Ogden-area ski resorts pleased with weekend snow, upcoming storms

Wednesday , February 21, 2018 - 5:00 AM

A series of winter storms that started last weekend is reviving this year’s ski season.

“We’ll ski the last snowflake,” said Denzel Rowland, Nordic Valley Ski Resort’s general manager. The Eden resort’s bountiful fresh snow brings hope for an end-of-season boon as winter finally has arrived in Northern Utah.

With much warmer temperatures than usual, especially since the beginning of the year, Rowland said the resort was planning to hold out until March 3. That would allow enough to provide promised service to skiers in the after-school program.

But after 7 inches of snow fell at the resort over the weekend and with more expected in the coming weeks, Rowland said the facility could stay open till the end of March if the storm pattern continues.

“We’ll continue to make snow and reinforce the natural snow,” Rowland said. “I think we could go another four weeks, possibly.”

Because manmade snow there doesn’t reach the top of the mountain, Rowland said the top portion of the resort’s highest Apollo lift has remained closed for several weeks.

This week, Nordic Valley is joining Weber County’s other two ski resorts in celebrating weekend snowfall success and the potential for a turnaround compared to January visitor shortfalls that led to ski lift closures.

Powder Mountain General Manager Mark Schroetel said rumors of layoffs at the resort east of Eden this season were false. Despite low snow levels and smaller crowds, Schroetel said everyone stayed put.

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About one-third of the staff, around 100 workers who are seasonal, were not given work hours because of lifts not opening, he said.

That scenario was changing this week, he said, following 17 inches of fresh snow over the long weekend, as reported by Ski Utah.

Village lift opened Tuesday and Schroetel said Paradise lift would also soon be in full operation.

And with new snow on ungroomed areas of the resort, Schroeter said Powder Mountain would add back single-ride and all-day snowcat services to pristine powder areas. 

“Hopefully, we’ll be at full employment,” Schroeter said. “We’ll be at full operation.”

Powder Mountain’s season is set to end April 15.

While Snowbasin shut down the Porcupine ski lift on weekdays as visitors lagged in January, Snowbasin Communications Coordinator Megan Collins said the resort still has operated in a good financial position.

Part of the Mountain Collective, the Huntsville area resort is one of 16 different resorts where members could ski for two days this season as part of a program they purchased, she said.

Along with Utah resorts Alta and Snowbird and fairly close to Idaho’s Sun Valley and Jackson Hole, Collins said many out-of-town families made visits to those five resorts as part of vacation packages, stopping at several or all of them.

“We’ve seen a lot of success with that,” Collins said. “That could also be helping us.”

Manmade snow along with cold temperatures has helped keep the skiers happy even without a lot of precipitation, Collins said.

“We have one of the largest snowmaking systems in the state of Utah,” she said. “We’ve been blowing snow as much as we possibly can with the recent cold temperatures.”

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The 14 inches of snow dropped at Snowbasin over the weekend has added considerably to the base of snow at the resort, she said. Now with valley snowfall and low temperatures, area residents might also be thinking more about skiing now that the weather feels more like winter.

“There is a lot of time left in the season,” Collins said. “We hope everybody has time to get up here.”

Snowbasin is planning to stay open until April 15.

From a statewide perspective, Paul Marshall, director of communications for the nonprofit Ski Utah, said the new snow was very beneficial to Utah’s ski industry. 

Marketing spring break skiing was one advantage, he said.

“We have skied well and will continue to ski well,” Marshall said. “The new snow has elongated our season.”

Sara Toliver, president and CEO of Visit Ogden, said while local skiers often are choosy about the weather when they plan their ski outings, visitors from outside the area aren’t.

Even with fewer snowstorms this winter, Toliver said hotel occupancy for skiing visitors has increased in the area over past year.

“We attract a lot of family destination skiers who come regardless of weather conditions,” Toliver said. “We are fortunate that our ski travel is growing. It’s nice to be more diversified.”

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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