This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
BRIGHTON - The mysterious maladies that keep skiers from work on snowy winter days struck early this year when Brighton Ski Resort opened four lifts Friday to kick off Utah's 2004-05 ski season.
The parking lot at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon was overflowing, the mountain was moving as skiers and snowboarders made their first turns in six months, and the line for season passes snaked out the ticket office door.
"It was a little icy at the bottom, but pretty good higher," said Tom Edwards of Logan, who decided to skip work and enjoy a day on the slopes with his three children. "I can't recall in the 20 years that I have lived here skiing this early."
He could be right. According to the Utah Avalanche Center, this is the deepest early season snow cover since 1984. This year, the center issued its earliest avalanche advisory ever, on Oct. 20.
Along with the skiers playing hooky from work at Brighton were a number of students enjoying the UEA break.
Cottonwood High School students Jon Erickson and Martin Johnson were among the throng, but they had already carved Utah's powder several times this season on snowboards. The opening of Brighton's lifts just made getting up the mountain easier.
"We've been up six times already. It's awesome," Johnson said.
"I'm pretty stoked. It looks like it is going to be a great year," said Erickson.
Brighton officials agreed.
"Last year was a great opening and we have already surpassed that," said Brighton spokeswoman Carol Garner. "We have had 98 inches of snow already and a 59-inch base. That's more typical of December than the end of October. It's pretty sweet."
Brighton opened on Nov. 6 last year and the early publicity helped generate local, national and international interest to carry Utah resorts throughout the season.
"It is a huge boon, and not just for opening day. The excitement [the early opening] generates is passed throughout the skiing community," she said. "It helps get people in the mood for a long season."
Karlyn Smith of Holladay brought her three children, ages 3, 8 and 11, to Brighton to get a head start on the season.
"My husband said we should go and I didn't hesitate. He had to go to work," Smith said while preparing 3-year-old Lucy for a trip up the Explorer lift.
The Utah Transit Authority was also not expecting the resort to open so early. Skiers planning on taking UTA buses to resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons will have to wait until later in November.
"We would like to start servicing the resorts as soon as they open, but we didn't anticipate they would open so quickly," said UTA spokesman Justin Jones. "The budget won't allow us to start until Nov. 21."
Scheduled opening dates for other Utah ski resorts
* Brighton open
* Snowbird Friday
* Brian Head Nov. 13
* Park City Mountain Resort Nov. 13
* Alta Nov. 18
* The Canyons Nov. 19
* Solitude Nov. 19
* Snowbasin Nov. 25
* Deer Valley Dec. 4
* Sundance Dec. 11
* Beaver Mountain no set date
* Powder Mountain no set date