Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
How did Utah's 13 ski resorts follow up near-record snowfall and the fourth consecutive record ski season? They got even better.
Utah resorts all 13 of them spent the summer making improvements, ranging from simply grooming trails to installing new lifts.
It is, noted Ski Utah president Nathan Rafferty, all part of the commitment the resorts have to offering the best skiing possible.
"Even though we had our fourth consecutive record season, the resorts didn't stop making improvements. We're lucky here in Utah in that the resorts are committed to continue to improve," he added.
"Utah has some of the greatest snow and some of the best ski areas in the world. ... I hear this not only from our local skiers, but from people outside the state who've skied other areas around the United States and the world and tell me just how great Utah skiing is."
So what's new for 2008-09?
Work over the summer was focused on improving existing facilities and improving runs. This year, the resort will celebrate its 70th season. The U.S. Forest Service issued a permit to build the world's second chairlift on Oct. 19, 1938. The resort opened in December that year.
Skiers will find their time off the mountain as enjoyable as on the slopes. Big improvements were made in the main lodge over the summer.
Last year the resort connected its two separate mountain bases. This past summer, it put the finishing touches on the work. This included work on a retaining wall, and slope and mountain grading and landscaping.
Missing has been a real comfortable lodge to stop, rest and dine at the base of its Milly high-speed-quad lift. Over the summer, a $1.5 million, 3,500-square-foot lodge was completed and will be open for the 2008-09 season.
Projects here included the addition of a new gondola, a new lift and extensive work manicuring the slopes over the summer.
Skiers and snowboarders will be riding the new Frostwood gondola from the base area of the resort. A new fixed-grip quad chair was also built and will run from the Tombstone base to an area below the DreamCatcher lift. This is the first step in the resort's Iron Mountain expansion plans and is intended to offer access to the Tombstone lift at the end of the day. Answering the need for more tree skiing and riding, trees were gladed in areas such as Mystic Pines, off the Peak 5 lift. Snowmaking was also expanded and grooming equipment added to make it possible to better maintain slopes.
More than $8 million was spent over the summer. Tops on the list was replacing the small Cushing's Cabin at the top of Flagstaff Mountain with a larger, more service oriented cabin that can seat 40 to 45 people, has restrooms and will house the Flagstaff ski patrol.
Another highpoint will be the remodeled Empire Canyon Lodge that will, among other things, make available more seating in the food/beverage area. It also improved its snowmaking equipment.
Park City Mountain Resort
Skiers and snowboarders may not see all that's been done, but the resort has spent more than $10.5 million on improvements, which included a new high-speed lift, terrain changes and lodge renovations.