Editorial: The last time it really snowed
It was definitely another bad season for county elk
When Park City Mountain on Monday announced it was extending its 2022-2023 ski season to April 23, its latest closing date in 30 years, it got us wondering what the 1992-1993 ski season was like.
On Jan. 7, 1993, The Park Record reported the mountains had “some of the deepest snow in years” and that local ski areas had “near record-setting turnouts” over the holidays. The Canyons Village side of Park City Mountain, known then as ParkWest, which had been “struggling for years to attract skiers,” according to the paper, said it was having its best season to date, which it attributed in part to “aggressive pricing”: a day lift pass cost $16 that year, or $33 in today’s money.
Deer Valley Resort reported excellent conditions. “As far as snow it couldn’t be better,” said then-Director of Marketing Bob O’Neill. “If we had more, it’d almost be too much.”
On Jan. 14, 1993, The Park Record (a weekly paper then) reported intense snow storms were keeping city road crews busy and might be enough to break “the drought cycle.” A storm that week left road crews logging 12-hour days. “I think we’ve done a real good job,” said Perry Leatham, a plow driver. “The problem is though, you get the road cleaned off and then you come back an hour later and it looks like you haven’t been there.”
That same week, an unnamed family of six whose phone number shared the same last four digits with the number for Park City Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs said the last storm had pushed them to the brink with calls intended for Gibbs, complaining bitterly and profanely about plowing. It got so bad, said a woman from the family, “that her husband stopped saying hello and began answering the phone by saying simply, ‘The plow’s on its way!'”
And from that week’s Police Blotter: “A caller told police there was a man up on a roof in Old Town who they thought might jump. Officers arrived at the scene to discover the man was shoveling his roof.”
On Jan. 28, 1993, The Park Record, on its front page, announced that Deer Valley was extending its ski season by a week, to April 11. (Beside the announcement was a photograph of Robert Redford, who had held a press conference the week before at Sundance, the resort, where he said there were no plans to expand the namesake film festival. “That’s like when a restaurant becomes a chain, you tend to lose quality,” the actor said.)
On Feb. 20, 1993, a blizzard struck Park City. On Feb. 25, The Park Record’s front page led with “Wicked winter winds shut down ski areas,” an article that began, “It may be almost March, but Old Man Winter is still very much alive.” The winds were “the most vicious … to hit the region in over a decade,” the paper reported. “‘This was the worst thing we’ve ever had,’ Deer Valley Marketing Director Bob O’Neill said.”
Meanwhile, The Park Record’s Police Blotter that week was busy calculating the daily ratios of auto accidents to ski thefts. Ski thefts were stable while auto accidents were rising.
Like this winter season, 1992-1993 was a fierce one for deer and elk. On March 11, 1993, The Park Record reported that an Oakley dairy farmer and her sons had shot and killed 20-30 elk who were starving in the deep snow and had congregated on her land, trampling her fences and eating her hay, something she said she and her sons could not tolerate. According to the woman, Division of Wildlife Resources officials “refused to shoot the elk themselves but told her she was allowed to do as she wished.”
“The next day we went up on the hill and started shooting,” the woman told The Park Record.
Division of Wildlife Resources northern region supervisor Jack Kense told the paper the elk were too weakened by hunger to have a flight response to danger. The woman and her sons randomly selected the elk to kill, then left them where they fell in the snow among the herd. She told the paper that since the shootings, she had yet to have “any serious problems” with the remaining 70-80 starving animals.
On April 8, a small notice inside The Park Record stated simply that Deer Valley would close for the season on April 11 while Park City (Mountain) would close on April 18. ParkWest had closed April 4.
“For the first time in recent memory,” the paper said, “ParkWest officials are optimistic about their resort’s future. ‘This has been the best season since 1968,’ said ParkWest Chief Executive Officer Ken Griswold. Great snow, aggressive marketing and low-end pricing helped lure more people to the mountain than ever before, he said, making officials confident for the first time in years that this season will not be the resort’s last.”
Two years later, ParkWest’s name was changed to Wolf Mountain. In 1997, after it was purchased by the American Skiing Company, its name was changed again, to The Canyons. And its story still is not over, although it may never again see a season like this one.
Editorial: Pipe dreams of news
According to Pickard, “municipalities should purchase dying local papers and … the federal government should fund locally-operated city papers.”
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