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Great Scott! First nordic event of season is Sunday

WINTER SPORTS — The first nordic event of the season will be held Sunday at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, but skinny skiers won't be the only participants

The Great Scott race has divisions for snowshoers and snowbikers as well as a nordic division.  Competitors can come solo or enter the team spring relay.

Register at the Hermit's Hollow Tubing Yurt 8:30-9:30 a.m.  Nordic race starts at 10 a.m. followed by snowbiking at 11:30.

Info: Schweitzer Activity Center, (208) 255-3081.

Schweitzer’s 2013-14 passes valid at six other ski resorts

WINTER SPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain Resort has a new far-reaching perk among the deals and discounts ski resorts are offering this time of year to promote advance season pass sales.

If you're a skier/boarder with a yen to travel for your turns, Schweitzer's new association with the Power Alliance is appealing.

The new agreement offers Schweitzer passholders free skiing at six Western resorts. Schweitzer's unlimited and Sunday - Friday passholders alike can take advantage of the Powder Alliance deals at:

Sandpoint among National Geographic’s top ‘emerging’ ski towns

WINTER SPORTS — Although I thought Sandpoint had arrived long ago, the North Idaho town has just been  named one of the nation’s "top 10 emerging ski towns" in the March 2013 issue of  National Geographic’s Adventure magazine.

"These 10 North American ski towns may not have the name recognition of the world’s best-known destinations, but that’s just fine with them. These are the local’s favorites, the up-and-comers. They’re real towns, often cheaper and friendlier than the big dogs—at least for now. If you’re on the hunt for great skiing without the crowds and glitz, read on." said the article's author, Aaron Teasdale.

Sandpoint, and more specifically, the 2,900 acres of ski terrain at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, is described as being "Best For: Non-extreme skiers and boarders seeking the famed tree skiing of the Selkirks without the trip to Canada."

Other ski towns in the Top 10 include Red Lodge, Mont.; Ogden, Utah; Reno, Nev.; Revelstoke, B.C.; Nelson, B.C.; Driggs, Idaho; Mammoth, Calif.; Waitsfield, Vt.; and Durango, Colo.

The article asked locals in each town for suggestions on where to eat, sleep and spend time away from the ski hill, as well as the best ski run on the mountain.

Ski or snowboard 24 Hours for Hank at Schweitzer

WINTER SPORTS — The 5th Annual 24 Hours of Schweitzer is less then two weeks away! Is your team of skiers or snowboarders signed up? 

This first-class event set for March 22-23 raises money to find a cure for a rare disease by inviting teams or individuals to get pledges and run the slopes of Schweitzer, accumating as much vertical as possible in 24 hours.

Also known as “24 Hours for Hank” —  honoring Hank Sturgis of Sandpoint, a 6 year old who has been diagnosed with cystinosis — the event seeks participants to rack up the vertical for bragging rights and a good cause.

To date the foundation has raised more than $500,000 for the Cystinosis Research Foundation.

The Awards Dinner and Auction on Saturday night at Schweitzer Mountain Resort has 100 live and silent auction items and 25 raffle items to raise additional money from skiers and non-skiers alike.

Schweitzer ski area among first to be Google-mapped

MAPPING — Google Maps, which changed the world of giving directions with it's online map selections, has stretched its street view capability to the ski slopes.  

Schweitzer Mountain Resort is represented among  38 new maps generated by Google featuring "slope views" of every run and lift.

Power up Google Maps on your Android device or iPhone, and the mountain information you need is right there. Blue, green and black runs are shown as solid colored lines and ski lifts are red dotted lines. 

The tech innovator recently made digital waves in the outdoors with their “street view” take on Grand Canyon hiking trails by offering 9,500 panoramic images to armchair hikers.

Google adds exact ski run routes to its map service; Schweitzer is one of the first

View Larger Map

Notable news for the skier contingent. Google Maps has begun adding maps of ski runs for a number of North American ski resorts.

The ones we care about that have the option are Sandpoint's Schweitzer Mountain, Sun Valley and Mount Bachelor in Bend, Ore.

A total of 38 resorts are part of the first Google batch. The maps are available on tablets, computers or smartphones.

Click the map here and zoom in to see the runs on Schweitzer.

