Make My Day

So, my very best days at Deer Valley happen when I can, well, make someone’s day—either by turning them onto a new favorite run on the resort, or a new favorite dessert in one of the restaurant. Once in a blue moon, I get to do something really special—which is to make someone a fan of the resort before they have ever skied a run.

To wit: On a recent bluebird morning, I was booting up by the trunk of my SUV alongside a couple who said they were visiting from Vancouver, BC. “We heard this mountain is awesome—that we could not visit Park City and not take advantage of the best grooming in the country.”

I told them I would never disagree with that statement, and went on to offer some tips–my favorite groomers, plus the can’t-miss quality of the Blueberry Mojito at the Royal Street Café. If I drank it as much as I talked about it, there might be a problem!

“Wow, you know a lot about the mountain,” Mike said, after he and his girlfriend Arlie introduced themselves. “You wouldn’t happen to have an extra ticket voucher for us, would you?”

As it happened, I did. Instead of responding verbally, I simply slipped my hand into the cargo pocket of my plaid ski pants (you know, the ones I’m so proud of) and produced a voucher I had on hand, redeemable at the ticket window for a full-day ticket.

Is there anything better than sharing a passion with someone, and then being able to give a gift like that?

“It’s like winning the lottery!” said my new friends. I must say, that it felt like winning the lottery to hand over that pass.

“But I’m only going to ask one thing: you need to let me take your picture—and you need to email me to let me know what you thought of the resort,” I said, handing them a business card.


We parted ways at that point. A few days later, this email arrived…All the way from Vancouver. I know, it’s like magic, this interwebs stuff.

“We had the good fortune of meeting you in the Deer Valley parking lot last week before our wonderful day skiing. We also had the good fortune of sharing our first lift with Tom, a former tour guide at Deer Valley to important people like presidents, who was kind enough to give us the presidential tour of the mountain all morning. We had lunch in the lower lodge instead of the Royal Street Cafe so we could get more runs in and take advantage of the amazing grooming and sunshine out on the slopes. The rumors about the grooming were all true! I can also say that the salad bar was best I’ve ever had… delicious! We were also very impressed with the service and staff at the resort. Everyone was very professional and the resort was definitely the classiest either of us have ever been to. Thank you so much for the lift ticket, it was a great start to a great day. We really appreciated it! Can you please send us a link to your blog and please feel free to ask any further questions you may have.

Michael and Arlie from Vancouver, BC, Canada HEH!”

And moments later, an email with this photo attached—way better than the parking lot shot I would have posted here!

Cookie Corral

I love a parade. I know, it’s a cliché, but it’s true.

But I especially love a parade that stars my kids (and their ski instructors) sporting some sort of dress-up.

So the last day of Sunday Ski Experience always ranks high on my fun-meter. This year was no exception. I hiked up to the ropeline that marked the parade venue, alongside some other parents who are clearly of greater intelligence levels than I am (read: they thought to bring beer from the lodge for the festivities)—the sound system installed on the deck of Black Diamond Lodge for the afternoon was already pumping pop tunes (hooray!) and the sun was beating down on the third unseasonably warm day in a row.

Quincy the Bear Kicks of the Ski School Parade

Before long, Little Guy and his fantastic (did I mention how awesome this Massachusetts-born guy is??) instructor were cruising down the alley, making perfect turns.

In a feat of timing I could never have engineered myself, Big Guy was riding up Burns lift just in time to watch his brother ski down the run. Greg skied backwards, coaching Seth and a buddy to make turns—while wearing the kid-sized cowboy hat (aka Woody’s Hat) that my Toy Story-obsessed tot had insisted on taking to the Children’s Center that morning. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that Greg also had Dine Dine, Little Guy’s omnipresent lovey, tucked into his own jacket. Little Guy’s helmet was resplendent in construction-paper wings, streamers and balloons.

