The last of the ski area holdouts will turn on their lifts this weekend, bringing the Utah ski season up to full speed.

Nordic Valley opened for night skiing Wednesday. Snowbasin and Beaver Mountain will open early Friday, and the last to open, Elk Meadows, east of Beaver, will open Saturday.This will be the first time in four years that all 14 Utah ski areas will be open and operating for the Christmas Holidays.

Last year, it was Jan. 15 before all 14 areas were able to open. The last to open was Brian Head.

This year Park City was the first to open. It started its lifts in mid-November. Brighton was second.

The latest storms have put as much as two feet of new powder on Utah resorts. Brighton is reporting the most snow. Early Thursday it was reporting a total depth of over 70 inches.

SKI MARATHON SATURDAY - Snowbird will hold a special Ski Marathon this Saturday. The event is being held to raise funds for the Snowbird Handicap Skier Program.

The marathon will begin at 8:30 a.m. from the top of the tram at Hidden Peak. Skiers will receive a gold medal for skiing 10,000 meters during the day, a silver medal for skiing 8,750 meters and a bronze for skiing 7,500 meters.

The minimum participation fee is $75 per person. A part of the fee will be tax deductible. All proceeds will go to Snowbird's handicap ski program.The fee includes an orientation and reception on Friday evening, and the ski marathon, lift ticket, awards, reception and dance on Saturday.

For information call 521-6040, ext. 4080.

UTAH SKI FUTURE BRIGHT - According to Bob Bailey, executive director of Ski Utah, the ski picture here in Utah is looking bright this season.

During a press conference Wednesday at Deer Valley, Bailey reported that early signs are that business will be up this season.

He said that while growth in other states is flat or below last year's figures, early bookings in Utah show increases of between 5 and 20 percent.

How the rest of the season will go depends on snow conditions and marketing efforts.

He also reported that this past summer, Utah resorts spent more than $21 million on on-hill improvements.

"These improvements include a high-speed lift, snowmaking equipment and snow grooming equipment," he said.

AWARD WINNER ANNOUNCED - Bailey also announced on Wednesday that John Harrington, formerly with KTVX, was the recipient of the second annual Excellence in Ski Journalism Award.

The Ski Utah award is given to the person who presents Utah skiing in print or over the airways in a professional and fair manner.

Harrington left KTVX after seven years to start his own business.

SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM ANNOUNCED - Two Utah students are going to get help with the college fees thanks to a new program announced Wednesday by Bailey.

College-bound high school seniors will be eligible to apply for one of two new scholarship programs.

The first is a $2,500 Ski Utah Scholarship, the second is a $1,000 Craig Badami Memorial Scholarship.

For information call 534-1779.