When Squaw Valley became a ski resort, there wasn’t much happening around the Lake Tahoe area. In 1949, Alex Cushing opened the ski lodge because he thought the skiing was better in the Western part of the United States. Cushing was an East Coast boy and an avid East Coast Skier. Cushing was right. Once the word got out that there was a new ski lodge near the border of Nevada and California business started to boom. The slopes in Squaw Valley were better than the slopes in Vermont. Even the Colorado ski aficionados came to Squaw Valley to test the slopes. When the Olympic Committee made the announcement in the 1950s, the Cushing’s were a little surprised by it. The committee wanted Squaw Valley to host the 1960 Winter Olympic games. The Cushing’s may have been surprised by the announcement, but the people that visited the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range resort were not surprised.
Squaw Valley became a top-rated ski destination in the 1960s. Thanks to the Olympics, the resort became a favorite stop for celebrities, politicians, professional skiers, and anyone else that enjoyed winter sports. The Cushing family kept control of the resort until the family hired Andy Wirth in 2010. By that time, the resort needed a facelift, and the family wanted Wirth to oversee the project. Wirth was the Marketing Director for the Steamboat Springs Ski Resort in Colorado when the Cushing’s contacted him. Andy became the first non-family member president of the resort. Wirth is now the CEO of the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort. Squaw Valley merged with Alpine Meadows for several reasons. The 2010 facelift and the merger with Alpine Meadows, kept Squaw Valley on top in the ski industry.
The West Coast drought has not been kind to ski resorts over the last five years. Many ski resorts have closed, and others have been counting pennies in order to survive. Squaw Valley has survived, and thanks to a successful 2015/2016 season, the resort is stronger than ever. In fact, Wirth has been pushing a $1 billion expansion program for more than five years. The 94-acre expansion will add more than 1,500 hotel rooms, and condos as well as more restaurants, shops and clothing boutiques.
When a major rainstorm hit the upper mountain section of Squaw Valley in October 2016, four wells that provide drinking water for two sections of the resort were flooded. When the water receded, the staff checked the water and found E. Coli and coliform in the wells. Liesl Kenney, the Public Relations Director for Squaw Valley, released a statement to the Sierra Sun explaining the resort’s course of action. The wells were shut down, and restaurants in the High Camp and Gold Coast areas were closed. The Environmental Health Department and the Squaw Valley Utility District were notified. Other health experts were called in to assist in the clean up.
Kenney also said three of the four wells are now E. coli free, but low levels of coliform are still present. The wells will remain closed until all signs of the bacteria are gone. The skiers were not inconvenienced by the water issue, and no illnesses were reported.