Utah is a popular place these days, especially in the winter when there's snow on the ground. Last year nearly 2.5 million days were spent on one of Utah's 14 ski areas. Ten years ago that figure was only 1.7 million.

If snow comes earlier this year, and memories of good skiing liner, and marketing strategies work, even more will try Utah skiing.For the past three years, however, one ingredient has been light at times. It was January before some areas were able to open in 1987. Several resorts missed scheduled openings in 1988, but still the season turned into a Utah recored - 2,572,154 skiers days.

Last winter only one resort hit Thanksgiving - Brighton - and two areas missed all of November and December.

A recent study also shows Utah skiing is growing in other ways. The economic impact of the non-resident skier has tripled since 1983-84.

The study shows:

-$263 million was spent within Utah by non-resident skiers during the 1989-90 season. This represents a 95 percent increase since the 1984-85 season ($1.34.8 million) and a 200 percent increase since 1982-83 ($87.8 million).

-Along with $80 million in travel, non-resident skiers spent a total of $343 million for their Utah ski vacation.

-A visiting skier spent an average of $145 per day in Utah, which is up from an old figure of $96.

-The number of non-resident to resident skiers is also widening. The previous ration was 52 out of every 100 skiers was visiting the state. The new figures shows that 60 out of every 100 is a visitor.

-The average stay of a non-resident is 5.4 days and during that time each will ski 4.2 days.

-Most of the visiting skiers stay in the Park City areas (39 percent). Salt Lake City is next with 23 percent. Snowibird and Alta provide rooms for about 11 spercent of the visitors.

-Non-resident visits generate $160 million in personal income for Utahns and account for about 13,000 jobs.

-California is the largest supplier of visiting skiers - 25 percent. Other western and southwestern states provide 20 percent, northeastern and central Atlantic states 24 percent, and southern and central states 26 percent. About five percent are from foreign countries.

-The breakdown of the $263 million shows: $34.5 million was spent on lift passes, $6.5 million on ski equipment rentals, $7.9 million on ski lessons $92.1 million on lodging, $45 million on meals, $17.2 million on other food and beverages, $18.3 million on ski equipement and apparel, $4.8 millon on other apparel and footwear, $11.3 million on jewerly, souvenirs, gifts and other retail purchases, $1.9 on entertainment and amusement other than skiing, $13.l million on automobile rental, $3.9 million on gas and automobile maintenance, and $6.6 million on other transportation costs, services and miscellaneous expenditures.

-About 36 percent of the non-residents ere in utah for the first time.

It's easy to see why all these figures are adding up. What Utah offers in skiing is waht skiers are looking for these days - quality.

Many states offer more areas to choose from. California has 36 ski areas, Colorado 30, New York 56, Pennsylvania 29 and Vermont 25 ski areas.

And there are larger ski areas. Mammoth Mountain in California has a lift capacity of 42,000 skiers an hour. Park City, Utah largest area, has a lift capacity of 20,900 an hour.

Skiing in Utah is an experience many skiers are finding very memorable.