Why not Mammoth?


There has been so much handwringing about our failures around here this past year that it’s been easy to overlook Mammoth’s successes.

Yet we’ve had them, and not just little ones, either.

Last month, the new running track opened south of town at the Whitmore sports complex. It is hard to overstate what a remarkable achievement that is. It took five years of work in the form of grant writing, fund drives, and political maneuvering to get it done.

In making the track a reality, its proponents also built an infield where Mammoth Youth Football can practice, along with a host of other activities that are not yet on the radar.

Already having established itself as a marathon and trail-running Mecca, the track solidifies Mammoth as a world-class training site for long-and middle-distance runners who prefer the track instead of roads and trails. That’s great news for runners of the Mammoth Track Club competing in the 1500 meters, the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters, for example.

Leading the evangelism for the track in the U.S. is Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi, both Olympic medalists and great ambassadors on behalf of our little town in the mountains.

Now comes the new Slopeside Center at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, which will have its Grand Opening next week.

Unlike Olympic Training Centers such as those in Park City, Mammoth never had a facility dedicated to high performance ski racing until now.

We have a great ski mountain with plenty of terrain suited for snowboarding, Ski Cross, and traditional alpine ski disciplines such as slalom, giant slalom, and downhill.

On top of that, we have an ungodly long snow season. This year, it began in November. Given the snow levels we have now, with more on the way this weekend, all signs point to a season that will last through Memorial Day.

That’s why the U.S. Snowboard Team was in town earlier this month, training alongside the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. There simply was not any snow anywhere else.

On the World Cup circuit, we couldn’t help feeling mighty proud of downhill racer Stacey Cook, now second in the world in women’s downhill, taking two second-place finishes behind superstar Lindsey Vonn in Lake Louise. Who among us did not feel a point of pride in watching her race the gates with “Mammoth” on the front of her helmet? What Deena and Meb bring to the running world in terms of ambassadorships, Cook does it in World Cup skiing.

Concurrently, Mammoth Mountain has committed itself to Ski Cross, an exciting, new Olympic sport led by, among others, Mammoth’s John Teller, along with local racers Tyler Wallach (U.S. Junior World Ski Cross Team) and Madeline Riffle, who is World Cup qualified.

The Slopeside Center adds top-drawer training equipment, along with computerized video breakdown capabilities to help our skiers shave valuable tenths of a second off their results.

Leading that effort is Performance Director Pete Horiatis, who for six years helped the U.S. Ski teams by using those techniques.

In its evolving long-term strategies, Mammoth has time and again declared its commitment to high-altitude training in every sport.

Now, with the Whitmore Track and the Mammoth Mountain Slopeside Center having opened within weeks of each other, the town has something tangible—and wonderful—to build on.