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To Interconnect or not? It's a question that keeps coming up and likely will until a decision is made and very likely even after that.

Those for Interconnect see it as a boost to Utah skiing. It will, they say, bring more skiers. Nowhere within the boundaries of the United States is there a place where skiers can set tracks in five different ski areas in a single day.Those against it argue over the validity of the whole project and over what damage such a connection would have on the mountains and canyons.

There are arguments on both sides, and whether you consider them good depends on which side of the fence you happen to be.

Briefly, the Interconnect has been around for years. Skiing from Brighton to Alta was tried before lifts were introduced. It officially became a project back in 1981 when tours were offered to paying customers.

Now, guides lead skiers from Park City, off the back side of Jupiter Bowl, to Solitude, up to Brighton, then back to Solitude for lunch. After eating, skiers take a lift to the top of Solitude, take a short hike, a gentle 300-yard walk to the summit, then drop off the backside to Alta. From there it's an easy traverse to Snowbird. Five areas, five runs, one day.

If nothing else, the trip proves just how close together the five areas are. And, it shows how, with a few more lifts, a refined Interconnect would work. Now skiers can go one way but cannot backtrack easily.

To make it right, four lifts need to be built - one at Alta, one at Solitude and two at Brighton. Skiers could then go from one to another without an uphill walk.

The question, however, is why? Very few locals ski Interconnect, and it's not likely they will if the new lifts are built. Ninety-five percent of those who have skied Interconnect since 1981 have crossed the state line to do it.

Then why?

One word - Colorado! Utah needs something Colorado doesn't have to lure skiers here - and the Interconnect is perfect.

Colorado has more resorts than Utah (37 to 14), spends six times more to promote its skiing and understandably gets more skiers - four times the number of skiers Utah gets.

Comparing budgets, Colorado spends more than $3 million a year telling people around the world about its snow-covered slopes, great scenery and active night life. Utah, to do the same thing, spends about $600,000. It's hard convincing out-of-town skiers to come to Utah in one ad, when Colorado does it in six. Considering out-of-staters spend nearly $100 a day when they come to ski, while locals spend around $17, it's easy to see the appeal non-Utah skiers have. Skiing, by the way, brings about $360 million into the state annually.

If Utah goes ahead with the Interconnect, imagine the possibilities: Ski Snowbird in the morning, lunch at Solitude, then finish off the day with a run down Payday and dinner in Park City. Or, start in Park City and dine at Snowbird. Or, start at Snowbird, ski around, then finish at Snowbird.

Or, skiers can open the week with five areas in one day, as a sample, then go back and ski the ones they like best.

It would, too, mean more jobs if more people came into Utah to ski. The governor's report says 1,400 more with added tax revenues between $3.45 millionand $5.91 million.

The big question, of course, is would the Interconnect really bring in more business? A survey of destination skiers says there is interest in the concept. But, would people actually ski it?

To work, it will need to be more than a one-time experience. Right now that's all it is. Still, it will take some imagination and creativity on the part of Interconnect operators to make people want to take it more than once.

Thus far all the arguments have been presented in official meeting rooms and delivered by people actively involved, either for or against.

A recent caller suggested that only those in the ski business are arguing for, and only environmentalists are arguing against, "but no one's asking what Utah skiers think about the whole thing."

Well, here's your chance. Answer the questions, make your remarks and then let's see what Utah skiers thing. Should we Interconnect or disconnect?

Interconnect questionnaire

1. Have you skied the Interconnect?

[] Yes [] No

2. Do you think Interconnect should be completed?

[] Yes [] No

3. If completed, would you ski Interconnect?

[] Yes [] No


Mail to Ski poll, Deseret News, Box 1257, Salt Lake City, 84110.