Snowbird’s early opening sets high expectations for a great season

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SNOWBIRD — The snowstorm that blasted Utah Valley and its mountains last week, dumping over 50 inches of snow in some areas, was exactly what Utah resorts were looking for to kick off the 2012–2013 ski season; for some, opening day came earlier than expected.

Brighton, Brianhead, Solitude and Alta opened on Nov. 16; Snowbird was anxious to get in on the action. With a little help from Mother Nature, it opened two days earlier than expected on Thursday Nov. 15.

“This is the storm we needed to get the season started off right,” said Bob Bonar, president of Snowbird. “Lake effect made a good storm into a great storm, leaving more than four feet of snow throughout the mountain.”

Gadzoom, Mid-Gad and Chickadee chairlifts opened Thursday, and the Aerial Tram opened Regulator Johnson run on Saturday Nov. 17. Beginner terrain is now available on Chickadee Run. Intermediate and advanced terrain is now available on Bassackwards and Big Emma. The remainder of the mountain will remain closed to all guests until conditions improve.

A recent press release stated the resort “installed new snowmaking equipment over the summer, doubling its snowmaking capacity and allowing more terrain to open earlier in the season. Snowbird also updated the Little Cloud chairlift to a high-speed detachable quad. The new lift will have its grand opening with a celebration on Dec. 1.” This is great news for those looking to access more terrain quickly.

This is why Bonnie Sackett, realtor, current Sandy citizen and wife of a 29-year ski patrol veteran, comes to Snowbird and calls it home.

“I came out to ski just one year from New York; that was 39 years ago,” Sackett said. “This is our house, it’s just beautiful. (There are) a lot of really good people, and the mountain is like no other. The snow is always consistent, and the powder is phenomenal. It’s better than anywhere I have ever skied in United States and Europe. The runs are all incredible; we like the steep.”

Spencer Wheatley, a real estate agent from Salt Lake and part-time snow safety officer at Snowbird, agreed with Sackett. He’ll take Snowbird over anywhere else in Utah.

“It’s the terrain and the snow,” Wheatley said. “Last year, the snow was below average of 500 inches, and the year before it was above average. So we’re hoping for above average this year.”

Snowbird claims to have one of the longest running seasons out of all of its competitors in Utah, averaging 500 inches of snowfall annually with over 2,500 rideable acres of terrain. This year, as well as every year, the claim will be put to the test.

“Definitely a good sign for this season,” said Emily Moench, communications manager of Snowbird. “The anticipation has really been building up especially after that 50-plus-inch storm we had last weekend. With that storm, it’s been one of the best opening days we have seen in years. People came out in throngs, and we are very happy with the turnout.”

As for now, all-day tickets are being sold at a reduced price. Lodging and lift ticket packages are available for as little as $99 per person (plus tax and resort fees, two-night minimum stay). Details can be found at Snowbird.com, or by calling (801) 933.2222.

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