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‘SkiLink is DEAD’ — and other insights from this EXCLUSIVE Interview with Deer Valley’s Bob Wheaton

After all of the turbulence we’ve seen in the Central Wasatch ski world over the past few years – from the threat of SkiLink, to the protracted legal wrangling over ski resort ownership in Park City, and now Deer Valley’s acquisition of Solitude – change is here. And overlaying all of this change is the audacious ONE Wasatch proposal to create one mega resort spanning the entire Central Wasatch.
We’ve been fired up – from active participation in the Mountain Accord process to lawn signs, to online comments, public meetings, and rallies … we’re trying to protect what we love about the Wasatch and the last of the winter wildlands left here. Wasatch Backcountry Alliance was formed to provide a voice for the backcountry community and to respond to threats to these scarce, and amazing mountains we call the Central Wasatch.
Deer Valley's Bob Wheaton

Deer Valley’s Bob Wheaton

It’s in this setting that we are excited to share a candid conversation we had recently with Deer Valley President & General Manager Bob Wheaton. We’re thrilled Bob accepted our invitation for a podcast. We’re thankful of his willingness to be a part of a recorded interview, where he didn’t know the questions, and with what could be considered a hostile audience. It is important to note Wasatch Backcountry Alliance supports our world-class resorts, but we do not support the ONE Wasatch concept. While we don’t agree with all of Bob’s positions, we believe that this type of open dialogue is important.
In case you’re too lazy to click on the PLAY button below, here are some of the highlights of the podcast:

“SkiLink is DEAD.”

“[We] really are committed to ONE Wasatch.”

“People can expect to see the same level of stewardship we’ve demonstrated at Deer Valley [at Solitude] …”

“Guardsman itself would cost in the neighborhood of $150 million [in improvements to be ableĀ  open it in the winter] not including maintenance costs … our position is: that’s a whole lot of money.”

The full interview & podcast is about 30 minutes, so we tried to break the conversation up into some different sections – you can listen to the entire interview, or just specific sections:

Full Podcast Interview with Deer Valley’s Bob Wheaton (30:52)

SkiLink & ONE Wasatch (9:10)

Solitude Resort (7:17)

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2 responses to “‘SkiLink is DEAD’ — and other insights from this EXCLUSIVE Interview with Deer Valley’s Bob Wheaton”

  1. T says:

    The UDOT Study Bob quotes: http://www.udot.utah.gov/main/uconowner.gf?n=14601224187172018

    He over states the HIGH figure. The LOW figure is $21.5M and ~$200K annually.

  2. Dave Kopasz says:

    Who is/are the approving factions of a concept such as ONE Wasatch? BOB Wheaton mentioned a charter. Whom makes up the charter? Many people have inquired as to why it doesn’t go to a public vote such as proposition such and such so I assume it is based on said charters opinion/decision?
    Bob states the seven resorts will NEVER relinquish the ONE Wasatch concept. Thus Ski Link is NOT dead. This is obvious as he stammered and stuttered that ONE Wasatch is a “brushed off, tuned up, kind of deal that has been around…” Bob states that ONE Wasatch is as different as night and day compared to Ski Link due to alignments and the fact that it is now a credible winter time transportation solution. New alignments of old Ski Link ideas put forth by the same people who presented the original alignments does not make Ski Link dead. It makes it the same just brushed off, retuned and renamed. To try to lump this as a real transportation solution when it only really exits to provide a marketing slogan with the aim to gain existing skier visits from existing resorts within the industry whose skier visits have flatlined as a whole, to pad the immediate to short term bottom line for out of town shareholders is a disgrace.
    Why does Snowbird allow uphill traffic? Why can’t the resorts that don’t allow uphill traffic, which Bob cites is a “safety issue”, create an up hill corridor or two or more to accommodate uphill traffic? These corridors only need to be as wide as a skin track and don’t need to necessarily follow groomed manicured runs. They have plenty of bamboo and rope to mark every skiff of a rock on their fantasy grooming.
    Bob does not elaborate much on the growing back country user community other than stating 36 years ago it was an appealing reason for moving to Utah. What happened since then? What is the environmental impact of Bob’s current snow making operations? Surely the power needed is generated via Utah’s coal leaving a blanket of pea soup in the valley(s). The water needed is surely depleting the already depleted small creeks and streams during the critical to survival shoulder seasons. Is Bob’s snow cat fleet run on bio mass fuel? Would he hire Willie Nelson to drive? Bob leaves the development future of the areas discussed wide opened and answers as Vail has, by saying they’ve looked at the possibilities every way to Sunday but don’t have any immediate plans. (but maybe next summer).
    Keep up the work WBA and hopefully we’ll see ya Thursday night.

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