This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The 2010-11 ski season was Utah's second-busiest ever and the number of skier days will continue to grow with Snowbird's plans to keep some lifts running on weekends through July 4.
Total skier days this season will come in about 4.2 million, up close to 4 percent from the 2009-10 winter, which now slips to fifth place on Ski Utah's all-time list. The record 4,249,190 skier days in 2007-08 does not appear to be endangered, no matter how many people take advantage of Snowbird's extended season.
"We are thrilled to see such significant growth this season," said Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, marketing arm for the state's 14 active resorts.
He attributed the increase to a wondrously snowy winter, when ample early snowfall allowed resorts to open before the traditional Thanksgiving target, and late-season dumps added up to record-producing accumulations.
But the weather also hurt Utah's performance, Rafferty said. Rain high into the mountains spoiled the important Martin Luther King weekend at many resorts. The threat of avalanches also produced numerous road closures in Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood canyons.
Still, that did little to deter the masses from flocking to areas such as Brighton Resort on the season's abundant powder days.
"We had a great year," said resort spokesman Jared Winkler. "The good snow we got in November let us open early, and the holiday [visitors] knew we were ready to go. And the snow kept on coming. We finished up great, staying open a little longer than normal because of interest and great snow conditions."
Rafferty said the 2010-11 performance once again reflects carryover effects of the 2002 Winter Olympics, which Salt Lake City pursued in hopes of becoming the country's winter sports capital.
Eight of the top 10 years for skier visits occurred in the nine winters since the Games were staged here. Only the winter of 2002-03 did not crack the top 10, but it missed by only 3,000 skier days.
"The Utah ski and snowboard industry contributes over $1 billion to Utah's economy each year and creates more than 20,000 jobs," Rafferty said, adding "Utah has seen a 41 percent increase in skier day visits since hosting the Winter Games."
A complete history of Utah's skier days is available at http://www.skiutah.com/media/story_starters/utah-skier-days-table.
Skier numbers rise
Season Skier days
*The number will be updated after Snowbird completes its season.
Source: Ski Utah
Snowbird is holding a contest to design a T-shirt commemorating resort plans to stay open until July 4. The winning design will be printed on 1,000 shirts that will be sold there on the Fourth of July weekend. The winner will get a spring season pass good next year. Entries are due June 17 (in vector format) at email@example.com.