season success created a lot of pressure as he stood atop his first giant slalom run this morning.

“It was a little nerve-racking in the beginning,” he said. “I was definitely eyeing up the competition.”

Pleasant Valley’s Tyler Mays was second with a total time of 1:29.34. Truckee’s Zac Kuch was third with a combined time of 1:30.42. Mount Shasta’s Ethan Weaver took fourth place with a total time of 1:31.18. Truckee’s George Skaff was fifth place with a total time of 1:31.75.

The state championships will shift to slalom racing tomorrow. The competition will begin at 10 a.m. at Northstar.

*This post will be updated with team results.