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Annual Ski Affair Celebrates Last Year’s Historic Snowfall

The University of Utah Ski and Snow Sports Archives hosted hundreds of ski and snow enthusiasts to celebrate record snowfall and welcome the upcoming ski season.
Marco Lozzi
Dr. Gregory C. Thompson receives the S. J. Quinney Award during the Ski Affair event at the Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


The University of Utah Ski and Snow Sports Archives held the 31st Annual Ski Affair on Wednesday, Oct. 25 to celebrate the 2022-2023 ski season’s historic snowfall and honor the ski culture within Utah and the Wasatch Mountains.

The event was hosted by the J. Willard Marriott Library at Eccles Alumni House. About 320 attendees of ski enthusiasts, filmmakers, ski resort employees and alumni showed up to celebrate the library’s largest fundraising event of the year. The Marriott Library’s website defines the Ski Affair as a “gathering of passionate individuals who share a love for skiing, winter sports and the great outdoors.”

Sarah Shreeves, dean of libraries, was the first speaker at the event.

“I have been working in libraries for 30 years, and I have never seen such an engaged and passionate group of people dedicated to celebrating Special Collections and Archives,” she said.

The Ski and Snow Sports Archives are housed at the Marriott Library and contain over 30 years’ worth of ski and snow sports materials, including each hour of the broadcast film that came out of Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics, a negotiation that took 19 years, according to the 2023 S. J. Quinney Award Winner Dr. Gregory C. Thompson, who was presented with the award at the event.

This award is presented by the library each year to an individual or organization that has exhibited the same public-spirited attributes and contributions to winter sports as its namesake, S.J. Quinney, founder of Alta Ski Area and ski visionary.

Additionally, the late Jim Berry was presented the Sue Raemer Award, which recognizes a volunteer’s outstanding community service to the University of Utah Ski and Snow Sport Archives. His wife Merry Jo accepted the award on his behalf.

The event also acknowledged the U’s ski team, who recently won their fourth consecutive NCAA championship

Spencer Fox Eccles applauses during the opening remarks of the Ski Affair event at the Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Marco Lozzi)

Barbara Yamada, chair of the Ski and Snow Sports Advisory Board, said historically, the event has honored a specific history-maker, but they feel they’ve already honored all of them.

“Tonight, we’re celebrating snow because of our big season of snowfall last year,” she said. 

Yamada said in the past, the event was held at Little America to host up to 800 attendees. 

“We decided that we want to host this on campus because it’s a university event,” she said. “So last year, we came here to the Alumni House as it’s a great venue.” 

Short films were shown, and featured resorts Alta and Snowbird, highlighting the intense snow removal and avalanche mitigation efforts of the previous ski season after Alta received 903 inches of snow.

Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of Ski Utah, shared that Utah had the highest avalanche hazard index in the nation with 62 slide pads, and many of the slides occurred on pads that hadn’t slid in more than 40 years.

“That’s how much snow came down,” he said. “So that’s all well and good because it means a lot of snow, but it also brings with it danger.”

“The Last Gunner” film featured the military artillery Alta used for avalanche mitigation for 75 years up until last year. Due to technological advances and safer methods, the resort has retired the machinery but still honors the lives it saved in the canyon from avalanches. According to the film, they will continue to use remote avalanche control systems, sometimes called avalaunchers, and the work of ski patrollers on the slope.

The advisory board also expressed excitement about the possibility of Salt Lake hosting another Winter Olympics in 2034 and is eager to contribute more content to the Archives. 

“I’m excited about what the archives have become,” Thompson said. 

The U’s Ski Archive is the largest of its kind and will continue to grow to preserve the sport and culture of skiing throughout the Intermountain West. The archives are open and available to the public at the Marriott Library. 


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About the Contributors
Libbey Hanson, News Writer
(she/her) Libbey is a second-year graduate student in the MPA program studying public policy and administration. She is most interested in environmental policy and social justice issues. You can usually find her in the mountains hiking and skiing or reading and writing at a local coffee shop.
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.

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