Put a few moguls into your ski life

As I do every year, I just attended the Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley to get a boost of skiing inspiration early in the season. This is a first-class event that can only be seen in Deer Valley and impeccably showcases the best freestyle skiing has to over. The venue, the preparation and the execution of the event are seamless, charged with energy and designed to keep you on your feet. While I’m envious of the aerialists, I’ve never been able to land well enough to emulate them; I just watch them in awe along with the big crowds that come to cheer them. The mogul competition however, is something I can relate to a lot more, as I keep on encountering bumps in my daily skiing life.

Sure, we all love morning corduroy, the “rice krispies” feeling it generates under our feet and we can use groomed runs now and again for resting a bit, concentrating on our technique, looking perfect on skis or just enjoying the sheer joy of the sport. Yet, many skiers can’t just live off smooth, seamless
snow; there’s always a point when it’s time to change “textures” and evolve towards some more exciting relief and pick up new skills.  That’s right, skiing is made up of a variation of textures that begin with Deer Valley’s trademark corduroy, a few “waves” on the slope and culminate with World Cup moguls as seen on Big Stick.

But why should a satisfied skier even contemplate leaving the civilized, groomed universe for venturing into a world of “ups and downs?” It must have to do with our craving for change; like variety is spice of life, moguls are skiing’s salt and pepper. They build excitement, unpredictability
and, over time, turn every one of us into much better skiers. That’s right, the lowly little bump can teach us important things having to do with triggering our turns, enhancing our balance, sharpening our reactions and giving us the kind of unwavering style we all aspire to.

Without taking the “ski class room” inside, and boring you with theory, let me just remind you that skis love to pivot when they’re sitting on some convex spot, and what’s more convex than the top of a mogul? There, they can turn freely, without having their tips or tails hitting anything or requiring significant torque. That for sure is the “lazy way to making turns!”  Then the skis take the plunge into the steep portion of the mogul. This only requires a sudden act of faith and a positive acceptance on your part to espouse their motion, enjoy the slight acceleration that follows, stay in control, and very soon you’re at the bottom of the pitch where speed becomes controllable again. That’s right, a bump is the microcosm of the larger hill, made of successions of flat and steep portions that alternatively speed you up and slow you down. You just need some professional guidance to experience the feeling and become an adept.

From that point, we simply need to increase the difficulty level. Skiing bumps enhances your work out, activates all of your joints and on a cold winter day, will keep you so warm that cold feet and frozen fingers never are part of the price to pay to enjoy a day on the slopes. That’s right, moguls are a perfect warming up exercise that puts every element of your “suspension system” to work and bring a nice rhythm to the experience. If perfect grooming is the great equalizer, what will soon separate the budding skier from the better one is practicing the bumps. It’s a place where there’s no room for cheating, yet nothing is that complicated because you can pretty much adjust the speed, the grade of the slope and the size of the moguls to your current ability level. Of course, the beauty of great mogul skiing is fluidity; the thousands of spectators attending the Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley could see that raw quality in action amongst the top contestants.
“Fluidity” is an aspect of skiing bumps we can all focus on, and then match with the level of difficulty we choose; the main objective being to always appear perfectly smooth. Beyond that, if we really want to keep on improving, we just need to dial-up any one or all of the components we just reviewed! Remember that viewed from a distance, everything is only a matter of texture; from corduroy to camel-backs, there’s always a mogul sized right for you. Simply decide today about making room for a few more moguls in your skiing life and you’ll suddenly get a spicier and more exciting experience!

World Cup Recap

Thanks to everyone who made it out the World Cup events over the past weekend!  If you missed out on all the action, check out the photos below or catch it on TV during the following times:

NBC
Saturday, January 23, 1:30 p.m. EST (1.5 hours)

Versus
Sunday, January 24, 5 p.m. EST (Aerials - 1 hour)
Sunday, January 31, 4 p.m. EST (Moguls - 1 hour)
Sunday, January 31, 5 m EST (Moguls – 1 hour)

Cars arriving at Deer Valley for the evening events

Record Crowds!

Thursday Night's Free concert on Main Street

The Bravery Performed

Happy as a clam at the Seafood Buffet

Those clams surely weren’t happy, but I was. I had no qualms. I ate the clams and their friends at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. I stuffed myself full, couldn’t help it one bit. You couldn’t have either—there is an absurd gluttony of seafood at the Snow Park Lodge during the winter season, and I was fortunate to get a taste of the ocean in a mountain town far away from the sea. 

Being that the Rocky Mountains’ only seashells are fossilized atop the mountaintops, finding fresh seafood embedded in the mountainous region of the United States is rare.