Even cooler, the service for some areas includes a StreetView option for some runs.

Schweitzer to add 20 residences to White Pine Lodge

Schweitzer Mountain Resort will add 20 new residences to White Pine Lodge. The four-story addition will add 16 two-bedroom/two-bathroom homes and four three-bedroom/three-bathroom homes, the resort says.

The three-bedroom homes will be designed as lock-off units, allowing for varied configurations for owner rental and use.

“These are whole ownership residences in the heart of the village,” said Rod Engel, Schweitzer’s director of real estate.

Schweitzer said it expects to release final pricing for homes in early February and will begin selling units at that time, with construction scheduled to begin as early as this summer.

Lydig Construction of Spokane, which built the original White Pine, is expected to construct the addition. Seattle based Collins-Woerman Architecture is handling the design.

Avalanche at Schweitzer points out ice layer

WINTER SPORTS — I'm just picking up on in-bounds snow slides that buried at least two skiers last Friday on the Headwall at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Both were rescued by other skiers and no injuries were reported, but apparently the situations could have easily gone the other way.

Conditions change, but the main thing to be aware of is the underlying ice layer that could persist in some areas.

Read on for Schweitzer avalanche incident posts from last week on Epicski.com:

Schweitzer’s Binders Full Of Women

Just saw this on the Schweitzer Mountain Resort Facebook page, with a disclaimer: "At Schweitzer, we have 'binders full of women.' Disclaimer: Schweitzer is not pro Republican Party nor pro Democratic Party — We're just pro Party!"

Question: What do you think of the phrase used by Gov. Romney in the 2nd presidential debate: "Binders full of women"?

Schweitzer offers free lift rides to snowy summit

SUMMER RESORTS — Free chairlift rides, barbecues, live music and other activities headline the Summer Celebration set for Saturday (June 30) to open the summer season at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

However, with snow still covering the top of the mountain, bicycles are not yet being allowed to go up the lifts to ride the trail system.

The Great Escape Quad will run 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. for free rides to the 6,400-foot summit for views of Idaho, Washington, Montana and Canada.

Schweitzer will be operating the new zip line, air jumper, climbing wall and sluice box.

Info: (208) 255-3081.

You didn’t put your skis away yet, did you?

OUTDOOR WEATHER — It's June 6, 2012, and the folks at Schwetizer Mountain Resort above Sandpoint are reporting … SNOW. 

Check out the mountain's video weather report about a twist that's keeping huckleberry blossoms in their buds.

Pucci retires from Schweitzer Ski Patrol after 45 years

WINTER SPORTS — "The end of an era is upon us," says the announcement from Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

As the resort shuts down for the 2011-2012 season, Ski Patrol Director John Pucci will be retiring after 45 years as a patroller  and 38 years as the director at Schweitzer.

Schweitzer ski area expansion to be considered

SKIING — The Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a hearing next month to consider a Schweitzer Mountain Resort request for a zoning change to accommodate recreation trails and 11 more lots at The Spires.

The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. April 12 and the Bonner County Administration Building, 1500 Highway 2, in Sandpoint.

Staff reports on the proposal will be posted online at the planning department website seven days before the meeting.

Video cams will produce YouTube videos from Sandpoint’s Chairlift Pitch contest

The folks at Sandpoint Forward who are sponsoring a Chairlift Pitch contest next week have a pretty solid idea. We summarized that idea in a story earlier this week.

The guy whose head hatched the Chairlift Pitch contest is Mark Rivers, who lives in Boise most of the time but also works as a consultant for Sandpoint's economic development folks.

One detail we were not able to add to the story is Rivers' other idea: he plans to have a helmet cam attached to some of the judges who accompany the seven contestants up the chair lift. 

Later, Rivers said they'll add some of the videos to a YouTube channel, so folks can hear the pitches from the seven company owners.

The prize of the contest is $1,000 plus six free months of office space in downtown Sandpoint.

Sky-high skiers to fly at Schweitzer

Yokes Outrageous Air 2011 Schweitzer Show Highlight from Bob Legasa on Vimeo.

WINTER SPORTS — Crane your necks upward for some serious ski stunts Friday and Saturday….

