Snowstorm prompts Brighton to open Tuesday, other resorts to follow
Ben Brewer, Deseret News
BRIGHTON — A resounding "Wahoo!" rang out and ricocheted off the snow-covered trees and peaks of Brighton Monday.
Technically, it was the day before the resort opened for the 2012-13 season, but there were dozens of cars in the parking lot filled with those hankering to hit the slopes after a weekend of snowfall.
"So excited," Rose Struble simply said.
"Definitely," Alisa Evans added. "We've been watching reports every day."
The two instructors at Brighton's ski school heard rumors Saturday — once the storm hit and kept hitting — that the resort might open on Tuesday. The rumor was confirmed Sunday. By then, the pair had already been on the mountain.
"It's so much better than last year," Evans said. "We're off to a good start. It's very exciting."
There were windows being washed and snowboard rails being painted Monday. Trash cans were hauled out and placed and chairlifts were maintained and packed.
And everywhere, people were smiling.
"A little bit of snowfall lights us all up," Alan Lindsay said. "We are stoked up here. This is what we work our lives around. There's skiing and waiting to ski."
Jared Winkler, a spokesman for Brighton, said the resort doesn't set a specific opening date, but tries to shoot for Veteran's Day. One year it opened around Halloween. Employees are hired in August and September so they're ready for whenever the snow levels rise to meet the enthusiasm.
"We let everyone know to stand by, the first of November it could be any time," he said. "They know and they're waiting for that call, eager to get up here and make some money and ski and snowboard themselves."
"You kind of cross your fingers and hope it comes as soon as possible," Struble said.
Though this was a normal open date, Winkler said the snow looks like it does in mid-December. He said he is hopeful this storm is just one of many that delivers the snow skiers and snowboarders crave.
"We're really excited and not just me, myself and the management crew, but all our employees and all the guests there," Winkler said. "They're really excited to see so much snow and to be opening with so much fresh snow."
Employees were working to maintain the snow on the mountain and were making even more, he said. The office has also been busy with those picking up their season passes.
The resort hopes to open four of its six chairlifts by Wednesday. Three will open Tuesday at 9 a.m.
"We're hoping to get the first chair tomorrow," Evans said.
Evans, Struble and others, like Russ Williams and Jason Jorgensen, weren't waiting until the official open.
"We hiked all the way to the top and took a sick run down," Jorgensen said, grinning. "It was good. The top was awesome — nice and fluffy."
Williams met Jorgensen at Brighton during the 2006-07 season and ultimately moved to Utah.
"To hang out with this guy and shred a lot of powder," Williams explained, gesturing to Jorgensen.
The pair said they plan to come back to hit the mountain early Tuesday and many times afterward, "as long as it is better than last year."
There are already a lot of comparisons between what was seen as a rough season last year and what everyone is hoping will be a much better year this winter.
"The difference between now and last year is, really, last year just didn't get the snow everybody expected throughout the season," Winkler said. "We had a great snow year — we still had all of our terrain open, still had great skier visits, but the powder hounds, the Salt Lake City locals just didn't get the season they were expecting."
Struble said morale was low last year, but is already much improved with the promise of a new year with new snow.
"It's off to a good start," she said. "Spirits are high. It's just what we need. The storm really boosted morale."
Stuart Anderson helps run maintenance at the resort and said things were "pretty chaotic" trying to prepare for the big opening day. Still, he laughed and sang as he worked.
"I'm pretty stoked," he said. "It's good to get back into the swing of things. Compared to last year, (the snow) is a blessing."
Some employees said they couldn't imagine working anywhere else but Brighton. Lindsay, a ski instructor, is one of those.
"Its vibes are chill bro vibes, but it's also a family resort," he said. "People who work up here are special. Brighton is always calling us back. We're up here, rearranging our lives to stay. It gets in your blood."
Winkler has spent 22 years on the mountain, 10 of them working for the resort. It's a place for everyone and many friendships are built here, he said.
"We know who we are, what we are and what we can offer. ... You can still come to Brighton with a Crock-Pot and a cooler, plug it in at the lodge and play cards with your family."
Solitude, Brighton's neighbor in Big Cottonwood Canyon, is slated to open Wednesday, just one day behind Brighton. Snowbird, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, is set to open Thursday with Alta and Brian Head to follow on Friday.
"This is the storm we needed to get the season started off right," said Bob Bonar, Snowbird's president. "Lake effect made a good storm into a great storm leaving more than 4 feet of snow throughout the mountain."
Ski Utah will begin its snow reports Tuesday and released the latest opening dates for Utah's ski resorts:
• Alta — Nov. 16
• Beaver — To be announced
• Brian Head — Nov. 16
• Brighton — Nov. 13
• Canyons — Nov. 23
• Deer Valley — Dec. 8
• Eagle Point — Dec. 21
• Park City — Nov. 17
• Powder Mountain — Nov. 21
• Snowbasin — Nov. 22
• Snowbird — Nov. 15
• Solitude — Nov. 14
• Sundance — Dec. 7
• Wolf Mountain — Nov. 23
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