Ski season at Park City in doubt

1st September 2014, by Abi Butcher

There may not be any skiing at Park City this season

There may not be any skiing at Park City this season

A dispute over the lease of ski terrain at Park City is threatening potential disaster for the Utah ski resort and nearby Deer Valley and Canyons this coming winter season. The top of the mountain and the base of Park City ski resort are owned by two different companies, and currently neither is allowing access to the other.

The resort base, parking, lifts and snowmaking are owned and run by the family-owned PCMR (Park City Mountain Resort), who for years paid $155,000 annually to Canadian company Talisker for the lease of 3,000 acres of ski terrain at the top of the mountain. In 2011 PCMR were late renewing their lease and Talisker instead signed a deal with Vail Resorts for a whopping $25million, to include the running of Canyons resort next door.

But now, PCMR is threatening to remove all lifts and snowmaking machines at Park City, as well as ban access to the parking areas — unless it is given the lease to the top of the mountain. The dispute has now reached court and neither side can agree on how much that lease should be — PCMR arguing the land is worthless without the access it owns.

Last week, Park City District Judge Judge Ryan Harris planned to issue a ruling but instead set an additional hearing for Wednesday, 3 September to allow for further review of the case and continued mediation between Park City Mountain Resort and Talisker Land Holdings.

PCMR CEO John Cumming released a statement to CNBC saying: “Our goal is, and always has been, to keep the resort open for the 2014/15 season and beyond, but unfortunately that might not happen if a reasonable agreement is not reached. This situation is not good for anyone. It’s not good for this community, Vail’s shareholders, or us.”

Park City Mayor Jack Thomas estimated that the impact on the economy to be “in the range of $180 million” if the resort is closed this year, with a knock-on effect to Deer Valley and Canyons.

Another two ski-related disputes are due in court this week. The first, over whether a Ski Club of Great Britain leader was guiding skiers round French slopes illegally, was due to be heard in Albertville this morning (Monday) but has now been postponed to allow the French more time.  The second, the result of an appeal by Le Ski is due to be announced on Thursday, 4 September, by the Courts of Appeal in Chambery.

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