 At the bottom, the littlest skiers were rewarded with Cookie Medals—Deer Valley’s signature sugar cookies wrapped in foil, and festooned with a ribbon to look like a medal.

eating the ski school prize

 After we gave Greg a hug goodbye, Little Guy and I returned to the sidelines to await Big Guy’s group. The Super Skiers made their way down the slope.

 (“Everyone else’s group had animal names, which we thought was a little too limited, so we decided to just describe ourselves ,” explains Big Guy, who is reading over my shoulder as I type.)

Christina, their very fun instructor, had organized the group to form a “Human Slalom,” wherein the students skied down the hill, stopping in a well-spaced formation to mimic slalom gates. Sweet! Christina rewarded her troops with Hershey’s Kisses, Deer Valley temporary tattoos, and badges with pictures of the Deer Valley Mascots.

After the ski school graduation celebration.

Hiding Deep in the X-Files

If you really don’t want other skiers to see you, if must absolutely avoid your boss or your ex-significant other, or just ski in total privacy, Deer Valley Resort has the perfect shelter for you. It’s called the “X-Files” and while I discussed the geography of that very special place in great details on this blog, early January, I wanted today to focus on the tactical aspect of this location.

That’s right, this area at the corner of Empire Canyon is a perfect hiding place, just under the canopy of huge pine trees. If, like me, you are a private person or have to remain anonymous for whatever reason, you’ll want to run laps your entire ski day inside the “X-Files!” The added benefit is that skiing in its trees is more fun than you can imagine and the powder stashed there remains fresh forever.

Short of making yourself even stealthier by dressing in white and being totally invisible from spy-satellites, you can be assured that your skiing will remain totally “under cover” for as long as you don’t show up again on Orion run. Oh, I almost forgot, make sure to turn off any GPS tracking feature that you might have inside your cell phone… Now enjoy this “how-to” video!

Powder Alert!

Grey skies threatened to snow all day on Thursday. Ski Patroller TJ Somers got out into Centennial Trees off Lady Morgan Express to find a little untracked snow.

With 7″ of snow last night and 2-3 feet of snow expected by Sunday, this will be buried in the fresh white stuff all over again. There will be PLENTY of fresh tracks this weekend. Gotta love Utah!

28″ Storm- Photo Recap

What a great storm! I didn’t have many photo opportunities as we were really busy out on the mountain all weekend, but here are 3 of my favorites from the past couple days.

This is what the grooming looked like on Sunday afternoon… after 20+ inches of snow and a lot of skier traffic.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The top of Carpenter Express Chairlift on President’s Day

Monday, February 21, 2011

The first sunny view of Daly Ridgeline and Claytons Peak in the background on President’s day. It was simply stunning.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dropping by Daly Chute #4

This Thursday, as the gray skies were charged with snow, ready to fall and as I was skiing Empire Express, I chose to play around the X-Files. As I was ready for a second lap, I stopped on my way by Daly Chute #4 to get a closer look and had the following conversation with the Chute:

Chute #4: Hi, I haven’t seen you around in a while!

JF: Sorry, I was just skiing by, going to the X-Files…

Chute #4: I can’t understand what makes these trees such a big deal…

JF: You’d be surprised how fun they are today with six inches of new snow!

Chute #4: Hey, that’s just a temporary condition; why don’t you come a little bit closer…

JF: I’m not sure, I just wanted to say hello.

Chute #4: Are you telling me that you’ve become a big chicken? Get a bit nearer to the edge, take a look down!

JF: I’m impressed with what I see…

Chute #4: That’s what most people who come up here tell me before they turn around and ski elsewhere; what happened to courage? They say they’re “just dropping by,” but in truth they won’t!

JF: I’m not like that…

Chute #4: Okay, show me!

JF: I won’t jump the cornice though; I’ll catch it from skier’s left.

Chute #4: Good boy…

Now, enjoy the video!

