Utah tweaks Olympic facilities; improvements on-line this winter
Utah destination resorts and ski areas have spent another summer in the throes of construction in this, the next to last construction season before the 2002 Games. Here’s a resort-by-resort run down on improvements:
crews have finished an extensive trail grooming and snow making project in the Sugarloaf area, which completes the USFS approved Snowmaking Master Plan. Most noticeably, several steep breakovers have been removed and/or modified, to make the area more accessible to intermediates. Alta also built a new ski patrol building atop the Germania lift.
has submitted no news as of October 1.
Brian Head Resort
added new snow making and gladed additional tree skiing terrain.
replaced the venerable Snake Creek triple chair with a new high speed quad dubbed The Snake Creek Express. The old 13 minute ride has been reduced to six minutes.
continues its phenomenal growth, adding an 8th mountain and 325 acres this summer to become one of the five largest resorts in the US and the biggest in Utah, in terms of acreage, which now exceeds 3600. The resort increased its grooming fleet by 30%.
Whisker Ridge “townhome” condominiums will debut this season at The Canyons, with 30 condominiums and one grand villa. Located a few turns above Canyons Resort Village, this project offers premium ski-in-ski-out access. The Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Conference Center and Sundial Lodge are open this season.
Deer Valley Resort
has invested more than $6.5 million in improvements and upgrades this season. $1 million went toward a new two-acre, 15 million gallon snowmaking pond and snowmaking has been added to Trump, Ontario, Lower Sunset, Sunset West and Last Chance runs.
Construction began on Empire Lodge between Ruby and Empire lifts, slated for opening in 2001/2002. Empire’s Supreme, Solace and Orion runs have been brought into the snowmaking system.
Improvements to Olympic venues—Deer Valley will host Slalom, Mogul and aerial events—included grading and course shaping. Test races will be held in all venues this season.
For non-Olympic athletes, Deer Valley created a new race course for guests, on Silver Hill in the Deer Crest area. This arena will operate similarly to the course at Silver Lake on Bald Mountain, with timing and announcement systems.
In other improvements, Roamer has been re-gladed to create beginner access to Deer Crest via Navigator run and is now a green run. On the flip side, a new black Diamond called Cascade will improve the appeal of Deer Crest to expert skiers. Cascade bring Deer Valley’s trail total to 88.
No news as of October 1
No news as of October 1
Park City Mountain Resort
Park City, too, invested heavily in Olympic-related improvements this summer and opened the long-awaited 54,000 square foot Legacy Lodge on the old Plaza. Services include Legacy Sports, an apparel retail shop, logo boutique, Park City Mountain Rental and Repair Center, The Legacy Food Court, Rossmiller Photography Studios, day and season loakers and a new “private club” (Utah-speak for saloon with $5 cover charge).
Olympic improvements centered on the Eagle Race Arena, Pick and Shovel and CB’s run. the area was regraded to create wider and steeper finish areas for snowboard events and the GS, additional snowmaking was installed and, representing most of the work, a new, state-of-art half pipe has been created to allow 20,000 spectators the opportunity of unobstructed views.
announces the opening of the elegant Powderhorn Lodge, the latest step in the transformation of funky old Solitude into a modern, European Alps-styled, pedestrian, ski-in-ski-out mountain village. The new Thirsty Squirrel Club will provide additional on-site apres-ski activity. The Stone House in the central plaza opens this winter too, featuring “Internet Cafe” portals, specialty coffees, fresh baked goods and sundries.
Solitude is expanding the advanced “Smart Card” ticketing system to 100% resort coverage.
certainly has the biggest news in terms of sheer size and length-of-anticipation. At long last, the new Trapper’s Loop Connector road is scheduled for completion in October. The new access road will shave 13 miles from the Salt Lake to Snow Basin trip, but, perhaps even more importantly. the death-defying, hair-raising, soul-shriveling old Snow Basin Road is now a thing of the past!
