- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - The oldest and the largest ski resorts in the state enjoyed a strong winter 2013-14, both of them boasting historic numbers.

Heavy snowfall helped. A No. 1 ranking contributed, too, as did a 75th anniversary.

Snow King Ski Area and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are investing now for still stronger seasons in the future.

“Some of the biggest days on the hill were for the 75th anniversary,” said Snow King General Manager Ryan Stanley. “It was probably one of the biggest days ever at Snow King.”

This year Snow King celebrated 75 years of operation, and on Dec. 14 it hosted a free ski day in honor of the anniversary. Snake River Brewery memorialized the milestone with a new pale ale.

Snow King held its anniversary celebration Feb. 8, with cycling, ski races and a free concert.

Snow King also received 150 inches of snow, Stanley said. March precipitation was particularly heavy, with a 16-inch dump March 2, the day of the Town Downhill.

“It was an interesting Town Downhill this year, with the weather,” Stanley said, “but it turned out good.”

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort enjoyed many days on which more than a foot of snow fell and finished its season with 500 inches. That made it the fourth-greatest snowfall season since the ski area opened 48 years ago, resort spokeswoman Anna Cole said.

“It was a pretty good snowpack,” she said. “I think a lot of people skied some really great lines in and out of the ski area boundary.

“Luckily, most everyone was safe,” Cole told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (https://bit.ly/1cqr5mC).

Two skiers died in or near the resort this season, one in an out-of-bounds avalanche and another after skiing into a tree in-bounds.

In addition to near-historic snowfall, the Teton Village resort saw more skier visits this year than ever before, Cole said. The approximately 560,000 visits beat the previous record set last year.

Skier visits for each month of the season eclipsed those seen in the 2012-13 season, Cole said. She attributed that in part to the resort having been ranked No. 1 in the country by Ski Magazine at the season’s outset.

“We’ve been No. 1 in different categories in the past,” Cole said, “but never overall No. 1 resort.

“It definitely created a good buzz for Jackson Hole this fall,” she said. This was amplified by heavy snowfall late in the season and the fact that “a lot of other resorts didn’t get snow,” she said.

Both resorts are planning capital improvements this summer.

Snow King may expand its snowmaking capacity this year, an effort for which the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club is attempting to raise $1.5 million. The entire expansion will cost an estimated $4.5 million, of which $3 million has already been secured through grants and other funding, the club’s executive director, Carrie Boynton, said.

Improved snowmaking could allow the resort to open in November and to begin hosting early-season training for ski teams that normally warm up for the season in Colorado’s Summit County, Snow King’s Stanley said.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will be working through the summer to install a lower terminal pad for a new lift, though the lift won’t be complete for another year, Cole said.

The resort will also open a ropes course west of the Teewinot lift by mid-June, Cole said.

Only minor improvements to the village’s bike terrain are planned, Cole said. Lift-served downhill cycling at Snow King remains further in the future than this summer, Stanley said.

Though the season has ended, lift-served skiing opportunities at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are not yet foreclosed, Cole said. From Memorial Day through October the Aerial Tram will run daily, she said.

“People will definitely be skiing off the tram,” Cole said. “We ask people to ski out of boundaries.”

The village’s bike park will open June 14, and the Bridger Gondola will reopen June 17.

The Snow King summer season begins the day before Memorial Day and runs until the beginning of September.


Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com



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