I rode up the lift last week at Park City Mountain Resort with a gentleman from California who is planning a move to Park City. Jeremy Ranch was, at that point, his area of choice -- convenient, mountain setting, quiet and no traffic problems, “nothing like California.’’
He asked the question: Which of the Utah resorts is my favorite?
Having skied all 13, I had to honestly tell him I liked them all and for varying reasons . . . the larger resorts for variety and long runs, smaller resorts for atmosphere and well established runs.
I told him I’ve had great skiing at all. Oh, I’ve had bad days when temperatures were below zero, high winds and blinding snow. But, even on those days I’ve enjoyed the skiing.
Personally, I like to ski different areas. Each has a look and feel of its own. It’s also fun to sample their signature meals.
He then asked if I had a favorite run. Tougher question. All total there are nearly 1,200 runs at the 13 Utah areas.
One thing I’ve done, and repeat on occasion, is make sure I ski a resort’s signature run. They all have one.
Five years back a group of five of us, led by Nathan Rafferty, now president of Ski Utah, skied 11 of Utah’s 13 resorts in a single day. We tried as best we could to hit the signature runs.
That, I would say, was one of my more incredible ski days.
Looking at some of the signature runs I’ve skied, I’d place Alf’s High Rustler at Alta at the top. Ski magazines have listed it as one of the country’s best with a “perfect fall line.’’ It’s steep and not easy to reach, but it is truly an exciting run.
Good skiers will like the Great Scott run at Snowbird. This wide open bowl has a 45-degree slope, making it one of the steepest runs in North America. Personally, though, I like Chip’s Run. It offers open bowls, tree-lined trails, moguls, groomed meadows and hairpin turns -- all within one run.
Jupiter Bowl is considered the signature run at Park City and I love the bowls and chutes in the area, but for absolute splendor I love Hidden Splendor. It is really a fantastically beautiful run.
The signature run at Solitude is Challenger and up the canyon at Brighton Sunshine. Challenger is, as the name suggests, a steep, challenging run. Sunshine is more of an intermediate run with incredible views.
If you want to get a greater appreciation for Olympic downhillers, test your nerves on Snowbasin’s signature run, the Grizzly Downhill, better known as the men’s downhill run for the 2002 Games. I can’t imagine skiing the run without a speed check.
One of my most memorable powder runs was in Powder Mountain’s Weber Bowl. It’s a wide open bowl with a 30-degree pitch, which makes it perfect for flowing turns on good powder days.
One of the runs at Deer Valley I enjoy most, and it’s considered its signature run, is Stein’s Way, named after the legendary Olympian Stein Eriksen. Why? Because it’s long, 4,500 feet, and has a slope perfectly suited for his classy, giant-slalom-style turns and my not-so-classy GS turns.
And, talking about GS turn, the signature run at The Canyons is 94 Turns. It got its name from the fact a good skier can make 94 GS turns from top to bottom. I made a few more.
Favorite runs? Impossible to say. There are simply too many really good runs and for one reason or another I’ve enjoyed them all.
Have you got a favorite? I’d love to know. Maybe there are great runs out there I haven’t skied.