As friendly staff greeted me, I looked at the food presented so perfectly in the lodge (the eating area during the daytime transforms into a high-end restaurant at night) and started to drip with drool. There was spicy tuna with ginger soy sauce, curried carrot ginger soup with spiced cream and crab, honey soy glazed sable fish with ginger sauce, beer battered barramundi with lemon remoulade sauce, plus endless amounts of clams, mussels, and oysters. And just to mix it up, the buffet also offered BBQ baby back ribs and prime rib with au jus. As I worked my way through such fine food, I definitely had seconds. I savored the sable fish twice as it melted in my mouth (it’s definitely a must have, and a staple on the menu throughout the season). The menu changes every three days with plenty of new sauces and starches, but the main dishes such as sable fish and prime rib remain. 

When it came time for dessert, I tried everything from the vanilla bean crème brule to the butterscotch pudding. A kid at a nearby table decided to consume as many Phyllo fruit tartlets as conceivable. 

 The best part of the Seafood Buffet is that the portions are small enough that you don’t feel wasteful if a dish doesn’t whet your appetite. Plus, having to stand up and retrieve your own food keeps the calories burning as you enjoy your stay. I ate for two hours. 

I was happy as a clam, and you can be, too.

Open during the winter ski season, Monday through Saturday, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Phone reservations can be made by calling 435-645-6632, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. Free parking is available. Adults $62, Children $34 (11 years and younger). Deer Valley uses sustainable seafood.

Mixing skiing, glamour and fun at the Sundance Film Festival

Some people only like skiing, some only like to watch movies, but there’s a vast universe of individuals who are into both. If given the opportunity, many might attempt to satisfy their combined craving for the silver screen and the white slopes. If you happen to be one these special creatures, Deer Valley Resort and Park City, UT are most definitely the best spot in the world to marry your two favorite hobbies.

Most ski vacations always suggest a good mix between snow activities during the day and après-ski action once the sun set, yet very few can offer the absolutely perfect blend than a stay at Deer Valley the end of January; timed while the Sundance Film Festival is underway, in Park City. That’s right; on-slope traffic is light as film-obsessed visitors use their very short mornings to emerge from endless late night parties. In fact, skiing is at its best; just enough skiers to chat with on the chairs, uncrowded restaurants, the very best instructors available for you at the ski school and plenty of early morning skiing without the need to rush and beat the crowds.

The Film Festival that runs this year between the 21st and 31st of January only requires a few extra skills including sleep and diet management. If you can avoid the post-midnight screening and the parties that follow, and if you have a definite strength of character, then you might be an ideal candidate. The big secret is to stand up early enough in the morning and take advantage of the pristine corduroy that is waiting for you and a select few on the slopes, or the overnight fresh powder “dump” that dropped, almost as a special order, while you were having fun and catching some precious hours of sleep the night before.

If you don’t believe you can overcome mid-day drowsiness, don’t get discouraged. You will soon find out, during the afternoons and evenings that not all movies are created equal; while you’ll find some of them to be just outstanding, a few may fail to pass muster with your discriminating taste or worse, others are downright bad in spite of the appealing synopsis that you thought you had read twice. This is in fact a blessing in disguise; when it happens, do not feel bad, don’t try to resist or even feel guilty; just take a gentle nap through the panel discussion and this will go a long way to keeping you in decent ski shape the following morning or to be fully refreshed when it’s time for your next flick!

Another way to maximize your joint skiing and festival-going experience is to improve on your “food management” skills. You would ideally plan on having a good breakfast, but reality might get in the way and force you to choose between eating something and going skiing while it’s still morning. I recommend the later, because lunches at Deer Valley Resort are so delicious and are – in my view – the only true representation of the “food pyramid.” So, use the lunch break to restore your energy and even take that extra portion to make up for the long evening ahead. It’s hard to get into restaurants on Main Street at night anyway and, beside popcorn, there isn’t a lot you can munch on for the rest of the day. Eat a healthy, hearty lunch and use it as a well-timed break, right on the slopes.  Luckily, if your lunch fails to sustain your appetite throughout the night, Deer Valley’s four evening restaurants are slightly off the beaten path for festival goers and are able to offer plenty of availability and parking during Sundance.

A unique pair of extra benefits from screening movies while skiing is that you will have some compelling stories to tell your chairlift companions and chances are that the abundant cinematographic knowledge you’ll display in the process will make them think that you’re a producer, a famous director or an up and coming actor. If this wasn’t already cool, wait until you attend the hundreds of parties you’ll find yourself invited to during the evenings. Just say a few words about your day and everyone listening will soon assume that your name is Lyndsey Vonn, Bode Miller, Heidi Voelker or even Stein Eriksen, and not necessarily in this order!

Finally don’t worry about not being on top of “Everything Festival” while you’re on the hill; there are now Sundance Film Festival smart phone apps to provide you with real-time information about movie trailers, interaction with Twitter and Facebook, plus all of your evening venues while you are enjoying a wonderful ski day in the sun! Of course, you might always add some business sideline to your ski trip by bringing along the script you’ve always thought should be made into a movie, mingle with movie moguls at night to plot investment strategies and perhaps schedule your very own casting.

As always, your Deer Valley vacation could end up being much more than just skiing!