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Sandy Journal

Ski & Snowboard News / Ski slopes have good cover, fine grooming

Jan 02, 2018 01:02PM ● By Harriet Wallis

Natural snow on Golden Needle trail near Brighton's summit on New Year's Day / photo: Harriet Wallis

It's a La Niña year. There's no snow in the back yard, and this early season is the lowest on record in 30 years. It happens.

In spite of La Niña, the resorts have been working miracles with the lower than usual snowfall. Between beefy snowmaking systems and high-tech grooming techniques, the slopes are in good shape. Really.

Skiing under Alta's Sugarloaf lift / photo: Harriet Wallis

La Niña is a naughty child. The weather system occurs in fall and around Christmas when sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean drop to lower-than-normal levels. And that affects weather on the entire planet, including ours.

Low snow years happen. Alta, which sets the bar high for snowfall, had a dose of low snow in 1977 and finished the year with 314.5 inches. Snow was low everywhere.

So far this season I've skied in Little Cottonwood Canyon at Alta, in Big Cottonwood Canyon at Brighton and at Deer Valley in Park City. We ski on only the top several inches of snow, and the resorts are meeting the challenge of preparing the slopes.

I've ridden chairs with skiers from New England and Europe. All were happy to be here and all were enjoying their ski vacations. That's good news for Utahns because in 2016 visitor spending generated $1.23 billion in revenue for the state, according to the Utah Travel and Tourism 2016 report prepared by the University of Utah Policy Institute.

Snow is less than what we're used to, so put the blame on La Niña and go skiing.