End of night skiing among changes at PCMR heading into ski season | ParkRecord.com

End of night skiing among changes at PCMR heading into ski season

(Courtesy of PCMR) Resort workers make snow before the opening of the 2017 season

Park City Mountain Resort is set to open in about two weeks. When the lifts start turning, guests are sure to notice several significant changes in programming and facilities.

The highlights include the elimination of night skiing for recreational skiers, a new beginner trail for learners, a revamped parking process, an enhanced (and free) tour of the mining relics on the mountain, and a women's ski clinic.

Perhaps the biggest change is the elimination of night skiing for the public at the resort's Park City base area. According to PCMR officials, demand for night skiing, which continued skiing until 6 p.m. at Payday and First Time lifts, has been declining steadily, resulting in the resort's decision to offer it only to the youth clubs that use it to train.

According to Bill Rock, PCMR's chief operating officer, anemic night-skiing turnout meant cutting the lights for recreational skiing was a simple business choice. Though he declined to reveal participation numbers, he said, "There have been some days with less than 20 people skiing at night." Compared to other nighttime activities around Park City, such as dining and events, night skiing was "not a compelling offering."

"I think the most important thing about night skiing is to the kids' race programs," Rock said, referencing the multiple competitive youth skiing programs in the area, including the newly formed Park City Ski and Snowboard club, which is the result of a merger of four programs over the summer. "We've spent lots of time talking to the kids' race programs to make sure they get what they need and have an even better experience."

The parking system at the Park City base area will also be revamped.

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According to a Nov. 2 press release, Park City Mountain will debut a directed parking system at the Park City Mountain Village this season in hopes of providing a more organized and efficient parking experience for guests, who will be directed by attendants to parking spaces instead of choosing from an open lot.

"We get a lot of feedback from guests and a lot of our feedback has been about the arrival experience at Park City in general," Rock said. "First, we want to be able to manage it professionally, so we are thinking about parking like any sports venue or concert would."

PCMR has hired a parking company to oversee parking around the resort, with a variable number of attendants depending on demand. The parking lots at the Park City base area will be closed and blocked off between 6 and 7:30 a.m. to ensure parking attendants have an open lot to work with.

"Obviously we will have (the parking areas) open for special events or an early morning race," Rock said. "It's really just an attempt for us to control our parking spots and park people in a controlled fashion."

Above-ground parking will remain complementary, with the exception of a new, 20-spot parking area designated for preferred carpool parking (more than three adults to a car) for $10 a day. The resort's "preferred parking" in underground lots will still be available for $20 a day.

Rock said the changes are meant to do several things, including encouraging people to carpool and take public transit as well as provide a more efficient parking system for guests.

The resort is focused on getting guests to the mountain in a more efficient manner, but is also aiming to save them some time in lift lines.

This year, EpicMix, a Vail Resorts smartphone app that, among other things, tracks lift lines in real time will be bolstered with prior seasons' lift data. The app will include data about what lifts were busy when, sort of like a Farmer's Almanac for skiers.

"Really, it's a planning tool," Rock said, "You can pick any day of the season by time of day by lift."

Many reviews on Apple's App Store say the tool can be buggy, but Rock said Vail Resorts is committed to ensuring it improves the guest experience.

"Like anything else, we look at it carefully to make sure it's working properly," Rock said. "Some of the things … I've never experienced but if people are experiencing them in numbers our team will look at it."

Other changes to the ski experience include a new lift designed specifically for beginners. PCMR installed a new covered surface conveyor lift over the summer to serve entry-level skiers and snowboarders.

Rock said the lift will provide access to a gently sloping area and will give new skiers and riders the opportunity to run laps over easy terrain. The lift starts just uphill from the Mountain Coaster bridge.

PCMR's base will officially open on Nov. 17, followed by the Canyon's base area on Nov. 22.