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Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong posts season-best sixth place at Birds of Prey

Squaw Valley’s Travis Ganong raced to his best finish of the season last weekend at one of the World Cup’s most iconic North American stops, the Xfinity Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Ganong posted the fastest time of any U.S. skier to open Birds of Prey, which features three days of racing and includes super-G, downhill, and giant slalom.

The 31-year-old Squaw Valley skier raced to a sixth-place finish under pristine conditions during Friday’s super-G race, posting a time of 1 minute, 11.59 seconds.

“I just really had a fun and enjoyable run,” said Ganong in an interview with U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “The snow was perfect — it was money, the Talon Crew did an awesome job preparing the track as always!”

Swiss skier Marco Odermatt, 22, took first place with a time of 1:10.90.

“Anyone can win a super-G, it’s about who is willing to take the most risk and pull it off, watching Odermatt — he took way too much risk, but somehow it worked out for him and that’s tough to beat,” said Ganong in an interview with U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “That’s on the limit super-G, and that’s what’s fast.”

Saturday’s downhill event was held under gusty conditions on a shortened course. Vermont skier Ryan Cocran-Siegle, 27, skied to the fastest time during the only training run, and then went on to post a career-best sixth place, leading the U.S. with a time of 1:13.47. Swiss racer and two-time defending downhill champion, Beat Feuz, 32, won the event with a time of 1:12.98.

Squaw’s Bryce Bennett, 27, finished in 39th place with a time of 1:14.73. Ganong finished 0.03 seconds behind Bennett to claim 40th place.

“While today didn’t go as planned, I’m super fired up with the beginning of the season here in North America and know that I have speed heading into the next races in Italy,” said Ganong in an Instagram post. “Fired up to currently be ranked 14th in the early season overall rankings (8th SG, 18th DH). Time to head home to (Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows) for some powder skiing the next days!!!!”

Neither Squaw Valley skier competed in Sunday’s round of giant slalom. Oregon’s Tommy Ford, 30, picked up his first career World Cup victory, taking first place in the event by 0.80 seconds with a total time of 2:31.25.

The World Cup will next head to Val d’Isere, France this weekend for giant slalom and slalom racing. Competitors will then head to Val Gardena, Italy the following weekend for super-G and downhill racing.

Women take on Lake Louise

The women’s alpine World Cup circuit traveled to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada last weekend for two rounds of downhill and a round of super-G.

Squaw’s Keely Cashman, 20, posted the top time of any local competitor in Friday’s downhill event, finishing in 39th place with a time of 1:35.37. Another skier representing Squaw Valley Ski Team, Alix Wilkinson, 19, was 45th with a time of 1:36.37. North Tahoe’s AJ Hurt, 19, posted the fastest first split time, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard, before crashing hard. Hurt is reported to be OK, but sat out the following day’s downhill event.

Czech skier, Ester Ledecka, 24, won Friday’s downhill race with a time of 1:31.87. Three-time defending World Cup overall champion, Mikaela Shiffrin, 24, led the U.S. with a time of 1:32.83 to take 10th place.

Shiffrin again led the U.S. in Saturday’s downhill event, finishing in second place with a time of 1:50.05. Cashman improved to 37th place with a time of 1:53.58, while Wilkinson posted the fastest time among local skiers, finishing in 1:52.91 to take 33rd place. Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer, 30, took first with a time of 1:49.92.

None of area’s skiers took part in Sunday’s super-G race. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, 30, was first with a time of 1:20.00. Shiffrin led the U.S. with a time of 1:21.18 to claim 10th place.

The women’s World Cup tour will head to St. Moritz, Switzerland this weekend for super-G and parallel slalom racing.

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

Heavenly Mountain Resort opening California Lodge on Wednesday

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Heavenly Mountain Resort will expand operations this week to include California slopes.

Heavenly will open the California Lodge base area Wednesday, ahead of its planned schedule, and most everything will be open above Gunbarrel Express and the aerial tramway.

Opening the California side greatly expands open terrain and the resort will have a total of 50 open trails on more than 1,200 skiable acres.

Skiers and riders will have access to terrain off of the Canyon Express, Sky Express, Powderbowl Express and Patsy’s chairlifts. 

Guests still must use the tram or chairlift to get back down to the lodge and parking lot. Heavenly officials said there will be no skiing or snowboarding access to the base.

The resort has received 109-inches of snow so far this season, and now is offering services from Heavenly Village, Stagecoach Lodge and California Lodge.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication to the Sierra Sun.

