Utah’s 14 ski resorts are rolling out the white carpet to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games. The event officially put Utah on the map and spilled the secret of its “Greatest Snow on Earth” worldwide. Since 2002, Utah has blossomed with a cascade of improvements and amenities resulting in a 41 percent increase in skier day visits.
The 2011-12 season will feature a number of improvements both on and off the slopes. Here’s a summary from UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com of what’s going on state-wide:
ALTA SKI AREA
Starting this season skiers can skip the ticket window and head straight to the powder at Alta using the resort’s new smartphone application, which will allow skiers to reload their Alta Card for skiing directly through their phone.
Alta’s popular Corkscrew run in Collins Gulch, which brings skiers to the base of the mountain, is being modified to ease the pitch and fulfill the promise of a blue run from top to bottom.
The resort is also proceeding with planning for stage one of a two-pronged base upgrade. Alta is working with architects and environmental consultants to design a LEED certified building, which will include a ticket office, ski shop and other skier services. Construction on the project may occur as early as summer 2012.
Alta’s surrounding community has launched a new nonprofit, The Alta Chamber and Visitors Bureau, which aims to attract new visitors through focused marketing and the new website www.discoveralta.com.
Family friendly Beaver Mountain near the Idaho border in Logan Canyon has added a new Little Beaver lift for the 2011-12 season. The new lift is a triple chair, 400 feet longer than the previous lift providing access to additional beginner terrain with increased capacity.
Brian Head Resort in southern Utah is adding the new Chair 9 Deli & Pub and real-time snow alert texting options. The resort is also launching a new website and expanding its demo and high-performance rental packages. Additionally, a new United Express nonstop flight between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the new St. George Airport (SGU), only a 90-minute drive to Brian Head, provides easier access to the resort.
Brighton is investing $500,000 in snowmaking upgrades and $20,000 in terrain park features for the 2011-12 season. Additionally, the resort will add new high-end equipment to their demo center.
Canyons will open the 2011-12 season with the first phase of their resort re-creation totally complete. Myriad additions to the resort appeared throughout last season with two new chairlifts including the Orange Bubble chair with heated seats, more than 300 acres of new terrain, a completely remodeled ski beach base area and a number of new restaurants and services. Additionally this season, Canyons will offer heli-skiing from the resort in conjunction with Wasatch Powderbird Guides.
Deer Valley is redesigning the beginning/learning area on Wide West ski run and installing additional Sunkid conveyor lifts. The resort is also opening a new children’s clothing retail outlet in the Snow Park Lodge. Forty-one energy efficient air-water snowmaking guns will also be purchased for the 2011-12 winter season.
Eagle Point is sprucing up for their second season with 200 additional skiable acres. The terrain will add tree skiing and steeps to the resort in south-central Utah east of the town of Beaver. Additionally, the resort has added new amenities to the Canyonside Lodge with an outdoor hot tub garden and spa services.
PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT
Beginners of all ages will enjoy a new dedicated learning zone featuring two new conveyor lifts. New Snowmamas (real moms from around the country) will be chosen this fall to share and assist with the ins and outs of creating the perfect Park City winter family vacation. A new zip line will also run through both the winter and summer seasons.
Park City will also see improvements to its terrain park experience, overhauling 3 Kings lift, which will double skier and rider carrying capacity. Dirt work conducted over the summer will enable the resort to open the 22-foot Eagle Superpipe even earlier in the season as well.
Finally, a functional wind turbine, solar panels and an interactive kiosk devoted to educating visitors on the resort’s commitment to exploring renewable energy sources will be located at the top of Silverlode lift.
With over 7,000 skiable acres, visitors to Powder Mountain are offered several ways to transport themselves to the resort’s many peaks. As the use of snowcats continues to grow in popularity, Powder Mountain will expand their single-ride snowcat terrain by 50 percent with the addition of 350 skiable acres and an additional snowcat. The resort’s trail crew has also gladed additional terrain, adding new tree skiing to Powder Country, Backcountry “DMI” Tour areas as well as the Snowcat Powder Safari Zones.
Snowbasin is warming up their season with new outdoor gas fireplaces on Earl’s Patio. Slope modifications on School Hill will increase the efficiency of building the Resort’s 22-foot Dew Tour regulation halfpipe. The resort will host the winter Dew Tour once again February 9-12, 2012. Two new additional snowcats will be added to Snowbasin’s already extensive grooming equipment. The resort will also add seventeen light posts to Earl’s Base Area and the upper parking lot.
The completion of The Cliff Spa and Aerie Restaurant will mark a complete remodel of Snowbird’s flagship hotel, The Cliff Lodge. The Aerie Restaurant will also feature a new chef and manager.
The resort’s mountain school is introducing three new programs: Expedition Team for youth ages 10-15 who are expert skiers/boarders, with sidecountry camps and backcountry skills training, and an Adult Adventure program for parents of Adventure Team kids. The School is also implementing the Flaik system and equipment so children and parents can track the terrain and vertical feet they cover.
Snowbird also recently unveiled version 2.0 of its free iPhone app, featuring snow reports, live mountain cams, road conditions, and even allows users to brag about how many days of skiing they’ve logged at Snowbird throughout the season.
Solitude Mountain Resort recently unveiled free Wi-Fi throughout all of Solitude Village. The resort aims to keep families and friends connected through the use of popular social media and Smartphone tools.
The Thirsty Squirrel will be expanded for this season as well. This expansion will give visitors the elbow space needed for more animated story-telling, high fives and backslaps. The bar will feature live music throughout the season as well.
Sundance Resort is expanding its terrain park for the 2011-12 winter season. This move is primarily focused on putting the terrain park in a location that would allow it to remain open during night skiing operations. The resort will not only move the terrain park but will expand its size and number of features. Additional lights will be added to enhance the night riding experience in the park. Sundance is also expanding its pass options this winter to include both a 5-punch and 10-punch pass in addition to the All Seasons Pass.
Utah’s best kept family skiing and boarding secret, Wolf Mountain, has once again made improvements to the resort. The 2,700 foot long Wolfdeedo lift cable was replaced this summer. Wolf Mountain has also improved a handful of the ski runs, added additional snowmaking machines and improved some of the physical features of the lodge. New daily ticket pricing options will also be added this year to accommodate every guest’s time schedule.
New for the 2011-12 winter season, Ski Utah has launched the Yeti Pass enabling pass holders to ski one day at every Utah resort for $499 ($35 per day)