Ski Utah Reports an EPIC Ski Season you won’t want to mis!
Utah Resorts Are Ready for 2015-16
Summer is on its way out the door, and that can only mean one thing: another incredible Wasatch winter season is on its way. Utah’s14 ski resorts, down in count by one this winter only due to the new combination of Park City and The Canyons under the Vail Resorts umbrella, worked tirelessly this summer to add new terrain and on-mountain enhancements, build lifts, remodel accommodations, and prepare alluring anniversary celebrations and packages.
While many may know about Utah’s enviable accessibility (10 resorts are located just under an hour’s drive from the Salt Lake City International Airport) and about the state’s 500 annual inches of The Greatest Snow on Earth, this year the ski resorts of Utah want to show how much more they have to offer.
The 2015-16 season is a big year in Utah, as over $100 million in on-mountain capital improvements are set to debut across the state, highlighted by two high-profile mergers and acquisitions.
Vail Resorts is in the midst of a $50 million dollar transformational capital program that will for the first time connect Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort, creating what will henceforth be known only as Park City – the largest ski and snowboard resort in the United States. Boasting 7,300 skiable acres, Park City will be completed before the start of the 2015-16 season.
As of May 1, 2015,Deer Valley Resort officially took ownership of Solitude Mountain Resort from the DeSeelhorst family and commenced running operations on site. Deer Valley Resort announced a list of capital improvements, including the new high-speed quad Summit Express chairlift at its new property in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Another $35 million dollars in capital improvements will crown Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort with a new mountaintop facility named Summit Lodge. Following groundbreaking in 2014, the new structure atop Hidden Peak is scheduled to be completed by late fall. Guests can look forward to a new building with spectacular, 360-degree eagle eye views from 11,000 feet. The two-story glass-enclosed structure will replace the temporary-turned-permanent Ski Patrol building and warming hut that has greeted Snowbird Aerial Tram riders for more than 40 years.
The centerpiece for Park City’s $50 million dollar capital program is the Quicksilver Gondola, an eight-passenger gondola that will leave from the bottom of Silverlode on the Park City side of the mountain and end at Flat Iron at what was formerly known as Canyons Resort. In addition, on the Park City Mountain side, the King Con lift will be upgraded from a four-person to a six-person high-speed detachable chair lift to help increase capacity. The Motherlode lift will also be ungraded from a fixed-grip triple to a four-person high-speed detachable.
Deer Valley Resort’s biggest capital improvement at Solitude Mountain Resort for the 2015-16 season will be removing the Summit fixed-grip double chairlift and installing a new four-person detachable high-speed quad. This will enhance access to Honeycomb Canyon, which offers some of the best in-bounds backcountry-style terrain in the state.
At Park City, a new 500-seat eatery Miners Camp will replace the Snow Hut next to the base of the Silverlode lift and the new Quicksilver Gondola. Meanwhile, upgrades to Summit House will improve the flow of diners in the space and increase seating. On the former Canyons Resort side, Red Pine Restaurant will be renovated to the tune of 250 additional indoor seats.
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort’s Summit Lodge on top of Hidden Peak will be transformed into a 23,000 square foot building that will provide cafeteria seating for 192 people on the first floor, offer private dining room seating for 180 guests, restrooms, a coffee/pastry shop and Ski Patrol, and boast a 10,000 square foot deck.
Deer Valley Resort will be remodeling and improving services at Solitude Mountain Resort’s Moonbeam Lodge Restaurant, as well as a complete revamp of menus at all resort restaurants in true Deer Valley culinary style.
North Fork Table & Tavern provides unrivaled panoramic views of the Ogden Valley and Pineview Reservoir, between Powder Mountain and Snowbasin. Located in the hamlet of Eden, just 20 minutes northeast of Ogden and near the bottom of the Powder Mountain access road, the lodge is flooded with warm natural light that spills into acozy and comfortable après-ski lounge. The restaurant‘s full service bar, and plenty of communal seating throughout, make it the perfect meeting place to relax after a long day of shredding.
Park City’s $50 million plan rounds out with additional snowmaking on two trails in the Iron Mountain area on the former Canyon Resort’s side, to handle increased skier traffic for Quicksilver Gondola access.
