Park City adventure: Sun and fun at Canyons ski resort

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

Canyons is a huge ski resort on the edge of Park City, Utah. The resort made the top 10 ranking in Ski magazine’s reader resort awards for 2014.

And SnoWonder would have to agree after a great day of skiing on our first stop of our Park City adventure. We couldn’t wait for the lifts to open at 9 a.m. on a slightly overcast morning.

Jumping on the Red Pine Gondola, we were soon halfway up the mountain. After that, it was all down hill, as we shred the groomed runs. The highest peak is the Ninety-Nine 90, which is appropriately 9,990 feet above sea level.

We had a fun day working our way up and down the mountain with the sun finally breaking through for a gorgeous day. The trails were well groomed, letting carve long curves in the snowy surface.

Canyons offers everything from high speed 6-packs to simple double chairlifts. We never found a line at the lifts, allowing us to jump on as soon as we hit bottom.

The slopes were also wide open this week before Presidents Day. Often we were the only skiers in sight.

The resort even breaks down the runs more than most ski resorts. Canyons designates double greens for advanced beginners, as well as double greens for advanced intermediate. This helps take the guesswork out of picking a trail.

We especially liked The Aspens with its nice mix of intermediate and advanced ski runs. We steered clear of Condor Woods with more than a dozen double black diamond trails. Yes, these are for experts only.

We were pretty beat by 3 p.m. on the first day of our Park City adventure. That was fine because the lifts close at 4 p.m.

It was a great start to our tour of the ski resorts in this section of Utah. We’ll have a feature story with more details when we get back to Los Angeles.

Join us tomorrow when we explore Park City ski resort.

SnoWonder visits Park City, Utah, for a week of skiing and snowboarding

Join SnoWonder reporter Rich Irwin as he explores the wonderful ski resorts at Park City, Utah. Rich will visit a different ski resort every day and give us the latest news on these great ski destinations.

Park City is less than an hour away from Salt Lake City Airport, which has many nonstop flights from LAX. Skiers can be in Utah in an little over an hour, then on the slopes an hour after that.

You don’t even need to rent a car since Park City has a massive public transit system that will get around town in a hurry. So leave the car at home, jump on an airport shuttle to Park City and use the free buses.

The resorts got a good dump of snow shortly before we arrived, so we expect some great skiing. More snow is on the way, so we’ll let you know about conditions as they develop.

We’ll even check out some apre ski sites as well as the many restaurants that fill this old mining town.

When teaching kids to ski, it’s all about keeping it fun

A ski instructor coaches young Alex Faerber in a class for children at Mammoth Mountain. (AP photo by Fritz Faerber)

A ski instructor coaches young Alex Faerber in a class for children at Mammoth Mountain. (AP photo by Fritz Faerber)

By Fritz Faerber
Associated Press

A hard wind pelted exposed areas of our faces with tiny pellets of sleet and drove the 16-degree air through any chink in the ski gear covering my 4-year-old son Alex and me. He’d just fallen getting off a ski lift at Utah’s Brighton Ski Resort and I could see the tears welling up through the goggles.

Swift, decisive action was essential.

Minutes later, we were sharing a large hot chocolate, a plate of cheese fries and planning our afternoon away from the mountain. A full belly, time at the hotel pool and a nap rescued my future of skiing with my son from a miserable morning on the mountain.

“Let’s go to Snowbird,” he replied, referring to one of the ski resorts, when I asked if he wanted to ski or go into the city on the third day of our weeklong trip. Music to my ears.

I was determined to share my love of skiing with my son, but wondered if I was pushing it when I put him on the slopes at age 3. And since we live far from snowy mountains, I worried we wouldn’t get out often enough for it to take. But at 4, he showed mastery of the basics, and at 5, he can’t wait to go back.

For other parents out there wondering how to ignite a love of skiing in little ones, here are some tips on what worked for us.

First off, as most parents know, the kid is in charge. If he or she doesn’t want to learn, there is no amount of coaxing, bribing, pushing or fooling them into doing it.

With Alex, I made sure to promote a love of snow. The sporadic snowfalls in St. Louis, where we live, always result in snowmen, snow-gorillas and other unrecognizable sculptures in our front yard. In fact, we’ve even resorted to stealing the snow from all our neighbors’ yards, when the snowfall is too scanty for our own allotment to build anything of substance.