Winter Break

As winter break is coming upon us the big question is, “Are you going anywhere?” I laugh and say no. This is our family’s busy time and winter break equals skiing for us. How can you leave the mountains in the winter especially when you live in a magnificent area. Maybe after the resort closes on April 10 the beach will actually come to mind.

I look forward to being on the hill next week with my kids. Although due to my schedule it only allows me two days with them. When we do go ski, I ski behind them and take in that they can ski the mountain with their eyes closed.  Well, not literally, they just know the mountain so well. They know every jump, every tree run, where the snow will be best and best of all, that mom is keeping up.

It usually helps when there is a gaggle of their friends too. This way they are not asking for lunch by 10:45, they keep their minds on skiing and trying to find the next new hot spot. I recently was skiing with a corporate group and they asked me when the last time I felt like I was a kid. I responded “everyday!” They laughed and reflected that was their goal of their trip. They wanted to be reminded that you can get caught up by being in an office everyday and need to remember to let some steam out. I asked them how it was going for them as I lead them down Hidden Treasure.

Of course, we always hit the Nastar course a few times just to make sure their engines are all working. Many people ask me if I let them win when we race against each other. I say no way they have to earn it. But by the looks of it, that may come sooner than later. (And I might be looking up to them not only in ski ability but in actual height too!)

Whether it’s skiing with my kids or just watching other kids ski I get such pleasure observing this. I believe that most people don’t realize what a true family sport /activity skiing is because so many skiers are worried about holding up the pace. Everyone has their own pace. The great thing about Deer Valley is there is always a run for most abilities from the top of the chair so that extra pressure can be eliminated. You can pick your green, blue, black groomed or ungroomed route and meet at the chair. There are so many fond memories from growing up with my siblings and skiing as a family that last a life time.

Back to skiing with the corporate group, I was telling some of the funny stories that my sister and brothers still talk about today when we ski together.  One of our favorites is “Pole gate”. I had just gotten my dad brand new poles which he was thrilled about. Unfortunately somebody else realized how nice they were too and decided they “needed” them.  My dad was beside himself. So instead of skiing with us he decided he would case out the base area for a couple days thinking he would find them or find the person. i.e. “Polegate” I know some family stories don’t come across as funny if you’re not in the moment but my point is, it still makes our family dinner discussions. I hope my kids will have all these stories and remember them. Especially after each weekend as we all get home from skiing I can hear my boys talking about how much air they (think) they got or how they almost did a 360.

As I mentioned if it’s not my kiddos it’s someone else child that brings a smile to my face. I want to mention Colby who I haven’t skied with yet but is a big fan of Deer Valley and racing! Whenever he is on the hill he always finds me and says hello. I hope that my children are as polite. Skiing brings out the best of you!

See you on the slopes

My Definition of a “Perfect Storm”

I’m not talking about the situation that describes an event in which a rare combination of circumstances will drastically tip the natural order over, nor do I want to allude to the book and the movie covering the phenomenon and that is the source of the expression.

What I want to talk about is what happened this past Monday, late afternoon, when the skies suddenly became dark and snow began to fall like it would never stop. It kept on storming into the evening and the following morning, we woke up to a picture-perfect weather and to over 10 inches of fluffy new snow.

Now, this is what I call a “perfect storm,” when the precipitation arrives after a full workday for some, or a fun-filled vacation afternoon, when the heavy snowfall doesn’t impede traffic too much or create unnecessary stress on skiers and other mountain folks that have to work their way around it.

That’s right: Regular night snowstorm followed by bluebird skies and super light powder in the morning; that’s the only circumstance in my book that deserves to be called a perfect storm, and we have many of those in Deer Valley: A timely, convenient and generous precipitation that supplies days of fun for mountain lovers!

Mountain Mamas

I mean no disrespect to my colleague, JF Lanvers, who has posted here about The Measure of Skiing. But my Utah ski days are measured not in vertical feet, but in adjectives. And the word of the day, friends, is EPIC.

