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It was a good year for Utah ski areas. Thus far, in 52 years of counting, the best ever.

According to Randy Montgomery, executive director of Ski Utah, Utah's 14 ski areas handled a total 2,751,551 skier days (figured one skier skiing one day). This is up 10.4 percent over the 1989-90 season and 7 percent over the previous best season, 1988-89, when more than 2.5 million skier days were posted.Montgomery noted that Utah was one of only a few states last season that did not experience a poor ski year.

"Many California areas were affected by low snow much of the past season and skiers from that state came to Utah in larger numbers than ever before," he said.

Several other factors led to Utah's record year, he added, including: Expanded snowmaking capabilities; Park City's Nov. 6 opening and its televised Pro Ski Race over Thanksgiving; good early and late snow conditions; more local skiers venturing into the hills; a more aggressive marketing program; and the exposure from Salt Lake's bid for the Winter Olympics.

Neighboring Colorado recorded its second best ski season with more than 10 million total skier days. Colorado accounts for more than 20 percent of the total skier days counted in the U.S., while Utah accounts for about 5 percent.

One Colorado resort alone, Vail/Beaver Creek, did 71 percent of what Utah's 14 resorts accounted for, or 1,955,924 skier days. This was Vail's best year.

SCHOLARSHIPS - The Utah Ski Association presented two scholarships to Utah high school seniors last month.

Joni Hemond of Orem High was given the $2,500 Ski Utah Scholarship. Hemond graduated with a 4.0 grade point average was ranked in the top 1 percent of incoming freshman at Boston College.

Shane Petersen of Cottonwood High School was given the $1,000 Ski Utah Craig Badami Memorial Scholarship. Petersen is involved in Intermountain Division ski racing and will be attending the University of Utah.

DELTA HONORED - Delta Airlines was honored as the official air line of Ski Utah.

Montgomery presented Fred Rollins, district marketing manager for Delta, with an engraved ski noting the airlines support. Last year Delta spent more than $1 million marketing the Salt Lake City hub and also contributed $250,000 to Utah's Olympic bid.

It also sponsors Ski Utah marketing programs, including advertising, familiarization tours for travel agents and writer, and holds seminars and schools to educate agents to Utah skiing.