Deer Valley Closes on a Super-High Note!

This past Sunday was a ski day to be remembered. After picking up and extra 4” early in the morning to bring the 72 hours total to 16” and the snow cover on top to 134”, the skies cleared just when it was time for the resort to open and we skied all day in mid winter conditions, but under April floodlights! We did the Triangle Trees three times, moved on to Mayflower, did the Bowl and Orient Express, at times in 16 inches of new snow, and by the moment we got to Centennial Trees, on Lady Morgan’s side, we had to stay on skier’s right to find some fresh “pow” ignored by the “army” that roamed through the sector. A delectable lunch, with a charming young couple, that made room for us at their empire Empire Lodge table, was yet a great moment, and to top it all, when we were done, we ran into a friend who wanted to keep on skiing for the rest of the afternoon, and could not escape following us into Ontario Bowl that, by that time, had been ran over as if it were an autobahn! We still managed to get some great packed powder under the Wasatch Lift and all the way down on “Big Stick” and when we took off our skis, we could still not believe it was April 10!

Transition

My Deer Valley ski season is officially over. I did sneak over to Snowbird on Monday for a ski day with the kids and we will probably close PCMR this weekend. Then the season is really done for me and the family.

Even though I had a great season, I am looking forward to getting into some new activities. Especially, to get back in shape for the next season if you can believe it. I need to make up for all the entertaining! I am not complaining, but between fondue, turkey chili, raclette and desserts - skiing just isn’t enough exercise.

So as we move into spring, I’ll get my road bike out. The biking is great in this area. My favorite ride is what I call mini- Alp Deux, which is Royal Street up to Silver Lake Village. Then if I’m really feeling good I’ll continue towards the Montage to the top of Empire pass. This is a kicker! Of course this won’t be my first ride of the season.  I’ll ride the flats for a while to get my base.  Deer Valley also has great mountain bike trails. I enjoy biking through Deer Valley then stopping for lunch on the deck at Royal Street. However, I don’t mountain bike as much anymore because I did so much of it when I was on the ski team. Time for new sports.

My second favorite summer activity is to play golf. I said I would never play the “boring” game.  If I don’t get at least 9 holes in I begin to shake. Maybe it’s the competitive side or just simply something I’m not good at and need to focus and think about what I’m doing. I never realized what is involved in the game of golf.  I also enjoy it because I don’t need to be good. I hit a bad shot it’s a bad shot, Oh well. Although… if I make a bad turn in skiing then I’m very critical of myself. I guess I have to be!

Some other activities are going to the pool, playing golf with my boys, BBQ with friends and traveling back East to visit family. I have started a tradition for the boys that we begin our summer trip to Waitsfield, VT. My sister lives there and the kids start out the trip by going to Elite Camp with Doug Lewis. This is an overnight camp on the Green Mountain Valley School Campus. Doug has the kids for three days and puts them through a training camp similar to what we did on the USST. Of course it’s on a much smaller scale and full of fun. We then head to the Cape to visit our close friends,  play on the beach and enjoy the eastern humidity. After about a week we then meet up with my husband and go to his family summer place in the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River.  Boating, jumping off the boat house, fishing, island living and grandparent time wraps-up the summer.

As you can tell the summer races by too for us. I’ll be blogging in the fall before I know it saying “I can’t believe the winter is upon us!” Until then enjoy the outdoors and the mountains we live in.

Cheers!

Thanks for Another Great Season!

It is hard to believe that our 30th winter season has just come to a close.  Thank you to everyone who visited this year!

Deer Valley Ski Patrol on Closing Day (photo: Matt DeWaard)

If you made it up here over closing weekend, you know that the snow conditions actutally felt like mid- January.  The season ended with back-to-back powder days!

Our summer season of lift-served hiking, biking and scenic rides is scheduled to begin on June 17 (conditions permitting). We will keep you updated on summer operations as there is still A LOT of snow that needs to melt. The resort closed on Sunday, April 10 with an impressive snow base depth of 132 inches!

In the meantime, you can still enjoy some of your favorite Deer Valley foods.  Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe is staying open year-round and will continue to offer a changing daily selection of freshly-made on-site and to-go items throughout the spring and summer.  Hours will be expanded to 8:30 p.m. to include dinner service during Deer Valley’s summer season.  Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe has a beautiful deck overlooking the Deer Valley duck ponds and will continue deck service throughout the spring and summer as weather allows.

Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe

 

Thanks again for a wonderful ski season!

Skied out?

Who’d have thought it possible, but I skied the season into submission a full month before the last chair stopped at Deer Valley.

The first sign was when my binding broke on my much-loved Atomic racing skis. Fortunately, it happened on the day I was playing around on Wide West with Little Guy and Florida Keys Girl—who was using Wide West as the ersatz waiting room for her knee surgery scheduled for the following month. I showed her how to use the terrain features to create skill drills for herself, and Little Guy entertained us both by imploring us to take “one more run on Devils Backbone!”

It was one of those magical mornings. Mel, Ski Dad, Big Guy and Florida Keys Guy took laps on Solid Muldoon, and Jamie, my new favorite lift attendant, kept telling Little Guy to have fun skiing with his “big sister.” I maintain an overinflated sense of my own youth, and Jamie was definitely aiding and abetting.

Anyway, we played around on the magic carpet, in Candy Land, in the Race Course, and yes, Devil’s Backbone, until Ski Dad and Big Guy appeared at the bottom of the run, hoping to join us. Granted, there was clearly a bit of kerfuffle going on regarding neck gaiters and fogging goggles, but it seemed on its way to resolution. I skied down to them, noting that my left knee was feeling pretty sore, and that the mellow day had been a smart move all the way around. Little did I know, it was probably my saving grace.

At this point, father and son had clicked out of their skis for a moment—and Little Guy, not wanting to feel the odd-man-out ,followed suit. This precipitated me having to click out of mine in order to kneel down and refit Little Guy into his bindings. And I won’t lie, I definitely got exasperated out loud at the unnecessary hang-up. (Little Guy, of course, takes a lot of pride in his mastery of the mechanics of the equipment, but I was in no mood to appreciate it.) As it turns out, I would be digging into some humble pie that afternoon—Little Guy did me a favor. For as I went to click back into my skis, I noticed the heel cup of one binding was twisted at an alarming angle. Ski Dad picked it up to inspect, making some taps and bumps against it with the heel of his gloved hand, only to dislodge (to all of our horror) some pieces of the binding.

I’ll never know what would have happened if I’d been cruising Solid Muldoon at speed—but I can’t imagine anything good.

Dutifully, I trekked into Jans, where the bindings were pronounced dead—and irreplaceable. A bummer—but I’d been ready to demo new skis anyway, so no harm, no foul.

And I would have begun the demo process the following weekend, except that I made the sorry mistake of mentioning the wonky knee to my doctor at a routine checkup. And she benched me.

So, I’m rehabbing the knee—trying to avoid surgery—and daydreaming about the adventures to come next season. In no particular order, here are the things I’d been saving up for the end of the season, which, for one reason or another, will have to wait until next winter.

1. More St. Germain Cocktails
2. A visit to Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge
3. Enrolling in a Mahre Ski Camp
4. Demos of new skis to get myself out of racing skis and into all-mountain models that will float on powder, carve in the groomers, and handle everything in-between.
5. Attending Ski Schule at Sunset Cabin, the Friday afternoon service led by Rabbi Josh Aaronson of Temple Har Shalom.

Still, I am excited for summer—concerts at the Snow Park Amphitheater figure prominently in my plans, as do hiking, and perhaps even becoming an emboldened Mountain Biker on the lush green slopes of Deer Valley. And, yes, long, sun-soaked lunches on the deck at Royal Street Café. The wait for another St. Germain Cocktail may not be that long, after all.

Shh, Shh, Shh, three more Chutes!

As winter is drawing to a close with even more new snow in the forecast, I wanted to take you on a whirlwind tour of some of the Daly Chutes we didn’t explore this season. Today, we’ll ski Chutes #7, #8 and #10. The first two are located in the “Cataract” area of Daly Chutes, while the later is also the farthest of all, tucked in the corner of the section called “Niagra.”

We’ll begin our tour at Cataract, with Chute #7, the most challenging of the three. Most of its difficulty comes from an impressive cornice, followed by a rather steep initial section, so the question is always, “should I jump it?” and the alternative is to look for some more inviting and less intimidating entryway. If in doubt, I suggest you opt for the later, but no matter what your choice is, you’ll be guaranteed a smooth, consistent and almost always powdery descent, wide enough to allow creativity in your turns and long enough to bring a huge smile to your face. While sharing the same intimidating cornice, Chute #8 is not as steep and not as direct, but its snow is every bit as good as #7′s. Further, both share a nice, flat and treed bottom section that offers a much needed relief to the hard work and unflinching courage required at the top.

