The 2014 Winter Games at Sochi, Russia are underway, ecoXplorer is profiling the three US locations which have hosted the Winter Olympics. Today, it’s Squaw Valley, on the north end of Lake Tahoe in California.
There was a 12 foot dump of snow days before the Games, and local military troops were called in to boot-pack the slopes. Squaw Valley and it’s sister resorts ringing Lake Tahoe continue to get monumental amounts of snow each season.
There’s more than 8,300 acres of terrain, much of it wide-open bowls and slopes, with few marked trails at Squaw Valley. The heady freedom and challenge of finding your own way down is what this sport is really about. And the view of Lake Tahoe, sparkling a deep cobalt blue in the sunlight, enhances the experience.
The men’s giant slalom was held on KT22, named for the number of old-fashioned kick turns it took to get down this steep bowl, and now lures upper intermediates and better. I’ll admit to spending an entire half-day doing laps on this run a few seasons back, including one memorable splat that has become one of my favorite après ski stories.
Novices will find plenty of terrain at the High Camp area, named for a spectacular mid-mountain facility that includes an ice skating rink and the world’s only ski-in Starbucks. Instead of a drive-in window, this location has a ski-up window. Squaw Valley website
The Resort at Squaw Creek has direct access to the slopes via its own chairlift; the similarly upscale Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe has a shuttle bus.
Squaw commemorates its Olympic heritage with a torch relay from the original Olympic Flame tower, and there’s a two-fer ski ticket with adjoining Alpine Meadows.
Other activities: Slot machines, gaming tables and Vegas-style revues are at the casinos at South Lake Tahoe and Reno, each about 30 minutes away. Or, take a sunset dinner cruise aboard one of the old-fashioned paddle-wheelers that ply the lake.
Squaw Valley is about 45 minutes from the Reno airport. By the way, the Lake Tahoe region is competing to get the 2022 Winter Olympics Games.
Interesting article on BuzzFeed about nine historic Olympic locations and what they look like now.