Much like Dad, Alex loves gear. Playing with this helped build excitement for skiing. At age 3 he started wearing ski goggles and helmet while riding in his car seat during winter time. Used skis and ski boots off eBay came cheap and meant he could get used to stomping around in the boots before we even left St. Louis.
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Ski, snowboard participation dropping nationally

Skiers talk at the base of Solitude's Little Dollie run. (Photo by Scott Sommerdorf/The Salt Lake Tribune)

Skiers talk at the base of Solitude’s Little Dollie run. (Photo by Scott Sommerdorf/The Salt Lake Tribune)

By Tom Wharton
The Salt Lake Tribune

At the start of every ski season, tourist officials offer the public glowing reports about the value of the industry to the economy, new facilities and the general health of the industry.

The reality, as evidenced by research into national and Utah skiing trends, is much different.

According to a recent national report from the SnowSports Industries America (SIA), participation in alpine skiing dropped 19 percent last winter and overall snow sports participation was down 3 percent.

The report showed that lesson volumes have been flat, season pass and multi-day ticket sales are down, the popularity of snowboarding is on the decline and ticket prices are increasing.

Sixty-two percent of the 19.3 million snowsport enthusiast are male, 54 percent have incomes of more than $75,000 a year and 74 percent own their own home.

In Utah, 65 percent of skiers have incomes of more than $100,000 and 30 percent make more than $200,000. The average age of a Utah skier is 44.1 and 43 percent of skiers live in households with children compared to 21 percent who are singles with no kids.

Snowboarding is not particularly popular in Utah either. Only 17 percent of Utah snowsports participants snowboard. Nationally, the total bumps up to 29.6 participants visiting a resort, down from 32 percent three seasons ago.

Utah skews slightly more advanced and expert when it comes to its snow sports participants, with 56 percent rating themselves as more advanced or expert compared to 45 percent nationally. Fifty percent buy single-day tickets.

The vast majority of Utah skiers drive to resorts, with only 10 percent using public transportation.

While the Beehive State has experienced a decline in trial or first-time destination visitors, repeat visitation is growing, with about 79 percent who have skied here having visited the state one other time.

The SIA national report measured alpine ski numbers, snowboarders, cross country skiers, freeskiers, snowshoe enthusiasts and telemark skiers. During the 2012-2013 season, only freeskiing showed healthy growth, though the number of telemark skiers was up slightly.

Alpine skiing remains the most popular activity, with 8.2 million participants in the recent report. But that is a substantial drop for the 11.5 million during the 2010-2011 season.

Part of these drops can be attributed to a late-starting season in 2012-13, with many resorts not really operating fully until after the Christmas holidays.

Reacting to some of these figures, the ski industry is trying to do everything possible to bring young people into the sport.

At his most recent season-opening press conference, Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty promoted programs such as a program where fifth graders can buy an online pass for $30 that gives them three days of skiing at all 14 resorts. Park City Mountain Resort is offering a StartNow program including five sessions of instruction for first-time ski and snowboard students that include lift access, equipment rentals and lessons for $40 per session. Snowbasin is offering a free season pass to skiers who participate in five beginner lessons.

Rafferty said Utah ski resorts, which generate 20,000 jobs and bring in $1.3 billion to the state’s economy each year, has set a goal of giving 10,000 beginner lessons in January, which is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Several resorts will offer packages for less than $40 a day.

Ski resorts indulge in gut-busting, decadent food

The Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich, served at the Little Nell hotel's Element 47 restaurant in Aspen, consists of a quarter-pound of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, smoked and pan-seared pork belly and house-made sausage gravy, resting on top of an egg-battered French toast waffle, topped off with a fried farm egg. (Photo via Associated Press)

The Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich, served at The Little Nell hotel’s Element 47 restaurant in Aspen, Colo., consists of a quarter-pound of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, smoked and pan-seared pork belly and house-made sausage gravy, resting on top of an egg-battered French toast waffle, topped off with a fried farm egg. (Photo via Associated Press)

By Scott Mayerowitz
Associated Press

Forget that fresh arugula and grilled chicken salad. This season, ski resorts are letting us indulge with a new slate of warm, hearty comfort foods. They might not be the healthiest thing on the mountain, but after a day of racing down the slopes, they are just what skiers are craving.

Warm bowls of chili and greasy cheeseburgers are long-time staples of ski cuisine. But this season’s comfort foods go beyond chicken fingers and curly fries.

At Colorado’s Copper Mountain, skiers who pop into the Sugar Lip Donuts eatery can now indulge in Little Piggies, which are maple bacon doughnuts. Down the road at Vail’s Four Seasons Resort & Residences, guests can put on some extra calories with “That’s Just Wrong Dog,” a Kobe beef hot dog wrapped in house-cured maple bacon with blue cheese coleslaw and heirloom tomato ketchup.

