Roll out the white carpet: Resorts prepare for the 2006-07 season
Against a backdrop of fresh snow and with another storm on the way, ski and snowboard resorts on both sides of the Wasatch are anticipating another record-breaking season. Their optimism is backed up with a lot of hard work, highlighted by ongoing financial investments, cooperative marketing efforts and innovative programs aimed at diverse age groups and ability levels.
But no matter how much effort has gone into preparing for opening day, there is always that ultimate wild card the weather.
Each year, Park City Mountain Resort, The Canyons, Deer Valley and White Pine Touring aim toward arbitrary opening dates accompanied by caveats and qualifiers, clearly indicating that the first day of the season will be determined by forces much bigger and less predictable than we care to admit.
This week Park City area resort operators and local merchants are celebrating their good fortune. But they are also beginning to address a much greater concern about the weather. Across the West, mountain resorts are beginning to talk about global warming and the devastating effect it could have on the ski industry. One by one, they are adopting alternative energy programs in a serious attempt to forestall potential climate changes that could put an end to the kinds of winter recreation we thrive upon.
While it may be difficult to take global warming seriously, especially on a crystalline morning like Tuesday’s, the National Association of Ski Areas is taking concrete action. In September the group joined the Natural Resources Defense Council in launching a program called "Keep Winter Cool." The goal is to educate resort operators and visitors about specific ways to combat global warming. Already, 19 ski areas have announced plans to purchase enough blocks of wind power to offset 100 percent of the power they use to run their lifts and lodges. They are: Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Buttermilk, Crested Butte, Keystone, Snowmass, Vail, Wolf Creek Shawnee Peak, Mount Sunapee, Heavenly, Mt. Ashland, Okemo Mountain and Middlebury College Snow Bowl and Grand Targhee.
The NSAA and its members deserve credit for their willingness to openly confront the issue of global warming. Hopefully their guests will help too by carpooling and taking public transit to the mountains this winter.
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The executive director of the Utah Avalanche Center details an experience trying to warn people of the risks of leaving the ski resort’s boundaries.