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New Park City Mountain VP Deirdra Walsh forecasts better season than last year

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Parker Malatesta
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Snowmaking is in full effect at Park City Mountain ahead of opening day on Wednesday.

Park City Mountain Vice President and COO Deirdra Walsh says she’s confident the resort can bounce back this season after last year’s struggles.

After a tough season with lackluster snow, labor shortages, and the COVID-19 omicron variant, Walsh hopes to wipe the slate clean.

Mother Nature appears to want a redo as well. The resort moved up its opening by two days to Wednesday, Nov. 16, thanks to 81 inches of natural snowfall from recent storms. It’s the earliest opening since 1996.

On opening day, Payday Express and First Time will be running at Mountain Village. On the Canyons side, the Red Pine Gondola, Saddleback Express, and Over and Out will be on.

Walsh told KPCW she feels good about staffing heading into opening day.

“I’m really encouraged by our hiring efforts," she said. "We’re certainly on track to have the staff to operate the mountain fully.”

As a result of low staffing levels last season, the resort struggled to run lifts and open up terrain.

Walsh said the goal is to have the Silver Star lift open by Christmas. It didn’t open until February last season, following outcry by nearby businesses and residents.

She said at this point, she doesn't "see any impacts from a staffing standpoint" and that "the trends are all pointing in the right direction.”

In an effort to reduce congestion in town, the biggest change the resort made this season is the new reservation parking system at Mountain Village.

Reservations will be required for the Main, First Time, and Silver King lots between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Reservations are not needed for Nov. 16 or 17 - Walsh said those days are geared toward locals.

People can make reservations now for November 18 through December 11 - during those weeks, parking will be free but must be reserved.

Starting Dec. 12, a spot will cost $25, unless there are four or more people in a vehicle. The Canyons Village Cabriolet lot will remain free all winter.

Reservations to park between Dec. 12 and the end of the season will go live Thursday, Dec. 1.

Reservations will become free again on April 3 through the end of the season.

To secure a spot, visit parkatparkcitymountain.com.

Those who park at the lots without reservations will be fined $125. Repeat offenders will face escalating penalties and possible towing. License plates will be checked for compliance.

People can text “PARK” to 435-244-7169 to receive alerts about parking.

Walsh said the winter plan is to fill the Main lot first.

She added the First Time lot will be used for drop-off, and lifts will run early on weekends to get ski school participants onto the mountain before the crowds.

“We’re actually opening our lifts early just for the ski programs on Saturdays and Sundays," Walsh said.

"We’ll have First Time spinning at 8:30 for those programs, and we also will be loading Red Pine Gondola at 8:30.”

Walsh also gave an update on Slopeside Village, the new affordable housing in Canyons Village. Although the project wasn’t scheduled to be complete until next year, the developer has pushed to have some units ready for workers this ski season. Park City Mountain has leased over 400 units for its workforce.

“We expect that we’ll have about 360 of those beds before the New Year," she said.

"So waiting on obviously a couple of things to go through to be able to get the official certificate of occupancy... we’re really excited about that.”

She added that Cloud Dine on top of Dreamcatcher will be open this year. She said donuts will be available, but you have to get there early around 9.

Walsh was brought in from Northstar in Lake Tahoe to head the resort in May.

The news came with the announcement that former Vice President and COO Mike Goar was leaving for a new leadership role at Andermatt-Sedrun in Switzerland, which was recently acquired by Park City Mountain owner Vail Resorts.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.