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Olympic Style Skiing:
Better Late Than Never at Squaw Valley



Lee Juillerat

Photos by Larry Turner


Not everyone gets to go to the site of the Winter Olympics.

I did.

No, not to the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Torino, Italy. I spent time at Squaw Valley on the California side of Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately, I was more than a few years tardy. It was 1968 when Squaw Valley hosted the Winter Olympics.

Actually, Squaw Valley is probably a nicer place to visit nearly a half-century after its celebrated Olympic games. At least I had a gold medal time on and off the slopes.

"Hello, Mom?"


Known as Squaw Valley USA, the resort offers expansive skiing and snowboarding possibilities on more than 4,000 acres of terrain. Access is provided by a mind-boggling 34 lifts, including a tram and gondolas. The blend of trails offers possibilities for skiers and riders of all abilities, with 25 percent of the runs for beginners, 45 percent for intermediates and 30 percent for experts.

There's a lot to see, in more ways than one. Several chairs peak at summits offering bird's eye views of the neighboring Sierra Nevada range and Lake Tahoe. The highest vantage is at elevation of 9,050 feet above sea level, and 2,850 feet above the base village.

Squaw Creek Lodge
Gondola Ride to the Top


Squaw Valley's village retains its European flair, with a broad offering of lodgings, eateries and retail services.

Friends and I stayed at the rather posh Resort at Squaw Creek, an easy shuttle ride to the village with a front-door ski lift that provides quick access to the ski area's network of lifts. Its owners have spent $53 million in the past two years to create a four-star all-seasons resort.

Searching for Tree Wells
Last Man Standing
Squaw Valley Gondola


We and other guests were pampered with tummy-delighting sumptuous meals, luxurious suites, a heated outdoor pool, bubbly hot tubs and a spa where the offerings include Swedish, deep tissue, aromatherapy and Tahoe hot stone massages plus facials, seaweed and mud wraps, body waxing and even an apricot body polish.

Even during a three-night stay there wasn't enough time for ice skating, dog sledding, sleigh rides, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Why We Ski
Skier's Reflections
Author Lee, Looking for his Car


Instead, my friends and I spent our daylight hours as busy as gerbils, riding up lifts and whizzing down runs enjoying the scenery and variety of baby-bottom smooth groomed trails. We burned off calories that we replenished nightly at Sandy's Pub and Ristorante Montagna.

While the Resort at Squaw Creek is modern and upscale, the village and ski area have retained their European flavor. An Olympic Museum is located at High Camp, located at an elevation of 8,200 feet. The camp is reached by a tram that carries an equal mix of skiers-riders and sightseers.

But the real attraction of any ski area are its slopes, and Squaw Valley has a cornucopia of offerings. Unusually, few of the runs are named. Instead, chairs and lifts that access regions are color coded green, blue or red, indicating beginner, intermediate or expert terrain.

Alone on the Mountain
Falling from the Sun
Squaw Creek Lodge Spa


With others or with photographer Larry Turner, I plunged down corduroy steeps or wig-wagged along runs bordered by trees and, more unusually, granite outcroppings. Our final day we visited areas not seen the previous two days, and openly gawked at the endless panorama of snow-burdened Sierra peaks.

Squaw Valley is truly an Olympian experience. So what if we were a few years late.

Photographer Larry Turner is "The Musher."
Squaw Valley Olympic Village
Olympic Village
SV Lodge Ice Skating
Author Lee Juillerat
Squaw Valley Slopeside Pool


Lee Juillerat writes for newspapers and magazines, including Northwest Travel, Oregon Coast, Range and in-flight publications for Horizon and Alaska Airlines. He has written two books about Crater Lake National Park and contributed works to several other books. He can be contacted at lee337@cvc.net

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What's New at Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley TV
To helps guest get the most out of their visit, Squaw Valley is introducing Squaw Valley TV. On plasma screens placed in areas like the Cable Car lobby and the rental shop, guests can view real-time lift updates, conditions, info on upcoming events to ensure they are dressed for the weather and never miss out on what¹s going on.

The resort is increasing snowmaking at the Papoose beginner area and the Gold Coast intermediate area.

Squaw Sessions
Squaw Sessions, a ski and snowboard camp for teens, is being offered during holidays and peak periods. The sessions will teach teens about the origins of the free-ride movement and provides tools for mastering terrain park and big mountain skiing and riding. The sessions are for rippers unafraid of shredding off-piste and specifically designed for ski and snowboard crazed
13 to 17 year-olds. Teens will meet coaches in the morning and be placed in groups based on ability.
Mid-Mountain Demo Center Expands
Last season Squaw Valley introduced an on-mountain Demo Center at the top of the Funitel in the Gold Coast Lodge. Its popularity has prompted additional improvements, including a new women-specific line and a new fleet of skis including the newest models of K2, Atomic, Volkl, Rossignol, Nordica and Salomon.

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When You Go

The site of the VIII Winter Olympic Games, Squaw Valley USA is located five miles north of Lake Tahoe along the Truckee River on Highway 89. The year-round resort offers 4,000 acres of lift served terrain including two half pipes and three terrain parks, ice-skating, snowtubing, indoor rock climbing, an Olympic Winter Games Museum, shopping, dining and more. For information call 530-583-6985, or visit www.squaw.com. For information about the Resort at Squaw Creek call toll-free (800) 327-3353 or visit their Web site at www.squawcreek.com.

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