National Meeting 2013: Mammoth Mountain, California

50th Anniversary Celebration!

2013 is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA). To celebrate, we held out national meeting at Mammoth Mountain, California, on April 7-12.

From left to right, ski racer Stacey Cook, Mammoth PR chief Joani Lynch, and the Midwest's Frida Waara

From left to right, ski racer Stacey Cook, Mammoth PR chief Joani Lynch, and the Midwest’s Frida Waara

Among our activities, we:

  • Had a fireside chat with Rusty Gregory, Mammoth CEO
  • Visited a biathalon training facility as well as Mono Lake
  • Had fantastic dine-arounds
  • Inspected world-class terrain parks
Our meeting and sleeping rooms were at the Village Lodge

Our meeting and sleeping rooms were at the Village Lodge

In addition, we enjoyed several days of skiing and riding at a mountain that is truly “Mammoth.”

John LaPlante running the gates at the NASJA race

John LaPlante running the gates at the NASJA race

Ski school teachers

Alice Williamson, reports on the Mammoth Mountain ski school:

Mammoth has a first-class kids ski school, which my granddaughter Nykki attended for 2 days. She started out having never skied a real mountain (was an intermediate on our ‘bumps’ in MN & WI) and was skiing Mammoth blacks after one day. Everything worked like clockwork getting started: signing up, getting skis and getting on to the mountain. The two instructors who worked with her were outstanding (Sarah & Jesse) and she had a great time learning from them.

Nykki

Mountain hosts

For two days, we were guided on the mountain by the exert mountain hosts. Here’s what John LaPlante had to say:

I have to give a loud shout-out to Mammoth for sending some of their senior mountain hosts to be our guides on two different days. The two guides I had were personable, knowledgeable, and kept me out of trouble. Hats off also to Bob Cox, who was NASJA’s force behind the meeting. He suggested having convention-goers sign up for guides according to ability and interest level. There was a tour for those seeking steeps, another for cruisers, and so forth. Finally, I give the hosts credit for keeping my own groups together. Usually, as a snowboarder, I get left behind in tour groups. Not so this time! My hosts were careful to make sure that I didn’t get left behind.

Mammoth at Twilight

Mono Lake
Carol DeVore reports on one of the options that were available this week.

While other NASJA folks enjoyed skiing the vast expanse of Mammoth Mountain, a busload of us opted for a tour – hosted by Mono County Tourism – of Mono Lake (pronounced MOH-noh), a VERY salty lake fed by fresh water springs and streams, but with no outlet. Fresh water mingles with alkaline lake water to form interesting mineral towers called tufas. The only living things in the lake are brine shrimp and alkali flies – food for millions of migratory water fowl. 

In 1941, the city of Los Angeles began diverting water from the feeder streams for its use. After several decades of this water “piracy”, Mono Lake was in trouble. The feeders dried up and the lake lost nearly a third of its surface. It took 20 years of effort and an eventual CA Supreme Court ruling to force L.A. to reduce its use of water and begin restoration. The goal is for the lake level to rise by 10 feet over 20 years.

On the way back to Mammoth Lakes, we took the June Lake Loop, a scenic 14-mile drive through country renowned for its fall color. We made a stop at Double Eagle Resort and Spa, where we were treated to lunch, toured the spa and were shown a pond belonging to the resort that was the site for filming of the latest Tom Cruise movie, “Oblivion” (released just as NASJA members were saying their goodbyes). We were told all about the weeks of preparation, and changes the crew made to the surroundings – like diverting water from a stream to raise the level of the pond a foot! They even made permanent repairs to the road, raising their popularity with the locals.

Since I wasn’t skiing this year, the Mono Lake tour was a highlight of my Mammoth visit.

 

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