Two resorts in the mountain Southwest have pushed back their opening dates, but for different reasons.

[R462R, Canyons Resort] doesn't lack for snow cover, as November storms dumped as much as 100 inches in the Wasatch Mountains. However, upgrades to several chairlifts, including the state-of-the-art heated Orange Bubble Express, will take until the planned Dec. 10 opening, according to spokesperson Elizabeth Dowd.

Gondola cabins have to be also installed on the Red Pine Gondola. The combination of the two jobs forced management to put off the planned Nov. 26 opening for a couple of weeks.

New owners Talisker Corp., of Toronto, appears to be putting money into Canyons Resort, which has dropped the "The" from its name. crews also moved a lift terminal, installed a new chairlift, finished a reservoir and gladed new terrain last summer. Talisker also bought a luxury hotel.

The rationale for a later start at [R346R, Ski Santa Fe] was more common: no snow. Those storms that hit Utah dodged the New Mexico and Arizona mountains in November. [R454R, Taos Ski Valley] opened Thanksgiving with a couple of runs, but others continue to pile up the manmade snow and pray for some of the heaven-sent variety.

Ski Santa Fe will crank up the bullwheels Dec. 10, regardless of what falls from the skies, according to spokeswoman Debi Owen. Its sister area, [R345R, Sandia Peak], remains on track to open a week later on Dec. 18.

Mountains without snowmaking awaited the season's first major dump. The ill feelings surrounding [R21R, Arizona Snowbowl's] thwarted efforts to get snowmaking bubbled up recently, when Snowbowl general manager JR Murray issued a press release saying that the northern Arizona ski area would have opened Thanksgiving if it could have blown artificial snow.

"We should have over 250 employees currently working, building up to 500 by Christmas and over 10,000 visitors per week to Flagstaff right now," Murray said, in a veiled shot at both Flagstaff City Council, which rejected plans to pump city water to the area, and nearby Native American tribes that claim the mountain as sacred ground.