Park City deals with operations problems
When a winter storm pounded Park City the week before Christmas, it created a flurry of challenges for Park City Mountain Resort. As lift lines grew, so did the frustrations of guests, who questioned why more lifts weren’t open and why more terrain wasn’t skiable.
Park City Chief Operating Officer Bill Rock addressed guests’ concerns in an interview with The Park Record on Tuesday morning.
"Fifty-six inches of snow in the timeframe we got it is, first of all, awesome," he said. "Everyone is really happy about that. But this storm presented some unique operating challenges that you’ve been hearing about."
The first priority, according to Rock, was safety.
"Snow safety is something we’re never going to sacrifice," he said. "Guest and employee safety is important for us."
With so much snow and wind to start the season, Rock said patrollers were busier than they’ve ever been.
"Our snow safety team reported slides in places that have never slid or have rarely slid," he said. "The wind impacted us on that Wednesday [Dec. 23]. It made it hard to operate lifts during the wind and it created more situations for snow safety where our teams had to go re-evaluate spaces [where] they had already done safety work."
The second big challenge was making sure the new equipment, including a revamped Motherlode lift, could handle the increased traffic.
"The biggest challenge we’ve found is that, with any piece of new equipment, they have a break-in period where they have malfunctions and things that need to be addressed," he said. "Motherlode opened [Wednesday] and then closed again because we had maintenance work to do on it."
Though staffing the resort has been difficult this winter, Rock insisted none of the long lift lines or lift closures were caused by understaffing.
"It’s been a challenging year to staff our seasonal workforce, much like it has been for many local businesses, but none of that is impacting operations," he said. "None of the opening delays people saw were the result of a lack of staff. It was more an impact of the complexity of the mountain and the prioritization of staffing."
Rock said he has complete trust in his mountain operations team and believes they are constantly working to improve.
"They’re pretty expert at it," he said. "Obviously there are always things we can do better, though."
Moving forward, Rock expects the remaining five lifts to open soon (35 of 40 were open Tuesday morning) and most of the resort’s 314 runs to follow suit.
"The last big lift opened [Tuesday] — Condor and that terrain," he said. "Now it’s a matter of opening a few more access lifts, but 100 percent of the main lifts are open."
He added that he believes mountain operations will run more smoothly as 2016 approaches.
"The good news is the snowstorm has been excellent for our resort, the region and our guests," he said. "I think it’s going to be great for everyone. I think we’ve gotten through [the big challenges] and will have a great season."
To check the latest conditions at Park City Mountain Resort, including snow totals and lift openings, visit http://www.parkcitymountain.com .
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It’s been a rough season for Park City, but a taste of the postseason could pay huge dividends in the future.