Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gamble on Snow and Dice; It's Already Snowing in the Resort of Heavenly, Straddling the Border of Nevada and California, Where the Skiers and the Gamblers Play

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gamble on Snow and Dice; It's Already Snowing in the Resort of Heavenly, Straddling the Border of Nevada and California, Where the Skiers and the Gamblers Play

Article excerpt

Byline: SEAN HIGNETT

It's already snowing in the resort of Heavenly, straddling the border of Nevada and California, where the skiers and the gamblers play IT'S a surreal sight. It is 8am and Harvey's is singing to the sound of rattling dimes.

Slotmachine trays are calling: " Tinkle, tinkle, nickel and dime, try your luck just one more time."

Overweight punters are clutching plastic cups, the kind of they use for a king-size Coke, but here they're filled with money, a deeply Freudian phenomenon. Fat ladies, for whom the game is not over until they drop their last fistful, are spreading themselves over two, three slots at once.

But that is just the backcloth.

Here, weird as a melting watch, comes the surrealism: through the narrow aisles humming with gamblers hoarse from chasing seven-eleven all night, a couple are threading their way. They are mirror-glassed, deeply tanned and fit. They are wearing Nevica not K-Mart, sporting labels such as Salomon and bearing bags by Head.

Skiers in a gambling inferno.

We are neither in heaven nor hell. We are in Heavenly - or, to be precise, in Stateline, the Nevada town that eyes South Shore, Heavenly Ski Valley's zip-code address, across the road in non-gaming California.

High-rise hotel-casinos here, pretty little cuckoo-clock, Alpinedeco, nothing-over-two-storeys there.

Disembark at the top of the Sky Express lift and you'll find a sign that says: "To Nevada".

Nevada Side, as buffs call it, has some real goodies: Milky Way, a wide-open bowl of black runs; drops through fenced gates into the "experts-only" double black diamonds of Mott Canyon.

From there you can tail off into Milky Way's milder descendants: Galaxy, Big Dipper, Orion and Aries - runs in places so gentle that, if there's the slightest headwind, it almost feels like skiing uphill.

What California Side has going for it is scenery. You face it first at the top of Sky Express, then, round each bend in the trees as you cruise Ridge Run, it confronts you: Lake Tahoe, all 22 miles of it, crystal blue in the California sunshine and so much a continuation of the ski area you feel you need only catch some air off the next bump and you could end up waterskiing. …

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