Park City Chamber/Bureau Fall Forum builds excitement for upcoming season | ParkRecord.com

Park City Chamber/Bureau Fall Forum builds excitement for upcoming season

Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of Ski Utah, speaks about skier numbers last year and expectations for the upcoming ski season during the Park City Chamber/Bureau's annual fall forum. Leaders from Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort also spoke.

Opening day is around the corner for ski resorts in Park City, and businesses cannot wait for chair lifts to run and people to start filling their stores.

But before tourists hit the slopes, resort leaders, business owners and other community members paused to gather and hear what to expect for the upcoming season at the annual Park City Chamber/Bureau Fall Forum.

The event, which took place Wednesday, featured the customary panel of ski resort leaders and a keynote address from Nick Sargent, president of Snowsports Industries America. Everyone seemed to have high expectations for this season.

Bill Rock, chief operating officer of Park City Mountain, said the cold temperatures leading into the season have helped the resort make a good amount of snow to kick the season off. The resort is expected to open on Wednesday, Nov. 21.

"I think what we needed this year was to get off to a great start, and it feels like we are off to a great start," he said.

He also spoke about capital improvement projects, including the resort's new beginner area and updates to restaurants at Cloud Dine and Mid Mountain Lodge. The lodge now has a full-service bar, he said.

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Bob Wheaton, the outgoing president and chief operating officer of Deer Valley Resort, was on the panel for perhaps the last time, since he recently took a position with the resort's parent company, Alterra Mountain Company. To honor his 30-plus years leading the resort, attendees of the forum gave him a round of applause and Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, thanked him for being a part of the panel since the first forum 16 years ago.

Wheaton briefly spoke about his own excitement for the season before passing the microphone onto Todd Shallan, the new general manager of Deer Valley Resort. Shallan spoke of the resort's capital improvements, including updating the Homestake lift to be a high-speed detachable lift.

Malone said it was good for guests to get a full roundup of how things are going in the ski industry from local, state and national perspectives.

"It's nice to get folks from the resorts out in front of the city," he said.

Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of the state's trade organization Ski Utah, spoke about Utah's ski numbers while Sargent provided the national view by sharing data about snow sports, including participation numbers and sales data from retail goods. He said participation and sales have remained fairly flat or dipped over the last couple of years, and changing snow patterns are not helping grow the sport. What resorts in Utah and around the country need is to have a good snow year to see those numbers change, he said.

Erin O'Keefe, sales and marketing coordinator for the DeJoria Center, attended the event and said it was insightful to learn about statistics that show ski trends. She, like other attendees, enjoys coming together with the business community to build hype for the upcoming season.