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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 16:04 GMT

Snow business in Utah

The BBC's James Cove reports from Utah where a special kind of snow is adding a unique touch to the Winter Olympics.

Utah claims to have the best powder snow in the world, indeed they have even copyrighted the phrase "The Greatest Snow on Earth".

And the slogan adorns everything from their advertising and marketing leaflets to the number plates on their cars. It is a bold claim and one that is probably true.

Connie Marshall, the director of tourism from the resort of Alta says the snow is simply the best.

"When you ski on an epic powder day it is like skiing in a bowl of champagne," she says.

"It is so light that you never feel the bottom and it just fluffs up all around your face, you have no edging to do and you just float down the mountain defying the laws of gravity."

"Utah has the greatest snow on the planet"
Snowbird marketing manager Fred Rollins

The clouds come over the Pacific Ocean collecting moisture on their journey across thousands of miles of sea and then when they hit land they cross the desert and the salt flats.

This dries them out and then suddenly when they get to Utah, the Wassatch Mountains push the clouds up and the dry powder falls from the heavens.

The resorts of Alta and Snowbird get the first snowfalls with an average of 500 inches per year, but in a good season they record over 700 inches.

They are situated in the Little Cotton Wood canyon, only a 45-minute drive from Downtown Salt Lake City.

Heavy snowfalls

There are no other ski resorts in the world that have such good snowfalls and are situated so close to a big city.

Further into the Wassatch Mountain range are the other major resorts including the Olympic venues of Park City, Deer Valley and Snowbasin.

And although they do not get such vast quantities of Utah's famous powder, they still have it by the bucketload.

While The Alps has had a very poor season this year, Utah has had the opposite.

In December as I set off to Val d'Isere knowing that most the resort would be closed because of a lack of snow, a friend e-mailed me from Alta.

"It has snowed solidly for a week and I have just been out in 80 inches of powder. Awesome," he said.

"Utah has the greatest snow on the planet", says Fred Rollins the marketing manager of Snowbird. "It is not just a marketing phrase it really is true".


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