Deer Valley Resort built a new ski run at Solitude Mountain Resort from the top of the existing Apex Express chairlift to the bottom terminal of the new, realigned Summit Express chairlift, significantly lessening the current travel time to Honeycomb Canyon.
PACKAGES AND VALUES
Ogden, Utah, located just 35 miles north of Salt Lake City, is working hard to break the mold of being “Utah’s best kept secret.” Ogden has officially launched a new Ski3 Pass this year, which offers a full day lift ticket at Powder Mountain, full day lift ticket at Snowbasin Resort, and a half day at Nordic Valley Resort for $159. To top it off, those who fly into Salt Lake City via Alaska Airlines will receive a free lift ticket within 24 hours of arrival courtesy of Snowbasin Resort.
Park City, now the biggest resort in the United States, will be operating all 7,300 skiable acres under the Epic Pass, which gives consumers unlimited days at Park City and Vail Resorts, as well as additional privileges at another 22 resorts around the world.
Book your stay in a luxurious cottage at Sundance Mountain Resort and receive two free lift passes per night. This package also includes night skiing on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening. Tickets are good for the Sundance Nordic Center.
Eagle Point, a gem in Southern Utah’s Tushar Mountains, is available for private rental Tuesday throughThursday, January 5 – April 3. More information at is available at www.eaglepointresort.com.
GREATEST SNOW ON EARTH (FOR BEGINNERS)
Whether you are a powder hound, a cruiser on the groomers, or a beginner, there are plenty of packages to help subsidize the cost for families and immerse new skiers/riders into the sport beloved by so many.
Ski Utah’s 5th and 6th Grade Passports Program is offered to kids nationwide. Fifth graders receive three free lift tickets at each of Utah’s 14 resorts and sixth graders receive one free lift ticket to each resort, with a $35 processing fee.
This year Brighton Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon has increased the age to “ski free” to 10 years and younger.
If you can only make a few turns in the afternoon, Alta Ski Area offers a $10 ticket ($5 if you already possess an Alta Card to recharge) to ski after 3 p.m.on the resort’s Sunnyside, Albion and Cecret chairlifts.
Brian Head University Program is a risk-free plan for first time skiers or snowboarders of all ages. They guarantee their Terrain Based Learning program will have you skiing and riding in just three lessons, or receive a full refund.
Park City launched Epic SchoolKids in Utah, offering five free days of skiing and riding at Park City for all of Utah’s Kids, Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. It includes a free lesson during the month of January as well. See a separate story below.
Don’t forget as well that January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM) nationwide. Many of Utah’s resorts participate and offer packages containing a lift ticket, rentals and lesson for $45. On January 8, 2016, LSSM will be going for the Guinness Book of World Records Largest Ski and Snowboard Lesson, so make sure you head to your local hill to participate.
Utah’s newest ski area,Cherry Peak Resort, is opening this season in Northern Utah. Located near the Idaho border just 15 miles from the Cache Valley city of Logan, the resort features three triple chairlifts, a comprehensive snowmaking infrastructure and a 1.25 mile-long run. The resort has an impressive three-story day lodge that will host events year-round. Cherry Peak is the first new ski resort to be built in Utah for decades.
Brighton, one of the four Salt Lake City-area ski resorts, celebrates its 80th year in the business this season. Located just 35 minutes from the airport, Brighton is a staple to both locals and visitors alike. Brighton is Utah’s only resort that serves 100 percent of its terrain via high-speed lifts, offering multiple terrain parks and annual snowfalls of over 500 inches. Cheers to 80 more!
Snowbasin Resortis also celebrating a big anniversary this season as it moves into its 75th year of operations. Steeped in history, Snowbasin first opened in 1940 and is one of the oldest operating ski areas in the U.S. It proudly hosted the 2002 Olympic Games’ Downhill, Combined and Super G races. To mark the diamond anniversary, the resort will host three events to celebrate the occasion: the Proclamation Day on November 27, which will mark the official day of the 75th Anniversary; the 75th Anniversary Release Party on December 16will unveil the signature 75th Anniversary beer and whiskey; and on January 8 the 75th Birthday celebration will feature children’s activities, live music and birthday cake.