The resort, which has been appointed Olympic Downhill venue, continues to expand snow making and construction on a new base village slated for opening in time for the Games.
opened spectacular Mineral Basin last season, news enough for any respectable decade, but the Master Development Plan continues. This year, less-obvious but still-major improvements include a revamped Tram control and drive system. While the basics of the Tram’s nervous have been rebuilt, most guests will likely notice only a shorter ride from the Plaza to the top of Hidden Peak. The tram will be less affected by weather inclemency. Net gain: 12% as the Tram ride is shaved to 7 minutes from 8.
Other upgrades include snow making expansion to the top of Gadzoom lift, renovations to the Lodge Club Bistro and improvements to the Lodge itself.
focused on increasing its Nordic Center, adding 20 additional K in trails. This bring the total to 40k, as Sundance continues to enhance its reputation as an elegant and enticing Nordic destination. And it still has the best scenery in Utah and the renowned Tree Restaurant.
I no longer write OnTheSnow’s My Utah!, but I’ll be doing a more-or-less biweekly column here.
We’ve news aplenty: Olympic Scandal indictments, resort, hotel and lift construction, hot new winter programs, lift and lodging deals—I’ll have it all for you right here, beginning Oct. 1st. Please check back with us often as we update all year with the latest in news, good deals and inside facts on Utah, the Wasatch and The Greatest Snow on Earth!
Here’s the final OnTheSnow column…
It’s awards time in Utah
Writing about skiing in Utah is actually easy; the hard part has been limiting the column to something less than book length. It’s almost impossible to convey the scope and variety of skiing here. To paraphrase an old (and tired) industry marketing slogan, you’ve got to ski it to believe it. As the Olympics approach—we’re less than two years from Opening Ceremonies—things will only get better. If this column has been your main contact with the Wasatch, then make plans to come by before the Games. Next season will see all manner of Olympian facilities up and running, but without crowds sure to follow in 2002. It may be the best Utah season ever.
This season has had its share of ups and downs (pardon me!) but has turned out to be another great one. It’s strange to be sitting here writing an end-of-year column in a region where skiing is sure to last at least another two months and may go beyond that at Snowbird.
Nevertheless, OnTheSnow.com’s ski season is winding down and this will be the last My Utah column until fall. If you have questions or comments in the interim, please visit peterkeelty.com.
Thanks to everyone who suggested items for this column and special thanks to Kyle Jones who submitted several excellent items which appear here. Without further folderol, here are the first annual My Utah! awards.
Most lost World Cups award
Utah. We lost America’s Opening the week before Thanksgiving at Park City Mountain Resort. World Cup Downhill and Super G races planned for Snow Basin in January were canceled because, get this, we had too much soft snow. That pulled a ladies slalom slated for Deer Valley along with it. DV had perfect conditions at the time.
What does this mean to recreational skiers? Zip, that’s what. If you canceled plans to come to Utah because of our World Cup woes, I must suggest that you made a mistake. Try again; we’re here for you with The Greatest Snow on Earth, stick dodgers or no.
Stupid marketing trick award
Colorado Ski Country and its VP of Marketing, Charlie Mayfield share this one, although that may be unfair to the organization. Mayfield seized an opportunity to slam Utah when we lost the America’s Opening World Cup races. Mayfield trumpeted to the world that the Rockies lacked early snow. The irony is that when final numbers are in, Utah is more likely than Colorado to stay even in skier days.
Kip Pitou and Ski Utah planned for a 20 percent skier-day increase this season. Who could have imagined the Millennium bomb? Who could have imagined the Mayfield stupidity? Those who did make their way to the Wasatch found the region operating below capacity (Utah is building infrastructure here like there’s no tomorrow) and found uncrowded good skiing from Christmas on.
No ski school award award
Deer Valley and Park City guarantee results, which is a step in the right direction, but we’d like to see at least one resort find the courage to implement Harald Harb’s Primary Movements Teaching System ™. It works better than traditional P.S.I.A. approach. I have seen this with my own eyes and simply do not understand P.S.I.A.’s stranglehold on instruction methodology in this country.
I’ll be attending the P.S.I.A. Academy and Demo Team selection at Snowbird and shall report on what I find on peterkeelty.com. I hope to see great changes in the local documentaries, but it is still high time to diversify our teaching. Maybe then we could improve ski school participation from its sorry 11 percent of skiers. Maybe then we could retain more than the 18 percent of beginners who come a second time. The better one skis, the more fun one has. Rule of nature.
