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Sierra-at-Tahoe shuts down 'with heavy heart' | News

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Sierra-at-Tahoe shuts down 'with heavy heart'


ECHO SUMMIT, Calif. - Saying it could no longer deliver a product that met its standards, Sierra-at-Tahoe suspended all resort operations Monday.

"I've been in the business 37 years and never closed in March," said general manager John Rice.

Rice announced the shutdown on Facebook "with a heavy heart," saying the resort had exhausted all possible snowmaking and snow-harvesting tools that had allowed it to remain open since Dec. 12.

Rice said Sierra-at-Tahoe received only about one-third of its average snowfall this season, and a storm system that dumped 32 inches of new snow at Squaw Valley two weeks ago delivered just half that on the southern end of Lake Tahoe.

Public reaction to the general manager's unusual candor was overwhelmingly positive.

"I think it's cool they're doing what they can to make sure if they're open, we're only riding good-quality snow," said Drew Woods, who drove up from Placerville to see the conditions for himself.

Roughly 200 seasonal employees are being laid off this week, about a month earlier than usual.

Rice said about 150 employees are available on call to reopen if weather conditions permit, but he acknowledged that the resort has often closed in April despite a healthy snowpack because of waning public interest in winter sports.