Ski Pac: Squaw Turns 50

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The history of Squaw Valley USA¿one of Lake Tahoe's premier ski resorts¿is as rich as the area in which it lies. It wasn't until 1948 that the valley's wealth was tapped into when Wayne Poulson and Alexander Cushing formed the Squaw Valley Development Corporation. Pooling their resources, they opened the resort on Thanksgiving Day in 1949; the area consisted of one small lodge, a rope-tow and one ski lift.

Squaw Valley has weathered the fickle Sierra Nevada winters, and after 50 years, it is most internationally recognized as the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The 30-lift, 4,000-skiable-acres resort stretches over six distinct peaks. Few resorts in the world offer as much demanding terrain, and no other area in North America presents such a vast lift network .

Now in his mid-eighties, Cushing is still Squaw's leading visionary. The maverick ski operator continues to propel Squaw Valley into the upper tier of ski destinations with gumption. "What we've created here is for everybody to see," says Cushing. "But I'm not as concerned with the past 50 years as much as the future. We're pushing ahead into the 21st century. My life's ambition is to make Squaw Valley the very best."

In 1997 he unveiled a $30-million project¿the installation of the Funitel, a modernized cable car and a non-detachable conveyance gondola. This season the resort boasts two new high-speed six-pack detachable quads. Cushing's current venture: three hotels on the upper mountain and an Intrawest-built, $250-million alpine village at the base.