Winter Predictors

Aside from following religiously the long-term weather forecast, understanding the intricacies of El Niño and La Niña, looking up in the sky at all time or observing the flights of Canadian geese headed towards Mexico, it’s extremely hard to get a good indication as to when winter will arrive for good.

In fact, my prediction tools are much more rudimentary. When I must rake leaves and clean up the garden all weekend long, this constitutes a serious indicator that the season is about to change and that it’s time to hurry a bit. Another related sign of winter’s imminent arrival is when our living room bay window begins to let some mountain features in, as the leaves that hug the panes start to turn yellow and thin out.

These keen observations fail to tell me with any certainty about the date at which the first serious snow of the season will make it to Park City. This fixation of mine on a certain snow date is tied to a family ritual we used to have and that perked up passions, when our children were younger and still at home with us.


Each Fall season, we’d have a contest that would reward the family member able to predict, or get the closest to the date when winter snow would finally arrive and stay on the ground. As far as I can remember, no one ever landed the exact day, no one tied for the big prize and the winner always got sufficiently close to the date without any need for argument or further contest.


This will be our twenty-seventh winter in Park City and, so far, snow has never let us down. Therefore it’s not a matter of if, but just when it will fall. Besides, there’s always Deer Valley Resort’s prodigious snow making capacity as a back-up plan, but again, I absolutely don’t worry about lacking snow…


So this year, with only two participants, we decided to keep the friendly betting process alive. My wife said snow would come “early” November (vague enough for comfort, right? Her own definition of “early” runs from the first to the tenth of the month) while I set my prediction right on November 22nd. We’ll see when the flakes land and who will have to shovel first!

Heidi Voelker’s Deer Valley

It’s that time of year again. The weather is beautiful but the feel of winter is fast approaching especially first thing in the morning when it’s in the 30’s. We’ll be on the slopes sooner than we know. I love this time of year because the air is so crisp, ski swap signs are all over, we’ve gotten an early snow fall meaning the season is just around the corner.

As I think about “It’s My Deer Valley” there are a few different scenarios. I can break down my skiing days in three ways:

  1. Family
  2. Clients
  3. Corporate & Press Tours

Each way skis differently. Here’s how:

1.  If it’s a family ski day, which I’m afraid will happen more rarely as I have lost my two young boys to ski race training (hmmm must be in their blood.) But when family ski days happen, they usually go something like this. The night before I mention we might have breakfast at Snow Park Lodge. This is a bribe in order to have them get to bed on time. Stefan automatically pipes up, “can I have my favorite baguette with jelly and jam”? In the morning I ‘m making sure Lucas is getting dressed and not procrastinating. Stefan meanwhile is outside boots on ready to go. We get to Deer Valley and the boys ask to be dropped off at the Skier drop off while I park the car. (Still not sure if this is just my kid’s not wanting to be seen with their mom or if they are just lazy and don’t want to walk from the car.)

After breakfast we load Carpenter Express chairlift. Without fail one of them asks “how many runs before we can have lunch?” Ugh! We drop into Silver Lake at mid mountain and ski down to the Wasatch Express chairlift. It’s usually about 10-10:30 a.m. Yes, I agree, it’s late but with two kids in tow I’m trying to keep harmony. After a few runs on Bald Mountain the brothers decide it’s time for Nastar racing. We stay here for a bit trying to improve each run time and also asking “mom, if I’m faster next run can we have lunch?” another ugh!!

I tell them they are skiing too fast because we’ve only been skiing for an hour. We then adventure over to Empire Canyon, heading there through unmarked area’s like Bucky’s Backyard, Toilet Bowl and X-Files. Remember skiing with kids you need to keep it fun. So after a few hikes across the Daly Chutes into X-files trees, then it’s lunch time!

Once we are in our lunch coma of Panini’s, pasta and fries we start to make our way back to Snow Park. But the rule is to ski as much off piste and jumps as possible. We make our way to the end of the ski area boundary even though; we are trying to make our way back to the base. We grab Lady Morgan chairlift and ski Centennial Trees, then it’s back up Lady Morgan and ski to Ruby chairlift. We race to Ruby’s glade and caution as we merge onto Hawkeye. Load onto Northside Express and ski around into Ontario Bowl. Sometimes this is worthy of 2 laps. It depends on the boy’s excitement and energy. Then onto Judge chairlift to ski towards to Crown Point chairlift.  At the top of Crown Point our chosen route is  Kimberly ski run where right past the bridge is the boys favorite jump. By now their legs are tired and we ski down Big Stick to the lodge. Our day is done.

