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Fresh snowfall meets corduroy tracks as Brian Head Resort nears season opener

Posted at 5:21 PM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-21 18:11:09-05

BRIAN HEAD, Utah—A storm bringing a mixture of rain and snow to southern Utah was a welcomed positive for the small Iron County town of Brian Head.

"A little boost from mother nature never hurts, said Mark Wilder, Public Relations Coordinator at Brian Head Resort. "It'll just help our graduated opening, we'll be able to get more terrain open sooner."

The graduated opening begins on Friday, making Brian Head one of the early resorts to open for the 2019/2020 winter season. Wilder has been at Brian Head for over 40 years and knows the precise opening and target dates.

"We're within a week one side or the other from our previous openings for the past five years," said Wilder. The storm began late Tuesday and continued to dump fresh snow on Brian Head through the evening hours of Wednesday. By the time Wednesday morning rolled around, nearly eight inches of snow had fallen at the base areas. Storm totals could reach two feet, potentially more at the highest elevations.

Nearby businesses have welcomed the snowfall with open arms, citing the potential for some pre-Thanksgiving visitors in the small town.

"Now this winter, it'll be new for me so I'm excited for it," said Sherrie Johnson, owner of Mountain Peak Cafe which opened in the 'mall' in Brian Head just a stone's throw from the Giant Steps Lodge at Brian Head Resort.

"The more snow the better," said Johnson, knowing it's her first winter season after opening the soup and sandwich shop in the summer. "I thought, well our business a lot of time depends on how much snow or if we get snow and we've started out with an early ski season so I'm happy about that."

As for staff gearing up for the eager skiers and riders to decent on Friday, as of Wednesday, the grounds were covered with employees working to get all facets of the mountain operational and at full speed in 48-hours time.

"Every department is all hands on deck, let's get this done," said Ken Jenson, Lift Operations Manager with nearly three decades of experience at Brian Head Resort. He has over 30 members of his 'lift crew' that he oversees. A new express lift for the 2019/2020 season will service the Navajo Beginner area.

Jenson relies on off-season preparatory work to get the winter campaign off without a hitch. "There is a lot of work and it starts in the summer there's a heavy maintenance schedule on all these chairlifts," he said.

"It's a huge undertaking to get a resort up and operating whether it's just for the day or for the season," said Wilder.