With consistent reader’s polls ranking most of Utah’s ski resorts as America’s favorite places to visit, it is surprising that a gay and lesbian ski event hasn’t taken root and thrived in Utah. In the past two months, San Diego SAGA, SAGA North (San Francisco), and the Ski Bums (New York), have all visited Northern Utah ski resorts to partake in Utah’s renowned abundance of dry snow and easy-access resorts.
That may all change as an established event producer and promotion company presents a new Utah gay and lesbian ski and snowboard event called Elevation Utah 2011. This February 18-21, Tom Whitman Presents, a Los Angeles-based event production company, launches the inaugural event at Park City Mountain Resort, patterned after the on-going and successful Elevation Mammoth.
“I’ve skied or boarded many of the resorts around Salt Lake City, but I kinda have a soft spot for Park City because it was the first Utah resort I ever skied,” said Tom Whitman. “I came out to Park City for a weeklong training trip during my first year on the UCLA Ski Team and I loved it.”
In the works for two years, Elevation Utah will begin with a day of skiing and snowboarding on the Friday of President’s Day Weekend, followed by the first after-ski-day party, or après ski, at the Sidecar, located at 333 Main St., Park City; followed a couple of hours later by a dance party at Downstairs, 625 Main St., Park City.
“Yes, we have great DJs and fun parties, but the focus is not staying out until 5 a.m.,” explained Whitman. “Our biggest events are après-ski events that happen from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and our nighttime events only go until 1 or 2 a.m.”
Whitman hopes Elevation Utah will follow in the success of Elevation Mammoth which is now considered the third largest gay and lesbian ski week in North America. Elevation Mammoth began nine years ago in Southern California, after Whitman became an event producer and had been training at Mammoth with the UCLA ski team.
“So, I did a trial year, where I basically e-mailed my list and called some friends and then waited to see what would happen. That first year we had 300 people attend, with no real marketing,” said Whitman. “And the event was fun! Everyone had an amazing time. We all met new friends and came back with some amazing memories.”
Elevation Mammoth now attracts over 2000 skiers and boarders each March.
“[Elevation Utah] is a weekend for guys who are friendly, fun, and have a common interest in boarding or skiing,” said Whitman. “You’ll meet tons of hot guys from around the country. But you’ll probably be in bed at a (relatively) decent hour so that you can ski the next day.”
As Park City is known as Utah’s most progressive town, many of the businesses and bars are ready to welcome Elevation attendees, as well as the ski resort.
Ski OUT Utah, Utah’s gay and lesbian ski and snowboard club, will also lend a hand as mountain ambassadors or guides.
“The guys who have made Mammoth so successful are the most fun, friendly, unpretentious gay guys in the world. You meet amazing new people each year,” Whitman said. “People let down their guard and lose their attitude when they get to the event. They start conversations and don’t “stand and model” at the bar like they might in their hometown gay bar.”
Women are welcome too. The Elevation Mammoth team actively created ‘women only’ events when they first started, but they haven’t caught on. Maybe Utah will be different.
“The Elevation staff are some of the friendliest guys and girls in the world, and we’re just excited to get this first year under way,” added Whitman. “We are bringing out some of my favorite L.A. deejays, as well as some of my favorite L.A. go-go dancers.”
Local Utah DJ Christopher Barnes will be in the mix, spinning at the ski-après events on Friday and Saturday, 4-7 p.m. at Sidecar.
Whitman has become the most successful gay event producer and promoter in Southern California, producing gay party events at Los Angeles nightclubs and larger annual events and fundraisers, including Wonderland, an outside, summer evening, dance party on the back lot of Paramount studios, Cherry Pop, a weekly Saturday hot spot in West Hollywood, an annual Los Angeles’s Pride Event and Elevation Mammoth.
“I’ve raised money and produced events for most of the community organizations in L.A., and I’m honored this year to be the Chairman of the Board of Directors of AIDS Project Los Angeles,” said Whitman. “My events have raised more than 1.5 million dollars in the last 6 years.”
It is Whitman’s hope that Utah community charities will also benefit in the upcoming years if Elevation Utah is a success.
For a full list of events and to buy tickets, go to www.utahgayski.com or at facebook.com/ElevationUtah.
QUAC Ski-n-Swim registration opens
Utah’s non-profit, Queer Utah Aquatic Club’s (QUAC) annual Ski-n-Swim weekend, Feb 18-20, has now opened registration for all social events, the Saturday swim meet and water polo tournament, and the Sunday ski day, at www.quacquac.org. Changes this year include a separate location for the swim meet and water polo games, a change in venue for Sunday’s skiing event, and Saturday night small dinner parties at Salt Lake City homes. A general registration fee is required for participation in all events. More details in the next issue of QSaltLake.