2. Another way I show off “My Deer Valley” is with clients. I usually meet the client at their hotel or the Snow Park Lobby. I’m starting my 15th year at Deer Valley so many of my clients are returning guests and I already know what type of skiing they are looking for. (As always it depends and the weather and conditions.) They know already they have a full day of skiing ahead of them. I joke that we are going to ski hard and no lunch break. What would skiing be like if you didn’t have lunch at Deer Valley? Certainly not the true experience! The clients usually already have an idea where they would like to eat for lunch. We talk about goals they want to achieve for the day and map out our lines and away we go!

3. The third type of Deer Valley ski day for me is a press/corporate tour day. It starts out much like the client day but usually with a scheduled breakfast. These days I ski the mountain but usually circulate around to make sure I ski with each person (these groups tend to be bigger and provide the desired terrain they are looking for. In between all our turns we usually lunch it at Royal Street Café or wherever the company may plan to meet back together. My goal is to make sure a good time is had by all and when they say they are tired to ski the entire afternoon I break into a little smile. My job is done!

Secrets to Success

I’ve always taken a kids-first approach to finding my bliss on the hill with my family. I knew my firstborn wouldn’t be happy skiing between my legs as a toddler, for instance, after one outing on plastic skis. So I opted to wait until he was three and a half before getting him going in earnest.

My second born has always had a different agenda. Namely, he wants to do what the Big Guy does. He first saw his brother ski on videotape, following the cookie parade at the end of Ski School.  From that moment, he spent months lobbying us for the chance to ski—watching his brother from the porch at Snow Park Lodge was simply fuel for the fire. He couldn’t walk, yet, so it was just funny.

Then, a few moths after he’d taken off—at a sprint—we were sitting on the deck at Snow Park Lodge, watching his brother. The begging started in earnest. “Sethie Ski!!!!!” When I turned my back for a moment, he scampered out to the snow and began to try to click in to the bindings of a pair of skis someone had parked on the snow.

I sighed, and fetched the plastic skis from our garage. My 18 month-old wanted to ski. For that moment, he was satisfied to shuffle back and forth across the snow in front of the deck, declaring victory at the top of his lungs: “Sethie Skiiiiii!” “Sethie Skiiiiiiii!” Sethie Skiiiii like Lancey!!!!”

From that moment, Ski Dad and I learned how to cater to the needs of both kids’ different ski temperaments, different skill levels, and different personalities. It’s not so different from the way I parent off the mountain. And, in fact, keeping that consistency has proven a key to the success for our family’s skiing. It’s tempting, once you click into the bindings to urge your kids to soldier through—and sometimes that pays off. For me, the nuts and bolts of a successful season begins with the gear—it should be well-fitted, comfortable and easy to manage. Any gear compromises—from base layer to outerwear to ski boots—will come back to bite you, since they’ll distract you and your family from enjoying the day, and perhaps make the sport seem less than fun. True story: almost 20 years ago, Ski Dad (then just Ski Fiancee) and I took our dear friends Florida Keys Girl and Guy  to ski my home mountain, Pico, in Vermont. Florida Keys Girl borrowed gear from my mom and me. Florida Keys Guy insisted he’d be fine in jeans and a pea coat. Florida Keys Girl, in spite of her near-paralyzing fear of heights, had a blast. Florida Keys Guy, soaked and cold in his ill-conceived apparel, vowed he’d never see another ski hill, except from the lodge. Eventually, he realized that Florida Keys Girl wasn’t giving up the hobby, and we urged him to dress the part and try again. Now, he’s unstoppable.

The other tools in my skiing-success shed? Swedish fish in the cargo pockets of my ski pants (to avert temper tantrums from kids and adults), and lessons for everyone. Everyone’s enrolling in ski school again this year, For the kids’ Sunday Ski Experience lessons. As for me, I’m not only putting last year’s crew from the Women’s Clinic on notice (Game on, Ladies!), but I’m joining Ski Dad in a Mahre Camp. It looked like too much fun NOT to try.

And, yes, we’re going to eat well. After all, I ski for lunch.

Wide West

I’ve gabbed plenty here about my love for Wide West. It’s kind of strange, I know. Experienced skiers have no business getting such joy out of the bunny hill. We’re not supposed to want to mingle with the Never Evers, and our kids pine for the day that they can ski the big trails. However—as I mentioned at the end of last year, a day on Wide West spared me a likely injury, when I was unwittingly skiing with a broken binding. But that’s not the real reason I love the trail.

