Park City Mountain and Deer Valley say goodbye to dry winter, prepare for summer programming
It’s official; ski season is over for Park City’s resorts. Though snowfall left something to be desired — Brian McInerney, hydrologist at the National Weather Service, said snowpack in Park City only reached 65 percent of average — local resorts said overall the season was not so bad.
Emily Summers, senior communications manager at Deer Valley Resort, said the resort’s investment in quality snowmaking put them in a good position going into the season. Summers said the resort upgraded its snowguns, rebuilt pumps, replaces 4,500 feet of piping and bought new snowcats.
“All that helps us prepare for years like this,” Summers said. She said usually the resort plans snowmaking from the end of October to the end of January, and though snowmaking went longer this season, 2017-2018 was not the worst snow year for the resort. Summers said snowfall totaled about 200 inches over the season, below Park City’s annual average of 300 inches.
“The good news is that in terms of skier visitors and revenue, we are close to last year (2016-2017), and last year was a record year,” she said, adding that destination visitors were happy to come to the resort so long as its runs were open. While it may not have been a banner year for experienced skiers in general, the resort saw high numbers of ski school attendance.
“Ski school was sold out over most of March — 20 days — and numerous days over the holiday period,” Summers said. “So people are still learning to ski.”
Moreover, some timely storms helped keep the slopes in good shape when it mattered most — right around Christmas and President’s Day.
“To get those (storms) around high visitor times kept us going, so Mother Nature had her moments when she was good to us,” Summers said.
Those holidays were some of the highlights of the season, as well as the Visa Freestyle International Ski World Cup, which Summers said pulling off in such a dry year was a testament to the resort’s snowmaking capabilities.
“And that (event) was just a preview of what’s to come in 2019 with the world championships,” she added.
The resort will open for the summer on June 15, and plans on replacing the Homestake lift in preparation for next winter, upgrading its lift capabilities to allow for a smoother, faster ride by altering it from a grip lift to a high speed detachable lift.
The resort will also add a new bike trail connecting mid-mountain areas to the lower mountain. The trail will be laid out by Gravity Logic — an expert trailbuilding service which sprouted from Whistler Blackcombe’s bike park in Whistler, British Columbia.
“It will connect Silver Lake mid-mountain area to our Snowpark base area, planned at an intermediate level.” Summers said.
The resort will also offer its Wednesday night free concert series at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, and is adding a five-concert series with guests to be determined.
Park City Mountain Resort is also preparing for the summer season after closing on April 9. The resort will start its summer programming by opening the Park City Mountain Village on May 25, which includes the alpine coaster and slide, gem panning, and lift-serviced mountain biking, among other activities. The Canyons Golf Course will open on May 25, followed by the Canyons Village on June 15, with its own mountain biking service and zipline.
The Canyons bike park will not be open this summer, due to declining demand, Van Ness said.
“This change includes only the downhill bike park and not the bike haul with access to cross country mountain biking trails,” she said. “The Red Pine Gondola at Canyons Village, along with the Cres-cent Lift at Park City Mountain Village, will continue to offer bike haul for access to cross country trails.”
The resort will add a Family Fun Zone, express lift and Candy Cabin at High Meadows, plus interior renovations at Mid Mountain Lodge and Cloud Dine. Additional snowmaking infrastructure will be installed on Red Pine Road.
According to Margo Van Ness, senior manager of communications at PCMR, the resort also overcame the rough winter through use of its extensive snowmaking system to open terrain surrounding 25 lifts.
“We also take pride in the quality of our grooming operations,” Van Ness said in an email. “We consistently groomed over 100 runs a night throughout the season, some nights topping over 130 groomed runs.”
All told, Van Ness said the resort was able to open more than 41 lifts and 300 runs at some point over the season.
Snowmaking aside, it was a big year for the resort’s programming. PCMR added several events to its calendar, including the Seven Summits Challenge, the #First30 opening concert series, and Pink Park City – a fundraiser that benefits the Huntsman Cancer Research Center – all of which the resort plans on bringing back next season.
The resort also added a new beginner learning area and upgraded the Epic Pass for military personnel both active and retired — lowering the season pass cost to $99 per person.
Season tickets for 2018-2019 are already on sale for both resorts.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.