And in Utah, the Goldener Hirsch Inn & Restaurant at the Deer Valley Resort has unveiled a Rocky Mountain Poutine — a Western twist on the Canadian specialty — with braised lamb and cheese curds (both locally sourced), crispy fries and lamb gravy. It’s described by the restaurant as a “rib-sticking, heart-pounding, I-better-ski-some-more” dish.

“After a day of hard skiing, who wants just a salad? So this season we’re seeing more savory, high-calorie options,” said Susie English, director of communications for Ski Utah. “There are so many creative chefs. They love to create these amazing feasts and dishes. It’s so much more exciting for them.”

Of course there are still plenty of healthy options — and a growing number of gluten-free dishes — but let’s face it, most skiers are on vacation and want to indulge.

Professional skier Chris Davenport spends about 200 days a year skiing. Each day on the mountain burns a lot of calories.

“You need something substantial to fill that tank,” Davenport said. “A salad or a sushi roll isn’t going to do it.”

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Epic adventure has a big payoff: free skiing, snowboarding for life

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass now includes 26 mountains in four countries, and the company is calling all globetrotting, Epic Pass-holding, die-hard skiers and snowboarders for The Epic Race – a season-long competition to visit each resort this winter. The first 10 people to complete the race will receive an Epic Pass for life.

“When we launched the Epic Pass with five resorts in 2008, I said our guests wouldn’t be able to out-ski or ride this pass,” said Rob Katz chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “Five years later, after adding three more countries and 21 additional resorts, we’re throwing down the gauntlet. If you can be one of the first to ski the world, you’ll ski for life.”

Starting Nov. 1, guests can register to ski the world by visiting Each racer will need to ski or ride all 26 resorts on the Epic Pass (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps, Minnesota; Mt. Brighton, Michigan; Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria – St. Anton, Lech, Zürs, St. Christoph and Stuben; and Les 3 Vallées, France – Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle). Epic Racers will be asked to document and share their experience at each resort they visit to be eligible to win.

“If there was any doubt that the Epic Pass is by far and away the snowsports industry’s best and most comprehensive pass, the experiences these contestants share should put the question to rest,” Katz said. “What other pass allows you to enjoy the steep and deep of the Sierra Nevada, the amazing powder of the Wasatch, the majesty of the Rockies, the urban hills in Michigan and Minnesota, the interconnectivity of the French Alps and the world’s largest linked ski area, the unmatched off-piste skiing and riding of the Swiss Alps, and the birthplace of modern Alpine skiing technique in the Tyrolean Alps?”

Epic Racers will be responsible for their own expenses in undertaking the Epic Race and no racer will be permitted to ski or ride more than one resort per day in the U.S. and two resorts per day in Europe to ensure they capture and enjoy the full experience of each mountain. Race winners receiving an Epic Pass for life will be able to ski or ride only the resorts operated by Vail Resorts in any given year. All rules and guidelines will be posted here on Nov. 1 and included in the registration materials provided to guests.

“The Epic Pass is more attractive than ever, not just because of the access it provides to 26 mountains in four countries, but also because of the unprecedented on-mountain improvements of $130 (million) to $140 million across our resorts for the upcoming season,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “Not since the opening of Blue Sky Basin at Vail have we seen such a significant terrain expansion at a Colorado ski resort as with the addition of Peak 6 at Breckenridge. We’re also adding a new high-speed six-person lift in Mid-Vail to get guests into the Back Bowls faster and opening a new on-mountain restaurant at the base of Beaver Creek’s famed Birds of Prey race course. And then there’s the fourth generation of EpicMix – Epic Academy – which offers a unique way to earn and share your accomplishments in our world-class ski and ride schools.”

Well-timed snow boosts skier visits at Utah resorts

By Mike Gorrell
The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s just-completed ski season was not superlative by any measure, but after the miserable winter of 2011-12, the state’s $1 billion-a-year ski industry warmly welcomed a 5.4 percent increase in visitation.

“I feel pretty good about our numbers,” Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty said Tuesday in releasing the season’s skier-day number — 4,031,621 — good enough for sixth on the all-time list.

For one thing, he noted, Utah’s 5.4 percent increase far surpassed the 1.9 percent bump that resorts in other Intermountain states posted last winter. But Rafferty said he also felt Utah’s resorts came out of the winter with a little extra momentum because the snow that fell came at good times.