Some of my favorite memories, skiing with my kids, have been formed on that hill. The length and pitch provides just enough challenge for the newbies, and enough obstacles to keep them entertained while building their confidence. My secret weapon on Wide West, however, has always been the SunKid Conveyor Lift. The SunKid Conveyor is, for the littlest skiers, a wonderful tool—because it allows for multiple runs in a controlled setting. Kids can make about 6-10 turns, feel a sense of accomplishment and then get the chance to do it all over again. For both my boys, I found that multiple laps on the magic carpet proved one of their best learning tools, since a single run on the main, chairlift-served section of Wide West can wear them out for the day.

And, even as they continue to improve, laps on the conveyor lift can be a fun departure from the regular trails, as well as a safe place to build new skills, like “French fry” turns. So I was thrilled to learn that Deer Valley Resort management decided to add additional  SunKid conveyor lifts for the 2011-12 season— with the additional conveyor lifts, the base of Snowflake( the beginner chair lift was moved uphill 300 feet)  the aim is to eliminate the need to hike up to it while carrying a toddler, or pole-towing a preschooler. The three SunKid Conveyor lifts will start at the base at Snow Park Lodge amd carry beginners to as far as the base of Snowflake.

Which means…more runs. It also makes taking the all-important cookie breaks a little easier, since you don’t have to ski down carrying said toddler (and then hike back up again). I know, I sound impossibly lazy—but anyone who has ever executed this feat knows exactly why I’m whining. Moreover, a non-skiing fan of the little one can more readily visit the SunKid Conveyor Lift corral.

I’ll see you on the snow!

Winter signs are here!

Late September, as the leaves were just beginning to turn all around Deer Valley and Park City, we decided to leave town for a few days to visit family and friends. As we always do, when we’re away, we keep an almost daily tab on what goes on in Utah and were stunned to hear about the early October snowfall!


Earlier this week, as we were driving home, we couldn’t miss a snow-capped Bald Mountain, while at the same time hearing on the radio that Deer Valley had just been named the No. 1 ski resort in North America for the fifth year in a row; wow! Combined, these visual and auditory sensations were sending a clear message: Snow season and great skiing were definitely on their way. As we arrived at home, we instantly felt the cool air and with it, began switching gears, forgetting almost everything about summer and fall weather, turning on the heat inside our home and embracing the upcoming change of season.

True, our summer and fall have been terrific and it’s now time to prepare for skiing and winter. Our seasonal survival checklist began with getting our Deer Valley ski passes in order. That’s right, we only have a few days left for taking advantage of the very best offers and absolutely can’t afford to let that date go by. We’ll also need to check our gear. Is it still in working order or up to par with the quality skiing we intend to accomplish? My ski boots need fixing and my poles are ready for a well-deserved retirement. My ski jacket still looks great, but I sure could use a new pair of ski pants. And these worn-out gloves will have to be replaced before December.

Then there’s the car and the tires that have to be changed, the ski rack that begs to be placed back on the roof. Even though April isn’t that far, I was so consumed with my summer activities that I had almost forgotten that winter would even return; that “Circle of Fun” must be part of the magic that comes with living in the mountains! Today, I feel my world shifting or should I say, beginning to slide underneath my feet and I must adapt fast. I know there’s still plenty of yellow in the aspen groves that are hugging the new snow, but it won’t last long and soon the Deer Valley chairlifts will be running. Count on me, I’m ready!

Thank You from Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley President

I would like to express a HUGE thank you to our Deer Valley guests and staff for making us the #1 resort in North America for a fifth consecutive year! I am humbled to be able to enter another winter season being able to say this.  No other ski resort has accomplished anything close to this and I think the reason is that no other ski resort comes close to matching Deer Valley’s amazing vacation experience.

Thank you to our guests who visit year after year and have become part of the “Deer Valley Family.” Thank you to our new guests who gave us a try and found something here that will bring them back again and again.  Your support each year has made us who we are today and keeps us striving to improve each season. I thank each of you for your vote in the SKI Magazine reader resort survey and for always telling us what we are doing right, where we can improve and providing your suggestions.

And of course, thank you to the Deer Valley Staff.  This achievement would not have happened without you.  The culture here is to put the guest first at all times, and our employees not only accomplish this every day, but enjoy it, anywhere in our organization. My hat is off to our incredibly dedicated crew. This honor goes to them and I thank and congratulate the entire Deer Valley Resort team.

Here’s to a memorable and enjoyable winter season.


Winter Is In the Air with John Guay, Deer Valley’s Director of Skier Services

We caught up with John Guay, Deer Valley’s director of skier services Director, to see what the current winter like weather means for his ski season.                                                                                                                                                                 I love summer and my summer sports but I’m always ready for snow and am always excited to ski. I have a new pair of Rossignol Experience 88 skis with the Auto Turn Rocker technology ready to go. If you haven’t skied a rocker ski you are missing out. The Experience 88’s has early rise in the tip and tail which make them easy to steer and super friendly in the bumps and powder. What’s really cool is that they still have plenty of side cut so when you tip them up on groomers the whole ski engages for a great carving ski.

