Skiers, riders excited on Park City Mountain’s opening day despite less than ideal conditions

Opening day at Park city Mountain Friday November 17th 2023. The resort opened with challenging early winter conditions. Mother Nature has not provided many below freezing days this season.
The 60 year celebration at Park City Mountain began with a banner break at the top of Payday lift on Friday morning. The resort invited employees who had worked for the resort when it opened in 1963 to ride the coveted first chair. Robert "Pokey" Richardson skied through with his poles raised, followed by Jim Tedford and Bill Latimer, ducking under the banner.
David Jackson/Park Record

Seemingly impossible forecasts kept opening day crowds to a minimum at Park City Mountain, and a majority of runs still carve disappointing brown paths down the mountain. At the Mountain Village base area, just one lift cranked to a start at 8:45 a.m. for those whose excitement for the season’s return got them out of bed on the first sub-freezing morning this week.

“Here’s the thing to remember,” said the Park City Mountain employee helping direct cars: “The worst day skiing at Park City Mountain is better than the best day skiing in North Carolina.”

An old guy strapped on his ski boots in the parking lot. This would be his first ski day of the season.

“You just got to see, there’s only so many runs you can do off Payday,” he said, willing to grab a few runs despite the conditions. “(Opening day) is always a good day for a shakedown. What do you need, what you forgot,” he said with a knowing smile.

Near the front of the lift line, Matt and Rebecca and their two kids, Maggie and Macon, had used a precious sick day to snag an early-season shred.

“They get a certain number of sick days, so we try to save them for ski days and opening day,” said Rebecca. “Fridays are half days anyway,” said Matt with a wink.

Maggie, 7, and Macon, 10, munching on donuts and sipping hot chocolate, certainly seemed under the weather. This was their first year at opening day together, finally old enough to wait in line for an hour.

But they didn’t have to wait that long — the family had arrived at 8:15 a.m. and got their impressive spot in line. “I’m shocked there’s not that many people,” said Matt.

Celebrating opening day, 7-year-old Maggie skis off the lift with brother, 10-year-old Macon and parents Rebecca and Matt close behind.
David Jackson/Park Record

The Winter Sports School class of 2023 also waited at the base of Payday, donning navy blue graduation gowns over their gear and duct taped grad caps to their helmets — their graduation day landed on opening day, said one of the students, and they celebrated their achievement with a couple of runs before heading to their 2 p.m. ceremony.

As promised, a DJ played music and resort employees passed out donuts. At 8:30 a.m., Deirdra Walsh, the resort’s vice president and COO, introduced the six original employees who would be given first chair.

Opening day at Park city Mountain Friday November 17th 2023. The resort opened with challenging early winter conditions. Mother Nature has not provided many below freezing days this season. The six honored guest of Park City Mountain were employees when the resort opened 60 years ago.
Park City Mountain resort invited these former employees to be honorary first chair riders for the 2023-24 season: from left, Clark Parkinson, Bill Latimer, Allen Titensor, Jim Tedford, John Bircumshaw and Robert “Pokey” Richardson.
David Jackson/Park Record

“These six gentlemen all worked at the mountain in 1963,” she said. “We’ve got Jim Tedford. Jim was on the pro patrol in 1963. We’ve got (Robert) Pokey Richardson. Pokey actually helped build the mountain, and he’s also the one that named one of our runs ‘Hidden Splendor.’ We’ve got Bill Latimer. Bill was in charge of the bar in 1963,” she said. The crowd cheered extra loud.

“We’ve got Clark Parkinson. Clark was a ski instructor when the mountain opened in 1963 and was an instructor for over 30 years. We’ve got John Bircumshaw. John also started in 1963, held a variety of positions including parking, lift operator and did professional ski patrol. Then we’ve got Allen Titensor. Allen started as a ski instructor in 1968 at Park West, and had an incredible career, and returned to the mountain in 2019 as an instructor again,” said Walsh.

The six “OGs” rode up the mountain by 8:45 a.m. and skied through a celebratory banner at the top of the lift. In a matter of minutes, the chairs had carried the small crowd up the mountain for their first Park City run of the season.

Sharing a chair with four fellow East Coasters from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, who had driven up from Salt Lake for the festivities, we had to laugh. These brown, bare mountains and icy runs were all-to-familiar.

To be fair, with a week of warm and then rainy conditions, Darren “Daz” Northwood and the snowmaking team at Park City Mountain delivered a reasonable man-made snowpack. It can only get better from here.

While most of Park City Mountain remained brown, Homerun had been packed with man-made snow for those who strapped on their gear for Friday’s opening day.
David Jackson/Park Record

For anyone anxious to strap their skis or boards back on, Park City Mountain is now operating with First Time, Payday and Mine Cart carpet out of the Mountain Village base area, and Cabriolet, Red Pine Gondola, Saddleback, High Meadow and Sweet Pea carpet out of the Canyons Village base area.

The terrain is expected to cover seven trails across the two base areas, and weather permitting they will start to expand offerings in the coming weeks.

Until Dec. 9, no parking reservations are necessary at the Mountain Village base area and parking is free until Dec. 15. However, between Dec. 9 through Dec. 15, you will need to make a parking reservation if you’re parking from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Paid parking resumes Dec. 16 and goes through April 1. Parking remains free in the Cabriolet Lot at Canyons Village.

Members of the graduating class at Park City’s Winter Sports School take some fast laps on Homerun in their cap and gowns.
David Jackson/Park Record
Opening day at Park City Mountain ran as planned on Friday, Nov. 17. The resort opened despite challenging early winter conditions.
David Jackson/Park Record
A boarder catches some air at Park City Mountain’s opening day, making the most of the less-than-ideal snowpack.
David Jackson/Park Record

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