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Ray Grass: Utah lucky to have top ski resorts in nation

Published: Thursday, Nov. 8 2007 12:22 a.m. MST

I know a lot of us here in Utah have a pretty good idea at times about just how good we have it when it comes to skiing and snowboarding at our 13 resorts.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard the word "lucky" from out-of-staters in reference to being able to live and ski and/or snowboard in Utah. Lucky to have such great snow. Lucky to have such great mountains. Lucky to have such great resorts and to have them all so close. Lucky to be able to choose a resort just minutes before leaving the house.

Just look at the way others view Utah's resorts.

In the latest SKI Magazine poll, seven Utah resorts were ranked in the top 30 in North America. Only Colorado did better. It had 12 listed.

Deer Valley, for the third time in six years, was voted the best all-round resort in the country. Park City was No. 6, The Canyons No. 18, Snowbird No. 19, Alta No. 25, Solitude No. 28 and Snowbasin No. 29.

Bundling categories together, the magazine came up with key categories and reranked resorts. Utah resorts won three of the four categories — skier's mountain (Snowbird), luxury trip (Deer Valley) and weekend escape (Alta).

Realize, now, there are somewhere around 700 resorts in North America, and voting was done by people who ski. In order to vote, a reader must have visited the resorts voted on within the previous two years.

Where Utah resorts scored best was in those areas skiers want most, like snow, grooming, terrain, lift service, access and weather.

Where they didn't score well was in after-ski nightlife, terrain parks and family programs, which is a little surprising.

The two areas where Utah resorts really stole the hearts of skiers were in the categories of snow and access. Voters placed five Utah resorts in the top 10 for snow and seven in the top 10 when it came to access.

Nowhere in the world are there so many resorts so close.

To prove it, two years ago Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, myself and three others — Lee Benson, Mike Grass and Ravell Call — skied 11 resorts in a single day, all done during daylight hours and all reached by vehicle.

There are lots of similar stories. One man surfed in the morning in California, flew to Utah and skied in the afternoon. Another golfed in Arizona and skied in Utah on the same day, and another flew into Utah in the morning from New York, skied and returned to New York in time for a late-evening dinner.

For five years in a row, Alta and Snowbird drew SKIING Magazines No. 1 ranking when it came to the "best hills to ski powder."

Last season, after a marginal snow year in 2006-07, it fell to No. 3 behind Whistler Blackcomb in Canada and Jackson in Wyoming.

When it came to steep and deep, Alta/Snowbird was No. 4, and when it came to having the very best powder, it was voted back to No. 1, with Solitude and Brighton taking the Nos. 3 and 4 spots, respectively.

And, for the fourth year in a row, the terrain park at Park City Mountain Resort was voted Terrain Park of the Year by readers of Transworld Snowboarding magazine.

While those of us who live in Utah sometimes take all this for granted, those skiers and snowboarders living outside of Utah really look upon Utah skiers and snowboarders as being lucky.


E-mail: grass@desnews.com

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