Park City gay ski week returns with largest-ever crowd expected |

Park City gay ski week returns with largest-ever crowd expected

Some businesses fly rainbow flags during gay ski week in Park City each winter.
Park Record file photo

The organizers of a gay ski week in Park City have expanded the event this year by one day, indicating the extra day is a result of the increasing popularity of the gathering.

The event, known as Elevation Utah, is scheduled to start on Wednesday and run until March 1. Previous gatherings started a day later. Elevation Utah brings more than 1,000 people to Park City each year. The 2020 edition is the 10th anniversary of Elevation Utah. A gay ski week in Park City predated Elevation Utah under a different management umbrella, but the current run has appeared to be more popular.

The organizers anticipate upward of 1,500 people will attend Elevation Utah this year, up sharply from the up to 1,200 who attended in 2019.

“This will definitely be our biggest year,” said Tom Whitman, the founder and owner of the firm that organizes Elevation Utah and similar ski weeks elsewhere in North America.

Whitman said presales for the event are the largest ever. He said Elevation Utah has generally grown on an annual basis and this year’s gathering will enjoy a large uptick in attendance. The 10th anniversary has drawn interest as well, he said.

Whitman also said the organizers had a larger marketing budget based on the growth and have advertised the event internationally. He said the firm’s series of gay ski weeks is the largest in the world. Other gatherings take place in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, and Mammoth Mountain, California. The events are known to be fun, friendly and inclusive, he said.

“We’ve built a brand that’s well known,” Whitman said.

Elevation Utah involves skiing in the daytime followed by après ski and parties afterward. The organizers want the crowd to dress to glow in the dark for one of the events on Main Street while one of the après ski events is billed as “Flashback Friday.” There is another event advertised as Frat Party X, and a wine and chocolate tasting is also scheduled. A welcome party is slated for Wednesday and a farewell après ski is slated for Sunday.

The organizers have arranged discounts for the Elevation Utah crowds at certain businesses.

The Elevation Utah gatherings started shortly after another group of gay skiers canceled a trip to Park City after the passage of a California ballot measure against gay marriage. The successful ballot measure prompted calls for a boycott of Utah as many saw The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as having influenced voters in California in support of the proposition.

Whitman said the Elevation Utah crowds have always been welcomed in Park City, which has long been seen as one of the state’s progressive outposts. City Hall, as an example, is continuing to press an agenda of social equity as a priority. The municipal government has also posted banners on Main Street with colors resembling those of the rainbow seen on pride flags associated with the LGBTQ community.

Elevation Utah typically unfolds with little fanfare in the community. Several businesses in previous years have flown rainbow flags to mark the event.

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