Connect or disconnect? That question was asked of readers two weeks ago.
Build an Interconnect for skiers by adding four ski lifts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons that would link five ski areas, then market it to the world as a European ski experience in the good old U.S. of A.
Or, leave the canyons as they are, Interconnect to only the most adventuresome and skiing confined to the resorts, each unto its own.
The questionnaire asked:
1. Have you skied the Interconnect? Yes! No!
2. Do you think Interconnect should be completed? Yes! No!
3. If completed, would you ski Interconnect? Yes! No!
There were 108 ballots marked, addressed, stamped and sent in. Going by the voting, do we build? Not yet.
To question No. 2 the results were: 54 yes, 54 no. Even. A deadlocked jury and no tiebreaker. Presses were even held right up to last mail call, but the tie held. Utahns are, indeed, evenly split on this issue.
Remarks, too, were pro or con. No one even hinted toward a maybe. It was all or nothing.
It was interesting to find that more of the nos had skied the existing Interconnect, as compared with the yeses. Still, not many of the 108 voters have taken time to see first-hand what the link-up would be like.
Of the 54 against, nine have skied the Interconnect since it was started in 1981. In the group for, only six have skied between ski areas. All totaled, only 14 percent of the voters have experienced skiing from one resort to the next.
Of the 54 for Interconnect, 44 said they would ski Interconnect if completed. Three qualified it by saying they would if the runs were not too difficult or the pass too expensive. Six said they wouldn't, citing age or the lack of ski ability as the reasons. Four said they might.
Not one of the 54 against said they would try it if it were completed.
Among those voting no, the two main reasons against were high cost and protecting the environment.
Said one: "The last thing we need is valuable public monies spent on the 5% most affluent members of our society."
Another writes: "Money isn't everything! Our canyons are too commercialized already, too full of fast-money traffic. We need this refuge!
One of those who has skied Interconnect said: "None of those areas are very good skiing -- mostly flat (with) bad exposures. It's something worth doing once if at all. It seems like mainly a real estate hype for Solitude."
A husband and wife team skipped the remarks in favor of a full-page letter. They opened: "To add ski lifts into the sacred and pristine areas needed for the Interconnect would be an irreversible sin to the locals of Salt Lake City who appreciate those areas for x-country alpine skiing," and then asked, "Why would anyone from Salt Lake City want to compete with Colorado anyway? We locals have it great here! Colorado's lift lines are bad. Their lift-ticket prices are ridiculous. Our snow is much better than Colorado's and I am selfish ..."
Most of those for Interconnect cite the economy and tourism as the best reasons for the linking lifts.
Writes one of those who would ski Interconnect: "It's a shame so many people in Utah are against growth. 'Greatest Snow on Earth' and only UTAH knows about it."
Another writes: "Let's do whatever is necessary to make Utah the Greatest Ski Area in the Nation!"
A new resident said: "Just moved to Utah from Wisconsin. If Wisconsin had an opportunity to develop and have the grand mountains that Utah has, they would have done it years ago!"
And another remarked: "I am not a good enough skier to tackle an adventure like that, but I have relatives in California who definitely would."
And, of course, there were plenty of ideas offered by voters.
One of the most imaginative was: "Don't think of this as only for people going to all connected resorts in one day. It also opens up the kind of village connections you have in the Alps ..." and "... This could combine touring and downhill skiing and, perhaps, help to bring together, again, these two 'factions' of the sport."
There you have it -- a split decision. Half for it, half against. So, what about Interconnect? Evidence is still being presented ... and likely will for years to come.