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PCMR opening delayed, weather too warm

Park City Mountain Resort isn’t open today.

It was supposed to be, but according to Krista Parry, resort spokesperson, in the last five years the resort hasn’t been ready on its scheduled opening day more often than it has.

The delayed opening isn’t expected to have much bearing on the season, though. During the last five winters the number of skiers in Park City has increased, and last winter it seemed to never stop snowing, she said.

Snow during Thanksgiving week is a "bonus," she said. Skiers understand November snow is never guaranteed, and most people who booked this week in the hotels did so for family and the holiday. .

The resort said Tuesday afternoon that 72 hours of subfreezing temperatures are needed to ready the slopes, and the unseasonably warm temperatures made snow-making impossible.

Seasonal workers, meanwhile, cannot start their jobs. Parry said the resort itself staggers the arrival of visiting workers to avoid overstaffing early in the season. Those already arrived now simply have more time to "settle in," she said.

But employees of resort-dependent businesses unable to start their jobs are milling around town looking for part-time work. Kate Ellis, manager at the Pizza Hut on Sidewinder Drive, said she’s seen a lot of that lately.

"Usually in winter we need extra servers, cooks and drivers but we’re slow, too, before the resorts open so we don’t need people," she said.

A few small eateries are also left in a bind.

Susan McGraw of the restaurant Boua’ Thai at the Resort Center is frustrated because her kitchen has made 5-gallon buckets of sauce in preparation for Saturday that won’t freeze or keep.

"It really screws up our inventory," she said.

The restaurant spent all the money allotted for supplies in November and now has to wait and see if there will be anyone to serve.

Catie Weekes, an employee at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at the Resort Center, said her store bought four large boxes of apples for dipping in chocolate that will now have to be used for something else.

But most businesses are indifferent, remembering warm Novembers in the past.

Jane Salaya, reservation supervisor at The Yarrow, said November isn’t a big time for bookings. Out-of-town skiers usually wait until December, she said.

Thanksgiving hasn’t been a big holiday for the local ski industry, explained David Holland Zatz of David Holland Resort Lodging.

The real value of early-season snow is getting skiers excited about booking a trip during the heart of the season. November skiers are mostly Utahns, he said. But if someone is wavering between skiing and a cruise in January, early snow helps "get them off the fence," he explained.

"Whether or not we’re open for Thanksgiving isn’t critical to our bottom line," he said.

Erik Boller, manager at Rennstall Ski Tuning, said he’s busy enough getting skis ready that he doesn’t worry much about when the resort opens. Once the snow falls, he’ll hire more people, but until then everything is business as usual.

Elizabeth Dowd, spokesperson for The Canyons, said the resort continues to prepare for an opening day of Nov. 27.

Parry at PCMR said there’s value in setting an early opening date because having a projected opening helps the resort plan and prepare for the season.

She also expects new features still under construction such as a high-speed ski lift and the remodeled Mid-Mountain Lodge will be ready for the later opening day.

Parry also said she reminds people that all it takes is one big snow storm for everything to be ready.

The Alpine Coaster will be open Nov. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and businesses at the Resort Center have staggered business hours.


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