After sampling these two Cataract narrow lines, it’s now time for Niagra and Chute #10 with its half-moon shaped cornice that never fails to impress first time visitors; this one however, is in fact quite tame and forgiving. It stands just before the entrance to the “X-Files.” Simply make sure you stop before jumping off the cornice as it might hide skiers moving slowly or stopped inside its wide, top section. You’ll enjoy its funnel-shaped upper that evolves into a natural half pipe ending at the same spot where Chutes #7 and #8 meet! In spite of its peculiar shape, this chute is by far the easiest of all, and even less technical than the main Daly Bowl. A good reason perhaps for starting your exploration with Chute #10, especially if this is your first foray into that part of Empire Canyon.

So, if there are still some Daly Chutes in your near-term future, don’t delay; you only have until this weekend to sample them!

Heidi Voelker’s 2010/2011 Season in Review

As we are approaching closing day this Sunday, April 10 I thought I should write about some of the highlights from this season. Always at this time of year I say, “I can’t believe how fast the season has flown by! It goes by faster and faster even after 14 years!”  Maybe it has to do with age? As my mom said, “as you get older each year seems to fly by faster, so you better keep up!”  Ah this is where my “pacesetting” comes from. Kudos Mom!

Well I’ll start in the beginning of the season but not necessarily going to stay in order of favorite highlights. I’m finishing my 14thseason at Deer Valley and since I can remember opening weekend we always have the Celebrity SkiFest. Most recently a made-for-TV race that benefits the WaterKeeper Alliance. This brings together TV personalities and former racers (i.e. the Phil & Steve Mahre, Tommy Moe, AJ Kitt and luckily  myself) for a weekend of ski racing and entertainment.  It’s a fun-filled weekend that raises money for a great cause and I get to visit with old (I use this term loosely) teammates. The “boys” can still ski and sometimes I can ski too. It’s always fun to reminisce and talk about the good old days on tour.  Still when I ski with all of them I’m in awe that I get to share the days with them but most importantly have them as friends. I must confess by being able to spend time with the great skiers listed above I still learn and try to bring it into my skiing.

We then moved into the Christmas season and my family starts to arrive for the holidays. Being the sibling that lives in the mountains I’m expected to have snow whenever they come to visit. Well Mother Nature certainly did answer their requests this year! Skiing with my family in the snow storms of Christmas and after was great. The snow was so deep at times for my youngest, I would tell him I had to stay behind him to make sure I didn’t loose him.

But one of my biggest memories this year will be getting first tracks down Daily Bowl after one of our February snow storms. I have had plenty of fresh powder shots but nothing will beat this. Maybe Heli skiing? I was with clients who were ready to seek out the best lines. We were riding up Empire Express chairlift looking over to Daily Bowl, no tracks? We were not first chair. I poked my head into the ski patrol house and asked if Daily Bowl was open? They said yes and I asked, “Why aren’t there any tracks?” They said nobody has cut the traverse. I guess we’ll do it. I must say the true meaning of  “no friends on a powder day” came out. As we enter the traverse to start plowing through the snow about half through there were three guys making the path. We stayed behind them until the opening then we all raced to the top of the cornice my group still with me. As we all peered over the edge to observe this untracked snow it was so pristine nobody was making the move even the skiers that cut the track. (By the way if you’re reading this… “Thank you”) I surveyed the situation and realized I was the only girl. I took full advantage of the situation and jumped into the bowl saying the “playground is open.”  To be the only one in such a big bowl was as good as it gets. It was so quiet. I came to the second pitch where I usually stop and regroup but nope, not on that day! There was so much snow it didn’t matter where you pointed them. As everyone else finished their epic run in the bowl, I announced at the bottom “That was so good I could be done for the season!”  (Or not…)

I also enjoyed bringing most my groups into X-files. If you don’t know where this is I can’t tell you. You’ll have to come ski with me or search back to a blog post by JF Lanvers earlier this season.  The best part of X-files is when there is a storm there’s still great skiing a few days after. As you see throughout the Deer Valley blog people talk about X-files. It’s intimidating to get to because you’re on top of all the Daly Chutes. But the best part is your nowhere near the cornice, but as close as you’ll get without actually skiing them. You traverse all the way over to our boundary and enter a beautiful gladded area. This area is intermediate. Why I like bringing my clients there? Because it makes them feel like they have accomplished a huge goal. They have! The approach and visual makes your heart beat a bit faster.

