Winter is here: PCMR opens for the 2016-17 season
Resort still showcasing last year’s renovations
November 25, 2016
On the heels of the area's biggest snowstorm of the season to date, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) officially opens up for the 2016-17 ski season on Saturday morning. Even though it took an extra week to get to this point, PCMR's Chief Operating Officer Bill Rock is looking forward to finally getting those lifts turning and guests on the slopes.
"We feel great about this season," Rock said. "It's the second year of the combining of the resorts. … Our team is excited and it's always our favorite time of the year to get going and open for the season."
The unseasonably warm weather Park City experienced just last week forced the nation's largest ski resort to push its opening day back from Nov. 18 to Saturday, raising concern among the avid skiers and snowboarders in the area. However, Rock and everyone else who's been in this business long enough knows an overall season cannot be defined by the first week or so.
"It's a long season," Rock said. "Every season has its ups and downs. For example, 2008 was the last time PCMR had to push the opening day back and that year, we ended up with 444 inches at the top of Jupiter [Bowl], which is about 100 inches more than average."
Even though the season isn't in jeopardy in terms of lack of overall snowfall just yet, the warmer temperatures follow the lines of one danger to not just ski resorts, but the world in general: climate change. This is something Rock and company take very seriously at PCMR. He said they are putting their "resources with our environmental practices."
PCMR has done its part when it comes to sustainability; from wind credits on the breezier parts of the mountain to solar installations on the Park City side to obtaining the most efficient and state-of-the-art snowmaking technology.
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"Climate change is a serious threat to the planet, beyond skiing," Rock said. "We have an environmental manager at all of our resorts and really the effort there is to do our part for sustainability. … We [also] do a lot of grassroots things in our employee base that are kind of normal sustainability things like recycling programs."
Due to the season's slow start, only certain parts of the mountain will be open on Saturday. Rock anticipates the PayDay Express and First Time lifts will be operating, with runs such as Home Run and Turtle Trail open for use. For those who enjoy hitting up the terrain park, though, you'll have to wait a little longer, as those features are not yet ready.
Rock said it's pretty standard when it comes to deciding where to focus snowmaking efforts on the mountain to open up a season.
"You need some of the base runs, base lifts," Rock said. "You need a good variety; probably an intermediate trail, a little bit of beginner trails to get open. … There's a strategy behind it and it's also an art.
"There's also a talent level that the team has and the experience level," he said. "Our team is one of the most experienced in the industry. They know where to go, when to go, how to make snow, when to make snow. We're always going to have the best offering possible for our guests."
Speaking of the PCMR team, getting ready for opening day is no easy task. There are so many levels of operation that need to be prepared for the opening-day rush that extensive training and orientations are required beforehand.
"It's quite a feat, really, to bring everybody on board in what we call 'Ramp Up,'" Rock said. "Over the years, the team gets really good at that. I think the team right now is awesome at it. We're excited for the year. We have a great team. [We'll] ramp up the people we need to, but we'll continue to hire and train pretty much throughout the year to keep going. It's a big task."
In terms of what's new this year at PCMR, much of it remains the same from last year, but a lot of that is still fairly new.
The resort is still talking a lot about the $50 million renovations it underwent last year, which includes the Quicksilver Gondola (will be open mid-to-late December, no later than Christmas), a handful of restaurants and, of course, the entire Canyons side of the mountain (which Rock said should have some skiing open by Monday, at the latest).
"A lot of people have heard about [the renovations], but haven't come to visit," Rock said. "Even people that are local haven't explored all 7300 acres."
In an effort to help guests do that, PCMR has developed a new installation called EpicMix Time to its free app. The installation will allow skiers and snowboarders to check out lift times at various lifts on the mountain to see which lines might be shorter. Not only is this a time saver, but it could potentially allow consumers to venture to new parts of the mountain.
"It'll be huge for people," Rock said. "They'll really be able to ski the mountain and get the most out of it. … It's a great way for people to learn the mountain and also get outside their comfort zone and maybe go to a lift that they aren't sure about. They can compare lifts and make a choice."
For those who haven't purchased season passes yet, the deadline to do so has been extended to Dec. 4. The Epic and Epic Local passes are still for sale, and according to Rock, they are the best deals around.
First chair from the PayDay Lift is scheduled to begin its ascension up the mountain at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning.
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