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Squaw Valley

Every time I ski Squaw, I bump into the same people on the KT Express chair. I never have to wait long to find diehard ski buddies who begin, spend and end each winter day lapping this one lift and its expert terrain. But a good day at Squaw for CEO emeritus Nancy Wendt Cushing—who just passed the reins of this brawny and historic mountain to someone outside the Cushing clan—involves covering a lot more ground on skis. It’s an easy thing to do: While this California classic may be best known for its signature steeps, Squaw’s six summits offer abundant options for literally all levels of skiers.

“Follow the sun,” Cushing advises with a knowing smile. She likes to start by zooming up the Funitel (a key component in a lift network capable of moving more bodies uphill per hour than any other ski area in the U.S.), then warming up on the easy, open meadow at the summit. From there she heads to the broad, rolling boulevards of forested Shirley Lake—a sunny day favorite with intermediates and families.

Back at the top, breeze down the sinuous folds of Silverado, a favorite hidden stash for Squaw skiers in the know. Each run gets more challenging. Next, angle down Headwall’s steeps then swing through the bumps of Sun Bowl. Nancy does it all wearing a ball cap, sunglasses and a happy look. With Squaw’s new efforts to improve the on- and off-hill customer experience, you and your family will have the same happy grin—even if you don’t meet your buddies at the KT chair. —S.R.

What’s New: Finally: Olympic House gets a renovation; new family features include a kids’ fun zone and trail map, and upgrades at the Children’s Center; new lighting will keep the terrain park open at night.

Mandatory Run: Did we mention KT Express? Easy way down: The Saddle.

Don’t Miss: High Camp, and its grab bag of non-ski diversions with lake views.

Sunnyside Lodge

Sunnyside Lodge
Sunnyside Lodge’s cozy cabin ambience befits its lakeside location.
Feels more like summer camp than a winter palace.

Although it feels more like summer camp than a winter palace, The Sunnyside Lodge is comfortable and charming. The lobby’s wood-paneled walls and timber rafters are adorned with elkhorn chandeliers, antique canoes and wooden snowshoes to set the mood, but the 23 rooms and suites, each with a private balcony, are modern and understated. Ski and stay packages are available ($155–$270; sunnysidetahoe.com).

[ Tue, 2010-04-13 15:42 ]
ski patrol olympics
Squaw Valley hosts the first ever Ski Patrol Olympics April 16-18.

Ski patrol performs some pretty gnarly tasks: transporting injured skiers down the mountain at high speeds, detonating explosives to prevent avalanches and leading search and rescue missions on formidable terrain. This weekend at California’s Squaw Valley, patrollers from across North America will showcase their skills in the first ever Professional Ski Patrol Olympics. Contenders will compete for prizes and a $1,500 cash purse, courtesy of Helly Hansen.

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