“The skiing seemed a lot better than last year,” said the head marketer for the state’s 14 active resorts. “When I looked back at the end of the year, the snowfall numbers weren’t all that good. [Alta’s 449 inches were 87 percent of normal, 514.] But the timing of the snowfall was helpful. It came early, which in our business is everything. And the cold temperatures, while they may have kept a few people off the slopes, helped our snowfall to stay put.”

Together, they laid the base for an upbeat year.

“Unlike last winter (2011-12), where we started off pretty well but then gradually declined in snow levels, skier visits and momentum,” he said, “this year we started OK but got better and better as the season progressed. Hopefully, it rolls into next year. I hope to be knocking on the door of a record next season.”It will take a good snow year to accomplish that. Visitation closely mirrors snowfall patterns, with Utahns showing repeatedly that they will ski if conditions are good by local standards, but will stay home if they don’t meet lofty expectations.

Utah’s top ski years
(Season » skier days)
2007/08 » 4,249,190
2010/11 » 4,223,064
2006/07 » 4,082,094
2005/06 » 4,062,188
2009/10 » 4,048,153
2012/13 » 4,031,621
2008/09 » 3,972,984
2004/05 » 3,895,578
2011/12 » 3,826,130
2003/04 » 3,429,141

Fewer and fewer places open for that last run of the season

With only three California resorts still operating — Mammoth Mountain, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley — the 2012-13 ski/snowboard season has mostly wrapped up in the Golden State. It’s the same story elsewhere in the country. Here’s a status report:

Aspen Highlands will open for one last weekend, this Saturday and Sunday. The resort has received more than 20 inches of new snow in the past week.

Loveland Basin will be open until May 5, and until then the resort is inviting skiers and boarders with passes from any other ski area to bring those passes to Loveland where they may purchase a lift ticket for $36.


Sugarloaf Mountain has an impressive 134 trails still open. No closing date has been announced, but the resort will be scaling back on its grooming efforts mid-week.

Mt. Bachelor will be open daily through May 26, but only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mt. Hood Meadows will be open daily through Sunday, then for one final weekend of the season, May 4-5

Alta has one final weekend, this Friday through Sunday.

Snowbird will be open daily through May 12, then it shifts to a Friday-Sunday schedule for the remainder of the season (likely until the end of May).

Jay Peak, which is expected to close for the season on May 12, has 59 trails and seven lifts in operation.

Killington Mountain Resort– with two lifts and 39 trails open earlier this week – plans to be open every day until May 5, then weekends only beginning May 11.

Sugarbush Mountain Resort will be open daily through Sunday, then opening for one final weekend on May 4 to celebrate its Kentucky Derby/Cinco de Mayo weekend. Two lifts and 24 trails are currently open.

Snowbird buried under 3 feet of fresh powder

Another major storm has left more than three feet of snow blanketing the Snowbird ski resort since Sunday.

Photo by Matt Crawley, Courtesy of Snowbird Ski Resort

“In about 50 years, I’m going to be telling my grandkids about this storm,” said Jodie Stackhouse, a guest who was snowboarding Tuesday morning. “I could really use a snorkel out there!”

The Little Cottonwood Canyon resort has received 222 inches of snow this season, and more snow is in the forecast through Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service.

“Skiers and snowboarders are thrilled to have such amazing conditions,” said Dave Fields, vice president of resort operations. “The snow is waist-deep, but blows over your head when you are skiing down the mountain.”


Shopping for deals on the slopes

At Mountain High, the Express Pass opens the way to money savings on the slopes and several special features. (Mountain High photo)

By Jerry Rice

OK, everyone knows that skiing and snowboarding can be expensive – traveling to the resort, lodging, equipment rentals, lift tickets…

But there are many ways to save on costs without cutting cut corners on the fun. Some examples:

> Free rentals for first-timers, ages 8 to adult, when a beginner lesson package is purchased at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit during the month of January. It’s part of a Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month promotion in partnership with the National Ski Areas Association. Information: 909-866-5841,

Mammoth Mountain’s January midweek pass is $249 – $50 less than last season. With regular adult lift tickets at the resort running $99 per day, the cost of the special midweek pass essentially means it more than pays for itself after three days on the slopes. Other price levels are $179 for youth, $69 for children and $199 for seniors. The pass is valid Monday-Friday through Feb. 1, but must be purchased by Monday. Information: 800-626-6684,

> At Mountain High, spend $10 on a rechargeable Express Pass, load it with almost any lift ticket and start saving – $10 on all flex ticket options – and enjoying other benefits. Those other benefits include guaranteed reservations in case of a sellout, a free eight-hour non-holiday ticket after every five visits, and the ability to track the number of runs you’ve completed, the total vertical feet and other individual stats. Information: 888-754-7878, 

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