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Word snow-folk crave: 'Open'

Looking a little ghostly, snowboarders make their first runs of the season Thursday at Brighton. More resort openings will follow shortly.
Looking a little ghostly, snowboarders make their first runs of the season Thursday at Brighton. More resort openings will follow shortly.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

Canadians belt out "Game on!" at the beginning of hockey contests. Hawaiians and Californians give a hearty "Surf's up!" when the tide's right for that liquid leisure.

Along that line, participants of Utah's favorite winter sport should feel free to holler "Ski down!" — a phrase that might not be part of Utah's vernacular is certainly fitting now.

Thanks to fluffy stuff from Mother Nature and some help from "flakey" technology (a k a snow-making machines), Brighton on Thursday became the first Utah resort to kick off the 2005-06 ski season. With a 20-inch base, it opened three lifts and eight of its 66 runs in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

In other words, Christmas morning just arrived for eager local skiers.

One more ski resort will join in the fun this weekend, and several more are expected to lift off soon, according to the Ski Utah Web site. After receiving a dozen inches from Wednesday to Thursday and 19 inches in three days, The Canyons in Park City announced it will open on Saturday.

Soon to follow, if all goes (and snows) well: Solitude on Monday, Park City Resort on Wednesday, Snowbasin on Thanksgiving Day, Deer Valley on Dec. 3 and Sundance on Dec. 9.

Alta, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head, Powder Mountain, Snowbird and Wolf Mountain have yet to announce their opening dates. (Alta and Snowbird will be open Saturday but only for the Deseret Morning News' ski school and snowboard classes.)

Hilary Reiter, director of communications for Ski Utah, said bookings are up from years past at this point, but she's not sure if the Beehive State slopes will see the record number of snow and/or skiers and 'boarders as they did during last year's amazing season.

For instance, a year ago some resorts had as much as 10 feet of snow after October dumpings. Alta's reporting the most so far, and it only has 24 inches of white powder.

"The bar has been set so high, we'll just have to wait and see if the snowfall (comes down)," she said. "Certainly the way the season is starting is more typical of an average year."

But 2004 caught many skiers' attention, and Reiter expects resorts will benefit this year — especially if the weather stays cold and gets wetter.

"There definitely seems to be more interest in Utah skiing," she said. "And it's a trend we hope is going to continue . . . Everyone's definitely excited; it's the colder temperatures that get people geared up. Everyone's definitely in the ski mindset now."

Anytime ski resorts have pre-turkey-stuffing openings is always an added bonus.

"I think everyone likes to open before Thanksgiving," she said. "It's not the busiest time, and to have that holiday opening is a good thing to get locals excited."