Ski Utah is ready to get back to normal

SALT LAKE CITY — Ski Utah, which represents all ski resorts in Utah, held a press conference on Monday morning to kick off the upcoming winter season.

“This time last year, we were wondering whether we were going to even open or not,” said Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of Ski Utah. Despite the pandemic, nationally, resorts had the fifth-best season on record last season, with roughly 59 million skier visits.

Last year set an all-time record with nationally 10.5 million participants. “There were a lot of people who came off the couch — we call them ‘lapsed skiers’ in our industry — people who had maybe put it to the side and haven’t skied for a while and the menu of activities to do during the long Covid winter last year was pretty small.”

470 ski areas across the US were open last year and didn’t miss a single day due to Covid. 54% of skier days in the Rocky Mountain region were registered midweek, a sign of adjusting habits due to more people working from home and other Covid tendencies.

He said last year’s success was due to cooperation on a national level — whether that was between Colorado Ski Country or the National Ski Areas Association.

“The thing I’m most excited about this season is loading chairlifts at full capacity… This season is really, in many ways getting back to normal. I’d say back to normal almost.”

Regarding recent opening day delays — Park City Mountain pushed back opening last week — Rafferty said he’s looking forward to the cold front that is expected to arrive on Tuesday night. “Things can come quick and fast and we’ll hope for some changing weather patterns… I’m sure we’re going to be up and skiing in the very, very near future.”

Multiple deals across the state for beginner skiers and snowboarders were also highlighted:

  • Ski Utah’s 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program, is offered to kids nationwide. Fifth graders receive three free lift tickets at each of Utah’s resorts; sixth-graders receive one free lift ticket at each resort.
  • Park City launched Epic SchoolKids, offering five free days of skiing and riding at Park City for all Utah’s kids, kindergarten through fifth grade. It includes a free lesson during the month of January as well.
  • In northern Utah, Beaver Mountain offers their Learn to Turn program which rewards new skiers and riders with a “Little Beaver” season pass after a series of three lessons. Beginners can also opt to work on their skills utilizing Beaver’s magic carpet all day for only $15 or get a Little Beaver all-day chairlift pass for only $25.
  • Brighton Resort kids 10 and under can ski for free all season long with a paying adult.
  • Nordic Valley and Brian Head Resort offer free skiing and riding for kids 12 & under, parents just need to register their kids for the Power Pass.
  • If you can only make a few turns in the afternoon Alta Ski Area allows skiers to ride the beginner lifts, Sunnyside and Albion, from 3-4:30 p.m. daily, all season long, starting at $59 for four days.
  • Snowbasin offers three lift tickets, three lessons, season-long rental equipment, and a season pass for the remainder of the season upon completion of the program for $499.

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