Deer Valley was voted, by skiers, the overall No. 1 ski resort in North America for the fifth year in a row in an annual poll taken by SKI Magazine.

Considering the field of competition—more than 400 vote-eligible resorts including such well-known ski areas as Vail, Aspen, Sun Valley and Whistler Blackcomb (B.C.)—it is, indeed, very creditable recognition.

Utah, in fact, placed four resorts in the top 20—Deer Valley (1), Park City Mountain Resort (6), Canyons (16) and Snowbird (20). Overall, nine of Utah’s 14 resorts placed in the top 10 in 20 different voting categories.

Remember, now, this was voting done by skiers on their overall skiing experience last season.

For years Utah has claimed to have the “Greatest Snow On Earth.” Voters worldwide agreed.

Powder and zippin' through the trees. (Photo: Dan Campbell/Ski Utah)

When it came to the most important factor in skiing—snow—of the 10 positions open, Utah resorts were voted into six—Alta (1), Powder Mountain (3), Snowbird (4), Brighton (6), Solitude (7) and Deer Valley (10).

In yet another important area, skier access, Utah resorts hold seven of the 10 places. Again, remember, there are more than 400 eligible resorts spread across North America.

What makes this year’s voting particularly important to Utah is that the process was changed to get a much broader voter base. In past years, the magazine sent out questionnaires via mail and e-mail to its readers along with the requirement that they voted only for those resorts skied within the previous two years. This year it not only involved readers, but opened voting to a much broader voting group worldwide on Facebook.

Which, says Emily Summers, communications manager at Deer Valley, “Left us wondering what would happen. Would our four-year run end? It was nice to see it didn’t.’’

Aprés at McHenry's Beach at Deer Valley. (Photo: Dan Campbell/Ski Utah)

With respect to snow conditions, Utah received nearly 65 feet last winter.

And as far as accessibility, back in 2005 a team of four skiers, among them Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, skied 11 different resorts in a single day, all during daylight hours. A few years later Rafferty skied at 13 resorts in one day at a time when there were only 13 resorts open. Nowhere else in the world could something like this be possible. In some cases just getting to a resort takes a day.

It can also be noted that in the time it takes to have a good sit-down lunch, visiting skiers can leave from the Salt Lake International Airport and be skiing at one of 11 different resorts.

There are 11 resorts less than an hour from SLC International Airport.  (Photo by: Bryan Rowe / Ski Utah)

With respect to Deer Valley’s rise to recognition, it should be noted that there were times in the beginning when good feelings were not so strong towards Utah’s flagship resort. There were times, recalls Bob Wheaton, president and general manager, when skier numbers strongly suggested a need to downgrade goods and services. “But we never diverted from what it was we wanted to be,’’ he says. Which was from the very start “to be a first-class resort.’’

Utah resorts placed well in other categories, too.

Deer Valley was voted No. 1 in grooming, service, weather, on-mountain food, lodging and dining and No. 2 in lifts, access and family programs. Along with being No. 1 in snow conditions, Alta was also top dog in overall satisfaction, recognition as a skier’s mountain and in a new category—character. Park City Mountain Resort was voted No. 1 as the best place to ski with kids. Snowbird was No. 2 in challenging terrain.

Greatest snow, indeed.