Utah is losing a critical part of its winter ski market this season. Despite good early snowfall, ParkWest ski area will not open for the 1991-92 ski season.
The official word, said resort president Jerry Gilomen, is that because of poor management and a lack of sufficient financing, the resort would not have been able to meet its scheduled Dec. 1 opening date, "so the decision was made (Tuesday) to not open this season."What this means is that about 300 employees, several ski programs, including the Granite School Learn to Ski program, and about 125,000 skier days will have to be absorbed into other areas and programs. Also gone will be the niche ParkWest filled for local, economy-minded skiers. A day pass at ParkWest would have cost $25 this season - in sharp contrast to the $41 day pass rate this season at Deer Valley and the $39 rate at Park City Ski Area, both neighboring resorts.
ParkWest was also the only one of the three areas in the Park City area to allow snowboards on the ski hill.
ParkWest's ownership and operation have been the subject of concern for several years. Several times in the 1980s, rumors circulated that the resort would not open. In 1982, rather than close the resort as announced, it was leased to then-mountain manager Wayne Ragland.
After three seasons, the resort returned to owner Jack Roberts. The past three seasons Roberts and Gilomen have been negotiating over the sale of the resort.
This past summer it was announced that new investors had been found. Last Wednesday, however, Gilomen sent out a release announcing that negotiations had fallen through and that he was taking back management of the area.
In making the announcement, Gilomen said he hoped that the area would be able to open next season.
He said a significant cash investment was needed and that time simply ran out as this season's opening date rapidly approached.
"But I'm still committed to the area and I'm working on a new approach," he said.
Nancy Volmer, director of communications of the Park City Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the full impact cannot be measured until the end of the season.
At Park City Ski Area, Robbie McHugh, director of marketing at the resort, said the area would have to evaluate existing programs to see if they could be expanded.
"In the past, however, most of our programs have been sold out. We'll just have to see if we have the staff and the facilities to handle more skiers," she said.