Goodbye winter, hello summer
Ryan Summerlin April 4, 2014
With only one week left in the ski season, resorts are tallying final skier numbers and preparing for their summer season openings. Next weekend is the last weekend to ski at Canyons and Deer Valley Resort, but Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) will remain open through Easter weekend, April 19-20.
"We have a really great Easter tradition with our two different egg hunts around the mountain," said Andy Miller, communications manager at PCMR. "So we were glad we are able to stay open and observe those traditions again."
The last couple of weeks in March saw little snow, but snow storms in early April made conditions great for the last two weeks of the season, according to Emily Summers, communications manager at Deer Valley Resort.
"The snow we’ve been getting is great, because it keeps the locals coming out," she said. "Most of our visitors are guests, so April can be touch or go. That means we need the local visits and conditions to be good, so it’s working out pretty well."
Caitlin Martz, communications specialist at Canyons, said the mountain received eight inches of snow in the last 48 hours as of Thursday afternoon as well as several more before then. "It certainly doesn’t feel like spring skiing," she said."
Miller said Park City has received 297 inches of snow year-to-date, so the resort is three years removed from the snowiest season at 780 inches. However, he said the cold snap in December and PCMR’s talented snowmakers and groomers set the resort up well for the season.
"Our locals will put up with those blustery, cloudy, overcast days when we get those big snowfalls, but our visitors like those bluebird days with a lot of groomed runs," he said. "And from all the interactions I had with guests from out of town and across the country, they were all pretty happy with the conditions this season."
All three resorts’ skier numbers are proprietary information, meaning they do not give out specifics, but they all report a strong 2013-14 ski season. Martz said Canyons is more than pleased with how their ski season went as a new Vail Resort, Miller said the holiday season was especially strong and Summers said local visits are up this year from last year.
Summers attributes that success to participating in the Wasatch Benefit with PCMR, which meant all pass holders received three free days of skiing at Deer Valley or PCMR as well as Alta and Snowbird. Summers said that out of the four resorts, Deer Valley had the highest redemption rate for those passes.
While the Wasatch Benefit for the 2014-15 ski season has still not officially been announced, Miller said all signs point to the pass returning. A complication in negotiations for the pass comes from PCMR having already announced their 2014-15 season pass rates.
2014-15 season pass rates
"We have had some good conversations with the resorts," Miller said. "It just so happens we are the only ones putting our passes on sale this early in the year, so we haven’t been able to finish those conversations yet."
The PCMR season passes for next winter are now on sale at the best prices they will be at all year. Beginning May 16, prices will increase. Changes this year include the expansion of the young adult age range from 18-24 to 18-29, and new pass holders (those who have never had a season pass at PCMR) can ski for free for the rest of the 2013-14 season when they buy their 2014-15 season pass.
Additionally, all pass holders aged 18 or older will receive five free days at five of PCMR’s sister resorts: Boreal Resort in Tahoe, Calif., Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, Copper Mountain in Colorado, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon and Killington in Vermont. Pass holders younger than 18 will receive unlimited days at those resorts.
Summers said they have not hammered out the details for Deer Valley’s 2014-15 season passes yet, but their early season pass rates will be valid through Halloween, Oct. 31. They will make firm decisions on the pass prices after the resort is closed for ski season, she said.
Martz said the Epic season passes are now on sale, and early season pass rates are valid only through closing day, April 13. After that, prices will increase. Right now, the full Epic pass is priced at $729, and the pass rate for Utah locals is $549.
"There will be 11 blackout dates total at Canyons next season, and pass holders will receive six ‘buddy passes’ on their pass automatically," Martz said. "Purchasing your 2014-15 season pass will also give customers summer access to our gondola, which lifts pass holders, and their bikes if they want, to the biking and hiking trails."
Now that the ski season is coming to a close, Miller said there were several factors that made this season a "historic season" for PCMR. Their ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations and hosting the first freeskiing Olympic-qualifying event and the naming of the first Olympic freeskiing team made this season one for the books.
Summers said being tied to Olympic-qualifying events at Deer Valley also made this season memorable. The resort then hosted the U.S. National competition for moguls and aerials at the end of March after the original host resort had to back out, because there was not enough snow.
"The turnout from both spectators and press were some of the biggest crowds we had ever seen at a World Cup event [in mid-January], so it was neat to offer that experience to our guests, to be able to watch those athletes before they headed out to Russia," Summers said. "The competition at the end of March was great, too, because a lot of those Olympians came back and competed here. It was great to be able to offer that."
Canyons Resort’s ski season will end on Sunday, April 13, and they will celebrate with a day themed around the 1980s. An 80s hair-metal band will perform at the resort, and guests are invited to go dressed in their best 80s gear. The resort will be closed for about two months since Martz said their summer opening date will be sometime mid-June.
"We don’t have an opening date finalized yet, but we when we open, we will operate seven days a week until Labor Day [Monday, Sept. 1]," she said. "After that, we will operate four days a week until closing for the summer on Sunday, Oct. 5."
Deer Valley Resort will also end their season on Sunday, April 13, but their closing day will be much less celebratory. Summers said they will conduct a quiet closing and open for the summer season on June 13. They will operate for the summer through Labor Day and feature three lifts for mountain biking and hiking.
PCMR is the last of the resorts to close for the ski season on Easter Sunday, April 20, and according to Miller, they will reopen for the summer as usual Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 23. He said they will close around mid-October for the summer, but they have not finalized the date yet.
"I’m just getting ready to put my feet up after this [season], but before too long, it will be time to start looking at next year," Miller said. "I keep meeting people who are out here for the first time seeing what Park City is all about. I think that will continue."