Gay Ski Week starts Thursday in Park City | ParkRecord.com

Gay Ski Week starts Thursday in Park City

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Utah Gay Ski Week is scheduled to start Thursday and last through the weekend in Park City, potentially attracting the largest crowd yet of the six years under the umbrella of the same producer.

Tom Whitman, the producer, said he anticipates approximately 1,000 people will attend in 2016. The event draws people from across the U.S. and internationally. Whitman said up to 50 percent of the attendees arrive from the West while others travel to Park City from the East Coast, the Midwest and Texas. The international travelers hail from countries like Germany and Australia, he said. A similar event is held in Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California.

"Park City was basically at the top of the list from the beginning," Whitman said, explaining the ease of access to Park City and the community’s status as a top-tier ski town.

The events include an apres ski events Thursday through Sunday at nightclubs on Main Street and a Saturday night party on Main Street. Organizers say hotels hosting the event have offered discounted rates.

Whitman said he anticipates the attendees will each spend at least $1,000 in Park City on lodging, entertainment, meals and ski passes. If that is the case, the event could add upward of $1 million in spending should 1,000 people attend.

Park City has hosted various gay ski weeks over the years organized by different groups. An event was notably canceled in 2009 amid calls for a boycott of Utah travel stemming from the passage of a controversial ballot measure in California against gay marriage. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was seen as one of the chief supporters of the ballot measure.

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The leader of the Historic Park City Alliance, Alison Kuhlow-Butz, said she looks forward to the friendliness on Main Street during the event.

"It’s always fun when you have a big group coming to town . . . It definitely adds a lot of energy," she said, adding, "Park City and Main Street, in particular, definitely welcomes all."

Whitman said Park City has been a welcoming destination for Utah Gay Ski Week events that he has organized. He said the group has not encountered issues in Park City. There are sometimes rainbow flags flying or posted on a small number of businesses along Main Street during Utah Gay Ski Week.

"I think Park City is somewhat a liberal area and is used to having a diverse crowd of people," he said.