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After early-season snow, Utah ski resorts prep for a busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend

Early-season skiers pack the slopes at Solitude Mountain Resort, Nov. 12, 2022.
Brian Albers
Early-season skiers pack the slopes at Solitude Mountain Resort, Nov. 12, 2022.

The first holiday weekend of the ski and snowboard season is here, but supply chain and maintenance issues have held back lift openings at two iconic Utah resorts.

Snowbird began replacing the cabins on its well-known aerial tram earlier this year, but a construction accident in May meant a new cabin had to be built and shipped from manufacturer Doppelmayr in Switzerland.

Snowbird began its winter operations on Nov. 18. Despite waiting on a new cabin, the tram will be open as of Nov. 25.

“We were very fortunate to not have experienced the delays that many people are,” said resort Creative Marketing Manager Kelsey Johnson. “We’re excited. They’re ready to open and we didn’t have any issues with construction or transportation.”

It’s a different situation at Alta, where supply chain issues have led to delays in shipments of parts for its new Sunnyside lift. According to the resort, that will cause limited beginner terrain offerings for at least the first few weeks of the season.

“We're hoping [the lift will open] mid to late December, but we just won't know until we get certain things,” said Communications Manager Andria Huskinson.

The resort is offering refunds for people hoping to access more beginner terrain, but it is also leaning on a snowier-than-usual early season to help spread people around the mountain.

“Last year, we opened with a 23-inch base and this year we opened with a 51-inch base, so we're already ahead of numbers,” said Huskinson. “We have a lot of our terrain open, so if you do come up and ski, we have quite a lot of our terrain open that usually takes a little bit longer to open up.”

Even with a better early season snowpack than in past years, resorts are still cautioning visitors to not bite off more than they can chew.

“It looks like mid-January out there,” said Johnson. “The coverage is a lot better than we would normally see this time of year. But that said, people haven't been on snow all summer long. Just take it easy. You have the whole winter ahead of you. Early season coverage is great, but, you know, get warmed up before you start really sending it.”

According to Ski Utah, the majority of Utah’s major resorts are currently open for business, including Park City Mountain, Solitude, Brighton and Snowbasin. Other notable resorts like Deer Valley (Nov. 29), Sundance (Dec. 3) and Powder Mountain (Dec. 8) are expected to open in the coming weeks.

In addition to respecting early-season conditions, Utah’s resorts are asking visitors to carpool or take transit to the mountains whenever possible.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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