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La Grande Observer 11/28/14

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CHANGES MARK OPENING OF NEW SEASON AT ANTHONY LAKES

Anthony Lakes is a mecca for Northeast Oregon snowboarders. The resort still has a half-pipe dragon in its shop, a device that helps carve out a snow tunnel skiers and boarders use for tricks. Last year its use was limited by lack of snowfall.  (Observer file photo).
Anthony Lakes is a mecca for Northeast Oregon snowboarders. The resort still has a half-pipe dragon in its shop, a device that helps carve out a snow tunnel skiers and boarders use for tricks. Last year its use was limited by lack of snowfall. (Observer file photo).

By Mark Furman

For The Observer

nthony Lakes Mountain Resort will look a little different this year.

However, you can look the same next year as you do this year if you happen to hold a season pass.

Youll never age at Anthony anymore, joked Rick Pignone, general manager.

The fountain of youth is in the resorts new digital pass-making equipment, which produces drivers license-like passes and stores photographs digitally for future use.

Next year, if you dont wish to get a new picture taken, you can show up and your pass will be ready for you, Pignone said.

The new technology is just one of a number of changes this winter. Most noticeable will be alterations to the bottom floor of the lodge. We built a beautiful retail shop where you can actually walk in and touch things, Pignone said.

The tables on the bottom floor have all been replaced, too.

Out on the mountain itself, cross-country skiers will notice the biggest change. The new Elkhorn Byway trail adds 10 kilometers to the nordic trail system, directing skiers out along the snow-covered road of the same name.

It goes along the scenic byway to the backside of our mountain, Pignone said. From there, the trail ascends to the top of the mountain, near the ski lift.

They can start from the nordic center to head up there, or take a one-time shot up the lift and head down, Pignone said.

Youve got the views, youve got the rolling terrain you get back in that Crawfish Basin area and its incredible, said Dick Knowles, nordic center director.

Knowles said he and others had already skied the route several times this winter.

Ready this weekend?

Both the nordic and alpine areas will open at the same time. Pignone said they would make the call Thursday night or Friday.

We have a really good base, a good 12 inches out there, he said Wednesday afternoon. Im going to say we picked up at least four to six inches this morning.

The problem is the winds are just enormous. Its actually stripping a lot of snow from the top of the mountain. Were out there today putting up fences, trying to catch some of it.

The Anthony Lakes staff is ready to go, but hasnt quite committed to opening, he said.

We ordered food, Pignone said. Usually when I order food, it means weve got to open.

Were feeling we can open Saturday, he said, but then, Thats strictly a roll of the dice.

Races and competition

Both the alpine and nordic areas will host races this winter, including several new events.

Back again at Anthony Lakes are the BoarderX and SkierX races, pronounced -cross. The races are run in group heats like a motocross race down courses that include banked turns and jumps. The BoarderX is Jan. 26 and 27; the SkierX Feb. 23 and 24.

The resort still has a half-pipe dragon in its shop, a device that helps carve out a snow tunnel skiers and boarders use for tricks.

We werent able to use it much last year because of the snow; we didnt have enough, Pignone said.

More favorable conditions this year, however, would allow for a half-pipe and a late season half-pipe competition March 30-31.

Racing on the nordic trails will coincide with the Olympic torch passing through Baker City Jan. 25, Knowles said. A 30-kilometer classic ski race is scheduled for Jan. 26 and 27.

Were talking about doing sprints downtown, he said. The ski team is up for that, and were going to send out an invitation to all these masters (skiers over 30) and everybody because that is showtime.

The nordic center will also host racing March 23-24 in a pursuit format.

The first day will be freestyle, the second day is class ski racing, he said. The freestyle race in order of finish dictates the order of start the next day. Winner goes first and everybody has to chase them.

Knowles said the races will help build a foundation for another goal: moving the Western Spring Series to the Pacific Northwest.

That will eventually mean all the national teams from the U.S. and Canada and two or three European teams would come and race in the Pacific Northwest instead of intermountain for the spring race series.

For families and beginners

You dont have to be a seasoned racer to find a special event on Anthonys calendar of events.

Were emphasizing a lot on foot people, people who just want to come up and play in the snow, Pignone said. You dont have to be a skier.

Santa Claus will visit the resort Dec. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and his elves will help with a 1:30 p.m. cookie decorating event.

On New Years Eve, the nordic center will host a Candle Light Ski from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Certain trails on the course will be lighted with candles, Knowles said. People new to the sport can give it a try Dec. 1, when the nordic center hosts an open house with free trail passes and lessons.

Its an opportunity to put on a pair of skis and walk out on the trails and participate, Pignone suggested.

The resort is planning Olympic torch-related events for Jan. 26. The torch will pass through Baker City in a noon-time ceremony Jan. 25, complete with other event sin the city.

Pignone plans to give out gold medals at the BoarderX and host a ski race on the Jan. 26. But the staff are also planning innertube races or something similar.

That will be something where people dont have to ski to come up and play, he said.

Other events, like a Beach Party and Snow Rodeo, offer opportunities for non-skiers to have some fun at the mountain, Pignone said.

In March, the nordic center will host a two-day Winter Environmental Workshop, Knowles said.

One day is kind of a biology tour of the critters that are running around in the woods in the wintertime, he said. The second day would be a photo workshop.

New tickets

The resort has purchased a new ticket printer and adopted new tickets with a background picture of the mountain itself. The new style is quality enough that Pignone believes visitors will find them collectible.

The ticket printer offers another opportunity, however.

What we can do on a daily basis is write anything we want on the front and just print it out, he said. We can say, Snow Blast in two weeks, or Too Loud MacLeod this Friday night.

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