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Expanding Nordic Valley? Sure. But why not just open ‘Roy: The Ski Resort’?

By Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner - | Jul 15, 2018

Global warming, global schmarming.

I gotta hand it to anyone talking about a major expansion to a North American ski resort these days: They’re certainly putting their money where their mouth is.

Take James Coleman, the Durango, Colorado, businessman who, as the new operator of Nordic Valley, is looking to expand the modest Ogden Valley ski resort into a nearly 3,000-acre behemoth with a 4.3-mile gondola linking the resort with the city of North Ogden.

Setting aside the idea that this Ogden-area-to-ski-resort gondola madness seems to be getting out of hand, further development of this particular ski resort is a bit like establishing a surf camp on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Sure, technically you could do it, but what’s the point?

Coleman says he wants to take Nordic Valley from a tiny 140-acre resort to one with more than 2,850 skiable acres — something like a 2,000-percent increase.

Go big or go home, I suppose.

RELATED:  Ogden Valley residents share unease with Nordic Valley vision

The surprising part is that this is Nordic Valley we’re talking about here. According to SkiUtah.com, it’s one of four Utah ski resorts that get the lowest amount of annual snowfall, just 300 inches on average.

And the primary reason for that lack of snow? Nordic has a base elevation that is a mere 5,400 feet above sea level. Again, according to SkiUtah.com stats, that makes it the lowest ski resort in the entire state.

It’s like putting a ski resort out in Roy.

Not only that, but among the 14 resorts in Utah, all but two of them have base elevations that are at or above Nordic Valley’s 6,400-foot summit elevation.

As a result, Nordic Valley is usually Utah’s last ski resort to open and the first to close each year.

I had to give up skiing decades ago (equally bad knees and finances), but even I know the long, hard-earned reputation of Nordic Valley — not much snow, not much terrain, not for serious skiers. Indeed, every time we suggested taking the teenagers in our LDS Church congregation night skiing at Nordic, you’d have thought we’d just invited them to sit around fingerpainting handprint Thanksgiving turkeys and drinking juice boxes.

At a recent open house at Nordic Valley, Coleman told a group of concerned Ogden Valley residents he’s not worried about climate change for the low-lying resort. He thinks The Big Warmup is still years away and says scientists have been making that same claim for decades.

“I don’t know when it’s going to get too warm, but I don’t think it’s going to be in 20 years, I think it’s going to be longer than that,” he told the residents.

Coleman then hedged his bet by adding: “That’s part of why summer activities are going to be an important part, that’s why tons of resorts all over the country are building their summer activity banks.”

At least as a summer destination, Nordic Valley makes a lot more sense.

Here’s the thing: If the big-on-big-business crowd would start doing what Coleman’s doing, I might start to believe that they really don’t think the planet is heating up. For example, if all of the wealthy, Republican, climate-change deniers out there really want to convince me that they think global warming is a hoax, how about investing in a huge resort on that one Polynesian island that’s been slowly disappearing into the Pacific Ocean?

To be frank, I couldn’t remember the name of the island, so I had to do a Google search for “What’s the island that’s being swallowed up by the sea?” As always, Google delivered, giving me the name I was looking for: Tuvalu.

Of course, Google also offered to address another of my burning scientific questions in its helpful “People also ask” feature on the results page. Namely, “How does an island not float away?”

No kidding. A woman in a place called Haworth, UK, actually asked The Guardian newspaper: ”Does the land underneath an island go all the way down? Could I swim underneath an island? What creatures could live in the gap between the bottom of the island and the sea-bed?”

Which seems crazypants that someone would seriously ask such questions. Until you consider that during a hearing earlier this year on how technology can be used to address global warming, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks suggested that rising sea levels aren’t so much the result of our melting polar ice caps as the by-product of erosion.

“Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” Brooks helpfully offered in the hearing.

Really. He said that.

And this from a man who sits on the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee. (Next hearing topic: “Shooting stars cause waaaaay more deaths than firearms.”)

And by the way? At 4,541 feet above sea level, it turns out that Roy City is a mere 859 feet lower than the base elevation at Nordic Valley.

Just in case, you know, somebody’s looking for a sure-fire investment opportunity in western Weber County.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.


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