Park City » Headed to Las Vegas, Calgary residents Ian Stephens and Sophia Tang made sure they stopped in Utah for a two-day snowboarding layover.
"We came to Park City since we heard all about your snow," Stephens said, before taking his snowboard and heading toward The Canyons Ski Resort cabriolet to be lifted to the resort village.
There was little wait at the carriages, but a steady stream of skiers and snowboarders were headed to the mountain during the beginning of one of the ski industry's busiest weeks.
Most ski resorts are expecting an upturn of skiers and tourists this year compared to the 2008 Christmas to New Year holiday week, said Ski Utah spokeswoman Jessica Kunzer. And it was no different at The Canyons.
"It' a huge Christmas for us this year," said Canyons spokeswoman Elizabeth Dowd, adding the resort lodges are full. "The early snow we had in December helped."
Though ski resorts don't release their figures, and holiday numbers aren't in yet, from the feeling on the runs and in the hotels, Dowd said The Canyons is doing better than last year.
"We've made it easier in these economic times for people to take a vacation, and we're seeing that pay off," she said, explaining the resort is offering discounted packages.
And most ski resorts are optimistic they'll have good years into 2010 despite the financial downturn that continues, Kunzer said.
"We didn't quite see the recession coming last year ... this season, our resorts were really prepared," she said, "with great deals for local residents and out-of-town visitors."
There's a locals-only package to teach first-time skiers and snowboarders at Park City Mountain Resort, but no discounted deals for out-of-towners. And the resort is doing better compared to last year, said spokeswoman Meisha Lawson.
More people have gotten used to the recession and are readjusting to spend their time and money on things that provide more quality time with their loved ones, Lawson said.
"Skiing is something that's unique and such a great family experience," she said.
And focusing on families is helping business grow at Wolf Creek Utah Ski Resort.
One of the smaller ski areas in the Wasatch Mountains, Wolf Creek offers some of the least expensive lift rates and several package deals for adults with children.
"In this economy, it's certainly a great time to be known for family value," said Bill Cox, Wolf Creek general manager.
Numbers have been steadily growing and improving since the resort opened five years ago, and Cox expects the 2009-2010 season will be a record one.
While ski resorts might be expecting more people at the lifts this week, for Munich-native Christian Becker, the lines are virtually non-existent at The Canyons.
"In Germany, you have to wait 30 minutes to get in a lift," said Becker, who is living in New York City and came to Park City for a snowboarding weekend.
Utah was the best for a short getaway because of a direct flight and relative closeness of several ski resorts, Becker said, "and what they say about the greatest snow, which you don't have right now."