Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
The 2004-05 ski season was one of those most ski-area operators only have the chance to dream about early snow, and lots of it, heavy storms and then long periods of good weather, and record crowds.
It was, without question, the best season in the 69-year history of the sport in Utah.
This past summer, Utah's 13 resorts choose not to stand by and watch grass grow on the slopes as they waited for the 2005-06 season.
Instead, they have invested millions of dollars to make things even nicer for the upcoming season.This includes:
What was once one of the historic markers on the slopes at Alta is no more. The old Watson Shelter, warming and eating stop for skiers over the years, was removed and a new Watson Shelter is under construction in a new location.
The new Watson Shelter is being built near the Angle Station of the new Collins high-speed lift, which was dedicated in the winter of 2004-05. Like the original shelter, the new building is being constructed of granite and wood.The new shelter will be nearly 5,000 square feet, will have three levels and lots of deck space for outdoor eating when weather permits. Within the shelter there will be a ski shop, restroom facilities and modern cafeteria. Along with quick, eat-and-go-skiing meals, there will also be a private dining area.
Along with planning for the upcoming season, crews at Beaver Mountain have also been planning ahead to 2006-07.
The emphasis this summer was in widening and manicuring existing runs off Marge's triple chair and creating several new runs for skiers.
Crews also began pouring footings for new towers as part of a program to replace Harry's Dream lift the following season.Other improvements include a new face lift of the base lodge's restrooms and the purchase of a new Snowcat to help grooming this winter.
Brian Head has long been recognized for its focus on terrain parks for both skiers and snowboarders. This summer the resort placed the parks under new management, and with the change came a flood of new ideas.
For the upcoming season the parks will have beginner and intermediate boxes, rails and jumps off the Navajo lift, along with new attractions for everyone from beginners to experts off the Giant Steps lift.
To complement the changes, the resort has also purchased two new Snowcats, each one faster and more powerful, and each loaded with all the new technology in order to groom more acres in a shorter time.The new 'cats can also cut steeper angles, a real benefit to sculpturing the parks.
It seems that with all the snow that fell last year, Snowcats topped the list of new purchases, and Brighton is no exception. The resort purchased two new machines over the summer.
Even with all the snow, the resort is taking no chances and added two new "Pole Cat" tower guns to their snowmaking package.
The resort also joined the new age of avalanche control with a new system that needs no explosives or fuses. The system is controlled by remote from the ski patrol office, which means the avalanche-control team will no longer need to enter the avalanche danger zones while carrying explosives.