Squaw Valley USA to hold opening extravaganza Saturday | SierraSun.com

Squaw Valley USA to hold opening extravaganza Saturday

Linda J. Bottjer
Sun News Service

In the year 1960 enthusiasm rang across the nation.

The boom of the earlier decade continued its surge as John F. Kennedy declared his candidacy for president, Elvis returned from his oversea stint in the Army and in a place most Americans, let alone the world had never heard of, the VIII Olympic Winter Games began.

Squaw Valley had first tasted victory five years prior when a slim margin of two votes snatched the host city honors from the dominant European countries of Austria, Germany and Switzerland and brought the Games back to America for the first time since 1932.

It was a gutsy gamble staging a campaign for a global event considering the region was severely underdeveloped at the time with just one hotel and no concrete plans for further development.

However, with the announcement that the world was coming magic soon happened on the mountains.

Fifty years later the enchantment continues and Saturday Nov. 21 is the kickoff for Squaw Valley USAand#8217;s and#8220;50/60 Celebration,and#8221; which will culminate with the Olympic Heritage Celebration Jan. 8-17, 2010.

During the events of the past none other than Walt Disney himself, emblazoned with the lofty title of head of pageantry, co-ordinated memorable events like the release of 2,000 white doves into the cold mountain air and arranged more than 5,000 musicians and singers to rhythmic drama during the Gamesand#8217; two-week run.

This weekend will be a bit more low-key in terms of number of participants and frozen birds, but the drama will still be stellar.

Mother Natureand#8217;s participation in the form of providing snow remains iffy, but according to Director of Marketing Christine Horvath man-made snowmaking efforts are under way.

A lift ticket will bring more than the thrill of slaloming on Saturday. Jonny Moseley, the only skier to hold Olympic gold in 1998 followed with a silver award the next year at the X-Games, will be offering free and#8220;ski with Jonnyand#8221; classes.

Skiers of all ages, and possessing at least an intermediate level, will meet at the top of the Funital for a series of small jumps and other planned activities. Back flips, complete with vertical and horizontal rotations will be performed but as Horvath assures: and#8220;It will be Jonny, only, doing his famed Dinner Roll.and#8221;

Moseley who both stars in and narrates the latest Warren Miller movie and#8220;Dynastyand#8221; will join other dignitaries, such as Squaw Valley USAand#8217;s CEO, Nancy Cushing, on the KT Sundeck. A parade of Mighty Mites, young ski enthusiasts, will bring the light down the slopes to the official birthday cake.

After a champagne toast all eyes turn back to the mountain where local legend JT Holmes awaits.

Holmes, who has gained global acclaim for his base jumping abilities, will be performing the act as he sails from the cable car over 200 feet above ground.

Holmesand#8217; arrival onto terra firma hails the colorful explosion of a balloon launch from the top of the Funital and the cutting of the cake.

Afterward, everyone is invited to a screening of the 20-minute documentary and#8220;Squaw Valley USA-60 Legendary Years.and#8221;

The next few months will bring many memories and special moments to Squaw Valley. Olympains, past and present will make pilgrimages to reminisce with future medal holders.

In 1960 many derided Squawand#8217;s ability to successfully hold the biggest winter sporting event in the world. Success has brought 50 years of smiles to Squaw Valley USA enthusiasts.

Adult all day lift tickets are $83

Youth (13-18 year old) all day lift tickets are $61

Children (12 years old and younger) All day lift tickets are $10

Visit http://www.squaw.com or call (530) 583-6955