| SierraSun.com

‘Let them play:’ Parents, students involved in protest at Truckee High School

Students from Truckee High School gather along Donner Pass Road for the “Let them Play” protest last Friday.
Justin Scacco
With high school sports still in flux, students from Truckee gathered for a protest to play sports.
Justin Scacco
With the help of parents, students from Truckee High School organized a protest to play sports this school year.
Justin Scacco
Students, teachers, and parents spoke out in support of playing sports during Friday's “Let them Play” protest.
Justin Scacco
A group of students show off their sign during the “Let them Play” protest last Friday at Truckee High School.
Justin Scacco
Several teams and individuals from Truckee High School were among those favored to compete for state championships in 2020-21.
Justin Scacco

Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.

As February approaches, time is running out and seasons are slipping away in what would have been a year marked with championship aspirations for several of the area’s teams and individuals.

“All of the sports this year were supposed to be very strong this year at Truckee High School,” said Truckee senior Lauren Tanner. “We’re going to do everything we can to try and make sure we can play.”

Students from Truckee said they heard about California’s “Let them Play” protest through social media, and then quickly spread the info among themselves. As momentum grew, parents jumped in to help organize the protest last Friday at Truckee High School. Several dozen students and parents gathered at the high school to give speeches and display signs as community members driving along Donner Pass Road honked their horns in support.

“A lot of us got to talking about how important these seasons are for us,” added Tanner on helping to organize the event. “I’m a senior, and so this is my last year to play at Truckee High School. I was hoping to win three state championships this year.”

Tanner played on last year’s state champion girls’ soccer team, a program that has won four straight state titles. She was part of last year’s girls’ basketball team, winning the program’s first state championship. Tanner is also on the track and field team, which had its season cut short in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Not having sports leaves me a little bit empty,” she concluded. “I find myself not knowing what to do, and I’m just not as happy as I am when I’m not in that competitive environment.”

Others at Truckee touched on the importance of athletics as a way to connect with other students. Senior Taya Matt said her freshman year on the soccer team was of particular importance as it introduced her to upperclassmen as she entered high school.

“Sports play such a big role in high school and community — especially in Truckee,” said Matt. “Also, it really helps people socially because you can connect with people you wouldn’t usually hang out with … It’s such a big part of my experience and that’s what I loved about high school.”

Senior Ethan Flynn said the desire to return to competition is strong among student-athletes at the school.

“I just want to get back to it, and as a captain of multiple teams, I know a lot of my teammates do as well. If I can lead by example and help that, then I’ll do everything I can,” said Flynn.

“It’s been tough not having something to look forward to, but hopefully we can change that by getting to a lot of people and make a difference. Maybe just one person or a hundred, anything helps. I’m glad all these people showed up and hopefully something good comes out of it.”

Currently, students within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District are allowed to participate in conditioning drills. The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association revised its 2020-21 schedule in July with plans of beginning winter sports on Jan. 15. Due to restrictions in Nevada, basketball and wrestling are prohibited at this time, according to the reopening guidance issued by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who, on Jan. 11, extended that state’s pause for an additional 30 days.

While basketball and wrestling seasons are in danger, one of the area’s top winter sports is set to begin next week. The California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation is scheduled to hold the season’s first snowboard race on Monday at Alpine Meadows. The alpine ski season, which is regulated by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, is also set to get underway with giant slalom Wednesday at Alpine Meadows. The event will mark the association’s first competition for the area’s high school athletes in roughly 10 months.

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District follows regulations from the California Department of Public Health Youth Sports Guidelines, regardless of decisions made by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, which governs alpine skiing, wrestling, and basketball for the area’s schools.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

Ski resorts promote respect, education for annual ’Safety Day’

As Ski California member resorts in California and Nevada continue to adhere to new health and wellness procedures this season to support public safety, they are also gearing up for the third annual Ski California Safety Day on Saturday, Jan. 23.
Photo courtesy of Sugar Bowl Resort
Learn more about Ski California, its participating resorts in California and Nevada, and the Ski California Mountain Safety Guide at skicalifornia.org.
Photo courtesy of Sugar Bowl Resort

As Ski California member resorts in California and Nevada continue to adhere to new health and wellness procedures this season to support public safety, they are also gearing up for the third annual Ski California Safety Day on Saturday, Jan. 23. Each resort will host its own activities —mostly virtual this year — to engage with and educate guests on best practices around safety, and the importance of respect and personal responsibility when skiing or riding.

