Ski lifts to close April 15
Snowstorms may not have plastered Park City like they did the last couple years, but that didn’t discourage visitors from flocking to the resorts.
"Our season went surprisingly well," said Dirk Beal, director of sales for Deer Valley Resort. "We are tracking ahead of last year, which is our record year. Given less than ideal conditions, we are happy about that."
The Canyons also had a very strong season.
"It was phenomenal," said Elizabeth Dowd, communications director for The Canyons Resort. "We had a ton of visiting media, Park City is on the radar of the national media. With the new terrain and the lifts and improvements, it made for a great season this year."
The Canyons was scheduled to close April 8 but extended its closing day to April 15.
"We’re going to be open one extra week because it was so great," Dowd said.
Park City Mountain Resort will also close April 15 after a successful season.
"We’ve had an extremely strong season," said Krista Parry, communications manager for Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR).
Parry said PCMR’s new kids program, Kids Signature Five, reached full capacity many times throughout the year, especially during holidays.
"It bodes very well for us," Parry said.
Park City resorts are all having banner years because people across the country have "discovered Park City," Parry said.
"People realize the accessibility through airports and to have a real town directly associated with a ski resort, there’s only a couple of those in the country. There’s so much to do here," Parry said.
Parry says, even though it was a below average snow year, it didn’t matter. PCMR’s April will stronger than last year.
"Not that people aren’t looking at snow conditions, but they are looking for an easy vacation. For us to see a strong season in a year we haven’t had as much snow, it speaks to the season and what we have here in Park City.
White Pine Touring also had a banner year, although recent warm weather caused the Nordic track to close March 13, roughly two weeks early.
"It was, overall, a record-breaking year," said Lauren Adams, Nordic director for White Pine Touring. "We had lots of newcomers to the sport who picked it up and the races were a huge success. The grooming, we really worked hard to keep it in great condition until the very end."
Adams said the popularity of the sport is driving more people to try Nordic skiing.
"So many people are picking up Nordic skiing as an alternative," Adams said. "Anyone who comes to Park City as a family or friends, they are no longer feeling obligated to go on the hill. They are sliding over to us and having a great time and then meeting with friends or family at the end of the day."
Nordic skiing provides skiers more options.
"People no longer feel they need to downhill ski every day. They might come to us for a slower pace and a cardiovascular workout. Then they try snowshoeing. People are not choosing one or the other."
In past times, skiers would identify themselves exclusively to one sport or the other. That’s not the case anymore.
"Very often, people would pick one or the other, but now everyone is gearing up and investing in the gear for both sports," Adams said.
Adams thinks the increased number of cross-country skiers will bring numbers up on the track next year.
Recent storms rescued White Pine, according to Adams.
"They saved our bacon. The recent storms saved us from closing down last month. The last week’s temperatures are really what killed us," Adams said.
Adams said White Pine has a "lofty goal" to have snowmaking machines, but until then, it is left to depend solely on nature.
"We are still offering tours and lessons in the Uintas and the backcountry with skiing, cross-country tours and snowshoeing tours. That goes until the bitter end, when there’s no snow," Adams said.
Dowd credited the recent snowstorms for enabling the resort to stay open longer as well.
"They absolutely catapulted us," Dowd said.
Dowd says earlier in the year, the resort was concerned about the snowfall. But, the winter storms have provided ideal spring conditions, even though Park City has felt temperatures in the 60s.
"Even though it is melting, it softens up the snow about 10 a.m. and it makes for a great day on the hill," Dowd said. "Low snow here is better than anywhere else.
We are blessed with unbelievable luck and geographical perfection."
According to weather forecasts, another storm may hit Tuesday that might bring better conditions, and the resorts are salivating after it.
"We have an eye on the weather on a constant basis and we are hoping it will snow, we hope it will snow in August," Dowd said.
Beal says Mother Nature, despite the low snowfall, timed its weather patterns perfectly.
"Well-timed snow, definitely," Beal said. "And when we didn’t have snow, there was favorable snowmaking features."
During the cold period of time through December and January, Deer Valley made more snow than it typically does, according to Beal. Deer Valley will also close April 15.
"It was a banner year for snowmaking, and that’s paying off right now," Beal said.
Beal said it gave his resort a good base for when the storms finally arrived. When they did hit, it was during the busy tourist season.
"We had great conditions during the holiday period and hopefully they’ll come back," Beal said.
Because of the strong base, 100 percent of Deer Valley’s lifts and terrains are still open. Beal says there is typically a drop-off in reservations for March and April, but this year is different. The reason for the interest, in part, is due to Easter on April 8.
"It’s exciting about a late Easter," Beal said. "Typically we see a drop off on March 25, but we are seeing a lot of interest through April 8, having Easter late is a benefit.
Beal says the spring break crowd prefers sunny, warm days and the recent storms were "really beneficial."
"We are real confident we’ll still have a good product at that point," Beal said.
The momentum from the last two years has brought more skiers to the slopes this year, he said. Deer Valley is currently receiving reservations for next year.
"We seem to be building," Beal said. "This is our third strong year building over the previous years, there seems to be a high interest year over year, and demand is growing."
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Landslides in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday forced authorities to send drivers above the debris field over Guardsman Pass and into Park City as they navigated a route to the Wasatch Front. One of the landslides was considered to be major and cut off S.R. 190.