How will the Utah ski season be this year? Well, that mostly depends on the snow. But ski resorts and the state’s tourism organizations are optimistic that this could be one of Utah’s better years. Not only will it be a winter Olympic year which brings more attention to the ski industry, but this is the first year Utah will be included as part of the Epic Pass – a special pass for selected resorts around the world. The Epic Pass will likely mean more out of state visitors, and it also means better deals for locals.
It may be over 65 degrees this week in Salt Lake City, but the ski resort operators in Utah are not sweating it.
“We’re really optimistic for the year, we’re really excited,” says Steve Pastorino, Senior Communications Manager for Canyons Resort in Park City. You might say it’s his job to say that, but this year, Canyons has reason to be bullish about the season. Canyons is now run by Vail Resorts. That’s significant because it means a Utah ski resort is included in the Epic Pass. This pass is good at 26 resorts around the world. Last year, there were more than 300,000 Epic Pass holders from more than 70 countries. Pastorino expects the Epic Pass will bring an influx of out-of-state visitors.
“This is the first one ever in Utah, so people that think Colorado skiing is king, that California skiing is king, we can’t wait for them to come investigate and learn that we do have the greatest snow on earth,” says Pastorino.
Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty says the Epic Pass benefits local customers as well. Other resorts are lowering prices or offering special combined passes in order to compete. Alta, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort and Snowbird have teamed up to offer qualifying season pass holders 3 days each of free lift access at each of the other three mountains. Not only that, but Rafferty says the Epic Pass will bring Utah more exposure.
“When people see that their pass is now good in Utah, we hope they get out here, obviously they’re going to ski Canyons Resort, but we want them to say I’ve never been to this place before, and I’m going to come back and bring my family, my friends, and ski some of the other great resorts as well,” Rafferty says. He says Utah ski resort reservations are 21 percent ahead of last year at this time, with 28 percent of the season already on the books.