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation receives more than $160K from Vail Resorts CEO

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Today Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, New York Times bestselling author and founder of Elana’s Pantry, announced significant contributions totaling more than $2.8 million to further strengthen emotional wellness programs in more than 10 mountain communities where Vail Resorts operates. The second annual distribution of behavioral health grants issued by the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust (KACT) benefits over 40 non-profit organizations to reduce the stigma of mental illness, improve access to mental and behavioral health services and support collaboration within and among mountain communities.

Over this past year, the Katz Amsterdam Foundation has focused on connecting mountain communities on the topic of mental and behavioral health. In May, the Foundation hosted a convening of 60 mental health professionals from these communities, facilitating a conversation about similar challenges each community faces such as substance abuse, feelings of isolation, availability of providers and mental health outcomes. Following the meeting, community stakeholders agreed to align on a set of shared measures to support collective learning – focusing on progress in the following areas: social dynamics; mental health attitudes and knowledge; provider capacity; and affordability and accessibility of care. 

“It has been inspiring to see the shared desire that exists across each of our mountain communities to make a difference, to help others and to ignite a passion for creating truly healthy communities,” said Katz. “We are thrilled to be able to help unite so many incredible organizations and support their collective efforts to improve access to much-needed health services and reduce the stigma and misunderstanding around these issues.”

In California, the donations will support non-profits in South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe-Truckee. The grants announced today further enable collaboration and innovation across mountain communities in British Columbia, Washington, California, Utah, Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire. 

“The Behavioral Health Network of South Lake Tahoe (BHN) has established a robust network of providers over the last two years, collectively addressing mental health, substance use and social service support needs of individuals and families,” said Michael Ward, BHN Network Director. “This new funding award by the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust will enable the BHN to expand service capacity by hiring three new bilingual therapists at vital community service entry points, including Live Violence Free, Family Resource Center and Tahoe Youth and Family Services, as well as support the Lake Tahoe Unified School District in delivering school-based mental health services. The BHN and community are grateful for this investment by the Trust which will effectively increase access and positive outcomes for community members struggling with behavioral health issues. “

The KACT grants are in addition to the annual EpicPromise grants from Vail Resorts, which support more than 350 non-profits across the company’s mountain communities. EpicPromise grants for 2019/20 are being announced by Vail Resorts in December 2019 and January 2020. 

The KACT grant recipients announced today include:

Tahoe-Truckee, California: 

  • Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation: $160,500 to build community data collection process, complete community-wide mental health strategic plan and a sub-grant to support behavioral health services at Sierra Community House

South Lake Tahoe, California: 

  • El Dorado Community Foundation: $300,000 to support the Behavioral Health Network collaborative, including several sub-grants to increase access to bilingual providers (Live Violence Free, Family Resource Center, Tahoe Youth and Family Services) and provide crisis response services to students at Lake Tahoe Unified School District 

Eagle County, Colorado: 

  • Eagle Valley Behavioral Health: $525,000 to support behavioral health initiatives and organizations including four sub-grants for crisis services (The Hope Center), community behavioral health navigation (Eagle County Paramedics), access to bilingual behavioral health services (Mountain Family Health Services), support to coordinate behavioral health programs (Eagle County Public Health Department), and a voucher program to increase access for those in need. 

Summit County, Colorado: 

  • Building Hope: $270,000 to support therapy scholarships, expansion and evaluation of an anti-stigma campaign, and community-wide evaluation of behavioral health program impact
  • Family & Intercultural Resource Center: $100,000 to support growth of the ALMA program to increase bilingual peer support services in Summit County
  • Peak Health Alliance: $100,000 to support the launch of new nonprofit health insurance purchasing
  • Summit County Community Care Clinic: $90,000 to support continued growth and sustainability of the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy program serving students across the county

Crested Butte, Colorado: 

  • Gunnison Valley Health Foundation: $75,000 to implement an outreach campaign to raise awareness of the Peer Support Specialist Program and hire additional peer specialists

Summit County, Utah: 

  • CONNECT Summit County: Up to $150,000, 3:1 matching grant to support expansion of mental health resources online platform and launch anti-stigma campaign
  • Park City Community Foundation: $300,000 to support seven community-based behavioral health projects and non-profits, including Communities that Care, counseling services for students across the county, bilingual counseling services, Summit County Drug Court and the Healthy Living Clubhouse
  • University of Utah: $150,000 to support expansion of new clinic and increase access to behavioral health providers in Summit County

Vermont and New Hampshire: 

  • Vermont Community Foundation: $245,050 to support eleven community-based behavioral health projects and organizations across Goshen and Newport, New Hampshire and Ludlow and Stowe, Vermont

