Make it snow, make it snow, make it snow!
October 21, 2008
Snow-making is already underway.
While avid skiers are impatiently awaiting the beginning of the season, resort crews have begun icing the slopes.
While Park City is still seeing the occasional warm day, the wee hours of the morning are cold enough to turn on the guns.
At Deer Valley, supervisors are preparing for orientation, checking the equipment and putting the snow guns in place. Park City Mountain Resort has already turned on its automated system and is operating a skeleton crew.
Past years haven’t seen good natural snow until right before Christmas. In order to be ready for the start of the season in late November or early December, the guns must be turned on as early as possible.
Brian Suhadolc, operations manager for PCMR, said they prefer to have the guns going 24-7 if possible, but that 28 degrees is cold enough to begin.
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The more snow made, the better the base laid and the longer the slopes stay white in the spring, said Paula Altschuler, resort spokesperson.
Man-made snow also greatly improves the chances of being ready opening day, Suhadolc said.
"We start making snow regardless of the forecast, or even if snow is falling," said Chuck English, mountain operations director for Deer Valley. "It’s kind of like buying insurance."
The most important places to lay thick amounts of man-made snow are where fallen snow is most likely to melt such as slopes facing south and east and the bottoms of runs, he said.
The colder temperatures Park City has experienced this October help cool the ground and allows the snow to stick better.
Man-made snow is already stickier than fallen snow because it’s wetter. Whereas good skiing powder is 9 percent water, man-made snow is about 25 to 30 percent water, Suhadolc said.
That makes it different to ski on, but it also makes it a good base that sticks to the ground and endures warm days in early spring, Altschuler said.
Jamie Peters, owner of Park City Sport, said she believes snow-making guns have saved the ski industry from disaster. When snow didn’t fall until Christmas in the past, it was hard on the local economy.
Just a little fallen snow is enough to make it good for skiing and improved techniques and grooming have also helped the snow become drier, she added.
If the weather fails to comply, PCMR is able to coat up to 500 acres of runs with snow from the guns, Suhadolc said.
Deer Valley: Dec. 6
PCMR: Nov. 22
The Canyons: Nov. 27