Archive - Sports Article
Every few years between the end of fall and the beginning of winter, something extraordinary happens up here.
No, not the kind you slip on when you get out of the car or scrape off your deck in the morning, not that kind of quotidian ice.
Ice that you can fly over on thin silver blades like a winged bird, keeping time with the fishes beneath you and the wind above you. Ice that you can sing on, beat your drum on, slide like a child on, run laps on.
That kind of ice.
After a one year absence, Mammoth will once again have a groomed, free Nordic ski track system just on the outskirts of town.
As soon as it snows, that is.
â€śWe will be out there six days a week grooming as soon as we have about 18 inches,â€ť said Brian Knox, the head of the volunteer-driven Mammoth Nordic nonprofit. Mammoth Nordic intends to once again groom about nine miles of beginner to intermediate cross country tracks at its old location, behind the Shady Rest campground area at the entrance to town.
Ski areas in California received good news this past week from the U.S. Forest Service, with the promise of up to 600 new jobs.
The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011, which was signed by President Barack Obama on Nov. 7, is estimated to create and annually sustain up to 600 extra jobs nationwide.
â€śThis is very good news for us,â€ť said Mammoth Mountain Ski Area spokesperson Joani Lynch.
She was not alone in her enthusiasm.
â€śThis is great news for promoting job growth and economic stimulus in California,â€ť said Regional Forester Randy Moore.
Sledz is deadz.
Long live Woollyâ€™s Adventure Summit and the Kidsâ€™ Carousel.
Mammoth Mountain snapped up the enterprise from a private owner during the off-season. While the transaction still is in escrow, the ski area is moving ahead with its plans.
The on-again, off-again tubing hill, situated on the right just off Route 203 on the way to Mammoth Mountain, now will be a part of the ski areaâ€™s continuing moves toward family-oriented snowplay, according to Mammoth spokesperson Joani Lynch.
Itâ€™s just not in the culture of Mammoth Mountain to miss an Opening Day â€” natural snow or manufactured, blue skies or gray, rain, snow or fire and brimstone.
This season was no different.
The ski area opened yesterday with five lifts ready to go, including the Lower Gondola.
It also opened with 13 terrain features, said Joani Lynch, ski area spokeswoman.
Working on a base ranging from 18 to 24 inches, the ski area opened Chair 1 (Broadway Express); Chair 6 (Thunder Bound Express); Chair 11 (Discovery Express) and Chair 3 (Facelift).
The first chair left Broadway at 8:30 a.m.
After 18 years of seeking out every aspen grove in the Eastern Sierra, I thought I had found them all: Rock Creek and Lundy, McGee and Bishop, Convict and North Lake. Even the lesser known areas like Molybedenite and Birchim and the Parker Bench and the Little Walker.
Been there, done that.
Boy, was I wrong.
This past weekend, the crowds that can turn Lundy Canyonâ€™s tiny trailhead and one-lane road into a virtual Disneyland in the fall color season defeated me and I spun north like a compass, seeking solitude and gold.
Thick black clouds are already crashing against the grey bulk of Mt. Dana when we begin the run down the mountain. The wind whips past, running fast from the coast, pushing the first winter storm of the season west up Yosemite Valley, whirling around the base of Half Dome.
Pine needles fall in masses, covering the bare ground with a carpet of sienna gold. The air is thick with the smell of snow and rain and the sun, hot enough to go shirtless only a few hours ago, has gone home. This new cold bites hard. Thunder rumbles to the south.
Itâ€™s time to go.
Rock Creek Canyon, high above Toms Place resort, which is about fourteen miles south of Mammoth Lakes, is one of the Eastern Sierraâ€™s most spectacular canyons. Filled with dozens of lakes and ponds, fed by some of the highest mountains in the Sierra, itâ€™s a backcountry hikerâ€™s dream. And it just so happens to also have one of the best aspen shows for early fall viewing, which, in this odd, odd, weather year, is about what time of the year the trees think it â€” and itâ€™s not like you can argue with a tree.
Itâ€™s been an odd and wonderful fall.
Aspens and cottonwoods, still summer-lush with the life given to them by the record-breaking winter, met one of the warmest falls in many years. In no hurry to go dormant again after being buried alive for nine months, the trees held their green far into October, much to localâ€™s confusion and delight.
The summer, so late in coming, seemed like it would never end.
No one complained about it, either.
Spike Todd likes to tell a story about his brother Bob.
When they were kids in Southern California, Spike says, the two brothers shared a bedroom and a small black-and-white television. They were devoted Angels fans and devoted Lakers fans.
Spike, the owner of Mammoth Liquor, swears that Bob used to do sports play-by-play in his sleep. This when Bob was about 10 or 11.
Itâ€™s not as if anyone in his or her right mind would want to make the Everest Challenge any tougher than it already is.
Yet nobody has ever accused Alan Jacoby, of Mammoth, as being in his right mind.
â€śGoal setting and achievement is like a drug,â€ť said Jacoby, a volunteer at Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra and an entrant in this weekendâ€™s Everest Challenge.
Jacoby, however, said he is going to attempt the ride on a singlespeed mountain bike.
â€śHelping others erase barriers only makes you want to go out and test your own limits,â€ť he said.
Yeah but â€¦
â€śThe Cribâ€ť is about to close up shop for the season.
It has been home to runners, cyclists, biathletes and sports media for four months. Now, Tourism Director John Urdi said it is up to them to spread the word about one of the most innovative high-altitude training facilities anywhere.
Technically it has no name, but every since its inception last winter, Urdi has called it the â€śHigh Altitude Training Crib.â€ť
Now itâ€™s merely â€śThe Crib,â€ť a two-bedroom (with loft) townhouse at Snowcreek that can handle six (or more if some want to choose a spot on the floor).
If there is a more perfect motorcycle route in California than the Sonora Pass Road, Arlie Ray Blacksheer and Sarah Kazmark canâ€™t think of many, if any at all.
â€śWe come up here for the views all the time,â€ť said Blacksheer, a sales consultant at California BMW in Mountain View (Bay Area).
As he spoke, he held a pair of high-powered binoculars to his eyes, inspecting a rock face near the summit on the western side of the pass.
â€śThe water is seeping right through the rocks!â€ť
The face of audacity at the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park looks exactly like Dave Geirman.
He looks like the kind of guy who will let nothing stop him, and nothing does. His face is tanned and leathery, suggesting a man who has lived a career in the outdoors, at altitude. He doesn't brag on himself. When questions get a little too close, he deflects them.
He's tough. Rugged.
Geirman is in charge of lift operations at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area during the winter. After last winter, Geirman might have thought he was going to relax a bit in the summer.
Thereâ€™s nothing quite like an afternoon of Chihuahua races at the Village.
The crowd begins to pulse about an hour before the heats begin. Big men, such as Alpine Garageâ€™s Mike Fiebigger, hold their tiny dogs close. His wife, Karen, was alongside. In the Fiebigersâ€™ case, this was an unusual hairless Chihuahua, named Klein.
â€śHeâ€™s like a Billy Idol,â€ť said Fiebiger. (There are three more Chihuahuas in the Fiebiger clan, named Juicy, Dolce and Lelo, but thatâ€™s beside the point.)
Tom Shepard, holding the appropriately named Smidgen, strolled by, showing off.