Snowbasin Races to Complete Olympic Work

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Salt Lake City, UT, Sept. 28, 2001 (AP)--On the slopes of Snowbasin, where Olympic downhill and super-G skiers will race in February, construction crews are racing winter's arrival.

For now, they are a long way from finishing three opulent lodges and a ski-services building.

``Whether everything will be finished or not, I don't know,'' said Gray Reynolds, general manager of Snowbasin, about 30 miles from Salt Lake City.

By the end of October, few trucks will be able to make it up the track leading to where Needles Day Lodge (elevation 8,800 feet) and John Paul Day Lodge (9,200 feet) are being built.

That's not to say that the crews haven't made progress on transforming the family ski resort into an Olympic-caliber venue for the Feb. 8-24 games.

Two high-speed, eight-passenger gondolas, a quad chair lift and a 15-passenger tram were built in the summer of 1998. The men's and women's downhill courses are done, and a remote-control avalanche control system has been installed.

A computer-operated snowmaking system was put in place. Fifty miles of pipe carry frigid air and 32-degree water from a central building to 525 snow guns across the mountain's 600 acres, Reynolds said.

Crews dug a new well and built a million-gallon tank to supply water to all the lodges and the snowmaking operation. Miles of pipes will carry sewage off the mountain. Cable has been laid so ski racers can be timed and filmed from 32 platforms along the course.

This fall, dozens of workers are completing the 15,000-seat stadium.

Rocks and logs are still being affixed to the lodges, which are supported by massive spruce beams and pillars. Inside, plumbers and electricians are hard at work. Five fireplaces in the base lodge alone must be finished. And furnishings? That is the least of the worries now as 150 workers scramble around the mountain.

Snowbasin owner Earl Holding began the transformation nearly four years ago. The U.S. Forest Service handed over land for the expansion in exchange for property elsewhere in the state.

Jock Glidden, an Ogden member of the Sierra Club, is upset that the government traded prime land for such a development.