Spring Skiing in Utah: A Case of the Wiggles

Spring Skiing in Utah: A Case of the Wiggles

Local Lexi

By Local Lexi \ May 17 2021

 Snow soft as melted butter
 Zenith of sun, high in the sky
 Eyes wide and heart aflutter
 Shorts short, bearing thighs
 
 Sunburn growing every hour

 The path below, spirals and curves
 Enter the wiggle—feel the power
 Lean in and steel your nerves


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Wiggles—sometimes called Snakes—arrive alongside the spring thaw each season in Utah.
The humble architects of these edifices typically remain anonymous. They could be die-hard locals, lifties, patrollers or mountain ops crew. Regardless of the details of their origin, the siren call of a sinuous wiggle is challenging to ignore. Buckle up and prepare to hold on because surviving the entire length of the wiggle without bailing is quite a feat. Here’s a rundown of the wiggles we spied or heard tale of this season. This will serve as a useful guide in future seasons as to where to locate or establish your local wiggle. 


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I first began skiing wiggles many moons ago at Snowbird. Come April, one would typically spy an aggressive trough between the bumps beneath the Little Cloud chairlift. Here’s a photo of me wiggling at Grand Targhee circa 2014, so there have been wiggles across the Intermountain West for a number of years now. Lately, wiggles have been gaining in popularity, proliferating all across the resorts of Utah and the mountain west, some so deep and large it is possible you can see them from outer space.


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UTAH WIGGLES — PRESENTED BY DIFFICULTY LEVEL — EASIEST TO HARDEST


SOLITUDE 

Short and sweet, the Solitude Wiggle is great for those who are new to wiggling. It’s just a dozen turns off the top of the Apex Lift on the Fluid Drive run. The low sidewalls make it a perfect place to test your mettle and begin to feel the flow. Such low walls make bailing an easy option and the accessibility via Apex allows you can whip out a number of laps in quick succession to earn your wiggle legs.



PARK CITY

Thanks to its sheer size, there are often a number of spring wiggles that crop up under the watchful eye of Park City Mountain locals and employees. This year there were wiggles on Dividend, Widow Maker and Buckeye. The aspect of Park City Mountain is favorable to the craft of wiggle-making, and as such, it’s a place where numerous wiggles can be located and enjoyed. Use the Town Lift or Payday Express to get the most wigglicious moments out of your day. 



BRIGHTON 

I never did find the Brighton Wiggle myself but rumor has it there was a wiggle, snake, or luge run in the trees by the Snake Creek Express. A friend advised me that one must turn right before the Candy Land terrain park. I cannot verify the authenticity of this claim. You'll have to test it out in the spring yourself.


DEER VALLEY

The Deer Valley Wiggle can be found near the top of the Empire Express lift (looker’s right) in Empire Bowl. It starts off big and deep (watch for shrubs) and ends in a series of shallow trenches with fun turns along a gentler slope. This east-facing bowl warms up nicely in the AM hours, so you’ll want to hit the Deer Valley Wiggle well before late afternoon. 



ALTA

If your hips don’t lie and you wanna dance, make haste to Alta's Ballroom on the flanks of Mount Baldy. The Ballroom has been home for a deep and fearsome wiggle for a number of seasons now. In mid-March of 2021, the Ballroom even hosted two dueling wiggles! Bust your dance card out around midday or in the late afternoon when the snow softens up a bit. Due to its north-facing nature, this wiggle is best avoided on chilly or overcast days, as it will likely be firm and incredibly difficult to navigate. A fixture on closing day festivities, the Ballroom Wiggle is fun, regardless of the refinement of your dance moves. Due to its rabid popularity, the Alta Wiggle tends to harbor steep and deep walls. Once you’re in, you’re in. This is a wiggle that requires true commitment. 


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Photos by Rocko Menzyk


SNOWBASIN

Longer, tighter and more challenging than the Ballroom Wiggle at Alta, Snowbasin Resort featured a wiggle on the famed Men’s Grizzly Downhill run. Its location, a former 2002 Winter Olympics alpine racing venue, lends this wiggle extra prestige—a heritage wiggle. The thighs will burn on this one as the steep, tight turns exhaust wigglers as they wind their way down. 


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Photos by Megan Collins


SNOWBIRD 

The longest and most difficult of all the Utah wiggle options can be found at Snowbird in Little Cloud Bowl. It should be noted that it was called "The Snake" for a number of seasons. This wiggle is only appropriate for the strongest thighs, the meatiest quads and the bravest of souls. It veers off abruptly from the Road to Provo cat track along the Shireen run. As an added bonus, you can skip the wiggle and hit The Wave instead, a fully loaded natural kicker that shoots senders into the stratosphere.

I suggest you save the Snowbird Wiggle for last thanks to its high degree of difficulty and the fact that Snowbird boasts Utah’s longest season. The resort typically shuts down in May or June, so there is ample time to perfect your squiggle. You'll find it snaking down the bowl and curving gently to the right, dumping wigglers out along the flat section of the Mark Malu groomer. The aspect of this wiggle makes it quite challenging to navigate on cooler days following frosty nights. Test the conditions first, and watch out for ice. 


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Siri Wieringa of the Snowbird Sports Education Foundation and Director of the Alta/Bird Freeride Team shares some helpful tips below on how to navigate a wiggle with style and grace.


WIGGLE TIPS

  1. Try to keep your eyes up and ahead to anticipate the turn in front of you.
  2. Start slow and put more weight on your outside ski as you navigate each turn.
  3. Be in a strong, centered or forward athletic position with your hands driving in front of you.
  4. Control your speed before you get to the apex of each turn, and then allow your body to be one with the turn itself. Trust yourself in the apex of the turn and allow your body to feel and embrace the G-forces.
  5. For style points, try slashing the top of the berm to spray some snow and dump speed.
  6. Don't forget to laugh and stay loose! 
  7. Wear a costume to increase confidence and be ridiculously good-looking.

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Photo by Rocko Menzyk & Alta Ski Area



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