By Matthew Best
With the mountains already dusted by the season”s first significant snowfall, Utah ski resorts are eager to announce their new additions and start the season early.
Following several years of drought, the early snow and cooler temperatures have weather forecasters and snow enthusiasts alike hoping for plenty of fresh snow to blanket the mountaintops.
So as skiers pull out their skis and riders try to remember what they did with their beanies, here”s a rundown on some of the newest additions to some of Utah”s resorts.
PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT
With over 3,300 acres of skiable terrain, Park City Mountain Resort has been ranked by Ski magazine as one of the Top 10 resorts in North America the last 17 years, said Krista Rowles, public relations manager for PCMR.
PCMR also wants to announce the First Time chairlift was replaced by a high-speed, four-passenger detachable lift, said Julie Hopkins, director of marketing and sales at PCMR. Hopkins said this addition will give newer skiers and snowboarders a better learning experience, as well as help with congestion near the base of the resort.
If looking to escape the crowds and get some fresh tracks, head over to Jupiter Bowl or McConkey”s Bowl.
In case of inclement of weather, or lack thereof, Snowbird spent its off-season improving its snowmaking capacity. Snowmaking will now cover Gad Valley from Hidden Peak to the base of the Gadzoom, said Snowbird chair Laura Schaffer.
For pipe enthusiasts, Snowbird also reported installing a new Superpipe. The pipe is 340 feet long, 50 feet wide and has 18-foot walls. Along with the Superpipe, the terrain parks have been expanded, adding new rails and music.
At $59 a ticket, the ”Bird is a bit pricey for the average college student; however, the folks there run several promotions, including discount tickets through Smith”s. Make sure to check out Mineral Basin while there; also, the recently expanded backside of Snowbird added 500 acres to their already large resort.
DEER VALLEY RESORT
Deer Valley Resort, ranked by Ski magazine as the No. 2 ski resort in North America, added over $8 million in improvements this past summer, said Christa Graff, communications manager at Deer Valley.
Those new additions include two new chairlifts in the Flagstaff area of the resort, as well as two new intermediate runs in the area.
Along with the new runs, Deer Valley Resort also expanded its terrain park and added more glade skiing.
Looking for a classy resort with good skiing and don”t mind paying extra for it? Check out Deer Valley.
Solitude has also expanded its snowmaking capabilities, said Jay Burke director of marketing and media relations.
“We have completely revamped our snowmaking system to the tune of about $1.5 million…it”s a pretty big deal for us,” Burke said. “But in the grand scheme of things, we don”t like to put too much emphasis on our snowmaking system because we are fortunate to get over 500 inches of Mother Nature”s finest.”
Solitude has a unique season pass which allows customers to choose the days they want to ski.
“The way it works is you buy any Monday Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for $199,” Burke said. “You can buy every single day if you want. Each day after that would only cost you $59 a day. Fridays are $89.”
Averaging only 1.5 skiers per acre, Solitude really is a skier”s resort. Even a few days after the freshest powder has hit, the mountains” fresh track lines can be made at this resort.
Brighton, long known as a snowboarders resort, replaced the Majestic lift this past summer. Majestic was a double-chair lift that Brighton built in 1955.
The new lift holds four people and will allow skiers and riders quicker access to the terrain park and some of Brighton”s best areas.
The secret to Brighton is taking advantage of their night skiing and the many deals they offer to locals.
The closest resort to BYU is Sundance, purchased by Robert Redford in 1969. Czar Johnson said there were no significant changes at Sundance this season.
“Currently we haven”t made any changes or moves in that direction [terrain park],” he said. “It is something that is continually discussed and talked about. Our view on it is that if we do it and when we do it we are going to do it right the first time.”
Johnson said one change Sundance did make recently was securing and purchasing enough wind power from Wyoming to run Ray”s Lift.
For those who are environmentally minded, Sundance was the only resort in Utah which received an A rating from Skiers Association for their focus on environmental issues.
For those strapped for cash and time, Sundance will be the best bet. Located only 20 minutes from campus, it is the perfect place to hit after class for a few runs. Plus, they offer a midweek pass for college students for only $150.
Included with the price of any pass is free UTA transportation to the resort. Once there, stick to the higher terrain to find the better snow and smaller crowds.
Utah”s largest resort and the fifth-largest in the nation is The Canyons Resort in Park City.
For those interested in honing their skills with a few lessons, The Canyons may just be the place.
The Canyons” ski and snowboard school recently received a top 5 ranking by Mountain Living, said Katie Eldridge director of communications at The Canyons. They are also offering terrain park clinics and added a new terrain park for beginners.
The Canyons has enough varied terrain to satisfy most everyone, and for those who sign up in the BYU Snowriders club, a season pass to this resort will only cost $340. Spouses can purchase passes for the same price as one pass.
For an epic day of skiing, check out Lookout Peak or hit up The Aspens for some great tree skiing.
At the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon is the venerable Alta, a skier”s paradise. Snowboarders still aren”t allowed here.
Alta reports a new lift, which should help with the long lift rides. Fresh powder days are common here, but so are skiers. With luck, one may end up at Alta when an avalanche closes the canyon and they can keep on skiing the next day, too.
Several resorts are planning on opening November 17, so time is short and the season is soon.