- Alyssa Roenigk, ESPN The Magazine senior writer
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[Ed.'s Note: The Action Sports Report is a weekly blog that covers sports from skateboarding to snowboarding to FMX.]
If you were given a day to do absolutely anything you wanted in the whole world, what would it be? A difficult question. But not for Jessica Kunzer, director of communications for Ski Utah. She spent last Tuesday fulfilling a dream. Well, more of a fantasy, really. She skied all 13 Utah resorts in one day. I first met Jessica a few days earlier at the Corner Pub & Grill at Park City Mountain Resort where a group of us were watching the Steelers-Chargers playoff game. I was ordering another beer; she was heading home to get some much needed rest. That's when I first heard of the plan.
The whole idea began with a question: Could it be done? Eleven of Utah's 13 resorts are located within an hour of the Salt Lake City airport, and in 2003, a smaller group of skiers hit all 11 of those resorts in a day. But the final two resorts—Brian Head four hours south of Salt Lake and Beaver Mountain 110 miles to the north—make the 13-in-a-day feat much more difficult. But Kunzer loves to ski. And she loves a challenge. So with the help of employees at each mountain, a dedicated driver and a very cooperative group of journalists, Kunzer and nine friends logged 554 miles, 16 hours and nearly $1,000 apiece in lift tickets. Mission accomplished. We caught up with Kunzer after she returned to Salt Lake and had a few hours of sleep.
MAG.COM: So what time did you have to make your first turns?
KUNZER: We got to Brian Head at 4 a.m. The lift wasn't open, so we drove up a maintenance road and skied down from the top. Then we went to Sundance and took a run at 8 a.m., an hour before the resort opened. We ended up taking one run at every resort. Except at Beaver Mountain, we were so excited to be finished that we took three runs.
Were you forecasting any problems?
I felt that logistically this could end up being a nightmare. We could get a flat tire. We could run out of gas. We needed to have a team that worked well together, was swift about getting in and out of the van and wasn't taking lots of bathroom breaks.
Bathroom breaks? Was that the hardest part?
Getting through the first 10 mountains was the hardest part. We had to be at Snow Basin, our 10th resort, by 4 p.m., or the lifts would be closed and there is no lighted night skiing there. That was stressful.
Most surprising thing you learned?
I think most people assumed that since we were taking one run off the main lift at each resort, that we were skiing the bunny hills. But we skied everything from greens to double black diamonds. It is amazing what you can access off the main lifts.
What moments will stick with you?
Getting to Sundance as the sun was rising and the alpenglow was hitting Mount Timpanogos [Ed.'s Note: check the picture above]. The sun was casting this orange light on the peaks and the snow was pastel pink and orange. It was beautiful. But also, at Powder Mountain as we took a moment at the top of the Sundown lift and watched the sun set over the Great Salt Lake. I guess I'm a sunrise, sunset kinda girl.
Thirteen in a day is a record. Is it a Guinness record?
We didn't even apply for a Guinness record. I don't know that 13 resorts is the most ever in a day. But I think it could be the most using just a van and skis.
Is this something anyone could do?
It would be expensive, but I think a regular person could replicate what we did. I don't think we'll be organizing the Ski Utah 13-in-one-day pass just yet, though. It's a long day.
13 ski resorts, 1 day.