What: Yoke's Outrageous Air Show aerial ski-jumping exhibition, plus fireworks, music
Who: Olympic freestyle gold medalist Jean Marc Rozon; four-time world champion Steve Omischl; Olympian and Canadian Ski Hall of Fame inductee Brad Suey and others
When: Friday-Saturday (Feb. 24-25) at 6:15 p.m.
Where: Schweitzer
Details: Hour-long shows include synchronized multiple twisting flips, fireworks and outdoor music

Cost: Free

Read on for ALL the details.

Race series keeps nordic skiers waxing poetic

WINTER SPORTS – Cross-country skiers can test their performance over the course of the season and take a stab at winning cool prizes by entering the four-race Selkirk Nordic Series at Inland Northwest venues.

The series schedule includes:

Jan. 21: Cougar Gulch Race, 5- or 10-kilometer events, at Schweitzer. Info: (208) 255-3070.
Jan. 28: Chewelah Peak Challenge, a 7K freestyle at 49 Degrees North. Info: (509) 935-6649 ext. 638.
Feb. 12: Langlauf 10K, a classic-style race at Mount Spokane. Info: (509) 922-6080.

Feb. 18: Group Health Pursuit, a 10K classic race at Mount Spokane. Info: (509) 922-6080.

Although not part of the Selkirk series, the Group Health Pursuit continues on Feb. 19 with a skate race.  The Group Health event is of particular interest since it’s also a qualifier for teen competitors trying to reach the Junior Nationals. Expect to see a lot of good skiers both days. 

Selkirk Nordic Series participants accumulate points toward the final standings. Skiers must ski at least two races to qualify.
The top three men and women will receive Mountain Hardware soft-shell jackets and other prizes.
The top man and woman will receive a Garmin GPS monitor.
The series is sponsored by Fitness Fanatics, Mountain Gear, Group Health, Garmin, Spokane Parks & Recreation Department, EN&T Clinic and the race venues.
Other regional nordic ski races include:
Jan. 21-22: Methow Valley Pursuit, 15K classic interval start followed by 30K skate pursuit on trails between Winthrop and Mazama.
Feb. 26: Selkirk Cross-Country Ski Challenge, 35K, a free self-timed competition starting at 9 a.m. at Selkirk Lodge area of Mount Spokane.
March 3: Black Jack Loppet, freestyle and mass start events at Black Jack Ski Area, Rossland, British Columbia.

$10 lift tickets at Schweitzer benefit local cancer patients

WINTER SPORTSCommunity Cancer Services of Sandpoint and Schweitzer Mountain Resort will team to offer $10 lift tickets Friday as a fundraiser, with 100% of ticket proceeds to be donated to local cancer care, resort officials announced today.

Schweitzer plans to have all 2,900 acres of skiable terrain open and operate eight lifts — including everything but the Sunnyside Double. Lifts will run from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

“We really look forward to hosting A Day for Heather each year,” said Schweitzer President and CEO, Tom Chasse.

Tickets are available for purchase in Sandpoint at Sandpoint Sports, Panhandle State Bank, and Pend d'Oreille Winery as well as at Schweitzer.

Most ski areas open; 5th graders get special deal

WINTER SPORTS — Silver Mountain opend its lifts Monday while 49 Degrees North had customers floating on two feet of prime powder for it's opener on Saturday.

Lookout Pass will reopen on Thanksgiving and Mt. Spokane opens Friday, conditions permitting.


Don't waste this great early season by  you have a fifth grader in the family, take advantage of the 5th grade ski FREE passport that gives these prime learning-age kids free lift tickets at more than 20 Inland Northwest resorts. 

The passport also includes special deals on equipment rentals, lessons and other activities. Some ski areas even offer specials for parents or siblings.

49 Degrees North joins bandwagon; chairlifts to open Saturday

WINTER SPORTS — Officials from 49 Degrees North ski area have just announced that a big dump of snow in the past 48 hours will allow them to open chairlifts and start their season on Saturday.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort and Lookout Pass also will be open

Schweitzer will open Saturday; Lookout Pass opened today.

Here's the word received from 49 Degrees North, slightly revised from what the resort sent earlier today:

OPENING DAY IS SATURDAY! 16 inches of new snow in the past 48 hours with more on the way today.

