Ski resorts gear up for 2014 season

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah ski resorts are geared up for winter and plan to opening as soon as next week.

This year skiers can look forward to improved runs, more restaurants and even a new ski resort. But what everyone is talking about is how the resorts will connect in the future.

Industry experts say the big change in the ski industry this season is new ownership of several resorts -- Deer valley took over Solitude, Park City Mountain Resort joined Canyons, and there's a new resort called Cherry Peak, near the Idaho border.

“There's been a lot of angst in the Park City community and that's all sort of calmed down,” said Coleen Reardon with Deer Valley Resort. “And everybody is plowing ahead and preparing for winter. I think we have opportunity for a record year.”

The resorts are growing closer through acquisitions, making the idea of connecting them through a series of lifts more of a reality.

The project to do that is called One Wasatch -- it would connect the Park City resorts to those in the Cottonwood canyons.

“A third will go in this next summer, that's Canyons to Park City Mountain resort, and then there are two more connections. Park City Mountain Resort to Brighton over Guardsman Pass and Solitude to Alta, through the Honeycomb ridge,” said Nathan Rafferty president of Ski Utah.

But before any of that happens a group called the Mountain Accord is putting together a task force to talk to all the stakeholders.

Opponents say the infrastructure comes at the expense of the environment.

“One Wasatch is Ski Link on steroids. Instead of one lift traversing an otherwise pristine slope in the Central Wasatch we now have several,” said Carl Fisher, Executive Director of Save Our Canyons.

The first connection between Canyons and Park City is expected to begin construction next summer. The rest of the project is expected to have a much longer time line.