ONE WASATCH / Mountain Accord
In March of last year, Ski Utah and its resort members launched ONE Wasatch, a cohesive concept that would connect Utah’s seven (now six) Central Wasatch ski areas via chairlift and ski run. The proposed concept would be privately funded, with minimal social and environmental impacts. The first of three needed connections — the new Quicksilver Gondola between Park City and the former Canyons Resort — has been approved and will be completed in time for the 2015-16 season.
While ski industry stakeholders still believe that chairlifts and ski runs are the most cost-effective and least invasive way to connect the resorts, more robust connectivity via light rail or aerial solutions would still accomplish the overall goal of connectivity – a top priority for the Mountain Accord economic system group that consists of dozens of participating entities including Ski Utah and its member resorts, as well as local municipalities, counties, agencies and environmental groups.
Since last winter, the group has pioneered a broad blueprint for conserving Utah’s Central Wasatch Mountains. Key to the Accord will be trading numerous resort-owned parcels in what is currently highly trafficked backcountry terrain for public land at the base of the resorts. This trade would open the door for improvement of resort base facilities and, importantly, service future transportation upgrades.
Ski Utah Partners with Protect Our Winters
Ski Utah and Protect Our Winters (POW) have announced a partnership with the mission of raising awareness of climate change and uniting the winter sports community in the state of Utah.
Protect Our Winters is the environmental axis of the global winter sports community, powered by its goal of reducing the effect climate change is imposing on our local sports and economies. Ski Utah is dedicated to promoting the ski and snowboard industry in the great state of Utah. Together POW, Ski Utah and its renowned resorts can impact the entire community and industry with incredible success.
To show Ski Utah’s immediate commitment to POW, CEO/President of Ski Utah, Nathan Rafferty, sent a letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert asking for his public support of the EPA Clean Power Plan and to urge him to submit an on-time strategy to achieve the targets set forth in the Clean Power Plan.
“As a leading advocate for one of Utah’s greatest assets, The Greatest Snow on Earth, and its $1.2 billion-dollar winter tourism industry, it is a natural fit for Ski Utah to partner with POW,” says Rafferty. “POW has done an excellent job representing the global snowsports community in the fight against climate change. We look forward to supporting POW’s mission and raising further climate change awareness here in Utah.”
“We’re honored to be partnering with Ski Utah,” says Executive Director of Protect Our Winters, Chris Steinkamp, “With so much at stake and with so many POW members and athletes living in Utah, this partnership will only accelerate our efforts to unite Utah’s winter recreation community around environmental responsibility and climate action this year.”
Moving forward, Ski Utah will encourage snowsports participants to join POW’s efforts through print, digital and social campaigns. In an effort to raise local and national awareness around the cause, Ski Utah, Protect Our Winters and Discrete with efforts from Alta and Snowbird will be hosting the first “POW Day” on Jan. 13, 2016. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jan. 13 statistically has the highest likelihood for snowfall in the Wasatch over any other day of the year. On this day Ski Utah will be encouraging skiers and riders to carpool, take UTA or ride-share to help lower CO2 emissions, reduce traffic congestion and increase overall awareness around environmental accountability.
For more information on sustainability efforts at all of Utah’s resorts, check outwww.skiutah.com/media-room/keep-utah-cool. To get involved with Protect Our Winters, visitwww.protectourwinters.org.
Brighton to Offer Pre-Season Terrain Park
Utah’s Brighton Resort will be teaming up with local pros to create a pre-season terrain park named “The BoneZone”.
Originally built at nearby Guardsman Pass around 2008, the BoneZone was the result of the creative minds of Ted Borland, Alex Andrews and many other of today’s Utah snowboard pros. After years of YouTube edits, social media coverage and a huge underground following, Brighton Resort will be adopting it to their already extensive terrain park program.
“We had been creating parks in the woods for years during the pre-season,” Borland explains. “Since Brighton is our favorite place to ride, it was a perfect fit to bring the Bone Zone there.”
During the pre-season, before Brightonopens, the BoneZone will be located in the resort’s beginner area known as Explorer.
“The BoneZone will consist of a range of features created out of logs as well as some traditional steel obstacles,” explains Brighton Resort’s PR & Marketing Director, Jared Winkler. “We had large numbers of athletes coming to the mountain before we opened for the winter and dragging out a lot of our terrain park features and ultimately slowing up the process of opening up the resort. We feel this is a great alternative that makes everyone happy.”
