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Lack of snow not expected to hinder skiing, snowboarding

While some ski resorts are left waiting for snow to fall, others are already open

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Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013 12:00 am

Clear skies and seasonally mild temperatures are likely to continue through Christmas.

That’s not heartening news for ski resort operators, who are hoping for a good flurry of storms, but most say they have enough snow — or other wintry options — available to stay busy.

“We might have a change late next week, but that’s only a possibility at this point,” said Randy Adkins, a meteorologist for Accuweather.com, a private weather forecasting firm. In Lodi, daytime highs will be in the 60s. Highs during the day in the Sierra will be in the 40s, Adkins said.

A bit of overcast on Christmas day is all that’s expected in the high Sierra, he said.

This month has been one of the driest Decembers on record for several parts of Northern California.

Even so, some ski resorts have snowmaking machines churning out the white stuff, and other resorts offer other activities to draw visitors.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, which has snowmakers, has been able to open 27 percent of its mountain so far, due to its ongoing preparations to keep the slopes smooth and free of brush and debris.

“It’s not our first rodeo,” said Kevin Cooper, PR communications manager at Kirkwood. “It usually sets up to be a pretty big season after January.”

Resorts that use snowmaking machines, like Bear Valley Ski and Snowboard Resort, were able to open as early as November, and keep the philosophy to try to always stay open.

“It’s a great fun time, and we have a lot of activities that make it feel like the holidays,” said Rosie Sundell, director of marketing at Bear Valley.

Bear Valley plans to have Santa visit the lodge for pictures and he will make an appearance on the slopes on Christmas Eve.

Kirkwood resort will ring in the new year with their annual Torchlight Parade, where skiers will ride the lift up with torches and ski their way down to see a fireworks display.

However, those resorts that rely on the weather are left waiting for the storms before they can open.

Dodge Ridge Ski Area usually expects to open by January. During the wait, many people come through to their sports shop to prepare their gear for the snow and pick up season passes, according to Jeff Hauff, Dodge Ridge managing director.

Dodge Ridge prides itself on being a family business that uses natural snow over fake snow, and Hauff said that there’s a difference in performance as well.

“It’s the feeling — the way the skis interact with it. The coverage is heavy, and the movement — you notice it when you’re on it,” he said.

Joe Stacher, owner of 4 Seasons Sports in Lodi, says business has been busy with skiers and snowboarders undeterred by the lack of natural snow.

“The resorts have been doing a good job of getting snow out there. The coverage is really good,” he said. “We’ve had a few people that were going up to Kirkwood and some to North Star that had a really good time.”

As Cooper said, “The stoke level is high.”

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