Olympic Ski Resorts 101
Got guts? Following this year's Winter Olympics, ending Feb. 24 in Salt Lake City, the slopes hosting alpine skiing and snowboarding events will be open to anyone who buys a lift ticket. We asked special correspondent Ben Abramson to give us the lowdown on the Utah peaks.
Venue: Snowbasin- Events: Men's/women's downhill, Super G and alpine combined
- Going downhill: The Olympic runs will be open to the public right after the Games (except March 7-16, when the resort hosts the Paralympics). The men's downhill is on the Grizzly run; the view from the top is glorious and fearsome (the starter's hut is sure to be a popular photo vista). The women's downhill and men's/women's Super G and combined are on the Wildflower run. A one-day lift ticket is $48.
- Fear factor: Olympic competitors accelerate up to 70 mph a few hundred yards into the course and jump up to 150 feet on the drop-offs. For the less speed-worthy, frequent turns and stops make the downhill courses manageable for strong intermediates.
- Notes: Snowbasin is about an hour's drive from Salt Lake in the spectacular Wasatch-Cache National Forest . . . It's considered the region's best-kept secret, but Olympics publicity, an upgraded lift system and new on-mountain lodges will change that.
- Info: 888-437-5488, www.snowbasin.com
Venue: Park City Mountain Resort- Events: Men's/women's giant slalom, snowboarding halfpipe and snowboarding parallel slalom
- Going downhill: The resort will have all Olympic runs open to the public within days after the Games. Competition sites (C.B.'s Run for slalom, Eagle Halfpipe for snowboards) are near the base of the resort center, accessible from the Three Kings and Eagle lifts. A one-day lift ticket is $61. (Discount tickets for $45 are available at local ski shops.)
- Fear factor: The slalom runs aren't particularly scary, especially without the slalom gates (if you had to attempt the slalom side by side as the snowboarders do, it'd be a different story). The halfpipe is what a boarder makes of it -- me-ander down, or take an aggressive line and catch air like an Olympian.
- Notes: It's just 38 miles from Salt Lake's airport . . . The historic mining town has great atmosphere and a nightlife that belies Utah's prudish image . . . Snowboarders love the extensive terrain park and halfpipe . . . The official home of the U.S. ski team, Park City is crawling with ski celebs.
- Info: 800-222-7275, www.parkcitymountain.com
Venue: Deer Valley Resort- Events: Men's/women's slalom, freestyle moguls and aerials
- Going downhill: All Olympic terrain will open by March 1 (the aerials course, however, is only for competition). The slalom is on Know You Don't, accessible from the Carpenter Express lift at the resort base (as is Champion, site of the moguls). Slalom gates will be removed, but the grandstand remains until spring, so fantasy competitors can skid to a stop in front of an imaginary crowd. A one-day lift ticket is $65.
- Fear factor: Without the gates, the slalom run is a steep, smooth black-diamond course that most intermediates can handle. Good mogul skiers will like the tightly spaced bumps on Champion.
- Notes: Deer Valley, on the south side of Park City, was voted North America's top resort by Ski magazine readers . . . The moun-tain has great variety, extensive grooming and an efficient lift system . . . With high-quality rest-aurants, posh condos and exclusive lodges, the resort is famous for pampering guests.
- Info: 800-424-3337, www.deervalley.com