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Park City • A classic Utah ski day it was not.
No, Monday's closing chapter on the extended Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend bore a much stronger resemblance to Eastern skiing.
The snowpack at Canyons Resort clearly showed the lingering ill-effects of the rain/soggy snow that started falling Sunday, leaving lower elevations slushy and upper elevations crusty and icy. Many runs also featured stretches dotted with pine needles and small tree branches torn loose by the heavy moisture and sporadically strong winds.
But challenging conditions weren't about to get in the way of vacation plans for Zach Gloyne and Chad Hartman, a couple of 15-year-olds from Williamsburg, Va., as they took a ride in the Red Pine gondola.
On this latest ski trip to the land of his birth, Gloyne said he had expected Utah's trademarked "Greatest Snow on Earth" to be "a little better than it is. But we're just excited to be out West. We don't get to come out here very often."
Added Hartman: "It's still better than anything we have back home."
Their sentiments were echoed by other destination visitors on this important weekend for the ski industry.
"This is exactly like Eastern skiing," said Arrin Manning, a 21-year-old Brigham Young University student from Connecticut. She was skiing with a friend from BYU, Chris Robinson, and his dad, Greg, a Wells Fargo Bank employee from Park City.
They had been up on Saturday, too, when the slopes were crowded. They shared lift rides with people from Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Connecticut and Minnesota. The snow was hard packed then, but in good condition, much better than it was after Sunday's moisture made it virtually impossible to ski off the groomed slopes. Chris Robinson found that out when he ventured off trail, only to come to an unexpectedly abrupt stop that toppled him.
"It was like water skiing," he said. "I just sank in the snow."
This is the 15th or 16th time that brothers Kevin and Dan Murray, ages 51 and 49, have traveled to Utah from their respective homes in Virginia and Pennsylvania. "Today, obviously, is not a good day," said Dan, to which Kevin quickly added, "It's the first time we've ever seen ice and granular snow out here."
But they weren't grousing, just describing the conditions they were dealt. Same with Bryan Bearden, 35, an Atlanta insurance broker who offered up the adage about the worst day skiing being better than the best day at work.
Resorts expect resiliency like that from clients whose passion for skiing and snowboarding overwhelms a little pesky weather.
That was the case at Deer Valley, said spokeswoman Erin Grady. There were "a few challenges with the warmer weather and some wind holds [on chairlifts Monday] morning." she said. "But overall, it has shaped up to be another great holiday weekend."
The wind played havoc with the Tram and chairlifts at Snowbird, too, while Solitude spokesman Nick Como said his resort was "about as busy as expected full parking lots yet nary a lift line."
All in all, said Gloyne, one of the 15-year-old snowboarders from Virginia, the conditions were good enough that he and his family plan to return for years to come.
"I like Utah," he said. "It has a really good vibe. That's why we keep coming back."
The next shot of snow is expected to hit northern Utah on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, leaving 3 to 5 inches of snow in Wasatch Front valleys and up to 7 inches of snow in the Cottonwood canyons. Another round of showers is forecast for the weekend.