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Snow arrives early at Snowbird

Published November 10, 2008 1:29 am

Snowbird marks its second-earliest start in 38 years
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Michael Plummer was looking forward to the ski season after sitting out all of last year because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But he didn't think it would come this early.

Tuesday's snowstorm kicked off a five-day accumulation that has reached about 46 inches of snow, allowing Snowbird Ski Resort to open Friday, the second-earliest start in the resort's 38-year history. The resort didn't open until Nov. 28 last year.

"It feels fantastic to be out this early. I forgot how it felt to be out here," said Plummer, who was at the resort with his son and some friends. "It's pretty good skiing. There's some rocks showing through, but I'm not picky. I'm hoping this means a long and epic season."

Snowbird is the only resort open so far, giving skiers and snowboarders a head start on the season. Most resorts typically open after Thanksgiving.

The Aerial Tram, as well as the Gadzoom and Mid-Gad lifts, were open on Friday and open terrain included Regulator Johnson from the top of Hidden Peak, as well as Big Emma and Bassackwards.

Even though the runs and lifts are limited, Ben Hauber has been out every day since Friday and hasn't gotten bored yet. It is the Pittsburgh native's first ski season since moving to Utah.

"According to my friends, it's a bad day, but this [would be considered] a great day back home," Hauber said. "The first day was awesome. All I plan on doing is working and being here [at Snowbird]."

Snowbird does not release figures but Public Relations Director Jared Ishkanian said the resort has seen a steady flow of skiers and snowboarders. The tram, which accommodates 125 people per trip, has been consistently about 80 percent full on each of the three days since the resort opened for the season.

Ishkanian is hoping the early start is a good omen for the rest of the season.

"By getting an early start, it helps us with word of mouth and gives us good publicity," Ishkanian said. "If people have snow in their backyards in the valley, it shifts their mind-set from fall to winter. They think of snow and they think of skiing. The economy is a factor this year, but in our experience, if we get snow early and often, it goes a long way in assuring a positive experience.''

mthach@sltrib.com