Magazine article Insight on the News

The Greatest Snow on Earth

Magazine article Insight on the News

The Greatest Snow on Earth

Article excerpt

Utah is grooming its slopes for the Olympics. Meanwhile, anyone can ski these world-class venues.

The Winter Olympics will not come to Utah until 2002, but the state's ski areas are more than ready, giving the uninitiated seven years to carve and cruise world-class venues before the winter superstars arrive. "It is the best snow, the best terrain, the easiest place to get to, and I've never had any trouble finding a beer," declares Mark Menlove of Ski Utah.

No other ski area in the country is so well located. There are seven major ski areas within an hour of Salt Lake International Airport, a major hub with efficient ground transportation to the resorts -- one reason why the U.S. Ski Team lives and trains there.

"There is no place on earth like Utah," says Caroline Shaw, a former United Nations diplomat who escaped Washington and New York to work at the Snowbird Ski Resort. "The jagged Wasatch Mountains are incredibly beautiful," she says. "We get 42 feet of powder each year. The great challenges of the terrain and the warmth of the community make the world welcome here."

Shaw, who grew up skiing Snowbird, takes State Department friends who visit Wasatch to Little Cloud Bowl at the top of the Snowbird Tram. The tram takes 125 people from 8,000 to 11,000 feet in seven minutes. For people who like skiing in the sun, the Little Cloud Bowl is a strange paradise. "It always gets the most snow and its always in the sun," says Shaw.

First-time visitors to Utah's slopes might commence their tour at Deer Valley, 34 miles from downtown Salt Lake City. Deer Valley has earned its reputation for being the place well-heeled skiers go to be pampered. The ambiance is upper crust but friendly, and the runs are corduroy-groomed Utah powder -- some of the finest ballroom skiing on the continent.

At nearby Park City, a real silver-mining town, Olympic skiers will contest the giant slalom on C.B.'s Run, named for the late Craig Badami, a tireless supporter of World Cup ski racing. C.B.'s Run starts with a good pitch, so the racers will get up a head of steam as they approach a staircase drop. The run then takes a jog to the left and ends with more gentle terrain lined with aspens and visible from most of the Park City base area -- excellent for spectators. …

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