The mountain will be open Saturday through Tuesday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Chairs 1,2,3,5 will be running with access to hundreds of snow covered acres.

Lift tickets will be $40 for everyone 7 years and older on SATURDAY.

We will close Wednesday and reopen again Thursday for Thanksgiving Weekend. Due to early season conditions, we advise skiers and riders to stay on the groomed terrain.

Schweitzer opens lifts Saturday, day after Lookout Pass

WINTER SPORTSSchweitzer Mountain Resort announced today that it will open for the season on Saturday, the earliest opening for the resort since 1984.

About 20 inches of snow was reported at the resort this morning. That combined with the work of a snowmaking system will allow two chair lifts to open.

Reduced prices will be in effect this weekend and mountain parking will be free.

Schweitzer joins Lookout Pass ski area, which announced that it will open Friday.

Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park has announced on its website that it will open on Dec. 3.

Silver Mountain Resort and 49 Degrees North have not set dates for opening.

Schweitzer’s Huckleberry Festival ripe for Sunday

OUTDOOR EVENTS — Time's ripe for Schweitzer’s 5th annual Huckleberry Festival.  With berries ready to pick at the 3,2000 foot level, the picking will gradually rise in elevation as the festivities kick off on Sunday (Aug. 7

From 8 a.m. -4 p.m. the resort above Sandpoint plans to tint tongues purple, starting with a huckleberry pancake breakfast, before shuttling visitors up to begin hiking and putting purple stains on their fingers while combing the alpine slopes for berries.

Read on for more details.

Schweitzer opening summer season with free lift rides — and snow

MOUNTAIN RESORTSSchweitzer Mountain Resort will open its summer season on Saturday with food, outdoor games and activities, food, live music and FREE chair lift rides.

Normally, hikers and mountain bikers would take advantage of this summer-opening special in conditions you might expect in the top photo.

But this year the resort's upper slopes are still covered with snow patches and the biking trails are snow-clogged or muddy, as you can see from the photo at left, snapped Tuesday by Sean Briggs, showing the resort's outdoor climbing wall, patchy snow on the slopes and a waterfall draining the mountain.

Read on for details about the weekend — and a look at what the resort's summer season slopes will look like when summer catches up with the late spring.

24 Hours of Schweitzer skiers set records

SKI BENEFIT — Mother Nature was no match against the skill and determination of participants at the third-annual “24 Hours of Schweitzer” ski relay, which featured stellar performances, new records and even a marriage proposal.

Details just released indicate 120 skiers and snowboarders raised $90,000 for cystinosis research inspired by 4-year-old Hank Sturgis of Sandpoint. That's just one of the records set at the annual downhill marathon event.

Read on for details about some heroic performances on the snow.

Sky-high skiers to fly at Schweitzer

Outrageous Air Show from Bob Legasa on Vimeo.

OUTDOOR SPECTATING — Here are a few men with skills worth looking up to.

What: Yoke’s Outrageous Air Show aerial ski-jumping exhibition, plus fireworks, music. FREE.

Who: Olympic freestyle gold medalist Jean Marc Rozon; four-time world champion Steve Omischl, Olympian Brad Suey and others.

When: Friday Feb. 25-Saturday Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

Details: Hour-long shows includes synchronized multiple twisting flips, fireworks and outdoor music.

Schweitzer reports hot start to season

WINTER SPORTS — Maybe the outdoor economy isn't all doom and gloom.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort today reported solid increases in visitation for December and the holidays that grace the early snow season.

Overall visitation for the month of December was up 18.9 percent, while up 7.3 percent for the holiday period, the resort said in a press release. 

It helps that  the resort has recorded 129 inches of snow in the village already this season, nearly half of its average annual snowfall of 300 inches.

All of the region's ski resorts benefited from the early onslaught of winter and record snowfall for the Month of November in the Spokane area.

"Our lodging occupancy for the holiday period  was up 9.1 percent, while rental and retail enjoyed an 8.4 percent increase," said Tom Chasse, Schweitzer’s President and CEO. 

The December holiday period is one of three key times for area ski resorts.

The Martin Luther King weekend in January as well as President’s week in February also are critical to their bottom line.