By Leah Sottile

Like all of the ski resorts in the Inland Northwest, Schweitzer suffered through a poor ski season last year. But things are back to business as usual this year, according to the resort's Sandy Chio. "I think I can speak for all of the resorts in the Inland Northwest: The snow is coming and the sun is also coming out. That works really well for the resorts," she says.

With nearly 160 inches of snow having fallen on the North Idaho mountain this season, Schweitzer has seen a lot of success on the newest runs: Jack's Dream, Pucci's Chute, Australia and K-Macs.

After years of hosting pre-race events, Schweitzer will host the United States Telemark Ski Association's National Races this year. The event is set for Feb. 26-29.

Schweitzer Mountain

Phone: (208) 263-9555

Easy access and crystal-clear visibility have always made Silver Mountain a popular pick for local skiers.

"Typically the visibility up there is like a bluebird's sunny day," Stephen Lane of Silver Mountain says. "Once you break through the clouds on the gondola, you'll get a sunburn up there."

Silver Mountain inaugurated the original chairlift this year on its birthday, and renamed it the Jackass Lift after the original name of the ski area. They also broke ground on four new runs, including the Moonshine run, which is a "long and steep" double black diamond, according to Lane. The new Happy Jack and Gem runs have also been busy due to the 170 inches of snow that Silver has seen this season.

After spending thousands of dollars last summer to improve the mountain gondola, Lane says that Silver's staff is enjoying having only to press a button in the morning to get the machine started.

The 2004 Chevy Truck Freestyle Olympics, a five-event junior competition, will be held on Silver Mountain this year from March 15-22, as well as the National Championships for Big Air and Half Pipe.

Silver Mountain

Phone: (208) 783-1111

In its first year of usage, the new Timberwolf ski lift has opened up five new runs in the Lookout Pass ski area.

"It gives you more of a feeling of skiing in the backcountry," Lookout's Michelle Coumerilh says. "There's plenty of room to do tree skiing."

Of the newly opened areas, the Sundance and White Trail runs are black diamonds, and the Keystone, Cloud 9 and Rainbow Ridge runs are all intermediate courses.

Despite having only 100 inches gracing Lookout Pass this season, Coumerilh says that hasn't stopped skiers from flooding the slopes. With the first ski free school day last weekend, the mountain saw hundreds of skiers and snowboarders taking advantage of the free lessons.

Lookout will host the Big Air Competition next weekend, when anyone can register to compete for prizes and show off their skills. Snow junkies can ski for free on Jan. 30 during the Toyota Free Ski Day and can watch the Special Olympics Winter Games on Feb. 1.

Lookout Pass

Phone: (208) 744-1301

With 60 inches at the summit of Big Mountain, the snowfall isn't the only news from the Montana mountain this winter. There's a new lodge and, as usual, a packed calendar of winter events.

The Morning Eagle Lodge opened in Glacier Village for the first time this season. The new lodge boasts fully furnished ski-in/ski-out condominiums and easy access to all of the Village's shops and facilities.

Big Mountain has seen a lot of success with the new BIG Nights programs this season. Snow-goers can buy evening passes for discounted skiing, snowboarding, inner tubing and sledding on selected runs.

As always, Big Mountain will host the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival on Feb. 6-8, and the 56th annual Doug Smith Memorial Downhill Race on Feb. 20-29.

Big Mountain

Phone: (406) 862-2900

With limited Wednesday through Sunday hours, the Mount Spokane ski area decided to add $99 mid-week passes for this year's season in order to attract more clientele.

Mount Spokane, boasting 75 inches of snow, has added a number of events to the regular-season calendar this year -- including Ladies' Days and Free Ski Days. The mountain north of Spokane will host three consecutive days of skiing and snowboarding competition during the first week of February. A Telemark Series Night Race will be held on Feb. 6, with a Big Air Competition on Feb. 7 and a Slope Style Competition on Feb. 8.

Mount Spokane

Phone: (509) 443-1397

The Chewelah ski area boasts acceptable snowfall this year, with nearly 80 inches on the ground after last week's cold snap. While 49 Degrees North has a long way to go to come close to its annual average of 301 inches, the mountain is bustling with skiers and riders on all 52 of its trails.

"We've had great snow this year," Paul Mahre, base area manager of 49 Degrees North, says. "Even when we haven't had a lot of it, the quality of the snow has been excellent."

Instead of adding new runs this year, 49 decided to channel money into infrastructure. The main project has been the update of Flowery Trail Road.

"Infrastructure is what makes things run around here," Mahre says, adding that chairlift improvements and new runs will be added next summer.

49 degrees North

Phone: (866) 376-4949

Publication date: 1/15/04

Newport Rodeo & Festival @ Newport Rodeo Grounds

Fri., June 25, 1-9 p.m. and Sat., June 26, 12-9 p.m.
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