Winter activities for the ‘greatest snow on earth’ season

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Michael Slater hates living in snow but loves it in the mountains, especially for the winter activities that come with this time of year. Slater, a BYU student from Arizona, has been skiing for 15 years and snowboarding for nine.

Michael Slater, Ivan Ho, CJ Lewis and Dustin Clouse finish skiing at Park City. Slater said every time he skis there's at least one run that he's excited about. (Tyler Slater)
Michael Slater, Ivan Ho, CJ Lewis and Dustin Clouse finish skiing at Park City. (Tyler Slater)

He joked that if it weren’t for skiing or snowboarding, he’d hibernate all winter. “It’s the only thing that gets me out of bed,” Slater said.

Slater loves snowboarding and skiing because they make him feel like he’s flying. No other sport does that for him. “That feeling of floating on the snow is just incredible,” he said.

Utah residents, like Slater, can find fun and even cartharsis in the sometimes-dreary winter through sports and other activities.

Snowboarding and skiing: The appeal

Slater said he loves that snowboarding and skiing are challenging and aren’t dictated by rules. He said they’re a combination of a sport and an art.

“There are so many aspects of it,” Slater said. “The adrenaline-pumping challenge, the artistic expression of your style of riding and the connection you get with the mountain and nature. It’s beautiful.”

Provo resident Julie Hawkins has skied for 20 years. She likes to go at least once a week at Sundance during the winter. She, too, appreciates nature’s effect on her as she skis.

“I like to be up on the mountains in the sunshine when there’s not too many people around,” Hawkins said. “It’s really peaceful up there.”

Places to snowboard and ski

Slater’s favorite place to snowboard and ski is Snowbird because its elevation and location gets the best snow. He also said Deer Valley is good for skiing and Park City has some of the best parks. Slater said Solitude is one of the most underrated resorts because of its overlooked but good terrain on the backside. He said he likes to go there when other places are crowded.

Ski Magazine lists the bests ski resorts, food, lifts, service, parks, off-hill activities and more. It also shows the opening dates for 15 ski resorts in Utah.

Emily Moench, of the Utah Center for Tourism, said skiing and snowboarding bring in a $1.3 billion contribution to Utah’s economy. “There were 4.2 million skier visits in the 2014 winter season,” Moench said.

Cheaper, creative winter activities

Moench said visitors spend an average of $323 per day on skiing and snowboarding resorts.

“It’s not a cheap sport,” Hawkins said. She has a season pass discount from her work.

Utah residents not interested in snowboarding or skiing can enjoy the snow through cheaper activities and traditions.

Provo residents use Rock Canyon Park year-round. Sledding down the expansive bowl is popular during the winter.

Residents can also go ice skating at Seven Peaks in Provo or at Park City’s ice arena.

Slater and his friends like to have fun with creative activities. They play broom hockey on Utah Lake every winter. They also like to tie a rope to the back of one of Slater’s friend’s trucks and use that to pull an inflatable tube around frozen parking lots.

He also likes having bonfires. “Most people think of bonfires in the summer, but sometimes it’s more fun in winter with the snow all around,” he said.

Slater and Hawkins like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Hawkins goes to the Hobble Creek Canyon in Springville. SnowshoeUtah has a guide for places to snowshoe and ski.

Slater and his friends have gone cross-country skiing at night. “Some of my friends hadn’t (ever) gone skiing or weren’t athletic,” he said. “It wasn’t a big deal. Everybody was laughing. It was really fun.”

Slater has skied in the U.S. and Canada. He said Canada might have more snow, but he likes the freshness, dryness and consistency of Utah’s snow.

“There’s something special to be said about Utah snow that’s just higher quality,” he said. “If I had to gamble, I’d be willing to bet on it and say we’ve got the best snow.”

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