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DESERET NEWS SKI SCHOOL CONCLUDES ITS 47TH YEAR

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They came, they rode the chairlift, they skied and they accepted their graduation recognition with, sometimes, jubilation . . . about one thousand of them.

Saturday was graduation day for the 47th annual Deseret News Ski School. And, as ski days go, this one was one of the best.Skiing conditions were excellent.

Although it was cold when the day began, by mid-class temperatures were comfortable. Snow conditions were ideal for learning skiers. That is, a firm base with a skiff of snow on the top for better control.

Classes began five week ago on the grassy slopes of Sugarhouse Park. There, students learned the very basics of mobility. They learned to walk on flat ground, to side-step up a hill and to make stationary turns. Afterward, on gentle terrain, they could have gone anywhere.

Saturday's lesson introduced students, many for the first time, to the chairlift. The previous two classes they walked and climbed on the lower slopes.

The lift, as many said after, was a treat. As one student told her instructor, "Skiing isn't work any more . . . It's funner."

Students rode up one of Alta's lower lifts and skied down.

They put into application all the things they'd learned in previous classes. As another student said, "Now it all makes sense . . . the reason we need to stand when we ski, how to shift the weight and how to put a ski on its edge. You do all that and you turn."

The ceiling on this year's session was put at 1,000 students.

Registration had to be cut off two days before the first class.

Saturday, it seemed like every student was present and anxious to ski.

First classes stood in line and went up the hill when the lifts opened - 9 a.m. Several groups had progressed fast enough that they were able to make several trips up the lift, and ultimately down. By noon, there were still classes on the hill.

One instructor said his group was having "such a good time we didn't want to stop. This is the last run, though."

Each student received, as a graduation present, an Alta/Deseret News Ski School pin.

This was the 47th year that the Deseret News has offered ski lessons. And, for the 47th time, Alf Engen, director of skiing at Alta, was on hand to get the program going.

Between the instructors at Alta, under the direction of Alan Engen, director of the ski school, and instructors from the University of Utah, each student at this year's school was taught to ski.

Each student, as Alf Engen pointed out, "Learned enough that he or she can now go to any resort and feel pretty comfortable skiing the beginner runs . . . And now they can progress from here."

The Deseret News Ski School is the oldest, continuously running ski program in the country.