Big Snows Hit Rocky Mountain Resorts

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Aspen, CO-J.Hanle face shot

Vail, CO, Dec. 11, 2000--It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Indeed, with the holiday season just around the corner Rocky Mountain ski resorts are enjoying the best early-season snow conditions in years. And it's getting even better. A winter blast rolled though the Rockies Sunday night, dumping anywhere from six to 31 inches of snow throughout Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah won the biggest-dump-award with 31 inches of new snow Monday morning. Alta and Brighton ski areas in Utah both recorded 26.

"We are no longer referring to it as early season," said Melissa O'Brien, Park City Mountain Resort communications manager, which reported 21 inches of new snow and already boasts a mid-mountain snow depth of 55 inches. "It's mid-winter here."

Resorts throughout the Rocky Mountains got hit with platefuls of pre-Thanksgiving snow. However, after three weeks of blue skies and the bestearly-season skiing in more than four years, the latest storm has brought anincrease in holiday reservations.

"Our bookings are up 40 percent for December, and 30 percent for the rest ofthe season already," O'Brien said. Meanwhile, the snow brought out the powder hounds at Grand Targee Resort in Wyoming as well.

"We just turned the corner and we're happy as little pigs in a blanket,"said Susie Barnett-Bushong of Grand Targee Resort in Western Wyoming. "We have had 14 inches since Friday and eight inches of new snow last night and it's awesome right now. I just talked to some guys that came off the mountain and they said it was just like the old Targee, great powder skiing," Barnett-Bushong added.

In Colorado, Beaver Creek Resort came out the big winner with 14 inches ofnew snow reported Monday morning, and 19 inched of new snow since Friday.Meanwhile, Aspen and Vail recorded up to 12 inches of new snow, while Telluride and Steamboat both received 10 inches.

"Santa brought us a present early this year," said Todd Moyer, who skied freshies in Vail's famed Back Bowls Monday morning. "Face shot after faceshot. There was snow everywhere.

"This will definitely get people pumped up for the holidays," Moyer added.