Record snow in West should lead to lengthy ski season


RENO, Nev. -- Storms that left record levels of snow in the Sierra Nevadas last week cheered ski-area operators and the Reno travel industry, even though the storms caused considerable damage elsewhere in the West.

Anytime you get 18 feet of snow youre going to have a great spring ski season, said a spokeswoman for Heavenly, the largest resort at Lake Tahoe.

Heavenly has dubbed the 2004-2005 season the Epic Winter because January snowfall as of the 10th day of the month had already surpassed the ski resorts 10-year average for the entire month.

Guests are skiing on some of the best snow theyve seen in their lives, she said.

Although news reports focused on the closing of the Reno-Tahoe Airport (twice in a week), the halting of traffic on major highways to the Sierra Nevadas and the derailment of an Amtrak train in the heavy snow of the mountains -- followed by deadly mudslides in California -- the Reno areas attractions nevertheless grabbed some of the limelight.

Its gotten more people thinking about Reno-Tahoe as a great ski destination, said a spokeswoman for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. Its been great publicity.

For the last four years, the authoritys campaign, Reno-Tahoe: Americas Adventure Place, has promoted skiing and other outdoor activities to distinguish the area from Las Vegas, which has been grabbing market share. The media attention will help boost that campaign, she said.

In California, meanwhile, the storms damaged the Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula, where about a 200-square-foot piece of land 200 yards from the green of the 18th hole slid into a cove. The damage will be repaired and should not affect play, according to Pebble Beach.

Overall, southern California is recovering after fierce wet and windy weather devastated some areas, including the small town of La Conchita in Ventura County, where mudslides slammed into homes and killed several residents.

LA Inc., the tourism agency for Los Angeles, reported no damage to Universal Studios or any areas popular with vacationers.

Everything is open and operating normally, she said. None of the road problems is long-term.

She said she didnt think the storms caused any trip cancellations or loss of tourism.

Today, weve got blue skies and the sun is shining. The weather is back to beautiful.

To contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].

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