The Alta Experience

Original Airdate: 
December 2008

The fast-paced glide down memory’s slope features interviews of those who recall the first chairlift in Utah, which began transporting skiers to powder during the season of 1938-39. The Collins Chair was built using equipment salvaged from the silver mines by a group of investors who formed the Salt Lake Winter Sports Association. These investors, led by S.J. Quinney, would develop the resort to serve local residents through the generations.

The program highlights the intrepid personalities who helped create Alta. Viewers meet Norwegian immigrant and ski jump champion Alf Engen, who recommended Alta as an ideal site for a ski resort to the U.S. Forest Service, and George Watson, one of the last remaining silver miners, who helped bring about the development of the resort. The program explores early avalanche control innovations at Alta, features “big air” competitions at the annual Gelande jumps during the 1960s and ‘70s, and explores the motive behind the resort’s unique no-snowboarding policy.

“In making the documentary, I was struck by the way this random spot 12 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon could be a place where folks from all over the U.S. would converge, build friendships and experience incredible terrain, resulting in vivid memories that are at once very personal but also communal,” said KUED producer Joe Prokop. “It was my goal to bring to life for avid skiers and armchair Alpinists alike the small-town atmosphere that makes Alta a destination.”

Using archival movies, early photographs, and stunning contemporary aerial footage, the one-hour program chronicles the generations who have carved fresh lines in Alta's famous untracked snow. Interviews with people like early ski champion Suzy Harris Rytting, Alta Ski area general manger Onno Wieringa, ski school instructor Nic Nichol, historian Alexis Kelner and author Alan Engen help bring to life The Alta Experience.

The program is narrated by public radio voice and longtime Alta skier Diane Maggipinto, with videography by Gary Turnier. The Alta Experience is made possible by a generous grant from Janet Quinney Lawson, Frederick Q. Lawson, David E. Quinney, Ellen E. Rossi, Erik C. Erlingsson M.D., descendents of S.J. (Joe) Quinney.

55 minutes 55 seconds
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