Because of a lack of snow, the third Olympic snowboarding qualifier was forced to move from Lake Tahoe, California’s Northstar resort to Breckenridge, Colorado, last weekend, where it was ultimately canceled again because of too much snow (and wind).
So where did it move from there? Back to drought-stricken California, to Mammoth Mountain, where the fourth and fifth qualifiers had already been scheduled this week.
Wait, what? Mammoth Mountain has snow? Actually, yes, it does.
True, the resort in the Eastern Sierra has experienced a lack of natural snowfall, having received only 6 inches since Dec. 8 and only 48 inches for the season, compared to the 251.8-inch total through January 2013.
But thanks to rigorous snowmaking efforts when temperatures dip to the 20s overnight, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Olympic qualifiers will continue through the weekend without snow issues.
And not only does Mammoth have enough snow, the halfpipe and slopestyle courses are in excellent shape and getting rave reviews by the riders. Sochi, take note.
"It's so good," snowboarder Hannah Teter told GrindTV Outdoor Wednesday, the same day she tweeted a photo from above the halfpipe showing a scarcity of snow. "We came in here not knowing what to expect because obviously California's been in a drought, but they blew so much snow for the halfpipe and slopestyle; this is the best I've ever ridden on at Mammoth.
"It's a miracle for them to have blown enough for a six-, seven-hit, 22-foot halfpipe, plus big jumps. They've just been working so hard. I talked to the park crew today and they're like, 'How is it?' and they're so pumped to know that we're all so in love with the pipe and the park.
"It's the best pipe this season, for sure."
Jamie Anderson, who mathematically clinched the first spot on the U.S. slopestyle snowboarding team with her victory in the third qualifier on Thursday, was equally amazed by the course.
"It's so good," she told GrindTV Outdoor. "I don't know where the hell they got this snow from. I heard they used, like, a million gallons of water, which definitely doesn't make me happy, but it's going to melt and go back to the rivers."
And before it does, the U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team will name its team for Sochi at the end of this weekend, thanks to the crew of Mammoth snowmakers.
“We know that we can’t fight Mother Nature, and in years like this we have to give major props to our snowmaking teams, who allow us to build massive features such as the Grand Prix course,” T.J. Dawoud, the terrain parks director for Mammoth Mountain, told GrindTV Outdoor in an email. “Our terrain park team has been on point this year, getting creative with our setups and using our snow wisely in order to build the best possible event for our athletes.
“In California, we’re lucky to have warm, sunny days and cool nights. Consistent snowmaking temperatures have allowed us to blow snow all night and build during the day when necessary. When you have a team as committed as ours, it makes the operation seamless.
“Of course it's always more difficult to build massive features with less snow, but we've worked together to make it happen and the result is a pristine Olympic-spec pipe.”
Here's hoping Sochi—where mild weather and having enough snow is a concern—will have the same magic touch as Mammoth.
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