In a state rife with land disputes, few are as polarizing as the one regarding SkiLink, a proposed transit lift between Canyons and Solitude. SkiLink is a hot-button social, environmental and economic issue for Utahns, and the divide between stakeholders is gaping. This is the seventh in a series of stories breaking down the issues around Utah’s most controversial ski lift.
The Orange Bubble at Canyons is the resort's newest lift. Photo: Canyons.
The voices behind SkiLink, by and large, have a great deal of power. Local government officials have their say, while tourism and hospitality magnates generally argue in the opposite direction.
But what does the public think? The general skiing population, after all, would be the ones using—or not using—the interconnect lift.
To find out, we went to Canyons and Solitude, the ski resorts that would be joined by SkiLink, to see what Wasatch Front residents, Park City locals, and tourists think of the proposed interconnect. Here’s what they had to say.
Steve Thomasma, service engineer, Bountiful
“My major concern with SkiLink is that all the people in Park City will come over and ski at Solitude. The reason I ski here is there are few people. I don’t like crowds. I’ve been hit by people on the trail at Alta—it’s just crazy. I like to be able to teach my kids and not worry about somebody getting hurt.”
George Santini, attorney, Cheyenne, Wyo.
“We’re here for business. We usually ski in Colorado, the main reason being proximity. I’m a fan of the [Rocky Mountain] Superpass. It’s fun to bop around from resort to resort... An interconnect wouldn’t draw us here, but I'd would use it when I come for business. While I’m here, my goal is to try out all of the ski resorts in the area.”
Austin Rice, pricing manager. Boston
“We make a ski trip every year out West, [and] we would absolutely use [SkiLink]. It would be remarkably convenient. A lot of people have never skied these types of mountains. An interconnect would keep you moving, and you could stop for a drink and not have to worry about driving back... Right now, we are driving 45 minutes to an hour to each resort when we could get around without taking our ski boots off.”
Laura England, science teacher, Park City
“Part of me thinks it is cool, the other part thinks it is ridiculous to park [at Canyons] and go to Solitude. I would use it every now and then, but not much more than that... People who come to visit would [probably] enjoy it a lot. They can ski at multiple places, especially if they stay at Canyons. It would make getting around so easy... I’m not a fan of the watershed degradation, though. That’s not something we should be messing with.”
Craig Rowe, copywriter, Las Vegas
“Initially, it sounded like a creative and convenient plan. But there is no way it can be implemented without a commercial development standpoint... I have no confidence that [Talisker] won’t develop the land. Politicians come and go. Plans can change very quickly. Utah is a state where the state government is trying to take back federal land, so developing this land is definitely a possibility. Granted, I’m biased. I spend plenty of time in the backcountry. Even the impact of lift construction would be huge...The way to go would be a light rail system throughout the canyons. Interconnect is not the answer.”
Justin Larson, sales representative, Farmington
“I would love to take the gondola from the Salt Lake side over to Canyons. To ski multiple resorts and end up back in Salt Lake would be great... From a tourism standpoint, they would be able to go from resort to resort and not have to drive snowy canyon roads. Also, hotels are cheaper in Salt Lake, so it would give them the chance to have cheap lodging and still ski multiple resorts.”
Chase Stock, BYU student, Provo
“The federal legislation is a good idea. It maximizes the potential of the land. I ski in the backcountry, and I don’t see any downside to having a lift running back there. The benefits are extreme with a double pass. I’d never ski Solitude otherwise.”