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(Grayson West/Park Record) Canyons Resort ski patrollers John Miner, David Reynolds and Brian Spieker head toward Saddleback Express Tuesday morning while completing final preparations for the mountain and opening day, scheduled for this Friday.
Canyons Resort regulars have two days to prepare for the start of the 2012-13 season as the largest ski and snowboard resort in the Beehive State is scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 23.

According to Canyons director of public relations Steve Pastorino, the resort anticipates being open from the top of Saddleback Express down to the resort village on Doc's Run. Some time today resort officials will gather to determine exactly what lifts and runs will be open this Thanksgiving weekend, according to Pastorino. He also said lift-ticket prices will be announced via social media as soon as they are approved.

"Compared to the last couple of years, with the opening of Iron Mountain and the Orange Bubble Express, this is a relatively quiet year from a Canyons perspective," Pastorino said. "We found, in a lot of our research over the summer, that the majority of the people who know about Canyons and who haven't been here in the last couple years haven't experienced all the new additions to the resort. I am constantly amazed how people are discovering (the new additions) for the first time."

But Canyons did do some work over the off-season, most notably revamping or adding new terrain parks.

The Painted Horse Progression Park, accessed off the Saddleback Express lift, will serve as an introductory park with basic park features.

"That's where (riders) will spend a lot their time," Pastorino said. "We want less-experienced riders to not feel intimidated for being in the parks."

The Transitions Terrain Park, off Sun Peak Express, brings back Canyons' signature features such as the gong. But perhaps the most intriguing park addition this year is the Elwoods Natural Zone. Working together with Burton, Canyons created Elwoods to bring an all-natural park to the skiers and snowboarders who ride at the resort.

"It's basically carving out some all-natural features, primarily using downed trees in a tree-line area at the bottom of Transitions at the base of Sun Peak Express," Pastorino said. "It's the combination of riding through the woods in the trees, but having all the features you come to expect in a terrain park. That is something that's all new."

Also new to Canyons this year are 300 more acres on Iron Mountain and added snowmaking capabilities.

According to a press release, although Canyons receives an average of 355 inches annually, the resort has invested more than $1 million in additional infrastructure, increasing pumping capacity and installing energy-saving features, an alpine lake for mid-mountain water storage and distribution.

New off-the-slope activities at Canyons include the Ultimate Mountain Experience, a comprehensive winter sports fantasy camp led by Olympic and/or USA national team skiers and snowboarders for individuals or small groups.

"This has a number of new initiatives, partially to change the perception of ski schools in general," Pastorino said. "It's not just for beginners clumsily trying to figure out how to move on skis or a board for the first time. It's not so much of a lesson - just the idea of spending a day with someone who knows the mountain incredibly well and who has skied or snowboarded at every major stop in the world."

Recently, Canyons was ranked the No. 4 resort in North America by Outside Magazine. Also this year, Canyons made its debut as a top 10 resort as voted by readers of SKI Magazine.