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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 17:06 GMT

Skiers spoilt for choice

Salt Lake City is unique as a ski town as it has a dozen or so resorts just a short drive away.

The Olympic venues of Park City and Deer Valley are about 45 minutes away while the resort of Snowbasin, which is hosting the downhill, is just over an hour off.

Nearby are the cult powder resorts of Alta and Snowbird.

For a skier with a car, Salt Lake City can hardly be bettered.

Snowboarding ban

Park City and Deer Valley, though neighbouring resorts, have their own distinct ski areas and atmosphere.

"We ask our customers each year if they want boarders and each year they say no"
Patti Denni, International Marketing Manager Deer Valley

Park City is an old silver mining town and anything goes. On the slopes the skiing is fantastic and the town breaks the image of Utah with rows of bars, restaurants and cafes.

Deer Valley is altogether more up-market and it prides itself on its exclusivity.

If you are not in the mood to carry your skis from the car park to the bottom of the lift then there are even attendants who will do it for you at no charge.

The piste grooming is perhaps the best in North America with the slopes made corduroy smooth each night.

To maintain its up-market status it bans snowboarders.

"We ask our customers each year if they want boarders", says Patti Denni, The International Marketing Manager, " and each year they say no so we don't allow them".

At the other end of the spectrum lies the small resort of Alta, which is known the world over by extreme skiers as the Mecca for off piste skiing.

It too bans snowboarders but that is where its connection with Deer Valley stops; it has a retro feel and you almost expect to see people skiing around in lace up leather boots.

The lift system is antiquated yet it has made a fortune by standing still in time as it refuses to upgrade facilities and prefers to revel in its old-fashionedness.

For hard-core skiers after a snowfall it is the place to come.

Next-door to Alta, and now linked by a lift for the first time is Snowbird. It is an ugly purpose built resort, but like Alta it has a fantastic snow record.

Prettiest resort

It also has one of the only cable cars in North America which sees it serve as a magnet for the skiers and visitors to Salt Lake City.

The other major resort is The Canyons and though it is not hosting any Olympic competitions many people will stay there during the Games.

Utah also boasts a number of smaller resorts that are all well worth a trip; Brighton and Solitude, Brian Head resort and of course the little resort of Sundance that is owned by the film star Robert Redford.

This is perhaps the prettiest of all Utah's resorts where mountains, scenery and snowfall come together to make an absolute gem of a resort.

With the choice of different resorts in Utah skiers and boarders alike will not be disappointed.

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