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Hot on the heels of Money magazine's pronouncement that Utah has two of the five most livable metropolitan areas in the country, a national ski magazine proclaims it's also a great playground.

You can't buy advertising like that, say those in the business of marketing Utah."It's viewed with a credibility that an ad would not be," said Jeri Cartwright, communications director for the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau. "People know these articles are written by magazines that don't have ties to Salt Lake."

Money magazine in its eighth annual review of 300 U.S. cities this week named Provo-Orem the third most livable place in the United States with Salt Lake City-Ogden fourth.

In results released almost simultaneously, Park City Ski Area finished fifth in the September issue of Snow Country magazine, which notes the publication's annual overall rankings of North America's "top 50 ski resorts." Deer Valley Resort fared well, too, winning a separate "Northern Rockies" survey of the magazine's readers.

Deer Valley's showing was a repeat of Snow Country's 1993 regional popularity poll; Park City's national ranking was an improvement over 1993, when it finished seventh. Snow Country, with a circulation of about 450,000, combines results of its reader poll with its own assessments to come up with overall rankings. It considers numerous factors, from scenery and snow quality to airport accessibility and number of lifts.

Utah ski resorts traditionally do well in such surveys, but tourism boosters are especially glad to get the attention as the state's bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics approaches either fruition or failure. The International Olympic Committee in June will choose the host city for the 2002 Games.

Cartwright said stories like the one carried in Snow Country are priceless in overcoming the popular stereotype of Utah as a conservative, stick-in-the-mud state.

"There are a lot of misperceptions," she said. "Every time we get an article like this, others begin to realize that one, we exist, and two, we're not a one-horse town. We have recreation, restaurants, night life and a quality of life."

Indeed, Snow Country dubs Park City "Utah's Party Town" and says, "Some readers are put off by Utah's `ultra-weird drinking-club rules,' but the blue laws hardly stop visitors from imbibing."

Other Utah ski resorts that received flattering Snow Country reviews were Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude.

"I'd hate to say it's just a great big deal," said Charlie Lansche, communications director for Park City Ski Resort. "But that's certainly an important skiing magazine and it tells us kind of where we stack up in the national scheme of things.

"It's a great barometer for us to see where our strengths and weaknesses are."

He said the demographics of Snow Country readers give the survey credence because 75 percent of respondents described themselves as well-traveled intermediate or expert skiers.

"These are the kind of people who know what they're talking about," said Lansche.

"It has an impact when they decide where to book their vacation," said Nancy Volmer, a spokeswoman for the Park City Chamber of Commerce. "Consumers place a higher value in that type of thing (over advertising) because they know advertising's been paid for by somebody."


Additional Information

Ski resorts

Top 10 in North America

1. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.

2. Vail, Colo.

3. Steamboat, Colo.

4. Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

5. Park City, Utah

6. Aspen, Colo.

7. Beaver Creek, Colo.

8. Keystone, Colo.

9. Squaw Valley, Calif.

10.Breckenridge, Colo.