Utah's ski resort season opens Friday when Solitude Mountain Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon cranks up three lifts to get the 2013-14 campaign going a little earlier than planned.
"We started testing our snowmaking system to see if it was working during the last cold spell and it just kept staying cold enough to get four good nights," said Henry Hornberger, vice president of mountain operations at Solitude Mountain Resort. "This latest storm cycle has allowed us to run snowmaking around the clock for the last few days."
Solitude was slated to open Nov. 14, the earliest scheduled opening of the Utah resorts. The resort will offer a special opening weekend price of $39 for adults and $24 for children to access three lifts (all out of the Moonbeam base area) and four groomed runs.
Brighton Resort, Solitude's Big Cottonwood Canyon neighbor, has listed its opening date as "To Be Announced," but a resort official said early Tuesday there were no plans to open this week.
The season started Nov. 20 last year, when Brighton was the first to open.
"It's really great when we have a Utah resort open early," said Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah. "When the resorts are not open and people are talking about skiing it is just talk. When we get going early it is exciting and people are scrambling to get their skis on the snow."
Early openings, Rafferty said, are important to get Utah's $1.4 billion ski industry started each season.
"Skiing is a big deal for the state and a vital part of our overall $7 billion tourism sector," he said.
Scheduled 2013-14 openings for Utah ski resorts
P Alta Ski Area • Nov. 22
Beaver Mountain • TBA (mid-December)
Brian Head • Nov. 15
Brighton Resort • TBA
Canyons Resort • Nov. 29
Deer Valley Resort • Dec. 7
Eagle Point • Dec. 30
Park City Mountain Resort • Nov. 23
Powder Mountain • Nov. 27
Snowbasin • Nov. 28
Snowbird • Nov. 20
Solitude Mountain Resort • Nov. 8
Sundance Resort • Dec. 6
Wolf Mountain • Dec. 5
Source: Ski Utah