“Although this season is unique in so many ways with health and safety initiatives related to the COVID-19 pandemic, our resorts focus on guest safety every day,” said Michael Reitzell, Ski California president. “Respect for employees and fellow guests is a cornerstone for safety, making it a top priority this season.”

While not an exhaustive list, in addition to education through their social media channels (using #SkiCalifornia and #SkiSafety), sharing the Ski California Mountain Safety Guide and airing Ski California’s full suite of safety videos, here’s what some Ski California member resorts are doing to support Safety Day this year:

Bear Valley Resort: Resort guests will find Bear Valley mascot “Beary The Safety Bear” promoting mask wearing and social distancing and passing out candy to those following the resort’s safety measures. Those who submit their best safety selfie by tagging #bvsafetyselfie on Instagram will be entered to win a free season pass. The resort will pick their top five finalists and ask its followers to vote for their favorite to select the winner.

Big Bear Mountain Resort: In addition to sharing the resort’s safety related policies on social media ahead of and during Ski California Safety Day, Big Bear Mountain Resort will share guest safety photos that feature the tag #BBMRSkiCASafetyDay. Between January 22-24, those who make a new helmet purchase at the resorts’ retail stores will receive a free Nala the Patrol Dog plush toy.

Boreal/Woodward Tahoe: The resort will share a new video focused on its safety culture through its social media channels, website and email to help educate guests about what’s expected of them when they visit to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

China Peak: National Ski Patrollers will share Ski California’s Mountain Safety Guide with visitors.

Diamond Peak: Play Ski Safety Bingo by taking a selfie or photo of the safety topics on the bingo squares during your ski day at Diamond Peak and post on your social feed or stories with @diamondpeak #skisafety. Get a behind the scenes tour of the Village Terrain Park and learn about terrain park construction, safety, maintenance, and etiquette for a Park 101 Session. And, meet Patrol Director Kari Brandt and Fred, the Diamond Peak Patrol Dog, on the snow behind the Base Lodge to learn more about what they do to keep skiers and riders safe.

Dodge Ridge: For the week leading up to Safety Day, Dodge Ridge will educate guests about skiing and riding safely through in-resort signage and distribution of pocket-sized Skier Responsibility Code cards. Ski school instructors will introduce a safety message of the day with each of their classes, and resort ski patrollers will offer safety tips and explain the purpose of Safety Day with resort guests.

Homewood Mountain Resort: In advance of Safety Day, Homewood will release a series of short safety videos through its social media channels that highlight the resort’s focus on chairlift safety, dressing for winter weather, respect and injury prevention.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe: Skiers and riders at Mt. Rose on Safety Day will be invited to participate in a three station scavenger hunt. Participants will be required to visit a minimum of two stops positioned around the resort to be entered into a raffle that will feature goggles, helmets and hoodies as giveaways.

Sierra-at-Tahoe: In recognition of Ski California Safety Day, this year Sierra-at-Tahoe’s efforts will focus on its new partnership with ski and snowboard safety app, AirFlare. AirFlare transforms your mobile phone into a wilderness rescue beacon that provides search teams multiple ways to find you on and off grid. The resort will also focus heavily on respect through a social campaign that is currently underway, as well with a social media contest encouraging guests to “Show Us Your Safety” by posting photos on social media of themselves or their families practicing/encouraging mountain safety and using the hashtags #SkiCalifornia #SkiSafety #CaliforniaWinter. Guests who participate have a chance to win a Sierra-at-Tahoe prize pack.

Snow Valley Mountain Resort: “Snowsports Safety Stations” featuring safety related information will be center stage in the rental shop and positioned around the base area for two weeks leading up to Ski California Safety Day to remind resort guests to “Think Safety First on the Slopes.” In addition, a complimentary lift ticket that can be used anytime during the remainder of the season will be offered with any helmet purchased in the resort’s Sport Shop on Saturday, January 23rd ($95 value).

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows: Guests can participate in an interactive safety quiz on @squawalpine’s Instagram Stories by answering questions about guidelines and policies in the Mountain Safety Guide. Guests who answer all questions correctly are automatically entered to win a pair of Oakley Goggles.

Sugar Bowl Resort: On Safety Day, the Sugar Bowl resort leadership team will “Reward Respect.” From the lift lines to the park, guests will be recognized for being safe and being kind. Wear a mask, get rewarded. Observe appropriate distance, get rewarded. Call your drop in the terrain park, get rewarded. Sugar Bowl will announce giveaways via social media and encourage skiers and riders to “get caught showing respect.”

Learn more about Ski California, its participating resorts in California and Nevada, and the Ski California Mountain Safety Guide at skicalifornia.org.

