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10 SKI AREAS WELCOME NEAR-RECORD THRONGS

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For 10 Utah ski resorts, Wednesday was a boom. But for four others, it was a total bust.

The 10 areas flashing "open" signs welcomed near-record ski crowds, while the remaining four areas could do no more than apologize for being closed.Reports from the 10 open areas were that Wednesday was the busiest day of the young 1989-90 Utah ski season - and a sure sign of more good days to follow.

It was good news after there had been some concern expressed at number of empty chairs and the absence of lift lines over the Christmas weekend - traditionally a very busy time for the resorts.

According to Mark Menlove, communications director at Park City, this year the majority of out-of-town visitors apparently chose to wait until after Christmas to make reservations.

This week Snowbird and the town of Park City are showing all available rooms have been taken. Salt Lake lodges are also reporting increased reservations this week.

The busiest area was Brighton, which was hit hardest by the flood of buses from out-of-town tour groups. Mike Doyle, co-manager at the resort, said 30 buses unloaded skiers Wednesday morning.

"It was a busy day for us," he said. "At one point we had 30- to 40-minute lift lines."

Down the canyon at Solitude, Mike Goar, mountain manager, reported another 20 buses stopped there. He said lift lines there were up to 20 minutes in the afternoon.

Lauren Speare, marketing director at Snowbird, said morning traffic was steady, "but it really seemed to pick up in the afternoon. I don't know yet what the final count was, but it was a good day for us.

"We didn't get many buses, though. The pattern usually is that we get the bus tours closer to the weekend. That will probably be our busiest day. We had about 4,500 skiers yesterday and Thursday is even busier."

Menlove said that Wednesday was by far that resort's busiest day. Park City's record for one day is 10,000 skiers. The feeling was that Wednesday's figure will be close to the record.

At Snowbasin near Ogden, ticket sales increased from around 1,100 on Tuesday to 1,300 on Wednesday.

Other areas open were Deer Valley, Alta, Beaver Mountain, ParkWest and Powder Mountain.

Areas that do not yet have enough snow to open are Nordic Valley, Sundance, Elk Meadows and Brian Head. And according to the National Weather Service, they and the other resorts are not likely to get much new snow from the clouds moving over the area Thursday.

A high pressure ridge that has kept a lid on dense fog in northern Utah valleys - ski resorts have basked in sunshine - is expected to weaken as the cloud cover increases. The forecast calls for widely scattered snow, especially in the mountains, but not enough to satisfy skiers.

Moderate ridgetop winds are also forecast for the northern mountains, with temperatures at the resorts and valley locations both reaching highs in the 30s and lows in the low 20s.