Whistler, British Columbia: 

  • Sea-to-Sky Community Services Society: $75,000 CAD to support youth behavioral health services at the new Squamish Youth Resource Center
  • Whistler Blackcomb Foundation: $130,000 CAD to convene community assessment and strategic planning effort to identify and fill gaps in behavioral health programs and services
  • Whistler Community Service Society: $120,000 CAD to convene key leaders to help bring a Crisis Stabilization team to Whistler
  • Whistler Learning Centre: $103,270 CAD to support programming with First Nations including life skills training, culturally appropriate peer support groups, and the development of program to train First Nation therapists

Stevens Pass, Washington: 

  • Upper Valley Cares: $50,000 to provide seed capital for Upper Valley Cares to launch a free health clinic and provide behavioral health counseling

Source: Press release submitted by the Katz Amsterdam Foundation

1,000-year project: Artist to track changes in Lake Tahoe Basin with camera

An artist is starting a 1,000-year photography project in hopes of changing the impacts of climate change at Lake Tahoe.

World-renowned conceptual artist and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats has partnered with Tahoe PublicArt and Sierra Nevada College to install a camera on the East Shore Trail that will capture changes over the next 1,000 years.

“I’ve been interested for quite a while with the idea of how we can reconcile our lifestyle with the impact on the environment,” Keats said.

Keats has been experimenting with long exposure pinhole photography for many years. He installed a 100-year exposure camera in Berlin, Germany but wanted to explore an even longer exposure.

Working with a slowly fading pigment in a pinhole camera, Keats created a camera with a photograph that will theoretically develop over a 1,000 years. He has installed one camera and hopes to install three more that will capture changes in the basin.

The project is called Tahoe Timescape.

“Essentially, Tahoe Timescape is a public art project that aims to photographically document the next 1,000 years of environmental change in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” Marina Lowe, Program Administrator for Tahoe Public Art said.

The project will act as a time capsule of the way we, in the present, have addressed climate change.

“The future generations can see the decisions we’ve made collectively and the impact we’ve had on the environment,” Keats said.

Even if the project fails in the long run, like if the photograph doesn’t develop properly, Keats believes the project can still make an impact in the short term.

“It will make people think about what [the people in the future] might see and change the photograph,” Keats said. “It’s a feedback loop between the past and the present.”

Keats picked Lake Tahoe as the site of his project because it gave him a good opportunity to track environmental change in an entire basin.

Because Keats is not a Tahoe local, he has put the responsibility of the project in the hands of Sierra Nevada College.

SNC has a legal responsibility for the cameras and the photographs, so in a 1,000 years, they will ensure Keats heirs get custody of the photographs.

Also, students of SNC will be the custodians of the cameras. Every three years, the students will go out to the site of the cameras and make observations of the changes in the environment that they see.

“It’s exciting to work with the school because it allows for a more immediate interaction with the progress,” Keats said.

“Every three years, they’ll go to the cameras to envision what the cameras might show.”

Every time the students make their observations, they will be present an exposition about the changes they see, good or bad.

One of the major purposes of the project is to get people in the present to think about the impact they will have on the future.

“I think immediately, I hope that [where we place the camera] becomes a place where people can contemplate even the little things that maybe they could be doing better,” Lowe said.

“If people can see that if we make the necessary changes, we can see a better future much further down the road.”

In addition to the camera on the East Shore Trail, the team hopes to place cameras at Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City, one at Heavenly Ski Resort and Homewood Mountain Resort.

They are still working on special-use permits for those sites.

To find out more about the project, visit http://www.tahoepublicart.com/tahoe-timescape.html.

Laney Griffo is a reporter with the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at lgriffo@tahoedailytribune.com.

California pro climber falls while scaling El Capitan at Yosemite

A professional climber’s fall from El Capitan in Yosemite hasn’t dissuaded her from attempting the feat again next season, the Associated Press reports.

Emily Harrington, of Olympic Valley, fell Nov. 24 while trying to summit El Capitan in one day, an accomplishment only a few have achieved. She was with two others when she fell about 50 feet before her rope stopped the descent, reports state.

The AP reported that Harrington had no broken bones, but did have a torn arm muscle and a concussion.

Harrington, 33, said it was the worst fall she’s suffered.

The path she took, called Golden Gate, is 3,000 feet. She finished it in 2015, but took six days, reports state.

Harrington said she’ll try the climb again.

