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No snowfall, no problem

Artificial powder answer for ‘boarders and skiers

POSTED December 20, 2011 10:18 p.m.

The weather has been slightly unpredictable as of late, alternating from cold and foggy conditions to warm and sunny days. For most of us in the Valley these weather variations are nothing more than a slight inconvenience but for skiers and snowboarders it means a delay to their favorite season.

At this time last year a huge snowfall ignited the season, sending hordes of skiing and snowboarding aficionados to mountains all over California. Now, those who wish to hit mountain runs have to pick from select resorts that have artificial snow making capabilities.

“What really got us open is our snowmaking system,” Bear Valley’s assistant director of ski patrol Mattly Trent said. “Technology has come very, very far… It’s hard for people to tell the difference between the man-made snow and natural snow.”

Even though resorts with artificial snow are open to the public many people are waiting for the real thing and holding off on planning trips. Because of this, shops that cater to skiers and snowboarders, like local shop Sun Sports, have seen a drop in business.

“We’re about 30 percent off at this point and time,” Sun Sports owner Dennis Sondeno said. “But there’s always going to be snow, it’s just the timing. In this ski industry we’re basically farmers, we need the weather to hit at the appropriate time.”

Although the delay to the season might pain some seasoned riders there is an upside. According to Trent, now is the best time for beginning and novice skiers and snowboarders to hit the mountain and take advantage of the small crowds before the weather starts to come around.

“All it takes is one storm to put a few feet on the ground,” Bear Valley’s marketing director Jason Smith said.

Those storms are expected to hit California in January.

“A turn in the weather is supposed to happen the first week in January,” Trent said. “A lot of the models are pointing to a good February that will carry into March too.”

“As soon as the snow hits and the places are open you want to go,” Sondeno said. “Go to different places and try them all out. If you stay at one place only you really don’t understand what you’re missing at the other places.”

Sondeno also recommended that inexperienced skiers or snowboarders invest in a good pair of pants and gloves as they are the most essential pieces of equipment aside from the board or skis. Mountain goers are also encouraged to remember car chains, blankets and bottles of water for the journey to and from the resorts.

To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail ftovar@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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