Second best season ever |

Second best season ever

Skiers and snowboarders flocked to Utah’s winter resorts to enjoy record snowfall in numbers matched only by the 2007-2008 winter, Ski Utah announced Thursday. The three local resorts say they spent more this year as well.

According to a press release, Utah’s 14 ski and snowboard resorts experienced 4.2 million skier days in 2010-2011. A skier day is the common unit of measurement representing one person visiting a resort on one day. The record was 4,249,190 set four winters ago prior to the recession.

As economic uncertainty settled on the nation in the autumn of 2008, people across the country cancelled or rethought their winter vacation plans. That resulted in only 3,972,984 skier days in Utah that winter. The numbers have steadily risen since then, bringing the recently concluded winter to within about 50,000 skier days of the all-time record.

In addition to people finding their way back to the slopes, they’re also more willing spending money on mountain again, Park City’s local resorts said.

Emily Summers, communications coordinator for Deer Valley Resort, said it was their second-best season in terms of skier days and people also spent more on lodging and lessons.

"We were very pleased with this past season as guests seemed more comfortable spending on their vacation and the snow conditions were incredible," she said.

Krista Parry, director of communications for Park City Mountain Resort, said people spent more on lessons, rental equipment and food and drink at the base of the resort.

She, too, attributed this to the conditions. There was 34 percent more snow this season than last; the settled snow depth at summit snowstake set a record, she said.

"We were able to have the entire resort open by December 18," Parry said. "When you see a lot of snow like that, you see the locals coming out and enjoying the snow more and more. That contributed to us having a great year."

Snowstorm after snowstorm also won attention from national media, she said. When The Weather Channel talked about how much snow Utah was getting, it provides quality advertising that money cannot buy, Parry said.

Caitlin Martz, spokesperson for Canyons Resort, said their on-mountain improvements helped attract more skiers.

"We, at Canyons, are thrilled with the skier visit numbers for the State of Utah and are pleased that we were able to contribute to this healthy growth," she said. "Our many re-creation projects generated overwhelmingly positive responses from both destination visitors and locals and certainly helped enable Canyons to have a fantastic winter season. We look forward to continuing to build on this positive momentum next winter."

Abundant snow fall benefited every resort, said Ski Utah. Snowbird is predicting staying open on weekends through July 4, the press release said.

Many resorts, including PCMR and Canyons, were able to extend their seasons.

Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty said some places actually received too much snow, with storms impeding resort operations at times. The announcement also said skier days are up 41 percent since the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

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