The Bonezone will open to snowboarders, skiers, snow bikers and other snow enthusiasts as soon as conditions allow. No pass will be required, although Winkler indicates that participants may need to sign a liability waiver.
Once the resort’s lifts open for the season and terrain expands, The Bonezone features will be moved to upper mountain terrain parks.
Vail Resorts Launches Epic SchoolKids in Utah
Vail Resorts has brought its “Epic SchoolKids” program to Utah, which provides free skiing and riding to all kindergarten through fifth graders. The program provides five days of free skiing and riding at Park City, which combines with Canyons Resort this winter to form the largest resort in the U.S. In addition to five free days, Epic SchoolKids also receive a free, full-day beginner lesson and equipment rentals during the month of January as part of Learn to Ski & Ride Month.
“Utah kids are fortunate to have access to ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’ right in their backyard‘”, said Utah Governor Gary Herbert. “Through its Epic SchoolKids program, Vail Resorts is providing a tremendous opportunity for our families and our kids to get outside, explore the mountains, and learn and play in the outdoors. Along with Ski Utah’s 5th and 6th Grade Passport, more of Utah’s kids will be able to participate in snowsports – some who may never before have dreamed that they could enjoy such an experience – and will help our kids connect with Utah’s 14 amazing ski areas and Olympic legacy for generations to come.”
“Fostering kids’ love for skiing and snowboarding is a top priority for Vail Resorts,” said Bill Rock, chief operating officer of Park City. “It is incredibly important we continue to find ways to connect kids and families with the mountains and make snowsports accessible. The Epic SchoolKids Utah Pack gives Utah’s elementary school kids the opportunity to experience free skiing and riding at what will soon be the largest resort in the U.S. We’re excited to extend such an unprecedented opportunity to families and to share the mountains in which we work, live and play with so many children who have not before had the opportunity to experience them in the winter.”
Parents of eligible Epic SchoolKids can simply visit any Season Pass Office at Canyons Village, the Breeze Ice Rink or Canyon Mountain Sports to register for an Epic SchoolKids Pack. This program is available for a limited time, is subject to holiday restrictions and restricted to Utah residents only. Visit www.Epicschoolkids.com/Utah for more details.
Deer Valley Appoints New Food & Beverage Director at Solitude
Deer Valley has appointed Andrew Fletcher as Solitude Mountain Resort’s new director of food and beverage.
Fletcher joined Deer Valley Resort in 1998 as an assistant sous chef at the Silver Lake Lodge and was most recently the Empire Canyon Lodge Chef overseeing all food and beverage operations in the lodge, including the popular Fireside Dining.
“Andrew has been a vital part of Deer Valley Resort’s award-winning Food and Beverage team over the last 17 years,” said Kim Mayhew, general manager for Solitude Mountain Resort. “He is one of the best resort chefs and we are lucky to have his talent, experience and passion at Solitude.”
Fletcher is a Graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Prior to Deer Valley, he worked at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa in Farmington, Penn., and Allyn’s in Millbrook, N.Y. He shares his passion for food, service and the outdoors with his wife Ursula and their daughters Carmen and Isabel.
Fletcher’s appointment completes the Solitude executive team reporting to Mayhew, which includes Director of IT and Finance, Steve Holtey; Director of Lodging, Brandon Hansen; Director of Mountain Operations, Henry Hornberger and Director of Snow Sports Services, Tim Wolfgram.
Four Utahns inducted into Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame
In late September, four Utahns were added to the roster of those honored by the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame, housed at the Alf Engen Ski Museum at Utah Olympic Park.
Salt Lake City native Melvin Dalebout, who died in 2014, created the first hardshell ski boot fitted with custom foam and dubbed it the Daleboot. David Hanscom founded the Utah Nordic Ski Association and was instrumental in the selection of Soldier Hollow in Midway as the site for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games’ cross-country ski events. Karen Huntoon-Miller moved from the East Coast to Park City in 1973 and helped to popularize mogul skiing by earning five World Championship titles and an overall World Cup, and through her appearances in numerous ski films. Meeche White co-founded the National Ability Center, which provides services to people with developmental or physical disabilities. It now provides some 25,000 ski lessons per season.
The Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame’s honorees now numbers 66, and a plaque commemorating all is enshrined at Utah Olympic Park.