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Deer Valley investing in beginner ski areas, skier services for next winter

Deer Valley Resort
Deer Valley will invest $11 million in improvement projects for next winter.

After a drier winter than many hoped for, Deer Valley Resort closed for the season last weekend. Looking ahead, the resort wants to retain more staff and invest in its beginner skier opportunities.

Deer Valley VP of Marketing Susie English said this season was a challenging one with a COVID-19 resurgence in January and little natural snow during the heart of the winter.

Despite the challenges, she said Deer Valley had a strong year of skier visits. The resort doesn’t release skier numbers to the public, but she said a resurgence in out of town visitors bolstered numbers through the season.

She said one group of skiers that didn’t return in huge numbers was Parkites.

“Looking at the numbers, locals skied a little less," she said. "That number, while it wasn’t far off what we had budgeted based on the year before, it was a little bit down. I think that’s snow related for sure.”

Looking ahead to next winter, English said the resort will be investing $11 million in resort maintenance and an overhaul of its Burns beginner ski area. The improvements include a new beginner lift that will connect the Burns area to the Deer Hollow run.

English added that staffing was a problem all winter, and Deer Valley wasn’t alone.

Businesses throughout the Wasatch Back felt the stress of high demand and not enough workers to fill jobs. Neighboring Park City Mountain Resort even had to close some terrain in January after COVID caused workers to call in sick.

At Deer Valley, English said skier services, including ski school, were hit the hardest. She said the resort is working to bolster its hiring and retention efforts for next winter.

“Ski school was a staffing issue, we just didn’t have enough for the demand," English said. "We’re working through a lot of new programs, training programs on the ski school specific side, new recruiting efforts on the marketing side and with our HR team. It really will be a focus going forward.”

The resort’s improvements aren't just focused on winter operations. English said the resort will be building new mountain bike trails on the lower mountain this summer and improving the connection to the more developed bike park at the Silver Lake base area.

Deer Valley opens for summer bike operations June 17th.

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.