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Utah Spring Skiing

To the Top
Photo: Snowbasin
OGDEN, Utah -- The 2002 Winter Olympics, held in Salt Lake City, forever changed skiing and snowboarding in Utah.

Nowhere in the state is that legacy more evident than at two Ogden, Utah-area resorts, 50 miles to the north of Utah's capital city.

Snowbasin: A Sun Valley Resort , which had operated for nearly six decades as a city-owned and essentially locals-only resort, underwent a $150 million overhaul before the Olympics.

Its long, steep ski courses shooting off Allen's Peak captured television viewers' attention worldwide during the men's and women's downhill, super G and combined racing events.

Likewise, Powder Mountain Winter Resort underwent its own, though less-extreme, makeover.

Like others who have skied Utah's mountains for many years, I had never before skied either of these two fantastic resorts, which offer completely different experiences. (Take the chance now -- Utah's resorts are expected to continue operating lifts through mid-April, and backcountry skiing usually continues through May or later.)

Modern, Magnificent Snowbasin

Robert Earl and Carol Holding, the multibillionaire owners of the renowned Sun Valley Resort in Idaho and the Utah-based Sinclair Oil, bought Snowbasin in 1984 and are still in the process of transforming it.

The experience of Snowbasin begins before hitting the slopes, with a warm welcome from friendly attendants and a view of Earl's Lodge, the stunning timber cabin. The lodge's interior decor is notable for its Murano glass chandeliers from Italy, crown moldings and marble countertops throughout -- including in the food service areas and restrooms.

Before the Olympics, the Holdings added three eight-passenger gondolas and upgraded older chairlifts.

The lifts offers skiers access to the resort's 2,830 acres of terrain on a 2,900-foot vertical drop on Strawberry Peak, Mt. Needles and Mt. Ogden; the gondolas provide welcome relief in colder weather. They also, I found, promote conversation between strangers on facing seats.

"The gondolas have spoiled me to death," Robert Smith, 51, an engineer from Orlando, told me.

Michael Chardack, 48, an orthopedist from Salt Lake City, explained that he was on a mission: to cover as much terrain as possible between 9 a.m. and closing time at 4 p.m. With no waits at any lift or gondola, Chardack had traveled more than 50,000 vertical feet by 3:30 p.m.
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