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Tacos, tubes and temps in teens – Woodward Park City snow sports open for winter

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The Liu brothers: Henry, 5, and Charlie, 7, gear up for ambitious plans to to take 1 billion runs at Woodward Park City.

Woodward Park City opened outdoor activities Friday, setting a record for earliest tubing ever – including the 20 years it was the Gorgoza facility.

The sun was out but wasn’t making a dent in early winter temperatures, but no one looked like they cared. Even the groups of families and friends visiting from South Florida and Los Angeles were warm and happy on Woodward Park City’s first day of outdoor operations.

Charlie Liu, 7, and his 5-year-old brother Henry estimated their tubes would go 100 miles, though they weren’t sure if that was in an hour or a day. Charlie said he expected to take 1 billion runs on his tube.

An employee said later that the max speed he’s heard of someone recording on a tube using an app is about 38 miles per hour.

Ingrid Shelton said she brought her three children: 19-year-old Noah, 24-year-old Mykhalah and 17-year-old Mykiah to check out the scene as part of a sports-related visit to Utah from L.A.

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The Shelton family of Los Angeles had no trouble adjusting to Utah's early winter weather Friday.

“Came down, we're going to Logan tomorrow see my son play he plays for San Jose State,” Ingrid Shelton said. “Number 23, Nehemiah Shelton, quarterback, check him out.”

“And we were just looking for the perfect winter wonderland and we found it,” Mykhalah added. “It happened to be opening day and we had a blast.”

This week, outdoor operations opened with seven lanes of tubing and the magic carpet delivering people to a beginner area with some jib features.

Steve Metcalf, vice president of mountain experiences, said after Thanksgiving they’ll open their Hot Laps chairlift.

Metcalf said Woodward sees huge traffic from the Wasatch Front. He said about 30-40% of all-access members are locals, and the rest are a combination of destination visitors and Wasatch Front.

“I think we strike a great balance between Salt Lake destination visitors as well as Park City locals,” Metcalf said.

“You'd be surprised how many people come from out of town and buy a four-month membership here. A lot of people are working remotely still, even though that trend you may think has waned. We are already seeing people coming to town and buying our outdoor membership. There's a four month commitment to that they're excited not only to take advantage of our Wi Fi but also our slopes.”

A four-month pass runs $99 per month.

Metcalf said sales on passes are robust for early season. Woodward’s overflow parking contract with the Park City School District has been renewed, he said, so on the days when the Woodward lot is full, people can park at Jeremy Ranch and shuttle over.

Snowmaking machines were cranking, and even though only a fraction of the terrain was open Friday, Olympian Louie Vito and his friend Stevie Bell, who’s an extreme snowboarder, seemed about as happy as two guys could be as they soaked up the scene.

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Snowboarding champs, buddies and Woodward fans Louie Vito and Stevie Bell.

“You know, I just love the vibe here at Woodward Park City,” Vito said.

“I mean it's one of these places that I wish we had when I was a little bit younger but just coming out here seeing all ages all skill levels everyone's just having a good time and stoked for you know a great winter coming. It's like you know when you're growing up and you meet your friends at the park I mean that's what Woodward Park City is, you make some phone calls that you want to go ride it's like we're Park City is opening the jib park’s opening. Yeah, okay. So we all meet up in the parking lot and, you know, kind of just start riding.”

Vito is a four-time Grand Prix overall halfpipe champion, a five-time Winter X Games medalist and finished fifth in men’s halfpipe in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver competing for the U.S. An Italian-American, he later competed for Italy in Beijing during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Michelle, who joined KPCW in 2021, arrived in Utah in 2018 by way of Massachusetts, where the skiing was icy and the mosquitoes formidable. A former daily newspaper reporter and editor (at the Visalia Times-Delta in CA) and columnist (at The Cohasset Mariner in MA), Michelle has been a writer and editor for decades. She holds a journalism degree from CSU Fresno and has worked as a journalist, freelance writer and web content creator, reporting extensively on education and youth along with general assignment and breaking news.