Source: Ski California

Tahoe Fund to receive proceeds from Alpenglow Sports’ speaker series

Ingrid Backstrom, a professional skier of international fame, will present “Little Big Mountain Skiing,” showcasing a few of her best trips and ski lines.
Photo by Jim Delzer

It’s not too late to register for the fourth event of the 2020-21 Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker Series and support the Tahoe Fund. Scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, the free live streamed event will feature a presentation by professional skier Ingrid Backstrom followed by a live raffle that includes coveted outdoor gear. Tickets for the live raffle are available for purchase upon registration for the free event, with proceeds benefiting the Tahoe Fund.

An eagerly anticipated winter storytelling tradition for North Lake Tahoe’s adventure community, the Alpenglow Sports Winter Speaker Series attracts over 4,000 attendees annually and has successfully generated more than $50,000 per show for local nonprofit organizations. The Tahoe Fund is the beneficiary of the Feb. 4 event.

Backstrom, a professional skier of international fame, will present “Little Big Mountain Skiing,” showcasing a few of her best trips and ski lines. She will also share how she has continued to manage her ski career while becoming a mother.

“The Tahoe Fund is honored and humbled to have been selected by Alpenglow Sports as one of the nonprofits benefiting from its successful winter speaker series,” said Jim Porter, Tahoe Fund board member. “Over the past 15 years, Alpenglow has done a phenomenal job sharing the inspiring stories of athletes in our community and beyond, while motivating people to give back to organizations that keep our community moving forward. We are thrilled to be part of this event and grateful for the support.”

Alpenglow Sports will give away over $10,000 in outdoor gear during the live broadcast. Everything from skis to jackets and other outdoor swag will be part of the raffle giveaway, with entries starting at just $5. Event registration is free and available online at https://www.alpenglowsports.com/winter-speaker-series/.

Learn more about the Tahoe Fund and the environmental improvement projects it supports at www.tahoefund.org.

Source: Tahoe Fund

Three-time champ Luebke set to return as Freeride World Tour announces schedule

The 2021 schedule has been announced for the word’s top big mountain skiers and snowboarders.

The Freeride World Tour laid out its plans for the year during a Wednesday press conference, announcing late February for its first event of the season.

“The current situation will give the 2021 season a special twist,” said CEO Nicolas Hale-Woods in a news release. “However, the riders are keen to get back on snow and our destination and industry partners are fully supporting us. We will, no doubt, once again be inspired by the continued progression of the athletes. From the Juniors, to the Qualifiers through to the World Tour, a new chapter of the sports and the Freeride World Tour will be written in 2021.”

The start of the 2021 season includes the return of local three-time snowboard champion Sammy Luebke, who finished in third place last year after having captured world titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Another rider with local ties, Jonathan Penfield, is also slated to return this season after finishing fifth place overall in 2020.

The Free Ride World Tour is scheduled to kickoff Feb. 20-26 at Ordino Arcalis, Andorra.


The Tahoe Junior Freeride Series announced it will get the season underway Feb. 6-7 at Squaw Valley.

The stop at Sqauw Valley will mark the first of four for the area’s top young skiers and snowboarders. Officials from the tour indicated at this time the U.S. Junior Championships are unlikely to be held.

For more information or to register for competitions, visit www.tahoefreeride.org.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

Tahoe Fund partners with SOS Outreach to get youth outdoors

The Tahoe Fund announced its support of SOS Outreach with a $30,000 program grant to expand its impact in North and South Lake Tahoe. SOS Outreach is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for underserved youth to experience the outdoors while participating in a mentorship program that is designed to prepare them for life’s challenges.
Courtesy of SOS Outreach

When he participated as a mentor for the SOS Outreach program for the first time last year, Crew Stover had few expectations. He finished the first day of skiing at Northstar with his group of fifth graders with a renewed sense of purpose and understanding of the real, impactful ways the program gives back to the kids and the community.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to be part of the SOS Outreach program. Not only is it awesome to see these kids learn how to ski or snowboard and become passionate about recreating in the mountains, it’s a privilege to help them grow as people,” said Stover who is also a program and outreach coordinator for the Tahoe Fund. “The SOS Outreach program curriculum both on and off the mountain helps kids build confidence and develop skills they’ll use throughout their lives.”

The Tahoe Fund announced its support of SOS Outreach with a $30,000 program grant to expand its impact in North and South Lake Tahoe. SOS Outreach is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for underserved youth to experience the outdoors while participating in a mentorship program that is designed to prepare them for life’s challenges. Every winter, kids who would not normally have the opportunity, enjoy five ride days at Northstar or Heavenly with their mentors. Off the slopes, they engage in social service projects that help improve their local community.

