More Dogs on Main Street
April 10, 2009
And just like that, it’s over. The 2009 ski season is done, or will be shortly. After getting off to a slow start last November, it ended with a big finish with more snow in two weeks in April than we saw in deepest, darkest February.
There’s no such thing as a normal winter around here. Skiing is as good as it gets right now, and it seems a shame to be closing up with conditions like this. But I guess it’s better to close on a high note rather than stretching it out until there are bare spots. Economics has to play a big role in the decision, and when the number of employees is greater than the number of customers, it’s time to call it a day.
I had a great season. I’m a little short of 100 days but somewhere north of 90 for the season. Some years I keep a pretty accurate count. This year I just skied. The count is partly an extrapolation from the charges on my Snow Park lunch card. I apparently ate very well. I’m finishing the season with rock-hard legs and about five extra pounds of belly fat that I call the "Deer Valley Difference." There was gusto in both the skiing and the eating. The grim reality of reverting to my own cooking is about to set in. After months of lunching on penne pasta with scallops, a peanut-butter sandwich on bread plucked out of the freezer is not going to measure up.
Once again the company was as good as the skiing. There was the regular Tuesday group, the Thursday group, and the weekend gang. Other days were less organized, and people would add on and others spin off so that the group that met at 9 a.m. was sometimes completely different by 2 p.m. The conversation on the lifts had substance. We talked politics, economics, books, movies, legislative skullduggery and bonuses for investment bankers. While we didn’t get all the world’s problems solved, there was some significant headway on some of them.
Looking back on the season, there are some days that stand out for the quality of the snow or the overall ski experience. There were a couple of days spent hiking Puma Bowl and Jupiter Peak that really stand out. There were a couple of great runs in Portuguese Gap. My skiing came together in ways it seldom does on a flawless run down Daly Bowl really inspired skiing, immediately followed by crossed tips and a full face plant on the flat groomer on the way down to lunch. Go figure. I T-boned a squirrel that ran across the trail. The critter was surprised but apparently unhurt.
Other than a knee that squeaks a little in the mornings, I finished up the season with no injuries. There’s a deep-down full-body fatigue. There are worse things than kicking back and putting my feet up for a couple of weeks until the snow melts and I have to get to work on the ranch. I’ve got a list of things that need to be done on the ranch that can’t possibly be accomplished between now and next fall.
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The faltering economy cast a shadow over the whole season. Traffic on the mountain didn’t seem to be off very much but, by all reports, nobody spent anything. Restaurants sold the $12 hamburger instead of the $30 steak, and couldn’t give an appetizer or dessert away. Ski shops that normally would re-outfit whole families with the latest new gear sold only replacements for outgrown long johns or lost mittens. Visitors demanded deeply discounted hotel rooms, and the problems in the lodging business are in the news. After several years of significant increases in almost every category of business in town, a sharp downturn is pretty painful. It’s going to be a lean summer around here.
The ski season wouldn’t be possible without a whole lot of people who work very hard to make it happen. So here’s a big thanks to everybody working on the mountain, from the snow makers who got us open in December to the lift-maintenance people who kept things running. Lifties, parking-lot snowplowers, food-service personnel, avalanche bombers the whole crew working together to make for wonderful skiing and a great experience. I hope the kids who were here for a season had the grand adventure they expected, and the folks who are here year after year will be back next season. Patrick knows exactly how I like my bacon cheeseburger I’d hate to have to train somebody new next year. So thanks again for making it all happen. Have a great summer, and I hope to see you back next year.
Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.