— The Associated Press

Lake Tahoe Basin and El Dorado County roadwork schedule through Dec. 14, 2019


U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Motorists can expect the eastbound and westbound turn lanes from U.S. Highway 50 at Bedford Avenue and the eastbound off-ramps at Broadway and Schnell School Road to be closed from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday for the annual Placerville Christmas Parade. 


U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Work continues on a $5.2 million project to upgrade metal beam guardrail and construct concrete barriers at 89 locations from the Red Hawk Undercrossing to 1.9 miles west of the junction with State Route 89 in Meyers. Completion is expected in January 2020.

 December 11-15

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) from Shingle Springs Road to Ice House Road: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control or the #2 lane closed at various locations from 7 p.m. to noon Sunday through Saturday for guardrail replacement work. 

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Work is in winter suspension on a $14.1 million project to replace the Echo Summit Sidehill Viaduct, located 7 miles west of South Lake Tahoe. This project is replacing the current bridge, built in 1939, with a new structure to meet current design and safety standards. Completion is expected in fall of 2020. For more information, visit way2tahoe.com 

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Work is continues on a $57 million project from the “Y” intersection at State Route 89 to the Trout Creek Bridge in South Lake Tahoe. This project is building new drainage systems to collect and treat stormwater runoff, rebuilding curbs, gutters and sidewalks, widening the highway to allow for bike lanes and resurfacing the roadway. Completion is expected this winter or next spring.     

December 9-12

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) from B Street to Trout Creek: Motorists can expect alternating lane closures throughout the project from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday for striping work.

State Route 89 (Placer County): Work is substantially complete on $35 million project in Tahoe City to build a new bridge over the Truckee River with roundabouts on either end of the highway realignment, drainage improvements, lighting, signage, landscaping and a shared-use path connection. No traffic-interfering work is scheduled. The new bridge and roundabouts are open. Remaining work includes punch list items and modifications to the lighting for the roundabout signs.

State Route 193 (El Dorado County): Work continues on a $6.1 million project to build retaining walls at two locations on SR-193 between Kelsey Road and Rock Creek Road and to install medal beam guardrail. Construction is being done behind k-rail with a signal in operation 24/7 for reversing one-way traffic control. 


State Route 28 (Placer County) from Jeffrey Lane to Center Street in Carnelian Bay can expect one-way traffic control from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday for tree work.

State Route 28 (Placer County) from Pino Grande to Beach Avenue in Kings Beach: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for sewer work. 

State Route 49 (El Dorado County) from the junction with State Route 193 to Saint Florian Court in Cool: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday for guardrail repair work.

Unexpected schedule changes may occur. For current information on roadwork, delays, road conditions and emergency closures, call the voice-activated Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) at 1-800-427-7623 (ROAD) or visit Caltrans’ “QuickMap” website at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/

Source: Caltrans

. .

Vance Lura 1939 – 2019

A gentle soul and a most cherished man left his earthly existence on July 28th, 2019. November 28th would have marked his 80th birthday.

Born in 1939 in Hawley, MN, he grew up with his 4 brothers on a farm with no running water or electricity. He excelled in his FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter, and attended the University of Minnesota for 3 semesters before dropping out to chase girls. After embarking on a renegade sales trip to Florida selling B grade plastic combs, he discovered he had a knack for sales.

Vance moved to Southern California, began working in circuit board manufacturing and soon became a respected salesman. He was relocated to Palo Alto to handle a few small accounts like Apple, Atari, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun Microsystems, catching the wave that became Silicon Valley. In 1988 he married his soul mate, Donna, and had a son, Gavin. The family moved to Squaw Valley in 1992 and enjoyed everything the area and community had to offer.

Donna knew him as a wise friend and spiritual mentor in their early years. “We developed into a partnership of deep affection and mutual respect. To have shared my life with him was a blessing I will always cherish. He was gentle, kind, loving and unique in every way. We danced together through life with both our feet and our hearts, to the music of our love.”

Gavin deeply appreciates the closeness he had with his dad. “I always felt tremendously supported and loved by my dad, who instilled so many of his qualities in me through the times we spent together. I returned home to be with him as Alzheimer’s progressed – for nearly three amazing, difficult years I was by his side, making our final memories and helping him enjoy life as much as he still could.”

Vance profoundly affected those who knew him in ways beyond the superficial, through his wisdom and his presence. He played with passion, laughed with contagious enthusiasm and loved whatever he did all the way to the end.

Homewood opens for 2019-20 season

Homewood Mountain Resort kicked off the 2019-20 season today, opening to the public after allowing season pass holders on the slopes yesterday.

