With the driest December on record for Reno, and weather regularly resembling a vacation getaway, local high school ski teams are feeling the heat of possibly losing an entire season.
“It’s frustrating on the coaches and it’s frustrating on the athletes,” Spanish Springs athletic director Art Anderson said. “Not only have they not been able to do anything, there’s nothing foreseeable snow wise that’s going to happen. The ski director is very optimistic that there’s still going to be a ski season, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that the ski season might only be one week.
“We were very fortunate last year to get a ton of snow, but prior to that the ski season had been cut every year because of a lack of snow. It’s just a frustrating experience and I know the skiers are all bummed and the coaches are bummed too. It’s just frustrating to have one perfect winter like last year and a winter like this. My worst fear is that we’ll have a late winter in to the spring, so winter and spring sports will be impacted, and that’s a nightmare.”
Two ski races have already been cancelled due to the lack of snow and the forecast doesn’t present much hope.
“Right now, no, I don’t see us having a ski season,” Sparks athletic director Rob Kittrell said. “They could probably change the ski season to maybe a spring sport this year. Being a long-time Northern Nevadan, when it’s this dry it usually catches up with you in March and April.”
Still, Washoe County School District Athletics Coordinator Ken Cass is optimistic about retaining a ski season.
“We were supposed to start this week and now we’re not starting until January 24th,” Cass said. “It looks like we’ll be able to get six meets in and then the state championship, so we’ll be able to get what we wanted to get in. The reason we will be able to do this is that Mount Rose has said that they’ll allow us to be in the Kit Carson bowl.
“They’ve never allowed that because that’s one of their main areas for their customers, so they’ve never allowed us over on that side. Just in case nothing comes in terms of snow and we have to be on that side, they’ve allowed it.”
Getting the season started is just the beginning. Once kicked off, maintaining the season through the state championships could create problems.
“Our state championships are supposed to be on February 11-12, but it doesn’t look like there’s any snow in the forecast to support that,” Reed ski coach Andrew Yoxsimer said. “Right now we’re going to try to get a ski season in, but if it doesn’t snow, I don’t know how we do it. It’s tough because a lot of the kids just love skiing and not being able to get up there and ski the gates and do our races, they’re very disappointed.”
If the season is to be saved, the teams and skiers may be rusty throughout the shortened season because of a lack of practice.
“There’s not enough snow to even set gates, so we haven’t been able to practice up on the mountain,” Spanish Springs ski coach Brett Weible said. “We can’t go anywhere around Tahoe. That’s the problem, you can’t even practice what you’re racing on.”
Despite the sunny skies causing the dreary outlook, Cass is adamant there will be a season.
“Regardless, there’s not going to be any chance that we’re going to cancel the season entirely, because there are resorts out there that make snow. We will have a season.”