Another highlight this season was to watch my boy’s race. I didn’t get to watch them all season. I’m not complaining, just the way things worked out. I did plan to watch their last races. As they had some great year end races, people ask will they be ski racers. I just hope I can provide them with good tools to be gracious competitors and just want to ski with me especially when they come home from college.

The best highlight of the season was this was my busiest season yet!  This is a little like making a speech in front of a crowd. You’ll forget someone or something. So I’m taking this moment to say “Thank You to everyone, Deer Valley, my clients, my sponsors, every corporate group, press group, Powder Girls & Boys and Nastar that have come to ski Deer Valley”. We’ll see you next year and maybe more!

Cheers!

Vacation Dining

I can’t help it—when my friends are on vacation at Deer Valley, so am I. And thus, all reason eluded me when approaching the menu at Mariposa when our friends were in town.

You know you’re in caloric trouble when the amuse is a strawberry served in what can only be described as balsamic deliciousness. It was as rich as duck fat, without the caloric guilt. And that was, perhaps, the last nod we made toward caloric guilt.

Knowing full well none of us had room for three courses, we ordered them anyway.

Ski Dad has declared that Burrata (that wonderful, creamy-centered handmade mozzarella) at the Mariposa is the best he’s tasted. So, of course, we had some.
A bowl of the special soup didn’t disappoint, either. Nor did my Ahi appetizer. Or Ski Dad’s Ravignocchi.

As I pondered the entrees, I mentioned that the Seared Bison Tenderloin looked tasty. A remark was made that it was a low-fat, and thus sensible choice. “Yes, but the same thing cannot be said for the foie gras that comes on top…” We roared with laughter. Clearly, the caloric guilt had been embraced.

Overheard at our booth toward meal’s end? “I think I might move to the next booth to take a nap.” AND: “Yes, I’d love the rest of my veal wrapped to go—I think I’ll have it for breakfast.” The group determined that since it’s technically a Deer Valley Breakfast, and this is vacation, veal leftovers would be allowed at the morning meal.

The Spin

A few weeks ago, we had a series of storms that dumped epic powder. And my dear friends Florida Keys Girl and Florida Keys Guy were in town. Florida Keys Guy and I make excellent ski buddies. We once managed to pound out 22 runs before lunch. Of course, we had lunch at 2:30, but we still count it among our most impressive ski days ever.

This conversation came up as we were riding a lift into questionable visibility and heavy crosswinds. “Some days, days like this, I am ok with taking one run and calling it good,” I ventured, testing his mettle. I didn’t say that I only do that on days I’m skiing solo. I desperately wanted to make the most of the fresh stuff with my pal.”So…”

“No,” said Florida Keys Guy. “Remember, I have to fit all of my skiing for the year into five days, so it’s game on.” That was the very sentiment that made me return to New York after my first (and only) Park City vacation for just long enough to pack up and make a life-altering U-Turn back here.

Big Guy was on the hill with us that day. You’ll see here, it was one of those days we left not a single spec of skin uncovered.

I was sporting my Nan[ook] of the North look, to be sure.

Big Guy took a big spill on the bottom of Blue Bell—the powder and crud and bumps were deep enough to overwhelm his slight four-foot-tall, 45 lb frame. So he and I cut the morning short, and left Florida Keys Guy to slam in a few more runs before we were to meet Florida Keys Girl for lunch.

Florida Keys girl had out-skied her bum knee, and sensing Big Guy’s desire to quit for the day, and knowing Florida Keys Guy and I would happily slam out more runs, she declared that she and Big Guy would find a quiet corner of the lodge and some cookies and enjoy the afternoon from the warm, dry confines of Snow Park’s upstairs lounge.

After lunch, Florida Keys Guy and I headed for the lift, and we were even more stunned by the wind and mediocre visibility.

“This is great,” I said, as we prepared for another lap on our favorite lower-mountain circuit (Solid Muldoon to Dew Drop to Little Kate). “Fresh snow and one of my favorite ski buddies!”

“You really have a positive attitude about everything, don’t you?” he said, as if he had not known me for twenty years, and thus known this about me for 19 years and 364 days. “Your own son doesn’t want to ski in this, and you think it’s awesome…”

Well, yeah.
I do.