In North and South Lake Tahoe, more than 250 kids learn to ski and snowboard, learn leadership skills and the importance of protecting the environment through service projects each year. In the summer months they learn to fly fish, river raft and mountain bike.

The effectiveness of the SOS Outreach program is clear. Over the past 10 years, SOS programs have led to more kids graduating from high school, attending college, finding careers and giving back to their communities. In fact, 96% of SOS youth plan to attend college, and 61% return to mentor peers.

“Our programs are designed to help underserved youth in our community discover joy through outdoor recreation they might not otherwise have access to, feel included, overcome challenges, improve their mental health, and become strong leaders,” said Theresa Papandrea, senior regional director, SOS Outreach. “We’re thrilled the Tahoe Fund supports our goals and has agreed to help us deliver this important programming to local kids.”

“The goals of the SOS Outreach program align perfectly with the Tahoe Fund’s commitment to sustainable recreation and environmental stewardship,” said Katy Simon Holland, Tahoe Fund board member. “On behalf of our donors, not only are we pleased to contribute to such a valuable program, we appreciate the opportunity for our staff to participate as mentors to the local youth who are part of this incredible program.”

Learn more about the Tahoe Fund and the programs it supports at www.tahoefund.org.

Source: Tahoe Fund

World Cup: Hurt scores career-first super-G points

AJ Hurt
U.S. Ski & Snowboard

Lake Tahoe alpine racer AJ Hurt picked up her first career World Cup points in super-G, finishing 26th during Sunday’s race at Saint Anton, Austria.

The 20-year-old Squaw Valley Ski Team racer was second among skiers from the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, posting a time of 1 minute, 21.02 seconds.

Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami, 29, claimed first place with a time of 1:17.82. Isabella Wright, 23, led the U.S. team with a time of 1:20.83 to finish in 24th. Squaw Valley skier Keely Cashman, 21, crashed during training in Partenkirchen, Germany, which forced her out of the race at Saint Anton.

“Sad to say that I took a bit of a spill in training the other day and will have to sit out the upcoming races … I’m feeling good for the most part,” said Cashman in a post to Instagram.

Hurt continued to pile up World Cup points this week with a 29th place finish on Tuesday in slalom at Flachau, Austria. She has now scored World Cup points across four disciplines — parallel, giant slalom, slalom, and super-G.

Women’s World Cup racing is slated to continue with a pair of giant slalom events this weekend at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

NHL ‘blown away’ by Lake Tahoe; Perfect fit to host outdoor games


STATELINE, Nev. — National Hockey League officials wanted a picturesque landscape where they could build an ice rink surrounded by snow-coverered mountains for maximum visual impact, and Lake Tahoe “fit the bill.”

A rendering of what the ice rink will look like at Edgewood Tahoe. Provided

NHL officials said on Monday that they were blown away with Lake Tahoe and its proven track record for hosting major events.

“We went to Tahoe, a very small group, and we were blown away by the setting, the blank canvas that it presents for us,” NHL chief content producer Steve Mayer said. “It’s hosted major events before. We felt very confident, especially in a short time frame, that we would be able to hold a world-class event and Tahoe will be a great host. It was a pretty easy decision.”

The NHL officially announced on Monday it will hold two games on an outdoor rink set up at Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada.

Vegas will play Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 20 and Boston faces Philadelphia on Sunday, Feb. 21 on a temporary rink set up on the 18th hole at Edgewood, site of the annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament. The rink will be on the 18th fairway, near the green, and will take approximately two weeks to build after construction starts on Monday, Feb. 8, just after Super Bowl weekend.

“We’re thrilled to be coming to Lake Tahoe,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman during a Monday conference call where he officially announced the league’s new event, NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe. “We were looking for a picturesque, magnificent place with a lake and mountains that are snow covered. Lake Tahoe fit the bill and we’re thrilled to be going there.”

Tahoe was chosen over several locations, including six or seven states and three provinces in Canada, officials said while declining to name the other host candidates.

The relationship Edgewood and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority have with NBC and ACC officials also came into play.

“Our strong relationships really laid the groundwork,” said LTVA President and CEO Carol Chaplin. “We knew we could host them this year and handle their needs.”

“It certainly helped,” Mayer said of the longstanding relationships that helped make the decision.

Chaplin said the process to host the NHL wasn’t long and started in the fall.

“We had some Christmas Eve phone conversations with the NHL family,” Chaplin said.

