June 18 editorial
Despite the relentless, wind-driven snowstorms last winter, Park City managed to keep its welcome mat well groomed and inviting. It was no easy task. City, county and resort crews worked plenty of overtime shifts to clear roads and parking lots, groom trails and runs and keep the lifts running.
Their efforts, and those of everyone in the industry from marketing agents to ski tuners, apparently paid off. Ski Utah announced this week that its member resorts set a new record for skier days last winter.
The surge in skier days from 4 million last year to 4.2 million this year mirrored a nationwide uptick in lift passes, but was especially remarkable considering the winter’s slow start and severe weather. And Park City’s three resorts helped drive the increase logging a 7.2 percent increase in skier days over the previous ski season.
The increase in lift tickets generates a more robust economy across the board and helps to bolster local government coffers.
The statistics released this week should silence skeptics who have been suggesting that the number of winter-sports enthusiasts is leveling off. Thanks in part to snowboarding and also to advances in Alpine and Nordic equipment, a new generation of hardy mountain athletes is emerging.
Even so, the ski industry needs to remain vigilant if it is to remain viable. One disturbing trend, uncovered by a recent Center for Disease Control study is that snowboarding has become the No. 1 cause of emergency-room visits among winter sports.
Ski resorts should take the lead in addressing this dubious statistic. One way to combat the number of sprains and bruises among snowboarders, and skiers too, is to emphasize lessons and protective gear.
Ski school used to be a part of every family’s week-long vacation, but as those trips shortened into long weekends, it seems fewer guests are taking the time to learn how to ski and snowboard in control.
Next season, in addition to another record number of visitors, we would like to see skiers and snowboarders take more lessons, which, we believe, would lead to a decreases in injuries.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.