Skiers and snowboarders enjoy first big weekend on the slopes

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Many skiers got their first taste of the slopes this weekend as three resorts opened for the season.

Brighton, Solitude and Snowbird welcomed a flood of winter enthusiasts.

It's just in time to get some of that mid-November business, which most resorts consider bonus money. Even though Sunday was a bit gloomy and dark, lots of people decided to go up the canyons to break in their ski legs.

Right now, only three resorts are open, but by the end of the month most should be ski ready. At Solitude, skiers and boarders reacquainted themselves with the mountain.

Conditions are really good, considering it's early November. Any days before Thanksgiving we consider bonus days.

–Tracy Von Harten

"It's a little awkward at first, you know, wearing the big clunky boots and the sliding skis, but after the first run it all just comes right back," said skier Thunder Jalili.

Audrey Lidgard couldn't wait to get back on the mountain. "It's fun," she said. "There's a lot of powder. It's not as icy as I thought it would be."

Solitude has three out of eight lifts open and is reporting a snow base of 28 inches. The resort says the last storm provided great coverage on the mountain, leaving little dirt exposed.

"In the past few years around mid-November you have just a strip of white among a sea of rocks and dirt," Jalili said. "This is a lot more fun because it feels like winter."

Tracy Von Harten, who works in marketing for Solitude, says this kind of snow is welcome for the resort.

"Conditions are really good, considering it's early November. Any days before Thanksgiving we consider bonus days," she said.

Solitude didn't have an exact count of how much revenue it's brought in this weekend, but says it's ahead of last year's opening weekend. Season tickets are up too.

Ski Utah says last year the industry gained a 2-percent increase in revenue. The organization is hoping for another increase this year, but it's cautiously optimistic considering the economy.

The recession though, doesn't stop people from getting excited about the snow.

"We even had a couple that flew out from Ft. Lauderdale," said Von Harten. "They saw that we were opening. They have a home in Park City, but they decided to come over and try Solitude."

A big winter storm is coming into town starting Monday. Solitude is expecting to open a few more lifts.



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