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Resorts Focus on Safety After Week of Snow

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NORDEN -- Staff at Sugar Bowl spent Thursday morning, not serving skiers, but digging out from snow dumped by this region's recent storms.

Prompting the question: Is there such a thing as too much snow for a ski resort?

"Well on Tuesday there was snow that was so deep it was a little difficult to get through ... but I'll never say there's too much snow," laughed John Slaughter, spokesman for Sugar Bowl.

The resort had to stay closed until noon Thursday, so they could clear their parking lots, and blast away any snow drifts that had Avalanche potential.

"Oh we have every employee possible out here shoveling, blowing parking lots, doing everything we can to make sure everyone can get up here and enjoy it," Slaughter said.

Blasting in potential avalanche areas continued into the afternoon.

"Yeah. It was cool seeing all the blasting," said snow boarder Justus Stratton of Grass Valley. "Never seen that before."

Once the lifts opened, though, skiers say the conditions are pretty close to ideal.

"Probably the best in the last five years or more," said Caitlin Sullivan, a snow boarder from Auburn.

With I-80 still not flowing at speed in the morning, it took a little patience to get to those near perfect slopes.

"Little crazy. There were a lot of people without chains or 4-wheel drive, so it took us awhile. We got stuck but we made it," said Carol Dunn of Danville.

But the hunt for a pristine patch of snow to ride through, for so many at Sugar Bowl today, was well worth it.

"Last time I was up there was a couple gates that hadn't open yet. So there's still going to be prime powder tomorrow," Slaughter said.