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Snowbird shines on ski season's closing day

Published June 3, 2013 10:10 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tim Durtschi spends much of the winter skiing at locations outside his adopted state of Utah, but come Memorial Day there's no place he'd rather be than schussing down the slopes of Little Cottonwood Canyon on closing day at Snowbird.

"I always try to make it to closing day because it is just a super fun event," an exhausted Durtschi said Monday evening. "The atmosphere is really cool and a lot of people dress up."

The skiing isn't bad, either.

"There was lots of corn snow and it was super sunny," Durtschi said. "It was really some great end-of-season conditions."

Durtschi knows a thing or two about skiing on some of the country's biggest mountains. The 27-year-old grew up tackling the peaks of Alaska and now makes his living as a competitive professional freeskier, catapulting over cliff faces in thrilling skiing adventure films. Last year he appeared in the Teton Gravity Research film "The Dream Factory" and will appear in the 2013 film "The Way of Life."

On Monday, Durtschi, who has lived in Salt Lake City for the past four years, treated a friend from Alaska to his first runs down Utah's mountains.

"He thought it was great," said Durstchi. "He said he wished he'd been here for the winter."

With an annual snowfall of nearly 500 inches, it's not unusual for Snowbird to stay open through Memorial Day, resort spokeswoman Emily Moench said. The resort's 11,000-foot peaks typically have a healthy base that provides for a long run of spring skiing. Most other Utah resorts typically close in April.

This year, Snowbird had 417 inches of snow and stayed open for a total of 182 days, Moench said.

Monday's event, which in addition to skiing on spring snow under bright blue skies included live music and a costume contest, was a fantastic end to the season, Moench said.

"The last-day festival is so great, the vibe is fun and everyone is celebrating," she said. "We were surprised by the turnout, about half of the skiers and snowboarders were in costume."

It's not clear how many people purchased lift tickets on Monday and the resort does not disclose ticket sales information, Moench said.

Durtschi said he thought the resort was busier Monday than it had been all weekend, when he was also on the mountain. And after such a great day, it's kind of hard to see the season end, he added.

"I just have to look forward to the next season," he said.

jdobner@sltrib.com