The golf course offers plenty of space to set up a temporary rink and the resort at Edgewood allows the league to have a bubble-like environment, which worked during the ACC in July.

No fans will be allowed to attend and players will be under strict protocols due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the visuals on TV and social media should be spectacular.

Players, team, league and NBC officials will stay at Edgewood and Harveys Lake Tahoe.

“It’s truly millions of dollars of exposure and we couldn’t have a better endorsement with the NHL choosing to come here,” Chaplin said. “This is something people can almost touch and feel and get close to through the TV. It’s invaluable, we can’t buy this.”

As far as boaters braving the cold and parking along the shoreline like at the ACC, Chaplin said she would discourage that and that it won’t be a good place to watch.

“There’s gotta be some crazy people getting out there right?” Chaplin said. “But there will be security and no access so we would discourage that. It won’t be great viewing from there.”

Colorado Avalanche General manager Joe Sakic is returning to Edgewood where he sank a hole-in-one worth $1 million at the 2011 ACC.

“Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful areas in the world and a perfect spot for an outdoor game,” Sakic said in a statement. “Although we wish our great fans could be there in person, we know they will enjoy watching what will be a great weekend of hockey.”

Both games will be played at noon on NBC. The games will be the 31st and 32nd such events since the league started producing outdoor games in 2003.

Along with the ACC, Edgewood has hosted the 1985 U.S. Senior Open and 1980 U.S. Amateur Public Links.

“If you’re a sports fan, this is a big deal,” Chaplin said. “We’ve hosted the ACC and Amgen, now we have professional hockey to highlight. For us it means showing the postcard of our destination to millions of viewers.”

Bill Rozak is the Editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at brozak@tahoedailytribune.com.

High school sports on hold

As a surge in COVID-19 cases sweeps through the region, the status of high school sports in the Truckee-Tahoe area remains on hiatus.

Much remains uncertain regarding high school sports in 2021 due to the Truckee and North Tahoe High schools falling within the guidelines of governing bodies in California and Nevada.

Both high schools contest winter sports under the umbrellas of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association and California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation. They also fall under the restrictions in place by California, Placer County, and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

Winter sports are scheduled to begin this month, but due to a directive by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, basketball and wrestling are being put on hold.

The first contests allowed are scheduled for Jan. 14, but that date, according the the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, may be adjusted.

Athletic directors at both Truckee High School and North Tahoe High School indicated that requirements for practice and contests remain murky at this time.

The association, according to Executive Director Bart Thompson, filed a formal request with the governor’s office in Nevada asking for the directive to be revised, allowing for wrestling and basketball to take place. The association said the request was met without a decision by the governor’s office.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

NHL plans outdoor games in South Tahoe

The National Hockey League announced plans for a pair of outdoor games this February in Lake Tahoe.

The NHL has yet to officially announce the games, but according to a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, two games will be played at Edgewood Tahoe Resort on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21.

The first game is reported to be between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, followed by a matchup between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.

Fans will not be allowed to attend the games. The annual Winter Classic matchups will be televised by NBC.

A temporary ice rink will reportedly be constructed near Edgewood’s 18th hole.

The NHL season is slated to begin Jan. 13, and will consist of 56 games.

Schoonmaker posts career-best performance, skis to 14th at World Cup event

JC Schoonmaker races to a second-place finish last December at the Snowshoe Thompson Classic.
Justin Scacco/jscacco@sierrasun.com

North Tahoe alumnus James Clinton (JC) Schoonmaker put together a career-best performance earlier this month, posting a 14th-place finish at the World Cup cross-country sprint event in Dresden, Germany.

Clinton, 20, managed to reach the quarterfinals of the sprint race, marking the second World Cup event in a row he was able to finish in the top 20. He later went on to help the U.S. Nordic team to a 20th-place finish in the team sprint event on Dec. 20.


Alpine racers battle in Bormio

The area’s top alpine skiers had a rough go in Bormio, Italy this week.

Squaw Valley’s Bryce Bennett, 28, took 37th in super-G on Tuesday. Bennett then crashed in Wednesday’s downhill event.

Fellow Squaw Valley athlete, Travis Ganong 32, fared better, claiming 15th in super-G and 31st in downhill.

Teammate Ryan Cochran-Siegle made history this week by ending a 14-year drought for American males in super-G, standing atop the podium in the event for the first time since Bode Miller won in Dec. 2006.

Another Squaw Valley product, Keely Cashman, 21, was also on the World Cup scene, but did not qualify for the finals of the slalom event at Semmering, Austria on Tuesday.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.