Tubular thrills; New tubing courses drawing crowds at area ski resorts | SierraSun.com

Tubular thrills; New tubing courses drawing crowds at area ski resorts

Fresh powder, sunshine and brand new skis. You’re ready to swoosh, glide and carve your way down the mountain … any mountain. In fact, crusty snow and 5-year-old skis and you’re still ready to hit the lifts.

The problem? The kids.

“Mommmmm, daaaaad…I don’t wanna ski.”

No matter, bundle them up and send them to the tubes. The snow tubes.

The art of snowtubing is slipping and sliding its way onto many area ski resorts. Children, adults and anyone who wants some snowplay without worrying about ski poles or extra large boards can hop on a tube and take to the slopes with minimal equipment and zero skills.

“It gives people who don’t ski something to do,” said Mandy Eichelberger, a Northstar-at-Tahoe employee who was working at the resort’s tubing run on a recent afternoon. “This is the first year it’s been open and I hear we’ve made lots of money already, more than expected.”

Tubing activities were especially popular over the holiday weekend.

“It’s wildly popular,” said Judy Daniels, Northstar’s public relations director. “We had so many people over the weekend, there were 50 people in line at all times.”

With a fresh pile of powder coating the two tubing runs at Northstar recently, a handful of tubers gave the large, round, rubbery sleds a whirl.

Alyssa Cooper and her twin sister, Jenai celebrated their eighth birthday with oversized tubes, snow caps and an afternoon of shoving off down the hill and hoofing it back up.

“It’s my birthday present. I like it because it’s good for little kids,” Alyssa said.

Also enjoying the tubing run for the day was Tom Mccue and his 6-year-old son from the Bay Area.

“This is our first time (snowtubing) but we’d definitely come back,” Mccue said. “My son bailed on skiing this morning, so this is his experience in the snow today.”

Depending on the weather and the type of snow on the ground, snowtubing can be a different experience each time. If speed is what you’re after, save the snowtubing experience for a day when the snow is packed down and slick with ice. You’ll shoot down the run and whip your way back and forth along the lips and outer edges of the tubing lane.

If a relaxing cruise is more your style, pick a day where the powder is soft, fresh and thick; and a hefty shove is needed to get your tube moving.

“Today with the new snow, the runs are really slow,” Eichelberger said.

Snowtubing is offered at Squaw Valley, Northstar and Soda Springs. At Squaw, tubing is $11 for adults and $8 for children. This includes the cable car ride to High Camp and the rental tube. The tubing run is open from 4 to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

At Northstar, tubing runs are open from noon to 5 p.m. and the cost is $5 for two hours. At Soda Springs, tubing is included in the $15 lift ticket and you must be at least eight years old to participate. The runs are open from 11a.m. to 4 p.m.

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