Longest Running Scandal award
SLOC (sometimes known as Schlock.) The latest: indictments all the way up to SLOC ex-chief Tom Welch are rumored. Oh well, we still wring publicity out of it.
Best For Families award
The whole state. Utah is geared for kids; it’s in the psyche. Every resort in the state, including tiny Nordic Valley, caters to youngsters.
1st guys get the best location award
Alta, I suspect, may be the only resort in the country that regularly underreports snowfall. Alta typically gets the most snow of any area here and is unique in that experts and intermediates can ride lifts together and ski within sight and sound of each other, each on suitable terrain, all of it among the best in the world. As my wife, Sue Ellen, puts it, “The first guys got the best spot.”
Best powder stashes award
Powder Mountain, Honeycomb Canyon at Solitude and Triangle Trees at Deer Valley.
Least Understood Resort award
Deer Valley has transformed itself from “Bambi Basin” into a seven-area playground capable of satisfying the most rabid high end impulse. There is nothing wimpy about Empire Canyon and Deer Valley’s high-speed carving venues are renowned among cognoscenti.
Most ambitious plans award
The Canyons is smack in the middle of a development plan which will within a couple of years result in the largest ski area in the country
Far from an airport award
Brian Head. It’s actually closer to Las Vegas’ McCarran than to Salt Lake International. So fly to Vegas, then come on up. Who knows, if things work out, you might make a profit on the trip.
Way far from an airport award
Elk Meadows is about as far from everything else as is Area 51 (which isn’t all that far from EM). The road is frightful but Elk Meadows may be the closest thing to Shangri La to be found in the U.S.
Snow Basin. Imagine a ski resort with the best new lift complex in the world, truly vast snowmaking coverage and virtually no amenities or skiers. This is one of my favorite areas and I’m glad to have experienced it before it morphs into “Vail West,” which it shall by the time the Olympics arrive.
People who don’t ski award
Sundance Film Festival. The “people in black” occupy all the beds in Park City and then some and never step on the hill. Late January is a great time to ski The Canyons, Park City and Deer Valley. You’ll have them all to yourself. If you can find a bed.
Snowboarders rule award
Brighton. Skiers, don’t even think about it!
Missed opportunity award
Jointly awarded to Deer Valley and Park City. DV’s Empire Canyon lift and Park City’s McConkey six-pack terminate on the same ridge within sight of each other, making it easy to travel between areas, but as of now, neither resort respects the other’s lift ticket on the same day. This is not the way to market our unique proximity advantages to guests from around the world.
Deer Valley food service, customer service and employee attitude.
Just short of perfection
Park City Mountain Resort upgraded the menu at Summit House restaurant and the food and service are now first class. Why, then, did they elect to keep the same ratty old picnic tables when round tables smothered in linen and silverware would have brought ambiance in line with quality? And the grumpy guy at the door has to go.
Best parking award
Silver Lake $10 parking at Deer Valley.
Worst parking award
Snow Park mega-lot at Deer Valley. How about some more trains?
Best website award
Park City Mountain Resort.
Best web trailmap award
Deer Valley. The map is broken into logical segments that can be enlarged so that it’s possible to actually read information on the map.
Best in-joke award
Dick Bass, owner of Snowbird, early on blew the budget by hanging a fortune in Persian rugs on the walls of The Cliff Lodge. Many folks found this strange. Now I notice that Snowbird’s web site uses a Persian rug as background wallpaper. Good for you, Dick!
Best new lift award
Mineral Basin Quad. This major addition to Snowbird improves the overall experience not only with the great skiing in the Basin itself, but by spreading people around the mountain.
Best underpublicized new lift award
Paradise Quad at Powder Mountain. “I wouldn’t mind if we continued the secret.” Sorry, Kyle (who submitted this award), I fear a few million folks now know.
Best marketing program award
Legacy Ski and Ride Program at Park City Mountain Resort, under which all Utah kids can learn to ski or board for free. Including gear.
Least welcome return visitor award
Until next time, Have Fun; Don’t Fall!