Resort Report: Helmet legislation, upstate expansion, McConkey & more

Making helmets mandatory on ski slopes seems to be increasing in popularity this season. In Illinois, a state with just four ski areas, yet another bill legislating skid lids was narrowly defeated last week. That, the Big Tupper expansion, near-record deeps in Tahoe and much more in this week's Resort Report.
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Illinois, a state with only four ski areas, defeated a measure to make helmet use mandatory on the slopes on March 15, 2011. The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ira Silverstein, who admitted that he has never skied before, said he thought making Illinois the first state in the country to legally require that all skiers wear helmets would prevent serious injuries on the slopes. But five of the eight members of the state's Senate Public Health Committee voted against the legislation, with Sen. Shane Cultra asking Silverstein, “Why do you feel the state has to be the mother of everyone who wants to go skiing?” according to the Associated Press.

Reaction to the bill’s defeat at skihelmets.org stated, “While we applaud Illinois for trying to be a leader in the Ski Helmet regulation world, we did take immediate pause when we read that Senator Silverstein had never been on skis before. That's like asking a high school drop out to reform education.”

Helmet legislation has certainly been in the news this season, with lawmakers in the states of New Jersey and California recently proposing laws that would make it mandatory for kids at ski areas to wear helmets. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger actually did sign such a bill in the fall of 2010, but because of a conflict with another attached piece of legislation, stated at the time that “I recognize that it will not take effect.” Click here for more from SNEWS® on recent helmet legislation.

Big Tupper project garners loads of local support

A massive expansion project proposed for Upstate New York’s Big Tupper Ski Area appears to enjoy overwhelming public support. According to a story in the Watertown Daily Times, hundreds of local Tupper Lake residents attended the first public hearing on the proposed expansion on March 16, 2011, and the majority spoke out in favor of the project. The developer, Preserve Associates, is proposing to build 710 housing units, including 343 buildings and 39 great camps, over 6,200 acres. The project, to be completed in four phases over 14 years, includes expansion of the ski area and a marina on Tupper Lake.

Marmot Basin to spend $7 million on lifts for next season

Marmot Basin in Alberta, Canada, will add a new high speed quad chair, named the Paradise Express, will replace the existing Paradise Triple Chair in the upper area of the mountain. The Paradise Triple Chair will be re-located to the lower portion of the mountain. Both ski lifts will open in November of 2011. The project price tag falls just shy of $7 million Canadian dollars. Marmot also added the Canadian Rockies Express high speed quad chair in the summer of 2009.

Tahoe gets buried by snow yet again

La Niña, the gift that keeps giving in terms of massive snowfall this season, is whacking the Tahoe region yet again. Totals of up to eight feet are being reported from a weekend storm, with new snow continuing through the weekend. Many areas are now looking at record or near-record snowfall totals by the end of the season. “We've had record-setting snowfall since the season started, and have surpassed our season average of 350 inches by almost 150 percent,” said Bill Rock, chief operating officer at Northstar-at-Tahoe. Because of all the new snow, Northstar-at-Tahoe is extending ski season operations until April 24.

Squaw Valley USA is reporting a storm total of 72 inches, or about 6 feet of fresh on the upper mountain. Adding to a current 582 inches of total snow accumulation, the area will almost certainly pass the 600-plus inch mark for the 2010-11 season--something Squaw has achieved only three times since statistics began to be kept in 1970.

In other news at Squaw, March 26, 2011 will mark the much-anticipated comeback of The Pain McShlonkey Classic at Squaw Valley USA. The event, which features a snowlerblade Chinese Downhill, is a tribute to the late Shane McConkey. Pros such as Daron Rahlves, JT Holmes, Scott and Robb Gaffney and Jeremy Jones are scheduled to attend…Magic Mountain skiers in Vermont are slowly realizing their dream of turning their ski hill into a cooperative like Mad River Glen. Jim Sullivan, who has been leasing the resort, has been trying to sell 1,000 shares in the ski hill at a rate of $3,000 per share. He told Vermont Public Radio that he has already sold 200 of them…Bridger Bowl will extend its ski season for nine days, with lift operations now scheduled to continue through April 12, 2011. Nearby Moonlight Basin Resort also announced they are extending their ski season. After April 10, the resort will reopen on April 16, 17 and 23, 24 (weekends only)…And once the snow is all gone, Ski Camelback in Pennsylvania will begin a $2 million water park expansion, which will include two new tube rides, the Dune Runner and the SandStorm…And for any of you Rancho Deluxe fans out there, Montana’s North Shore Nordic Club is reporting that someone shot up the XC-area’s trail-grooming snowmobile with a .40 caliber handgun, rifle and a shotgun. More than 50 shell casings were found at the scene. Could it be that Jack McKee and Cecil Colson struck again?

--Peter Kray

Send your WinterSports news to Peter Kray at pkray@snewsnet.com. Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com to learn about posting your own news releases, getting your WinterSports headlines, or with any other questions or comments.

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