All it took was a buncha inches (that’s a technical term) of fresh Utah Powder  falling Monday night to begin the flurry of Facebook posts, the frantic plans to meet up at the mountain—moms leveraging their kids’ school schedules for all they’re worth.

I reached out to a gang of gals, and wasn’t entirely sure who’d wind up in my Powder Posse.

With sunrise came that gorgeous, glistening blanket of white that had me scurrying to get my gear loaded along with Little Guy for the carpool to preschool. We collected his buddy and began the “epic” part of the day that relates more to my studies of Odysseus. Seriously, everyone who thinks they can drive willy, nilly on slick, just-stormed-upon streets, please…don’t. It took 45 minutes to make it to the preschool from my house (a 15 min drive in normal circumstances) due to untold numbers of spinouts and wrecks. We navigated our way safely, and, once the kids were in the classroom, I texted madly to my pals to hang in and wait for me….Thank goodness they did.

Let me add that the three women who wound up in my posse today (and my apologies to Lisa and Donna….I tried, but every time you sent a text I was deeper in powder than a person should have a right to be! More on that in a minute) are all three women whose company I have enjoyed for years—but never once on the slopes. So I had no idea what level of skiers I was rallying with.

I do know that when Olivia and I met up with Jill and Sarah on this frigid but bluebird morning, Sarah and Jill met us with the following sentence…something that could only be interpreted as a challenge:

“We just did a groomer and it was really boring. Take us someplace cool.” 

May I just say, my ego bloomed under the umbrella of their trusting that I could deliver? Holy. Moly.

 Here we are, all pumped up to take on the World of Pow.


And so, deliver, I did. That’s right, dear readers, my warm-up run this morning was through the trees between Hidden Treasure and Square Deal (thanks Leticia) into the powder and bumps. 


Olivia was off in a flash—we didn’t see her again until we finished the run. She’d waited patiently for us at the bottom of Red Cloud.

Jill and Sarah and I whooped, hollered and pounded our way down the hill.

Next up—a quick blast over to Empire. Olivia recruited Sarah to cut into Lady Morgan with her, while Jill elected to check out Anchor Trees, my new favorite stash. It did not disappoint, as evidenced by my grin in this pic, snapped at the end of the tree run.

The clock was ticking as we met up with the other two at the base of Empire. “I have about 45 minutes,” said Olivia, noting her school pickup schedule. “Let’s go into Ontario Bowl!”

 This is the moment where I would ordinarily cue the Chords of Doom…you know Duh Duh Duh Duh….in the lowest octaves of a piano. But Olivia, clearly the most skilled and aggressive in our midst, was beyond encouraging. So we said, Great!

Funniest moment of the day? Sarah, noting the trail signs as we headed toward the Bowl—“Oh, look, Ontario’s a green.” Yeah, sweets, not so much.

We took the easy entrance, just above Hidden Treasure, and traversed through the most peaceful glades I’ve ever experienced. The bowl opened up and it was open season on our knees. But we gamely made our way down under Olivia’s casually elegant guidance (oh, just make your turns in the open spaces, and go really slow as you get to the runout on the bottom).


Little did I know that Jill was snapping shot after shot of me working my way through the powder in my ill-matched skis (yep, the racing skis. Note to self: must buy powder skis, STAT).

 We were positively ebullient with the bragging rights of a double black under our belts. Olivia snapped a pic of the three of us, then scurried off with a promise to meet up again for more runs VERY soon, and we three headed for some groomers to cool down. We zoomed down Nabob, shrieking and hollering (not that different from the other runs, now that I think of it—at least from a sound-effects standpoint). And I yelled, very loudly (yes, I know, that’s SHOCKING) “Moms on the MOOOOOOVE!” And a rallying cry was born.


So, who’s in? I’ll be gathering some girls for skiing on Sunday—come find us. I’ll be the one in the leopard jacket. It definitely packs a punch of confidence.