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Resort Report: NARSID, Arizona snow and Joe Biden on the slopes

Evidence points to yet another NARSID tragedy in California, while Vermont's upgrade race starts to heat up with the arrival of two new lifts, plus Joe Biden at Snowmass and the Arizona Snowbowl's surprise snow total in this week's Resort Report.

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A 22-year-old snowboarder found dead at Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort in California on March 27, 2011, could very well be the latest NARSID or Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death this season. Phillip Walker of San Jose went missing on the mountain on March 26, but was not discovered until the following afternoon after an extensive search. He was found in a tree well and was covered by several inches of snow, but authorities have not confirmed the cause of death. “The initial investigation suggests Phillip impacted the tree, however it has not been determined if the impact or the winter weather caused his death,” according to a police statement.

If Walker died as a result of suffocation, he would potentially be the eighth NARSID incident this season in North America. A 19-year-old man suffocated after crashing into a deep snowbank sometime during the afternoon of March 17, 2011 at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, and the presumed sixth victim is still reported as missing at Crystal Mountain Ski Area. More here.

Vermont to get at least two new lifts for 2011-12 season

Mount Snow’s announcement on March 5, 2011 that the area will be installing a new high-speed detachable six-passenger double chairlift as part of a reported $8.5 million project, was met on March 25 with the news that Stowe Mountain Resort will replace the FourRunner chairlift on Mount Mansfield with its new high-speed quad chairlift. Mount Snow is already making preparations for the installation of its new chair, which the area hopes to load test by November. One of the special features of the new lift will be the addition of a warehouse to store the chairs at night to keep them from getting covered with ice.

Arizona Snowbowl a surprise winner in the powder sweepstakes

With all the talk of how La Niña has been impacting the Northwest this year, Arizona’s Snowbowl has been quietly reaping its own powder profits. While ski areas in next-door New Mexico have already shut the lifts or will be done by this weekend, Snowbowl is reporting 320 inches of snow so far this season, enough accumulation to remain open until April 3, 2011, then host a bonus weekend beginning April 8-10.

“It has turned out to be a surprise season. We have been very fortunate with our snowfall this year,” said Dave Smith, Snowbowl’s Marketing Director. “This week’s snowfall has made for incredible skiing conditions and with the cooler temperatures, it will keep the snow in wonderful shape. Plus there is more snow in the forecast later in the weekend.”

Veterans hits the slopes at Snowmass

More than 300 Veterans are hitting the slopes this at the 25th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, taking place this week in Snowmass Village, Colo., March 27-April 1, 2011. According to a release, “The clinic provides newly injured vets and those from years past, the opportunity to learn life changing skills through rehabilitative winter sporting events.” Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at the opening ceremony on Sunday to thank the Veterans for their service.

In other news…

Twelve people including at least 11 students from the Killington Mountain School had to be rescued after skiing out of bounds on March 27, 2011 according the Vermont State Police…Youtube has some very scary footage of an avalanche in Tuckerman Ravine from March 19, 2011, here…Ski areas in New Zealand and Australia are already gearing up for what they hope is a banner season. The New Zealand ski industry enjoyed a 15 percent increase in visits last season, and Australia, whose ski industry had its second best year ever, are reporting strong reservations before the season starts. “People are booking and there’s real excitement about the coming season. We’re getting repeat business–there’s not a negative comment from those who’ve come and experienced our skiing, and they want to bring their friends,” James Coddington from NZ Ski Ltd told the New Zealand press.

–Peter Kray

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