Resorts prepping for a big winter
All but one of the Park City ski resorts have ended their summer activities, leaving just more than a month to prepare for the start of the ski season. From safety checks to ski lift tune-ups, there is work to be done.
The only resort with summer activities still operating is Park City Mountain Resort. The Alpine Slide, Alpine Coaster, Zip Rider and other activities will close Sunday, Oct. 15.
PCMR spokesperson Krista Parry said the resort enjoyed a great summer, but the staff is excited for the winter season. Plans are to open the lifts for skiing and snowboarding Nov. 17, weather permitting.
As for the next month, Parry said the staff is busy testing, cleaning and prepping for the snow.
"This is go time," she said. "Once Labor Day hits, we basically have six weeks to get ready for the winter season. Just this week we started testing out the snow making guns. Any day we can start making snow, if the weather gets cold enough, and as soon as that happens we know the winter season is right around the corner."
She said the resort is breaking records for pre-season reservations, which she said is a sign that another great season lies ahead.
"We’re 20 percent ahead of where we were last year in terms of reservations," she said. "It helped that we had some early snowfall in September, and people are finally starting to understand Park City’s accessibility."
In order to get ready for possible record crowds, PCMR has closed the on-mountain restaurants "to make sure they look their best," as well as other amenities for last minute cleaning and preparation.
"We are doing all the last-minute touch-ups to make sure the resort looks fresh and clean for all the guests," Parry said. "We are also selling a lot of season passes with the early-bird discount deadlines just past us at the end of September."
The story is much the same for The Canyons, which ended summer activities such as gondola rides, hiking, mountain biking, disc golf and the summer concert series after Labor Day weekend.
The plan for opening day at The Canyons is Nov. 18, but, according to Vice President of Marketing Todd Burnette, the resort is not quite ready.
"We are just finishing up the $10 million in improvements we’ve been making all summer," he said. "We just load tested the new Dreamcatcher lift and we just finished installing the new Tombstone six-pack lift. We’re also working on the refinishing of the Red Pine Lodge, which should all be ready by opening day."
Although the resort has put a lot into improving itself this summer, having 200 more acres of terrain also means more traditional annual work, such as cleaning and safety checks.
"We’re also doing all the routine maintenance to get ready for the rest of the season grips being rebuilt, snow making checks, snow cats being serviced and maintained," he said. "We’re excited for the winter. It’s not every year we install two new chair lifts and add that much new terrain."
Deer Valley has given itself a little more time for off-season preparations. Opening day at the resort is scheduled for Dec. 2, giving it two and a half months between the close of summer activities on Sept. 17 until opening day. That time will likely include both natural and artificial snowfall.
Chuck English, director of mountain operations at Deer Valley, said snow will start being made "When it gets cold enough. We’ll be ready to start a week from today, if the temperature is there, but the main part of our snow making crew come in on Oct. 25."
English said most of the preparations being made by Deer Valley consist of the normal October routines, which includes cleaning the mountain and preparing the lifts for operation.
"Just in general, on the mountain we’re trying to clean up any of the construction completed this summer, like from the new lift we built this summer, which is on schedule and should be completed by the end of October," he said. "We also have trail crews out doing clean up projects, clipping where aspen shooters are coming up through the runs and things like that."
In order to help make the mountain a safe place to ski, he said inspections are being done on all the lifts and heavy machines at the resort.
"Our insurance company is performing lift inspections, where they go to each lift on the mountain and check all the safeties and stop switches and tower switches are functioning properly, as well as making sure the appropriate signage is up," he said.
As important as making the mountain look nice, is making sure there are employees to run it.
"Obviously it’s not just mountain operations, but we are also in a full-court press for recruiting right now in almost all departments," English said. "We’re concentrating real strongly within the continental U.S., even though we have a lot of workers who are on visas."
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.