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$5.5 MILLION IN IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED

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How serious is the Park City Ski Area about keeping its facilities state-of-the-art? So serious, says president and general manager Phil Jones, that the Ski Area is spending $5.5 million for new lifts, snowmaking apparatus and trail work - the largest single-season expenditure in the resort's history.

Two new lifts, the "Prospector Express" high-speed quad chair, and the "Crescent" quad chair will be in operation for the start of the 1989-90 skiing season, said Jones.The Ski Area is also upgrading and expanding its snowmaking system by greatly increasing air capacity and adding an additional 25 acres of coverage - mostly on "Willy's Run" in the Ski Team lift area where the America's Opening World Cup races will be held over Thanksgiving weekend.

The Prospector Express lift replaces the Prospector double chair, offering uphill capacity of 2,800 skiers per hour. The chair lift ride on Prospector Express will be just over six minutes, half the time of the old double chair.

"The great thing about this lift is that it serves such a wide variety of excellent terrain," said Ski Area vice president Craig Badami. "It's important to note that because of the many skiing options available from the Prospector Express, we're avoiding the problems of putting too many skiers on limited slopes that some other areas have experienced with high-speed chairs."

The Crescent quad chair is being slightly relocated from the line of the old double chair to eliminate congestion at the bottom and to allow better access to the Pioneer chair at the top. Uphill capacity on the Crescent quad is 1,800 skiers per hour with a ride time of five minutes.

Snowmaking equipment accounts for $2.5 million of the total expenditures. Jones said this work includes new compressors and air distribution pipes to increase air capacity by more than 75 percent, allowing the resort to make more snow at warmer temperatures.

Badami said the company decided to go ahead with the renovations in part because of the new state law allowing ski areas a credit on lift-ticket sales tax collected if the funds are invested in capital improvements.