“We’re excited to get the winter season underway, and to offer skiers and riders an authentic mountain experience with unreal views of Lake Tahoe from every trail,” said Kevin Mitchell, Homewood Mountain Resort general manager. “Thanks to significant early season snowfall, skiers and riders can expect incredible early season snow conditions that are only going to get better with the snow that is in the forecast this weekend! We anticipate the incoming storm will allow us to open more lifts and terrain quickly.”

Located on Tahoe’s West Shore, Homewood is offering trail access served by the Old Homewood Express with downloading from the Madden Chair to return to the North Lodge. Homewood has two lifts spinning, giving access to nine runs. The resort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with food and beverage options in the North Lodge from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the bar open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Big Blue View Bar will serve hot cocoa and coffee from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and other available services will include retail and equipment rental.

Forecasters at OpenSnow predict another significant storm over the weekend, with the potential for another 1 to 2 feet of snow at lake level through Sunday. As conditions permit, Homewood will open additional lifts and terrain as quickly as possible.

For those who haven’t yet purchased a season pass, prices start at $679, and include free ski days at more than 20 partner resorts across the country, featuring no blackout dates or restrictions. Daily lift tickets are available for as low as $64 per day when purchased online in advance.

Winter at the West Shore Cafe

On Dec. 13, West Shore Cafe will begin winter dinner service, host its annual tree lighting on the pier, and offer Christmas tree ornament crafting, photos with Santa Claus and Christmas caroling with the Peanuts Gang Trio. Dining guests who bring toy donations valued at $25 or more for Toys for Tots will receive 10% off their bill (excluding alcohol).

All season long, West Shore Cafe, located lakeside directly across the street from Homewood Mountain Resort, will host complimentary Après S’mores from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Friday through Monday this winter and during holidays. Après Ski Specials will feature $5 draft beer, $5 house wine and $3 off specialty cocktails and a limited lunch menu from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday and during holidays.

New Years

Holiday revelers are also invited to ring in 2020 at West Shore Cafe on Dec. 31, with a special dinner menu, live music, party favors and champagne toasts. Family-friendly dinner service begins at 5:30 p.m., with a second, 21-and-over seating beginning at 8:30 p.m. Advanced reservations and pre-payment are required.

For more information, visit SkiHomewood.com.

Mountain Minds Monday moving to Alder Creek Cafe

Tahoe Silicon Mountain, is Moving Mountain Minds Monday to Alder Creek Cafe, located at 15275 Alder Creek Road in Tahoe Donner. The Monday, Dec. 9, discussion is on advances in ski technology.

Tahoe Silicon Mountain, a local network of entrepreneurs and professionals, is pleased to welcome three pathfinders of the ski industry, Lauren Okerman of Coalition Snow, Luke Jacobson of Moment Skis, and Phil Pugliese of Pugski. The panel will discuss changes in ski technology and the challenges of working in the ski manufacturing industry over the past several years, and what the future of skis may look like.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.. Dinner will be available, and we use a pay-what-you-can model ($5 minimum). Before and after the presentation, there will be time for networking. The event will also be available on YouTube as a livestream and after the event: bit.ly/YouTubeTSM

— Sierra Sun staff

Jeff Middlebrook: Allow me to enlighten and educate

The current atmospheric CO2 level passed 400 ppm in the past couple of years, and the hand-wringing hysterics are proclaiming doom-and-gloom for planet Earth. Well, allow me to enlighten and educate the mostly ignorant masses.

Several times over the past few hundred millions of years of Earth history the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have exceeded 2,500 ppm, even going over 7,000 ppm during the 150-million-year reign of the dinosaurs. 7,000 ppm CO2 is roughly 17 times higher than current levels and yet life not only thrived, it thrived with greater species diversity and shear numbers than life on Earth in 2019 A.D. Yes, there were no polar ice caps and sea levels were a few hundred feet higher than today, but life thrived. Mother Nature cares nothing about beach front condos and ski resorts for self-infatuated humans!!

All of this AGW (anthropogenic global warming) hysteria is really just a bunch of “poor me” anthropocentricity. It’s ignorant and pathetic! If self-defined environmentalists who claim they love Mother Nature really loved “her” they would respect that “she” doesn’t march to the beat of humanity’s drum, and they would hail the fact that “she” kills off species everyday and that “she” will probably do away with us too!

My theory is that all the carbon we are releasing back into the atmosphere is actually approaching the natural norm, and that we are actually unwittingly doing Mother Nature’s bidding. We are returning all the carbon that once freely circulated in the biosphere that was sequestered for millions of years by random cataclysmic events.

Jeff Middlebrook