Connie Marshall

I am often asked how Alta has changed in the past 40 or 50 years. This question always excites me, as my career began at Alta in 1974, so my personal journey weaves into the larger tapestry of the Alta story.  That includes several decades as the resort’s public relations manager, working with the media.

In a November 1970 article for Holiday Magazine, David Thomas wrote, “Alta is for skiing. A little-known resort in Utah has the simple claim to fame…. probably the world’s best skiing. Alta’s popularity has been limited by its relatively restricted accommodations and the relative absence of the sort of frantic ski life that draws winter vacationers to the Alps and some of the more social western resorts.”

What would a journalist muse about today? From my perspective, she would begin by penning, “Alta is for skiing. A well-known resort in Utah has this simple claim to fame…. the world’s best skiing. Alta’s popularity has grown as skiers have come to seek out and cherish authentic experiences both on and off the slopes.”

Skiers from the 1970’s returning today would feel immediately as though not much has changed. The lift system, while modernized – including the brand new Sunnyside lift on the Albion side – still respects the desire for every skier to find his own way around the mountain. Many of the buildings on and off the mountain surely are recognizable, albeit most have been remodeled to satisfy the changing needs of skiers and their families.

While Alta has embraced evolving lift technology, best practices in snow and avalanche management, progressive ski school philosophies for all skiers, convenient RFID lift access and management of the ski experience in a world that is ever growing in population that has led to required parking reservations on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, the vistas and uncomplicated layout of the mountain remain steadfast.

#Altamagic has evolved as a popular hashtag for all things in the social media world.

Those who stay on-mountain cherish their experiences in lodges that harken back to the culture of the elegant simplicity of the early romance of skiing. Most lodging has been independently owned and operated by the same linage of family members since they were built, creating a sense of family the moment one walks in the door.

Many lodges have a guest return rate of 70% percent who return year after year, with emerging generations of family and friends to spend time with other guests who they have grown over time to know. Few resorts or individual hotels or lodges can match that, anywhere in the world.

From my perspective, after a 44- year career with Alta Ski Area, I would like to speak about the community of employees and the skiers, both local and all who come from places all over the world. While this menagerie of humans has changed over the years, the same pull that brought all of us together to experience the insatiable thirst for the magic that befalls us and for the spirit of the mountain itself has not changed.

Not one bit.

Editor’s Note –

A visit to a cousin who had grown up in Alta led to a job as a ticket seller, with Connie advancing quickly to sales manager, then to decades as the resort’s first Marketing and Public Relations manager.  Along the way, she married, raised three children, and inspired and mentored scores of people – especially women – to influential careers in the world of winter sports. Connie also was a pioneer in forging bridges between the sometimes-contentious relationship between some resort managements and their local communities, and is widely respected throughout the ski industry.

Before her recent retirement, Connie received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Snowsports Association (NASJA), nominated by SeniorsSkiing editor Evelyn Kanter. Connie continues to live close to Alta, volunteers for local and regional community groups, and still skis often at Alta.


  1. Connie,
    Straightforward and to the point! While commenters will say “oh you missed this or that”, because they always do!, Alta is the same.

    My first visit, with my best friend, in 1981, found us seeking refuge from a surprise snowstorm at Alf’s for lunch, just as news of Pres Reagan getting shot hit the TV screen. My only recollection of Alf’s: wow, was that place dark or what?!

    Alta is spectacular, just the way it was in 1981. And even though I added snowboarding to my toolkit for 20 years, so glad Alta management has always banned it!

  2. John,
    Great memories. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Matthew Lindon says:

    Alta is where winter lives.

  4. Having been at Alta since 1972, Connie’s article rings true. #altamagic

  5. My first visit to Alta was in the spring of 1974. I have since returned on several occasions, each time bringing one of my sons for their first experience in “western skiing.” You are correct, while on the surface their are changes and rearrangements, Alta remains the same magical place.

  6. I’ve skied Alta since 1972 when my Dad took me and my brother from Chicago there to ski. I ended up at the University of Utah along with my two younger brothers. We all graduated and received
    PHD’s in Alta powder. I’ve lived in a lot of great places and have always said of all the places I love in the world Alta has changed the least! Alta has kept it’s soul and is a place I will always cherish. Now my son and nieces are carrying on the tradition. Thank you Connie and all the people that make Alta so consistently special!

  7. Thinking to spend 1 Winter at Alta, I worked ’75-’78 up Little
    Cottonwood. 2023, it’s grandchildren-time on the new Sunnyside.

  8. Alta needs supermarket, coffeeshops, restaurants

  9. My father and I skied in Alta back in 1964. That week there was SO MUCH snow they evacuated the entire resort due to avalanche danger – there was fear that all the lodges would be buried. The adults skied out behind a snow cat while we kids got to ride inside the cat. We all had to leave the big luggage behind and could only take a small bag, loaded into the cat. We ended up in Salt Lake City in ski clothes and not much else. I remember Alf Engen acting as the most genial host and dancing with all the ladies in the evenings in the lodge lobby, including this shy 9 year old girl. Haven’t been back since but would love to be there.

  10. C L Hollingsworth says:

    My first visit to Alta was with a college ski club trip to Park City. We snuck over to Alta one morning and it was like finding skiing Nirvana! Absolutely wonderful. Sparsely populated, almost had every run to ourselves. And the snow in little cottonwood canyon is truly the greatest snow on Earth! I distinctly remember the single chair lift. I had never seen one on person, only in early pictures of Sun Valley. So it fostered a sense of connection with skiing history that I’ve retained for more than 50 years; especially during my years of racing and an instructor in Aspen. Thanks Alta! You had a great influence on my life.

  11. My first visit to Alta in the early 70’s, conditions were boilerplate. Glad that changed.

  12. I have skied at many areas in Europe and No. America and in my opinion Alta is the best for all levels.

  13. I read all the posts. So many fine memories of flying in from CT and staying a week with my dad and brother back in the 70’s and 80’s. I can’t confirm “best snow on earth” but having skied in Europe and all over the US I’d back that claim. I love that it is a non-boarder area. BTW I cut my teeth at Mad River Glen in VT where long, stiff skis with sharp edges were the ticket. Skiing pow in the glades was but a dreamy story.

  14. Jennifer Adams-Anderson, LCSW says:

    Love, love, love Alta. I learned to ski there in 1983 and no other ski area has come close to matching the warmth and intimacy of the lodges, the calm, assured professionalism of the staff and their dedication to guests’ safety, the excellence of the instructors (many US Ski Team members) and the sheer perfection of the powder covered slopes. I’ve taken my family back there years later and it met every expectation and fond memory 30 years later.

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