Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Skiers take to the slopes at Deer Valley. The Utah resort was named No. 1 this year in SKI Magazine's annual list of top 50 ski resorts in North America.

For the third time in seven years, skiers have picked Deer Valley as the resort they like to ski best.

In SKI Magazine's annual list of top 50 resorts in North America, Deer Valley was picked No. 1 this year. It also received the top billing in 2001 and 2005. In those seven years, the resort has never been rated lower than third.

Park City Mountain Resort dropped one spot from last year, to No. 6.

Other Utah resorts making the top 50 were The Canyons at No. 18, Snowbird at No. 19, Alta at No. 25, Solitude at No. 28 and Snowbasin at No. 29.

There are more than 450 ski areas in the United States and close to 700 in North America.

"Making the list is an honor, and being picked No. 1 is something I have to give our staff credit for," said Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley's president. "You look at some of the things we were rated high in, such as guest services, food and beverage and grooming, and these are areas we feel are important."

Deer Valley received top 10 ratings in 11 of the 18 categories ranked in the magazine's October issue. The resort was also voted the best spot for a luxury ski trip.

Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, said the fact that skiers did the voting, "without any outside influences, adds a lot of credibility to the survey. And what skiers are finding is that Deer Valley makes it easy to ski."

Greg Ditrinco, executive editor of the magazine, said more than 7,000 skiers responded to the survey. In order to add credibility to the survey, requirements were that voters could only rate those resorts they had visited over the previous two seasons. Resorts were rated in 18 areas.

Ditrinco pointed out that Deer Valley is ahead of the rest of the resorts when it comes to offering skier services.

"They address their market niche. They take care of anything and everything you could think of when it comes to skiers' services. Skiing there is truly a relaxing vacation," he added.

Of the 18 categories, the one he thought carried the most weight was "overall satisfaction." Deer Valley was ranked No. 3 in that category, "which tells me Deer Valley really does deliver the goods."

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In a news release, the magazine's editors said that Utah resorts "heavily dominated the lifestyle rankings." Snowbird was voted the "best skier's mountain," and Alta was deemed the "best weekend escape."

Vail, in Colorado, was No. 1 last year but dropped to No. 2 in the ratings. Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia was No. 3. Colorado's Aspen was No. 4, Snowmass was No. 5, Breckenridge was No. 7, Beaver Creek was No. 8 and Steamboat was No. 9. Sun Valley, in Idaho, was No. 10.

This is the 20th year for the skier survey. Last year The Canyons was at No. 15, Snowbird at No. 22, Solitude at No. 25, Alta at No. 28 and Brighton at No. 29.

E-mail: grass@desnews.com