Parkites need time to say goodbye to ParkWest |

Parkites need time to say goodbye to ParkWest


News about Park City has been pinging back and forth across the Internet this week and already the distinction between the municipality and the resort of the same name has begun to blur. This week, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort will become one entity — to be known henceforth as Park City.

The heady announcement proclaims the new mega-resort as the biggest in the country. And with Vail Resorts’ marketing muscle behind the brand, along with $50 million in capital improvements, ski industry watchers are bullish on the area’s future.

But among Summit County residents the response has been more nuanced.

That may be, in part, because the community needs time to mourn the loss of an endearing ski area, one often overshadowed by its more glamourous neighbors but loved by its fans like a well-worn pair of patched blue jeans.

ParkWest, later renamed Wolf Mountain and then Canyons Resort, was where skiers felt comfortable wearing outdated parkas and used the lifts to access untrammeled backcountry slopes.

As Park City’s reputation grew and Deer Valley and Park City Ski Area concentrated on courting well-heeled destination tourists, ParkWest took a different approach. The smallest of the town’s three ski areas was among the first to welcome free-heel skiers and that new band of rebels –snowboarders. The resort also sustained its everyman appeal by inviting busloads of school kids to play hooky on the mountain. On Friday afternoons during the school year ParkWest’s parking lot turned into a sea of yellow buses from the Salt Lake Valley and all over Summit County.

So, this week, even as we speculate about the surge in business fueled by the connected resorts, stretching from the Town Lift to the Super Condor Express, locals have been sharing fond memories of a part of our lives, now relegated to history.

Parkites are also grappling with the new semantics triggered by the resort’s name change and tagline. With the mountain resort now known as Park City, how does one describe a trip to Main Street or City Hall? And, despite the elegantly simple marketing mantra "There is only one," everyone knows there are two. Deer Valley, a repeat winner of the title Best Ski Resort in North America, is still just up the street.