Northstar California preps for 40-year birthday celebration | SierraSun.com

Northstar California preps for 40-year birthday celebration

Brooke Rose
Special to the Sun

Courtesy Chris Bartkowski / NorthstarOlympic gold medallist and snowboarding icon Shaun White carves inside the 22-foot Superpipe at Northstar California, which celebrates its 40th birthday this weekend.

TRUCKEE, Calif. – This Saturday, Northstar California Resort will celebrate its 40th birthday with festivities hosted by team athlete and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.

“As we look back at this resort’s history, the families who’ve been here since the beginning all tell a similar story,” said Northstar COO Bill Rock. “They came here because of the people, because of the community, and because it’s a place they can all gather away from their busy lives to really enjoy just being together in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

“I’m honored to be a part of that legacy, and we’re working hard to make sure it continues to be one of the best family resorts in the country.”

On Dec. 22, 1972, Northstar (formerly known as Northstar-at-Tahoe) turned its first lifts for skiers and riders on what is now the front (or Mt. Pluto) side of the mountain.

In the early years, lift tickets were limited, and families would race to the village early to buy their day passes before they ran out.

The system is a far cry from today’s internationally-acclaimed resort offering, but the community and atmosphere still closely resemble its original roots.

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Bill and Marilyn Forni bought their first ski condo at Northstar-at-Tahoe in 1973 after Bill took a break from skiing and was treated to a couple of glasses of wine in the village.

“It was a fluke,” Forni says.

The Forni family was living in Santa Rosa with their kids when they invested in their slope-side, one-bedroom residence. Intended as a vacation home, the family spent every following summer at the resort.

“The kids just slept on the floor,” said Marilyn Forni. “We didn’t have to worry about them.”

The Fornis say their kids would take off to ski in the winter and explore the trails in the summer for hours. Because Northstar funnels everyone into one spot from most places on the mountain, Marilyn Forni said she felt safe letting her kids explore the mountain on their own.

Eighteen years ago, the Fornis moved to Northstar permanently and are still a stronghold in the community today. Their story is common among those who came to the resort in its early years – drawn by the new project “in the middle of nowhere” just outside the Lake Tahoe Basin, they came for the skiing and stayed for the people.

As for the changes along the way, “we’re slowly getting adapted,” Forni says. “We’ve been going to the pizza parlor ever since it opened, and it’s awfully nice to have a movie theater here.”

“It’s only going to get better,” commented Paul Daily, a long-time friend of the Fornis who bought his condo in 1974. “It’s the best thing I ever did.”

Northstar has sustained upward and outward growth since the early days, and the resort continues to offer exceptional service to resort guests. With top-ranking terrain parks year-over-year, Northstar’s team athletes are a testament to the competitive edge the resort has maintained throughout its evolution.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and X-Games Champion Shaun White calls Northstar home today and will be here for the Birthday Bash this weekend.

“I’m honored Northstar asked me to help them celebrate their 40th birthday. In true Northstar fashion, we’re going to do it big,” said Shaun. “I’ll be giving out snowboarding pointers at the Burton Academy Clinic and doing some apres celebrating in the Village.”

Other Northstar team members include top slope-style competitor Chas Guldemond, who this past weekend claimed a second place finish in the slopestyle contest at the Winter Dew Tour; X-Games Big Air Gold Medalist Torstein Horgmo; X-games slope-style and big air athlete Eero Ettala; and Olympic Superpipe athlete Elena Hight, as well as amateur athletes Danny Toumarkine, Aspen Spora and Toby Miller.

In addition to having one of the only 22-Foot Superpipes in the region, Northstar will soon push the limits again with cat-skiing along Sawtooth Ridge.

“There is so much opportunity,” said Rock. “Northstar has potential to be one of the best resorts in the nation, and I look forward to the next 40 years.”

A recently released plan to expand the resort further exposes Vail Resorts’ plans to elevate the experience for its guests.

The plan features on-mountain improvements including more skiable terrain and year-round activities.

“I didn’t realize it at the time what a great spot it was – and it is a year-round resort. The camaraderie and the friendship that we’ve made,” Daily said. “Just to pass it on to the grandkids, I hope they enjoy it as much as we do.”