Hot Sheet: Wild world’s closer, Lange girls, NARSID death & more

In this week's Hot Sheet, the World Cup ends with a thud, Tait Wardlaw rates girls in bikinis and ski boots, Colorado may have another deep snow immersion fatality, and President Ford's Beaver Creek pad is on the market for $11 million.

Remember how empty it felt on that last Sopranos episode when the screen just went to black? A lot of people had the same sensation watching this year's women's World Cup finish. The final race was all set to serve as the stage for one of the closest finishes in history, as Germany’s Maria Riesch only led American Lindsey Vonn by three points in the overall standings--one of the tightest women's overall battle since 2005 when Swede Anja Paerson edged Janica Kostelic of Croatia, also by three points. But as the showdown loomed, fog and soft snow forced officials to cancel the race.

"Win or lose I just wanted the chance," said Vonn of the cancellation that robbed her of the chance to defend a three-year title streak. "I feel devastated. But I am extremely proud to have been in the fight in what was one of the most exciting seasons in ski racing history."

Also from the season finish, Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety became the first American to win three Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom titles as wet snow canceled Friday’s GS final. His dominating winter included winning the first three races of the season at Beaver Creek, CO, Val d'Isere, France and Alta Badia, Italy.

Colorado ski visits falls off the pace

Colorado Ski Country USA reported that skier visits for its 22 member ski areas (which does not include Vail Resorts), fell .75 percent from January 1 to February 28, 2011, compared to the same period in 2010. However, overall skier visits for the season remain up by 3.4 percent.

"Our season-to-date is the strongest the industry has seen since the 2007/08 season and the start of the economic recession," Melanie Mills, president and CEO fo Colorado Ski Country USA said in a statement. She added that although Colorado will enjoy a strong season, it is "probably not one for the record books."

2011 Local Lange Girl contest winners get the call

Lange continues to celebrate the sexier side of skiing with its Local Lange Girl contest, asking hot skiing local ladies from around the country to send poor Tait Wardlaw of Rossignol/Dynastar photos of them wearing little more than a pair of his ski boots.

“The Local Lange Girl program was designed to find a few strong women who would inspire others to have more fun with their skiing and, hopefully, with life in general,” said Wardlaw, who helps pick the winners himself. And those winners are:

National Local Lange Girl: Amy Blakey

Rocky Mountain Region: Katie Hartman

Intermountain Region: Dunja Hasic

California/Nevada Region: Shannon Malmstedt

North East Region: Corrine Keener

“In keeping with the Lange Girl tradition, I thought my photos needed to be fun and sexy, as well as strong and athletic,” said Blakey. “It's a contest to represent ski boots after all--Lange and legs, they go together!”

Steamboat fatality appears to be latest NARSID incident

Though it wasn’t a tree well, Police in Steamboat Springs are treating a fatality there on March 17, 2011 as the latest NARSID or Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death this season in North America.

According to the Steamboat Pilot, a 19-year-old man suffocated after crashing into a deep snowbank sometime during the afternoon or on the early evening of the 17th. Police believe the man hit a bump and went head first into snowbank after ejecting from his skis. If the case is confirmed, it would be potentially be the seventh NARSID incident this season. A presumed sixth victim is still reported as missing at Crystal Mountain Ski Area (see the full SNEWS report here).

In other news

Snowbird Ski Resort’s plan to build a summer roller coaster to offset its winter business drew protests at the Salt Lake County Government center on March 14, 2011. Critics say it would not fit with the region’s natural beauty…There’s a new mainstream ski movie in the works according to the Hollywood Reporter. City Slickers director Ron Underwood has a new project lined up, a ski team comedy called Woodchucks. The plot? “A Vermont ski team tries to prevent a corporate resort developer from wrecking their local mountain.” Hilarity ensues. Filming is set to start in Vermont next season...Actor Kelsey Grammer and ex-wife Camille’s 8,230 square foot Bachelor Gulch ski chalet is on the market for $7.9 million, as is President Gerald Ford’s 11,629 square foot mansion. Listed at nearly $11 million, the former President’s pad includes seven bedrooms, nine full baths, a private elevator and a for real Presidential Seal…Singer James Taylor broke his leg skiing at Park City…And Hans Grugger, the Austrian ski racer who nearly died in a crash in Kitzbuehel, Austria in January, has been released from a rehabilitation center. When asked if he would race again, Grugger (who is the brother-in-law of Kastle Skis president Siegfried Rumpfhuber) replied, “It’s too early to tell. I can’t say anything about that now.”

--Peter Kray

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