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Park City Mountain Rings in Season With Sunshine and Socially-Distanced Slopes

Sean Higgins

Park City Mountain Resort opened for the winter on Friday. KPCW’s Sean Higgins was there to get a taste of the action.

The first skiers and riders of the 2020-21 winter finally loaded onto chairlifts at Park City Mountain Resort on Friday, kicking off a winter that is sure to be unlike any other.

COVID-19 cut last season short in March and anxiety slowly built throughout the summer and fall as people wondered what this season would look like -- or even if there would be a season at all.

PCMR Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar said now that the season is finally here, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off everyone’s shoulders.

“Town is getting energized again and businesses are now going to see our guests coming back and it feels so good to have that underway again and it just, it really does something for all of us that we’re able to get out and back on the snow again,” said Goar.

Everything wasn’t quite business as usual, however, as PCMR’s parent company, Vail Resorts, announced a slew of COVID-19 health guidelines ahead of opening day.

Masks are required at all times, physical distancing is mandated in lift lines, and lifts are not being loaded at full capacity in order to encourage physical distancing. Vail also implemented a reservation system for mountain access, as well as on-mountain indoor dining.

Mountain access is reserved for Epic Pass holders only until day tickets go on sale December 8th and Goar said this week has already been fully booked. He adds there are still opportunities to get an early season day in for people who are willing to keep an eye out for a last-minute cancellation. 

“The other thing about the reservation system is it’s very fluid and people will cancel,” he explained. “It happens in real time, so as soon as someone cancels, it again is available so those reservation days have been opening up.”

Goar added that all of PCMR’s core season dates after December 8th still have availability.

One group that was able to snag a last-minute reservation was Teresa Santarosa and her family of five. She said the reservation system was easy, including navigating some of PCMR’s indoor dining offerings.

“We did not have a problem,” Santarosa said. “My husband got online yesterday and was able to book today and tomorrow for our family of five. We checked it out, we didn’t actually eat inside, but we know that’s easy as well because we gave it a go.”

Payday and First Time lifts at the Park City Mountain Village and the Saddleback and High Meadow lifts out of Canyons Village are both open to the public. Santarosa and her son, John, checked out both mountains and John said it was pretty good.

“Two runs open. What did you think, John?” asked Santarosa.

“I think it is really good for two runs,” he said.

“We had a nice time, yeah, we’re actually gonna head over to Canyons now to check that out too,”said Santarosa.

Lift lines took about 15 minutes to navigate with the COVID-19 restrictions in place and Goar said this year’s opening day actually offers more terrain than last year with both villages open.

With favorable snowmaking forecasts in the near future, PCMR says they might be opening up new terrain as early as next week.

To book a reservation to ski or ride at PCMR, click here.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.
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