South Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. – September 19, 2012 – The countdown is on, and from intense competitions and events to the return of the halfpipe, Heavenly Mountain Resort has released a list of new activities to choose from.
“Heavenly is a super high-energy resort, and the improvements we’ve made this year reflect that spirit,” said Pete Sonntag, Heavenly’s general manager. “Last year, even with the lack of snow, there was a great vibe on the mountain. With forecasts calling for a return to a more favorable winter weather pattern and a full year to enjoy programs like Unbuckle, we’re going to take it to the next level.”
Unbuckle, North America’s number one après ski party, is back and those looking to elevate their game off the mountain will have seven opportunities per week this year to perfect their dance moves. Unbuckle at Tamarack Lodge is Lake Tahoe's highest elevation après ski party featuring music, half-off drinks, dancing and the lovely Heavenly Angels – skiers and riders by day and go-go dancers when the sun dips below the mountain tops. The party takes place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. every night.
“I knew we were onto something with Unbuckle,” said John Wagnon, Heavenly’s senior director of brand marketing, “when you’d see as many people in street clothes as ski boots. The party was so much fun that people who hadn’t even skied that day would ride up the Gondola to party on the mountain.”
Also on the food and beverage side, Heavenly has re-imagined the menu and experience at Gunbarrel Grill inside Lakeview Lodge and has created the ultimate on-mountain guy’s hangout. Flat screen televisions will dot the landscape while friendly waitresses provide table service featuring made-to-order gourmet burgers and a ridiculously huge selection of well-priced microbrews.
“This restaurant will be a bit of a man cave,” said Steve Turner, Heavenly’s director of food and beverage. “But for guys looking to catch part of a game while having the best burger and beer combination on the mountain, this will be the place.”
The parties aren’t the only place Heavenly is raising its game. The Terrain Park Crew will work with Snow Park Technologies this season to bring the halfpipe back after a four-year hiatus. This All-Star team will build an 18-foot, competition-quality pipe in High Roller Terrain Park. Lake Tahoe will be an ideal backdrop for this 500-foot-long pipe with a 56-foot-wide transition. The location on High Roller creates an orientation that allows for a uniform consistency between both sides of the pipe, meaning one side won’t melt faster than the other.
“Our parks have become a differentiator for us over the past couple of seasons, especially our ability to have a legitimate park right when we open in November,” said Sonntag. “The return of the halfpipe and the partnership with signals that we intend to continue to raise our game and provide one of the best park experiences in North America.”
From being out front to a blast from the past, the free-wheeling days of 70s Hot Dogging returns to the famous moguls of Gunbarrel this season. From March 29-31, 2013, the resort will host the U.S. Freestyle Championships, building on Heavenly’s long-standing tradition of freestyle skiing and competition. Heavenly’s own Sho Kashima, a member of the U.S. Ski Team, will join the nation’s most accomplished freestyle skiers to showcase their talents, as they prepare for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Also featuring the aerial competition, this will be the rockin'-est competition of the season, highlighted by fireworks and a live concert.
“Having the U.S. championships at my home mountain is one of the coolest things I can imagine,” said Kashima. “I can’t wait to show the nation the world’s best mogul run!”
Speaking of competition, this season guests will get to see how they fare against the most decorated American ski racer of all time. Vail Resorts introduced EpicMix Racing™ for this season, taking guests’ on-mountain race results compiled on special courses, comparing them to a baseline set by Vail’s own Lindsey Vonn, and then enabling them to be shared through social media. As if tracking vertical and posting professionally-shot action photos of oneself didn’t make EpicMix™ addictive enough!
For those afraid that their best may not be good enough to challenge Vonn, they need look no further than Heavenly’s Peak Performance Academy. This new clinic features the best of the best in snowsport education. Heavenly is home to the most members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) National Demo Teams. These instructors, who are the instructors who train the instructors, will work with skiers and snowboarders in an all-mountain clinic that will feature video analysis, high-end riding and off-piste tactics, while addressing personal goals. The Peak Performance Academy is being offered as two three-day clinics (Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 8-10) and one five-day clinic (March 4-8).
And lest we forget the little ones, Heavenly will open another kid’s adventure zone on its California side to go along with last season's Black Bear Hollow at the top of the Gondola. This new area will be similar to Black Bear Hollow, which is a meandering, low-angle skiing and riding trail with groomed whoop-de-dos, wood carvings of local animals and wildlife fact signage to help youngsters explore.
Due to last season’s snow conditions, many guests didn’t get the chance to explore the three new trails in the Galaxy “trail pod” on the Nevada side that were added prior to the 2011-12 season. These solid intermediate trails, Outlaw, Comstock and Mineshaft, provide 20 more groom-able acres on one of the less-traveled portions of the mountain and offer extended, true fall-line skiing.
One thing Heavenly did prove, however, is that the resort doesn’t have to depend solely on Mother Nature to provide excellent skiing and riding, thanks to the West Coast’s largest snowmaking system. This season, that system will become much more efficient with new energy-saving snow guns that combine cool water with compressed air to produce snow.
A total of 10 Viking V2 snow guns were installed this summer along the ski resort's Lower Stagecoach ski run on the Nevada side of the mountain in Douglas County. The new equipment is expected to reduce the resort's average annual snowmaking energy use by approximately 378,000 kilowatt hours compared to older model snow guns. According to NV Energy officials, the savings represents enough electricity to power 42 homes in northern Nevada for a year, and it represents an annual reduction of 283 tons of carbon emissions.
“At Heavenly, we’ve spent 40 years perfecting the art of making snow, and believe me that when you ski it, you know that our crew has indeed perfected it,” said Sonntag. “We give our guys the latest and greatest tools to work with, and in this case, they get the dual gratification of providing a great service to our guests and doing it in an economical, environmentally-friendly way.”
That’s not the only thing that has become more economical. The drive to South Shore from the Reno International Airport has been cut by at least 10 minutes, thanks to the opening of the new I-580 freeway from the Mount Rose Highway in Reno to the north end of Washoe Valley. The six-lane, 65-mile-per-hour freeway is safer, more convenient and faster, bypassing Pleasant Valley and Washoe City. The eight-and-a-half mile divided freeway features new anti-icing technology on all nine bridges. When factoring in the convenience of Reno Tahoe International Airport, voted the top airport for skiers by SKI Magazine, and the access to Heavenly, which is connected via Gondola to the heart of South Lake Tahoe making it OnTheSnow.com’s list for “no car needed” resorts, getting to Heavenly is as easy as any other snowsports destination.
“Heavenly is the place for a high-energy snowsports vacation that features big events, and an après experience that is just as fun as the on-mountain experience,” said Sonntag. “This year’s improvements show that we’re going all in to deliver on that promise.”