The weather is rapidly changing and we are busy getting ready for the winter season in Skier Services. We are always looking for ways to improve our services and this year is no exception. I thought I would share a few of our big projects.

First, we are very excited about our four new surface lifts for our first-time and beginner skiers. We have had a surface lift at Snow Park and one at Silver Lake for many years, but this season, we are replacing them with new SunKid conveyor lifts and are adding two additional conveyors at Snow Park.  The result will be an entirely new design to our beginner run, Wide West.  Skiers will now access the Snowflake chairlift side of Wide West by three of these new conveyors. The base of Snowflake lift is now midway up the run. The result is that our first-time and beginner skiers will have more terrain accessible by surface lifts and will spend more time developing their skills before they learn to ride chairlifts.  This is especially important for our young children in ski school

Another fun new project is our new Kid’s Trail Map.  We have eight on-mountain children’s features that are associated with our Ski School mascots – Bucky the deer, Quincy the bear, Ruby the raccoon and Silver the eagle.  The Kid’s Trail Map incorporates the story of our mascots and shows the locations of the features on our mountain.  The map also focuses on the Skiers Responsibility Code, as well some fun facts on our mining history and mascots.  It will be easy to read and a wonderful keepsake for kids to take home.





Last, but not least, the Children’s Center also has big news! We are pleased to announce a new year-round outdoor playground.  It is located on the northeast corner of Snow Park Lodge and is securely accessible directly from the Children’s Center.  We redesigned the Children’s Center parking lot and space along the front of the lodge to accommodate the playground.


Can’t wait to see you on the slopes!

First Snow of the Season

We had the first snow this morning!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My kids were off the wall with excitement. Little Guy even penned a song: “It’s snowing in the morning! It’s snowing in the morning! It’s snowing in the morning! I can’t wait to play! Because I love to play in the snow!”I tried to capture it on video tape, but by the time I got to the camera app on my iPhone, it had devolved into this….

Kids First Snow Fall

Big guy asked me to grab his snow gear for school—and attempted to make a strong argument for snow pants. Mind you, it was barely a flurry at our house, and nothing was sticking to the ground. Though, in a few days, it’s supposed to look like this.

I had already surprised myself by finding his jacket, hat and a serviceable pair of gloves in the downstairs closet. Finding snow pants that fit? Probably pushing it. Little guy’s jacket, too, was hiding in plain sight, and a pair of fleece mittens plus a hat were tucked in the appropriate pockets in the handy shoe organizer where I keep such items.

Still, the whole exercise filled me with a slight sense of panic. I need to buy new boots for Big Guy,  and check the fit of Little Guy’s last year’s boots. And with the flakes flying, these errands that were lurking in a back compartment of my brain suddenly took on a sense of urgency. The good news is, there’s a new kids’ gear store at Deer Valley—one where I can replace the lost gloves, beef up my collection of kid-sized base layers, and seek out new snowpants for big guy that will stay the course for his little brother, too. I’m actually excited to shop—in part because there is a new kids’ gear store opening at Deer Valley, called Next Gen, located in the lower level of Snow Park Lodge, where the now-shuttered Kindersport once operated. I’m looking forward to finding some new-favorite brands, and scoring deals on my old standbys. It’s opening December 3, so I’ll report back after I’ve had the chance to shop!

If the snow has you thinking about ski season, don’t panic. You can still purchase your Deer Valley Season Pass at the early season rate until October 31!

It’s Your Deer Valley – Eliza Morris

Part three of my series of employee interviews inspired by Deer Valley’s National ad campaign…


Eliza Morris never imagined, as a child growing up in Boston, that her family’s vacations to ski at Deer Valley would result in her move to Utah to work for the company. Nor did she imagine she’d one day work with her very first Fawn Program Instructor. Something about it, though, seems predestined—as it turns out, her dad skied the resort’s opening weekend 31 years ago, and never looked back, bringing his family year after year. Eliza never had a fighting chance—and, she told me, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Now married to a DV ski instructor, and the mother of an almost one-year-old boy, Eliza says her Deer Valley is any day she finds herself in the company of her husband or her father on the hill—with a piece of carrot cake in front of her at lunch. In our recent chat, she and I bonded over our shared (and newfound) love for the trees. Read on to get her take on what separates the locals from the tourists. (Sorry—it may leave you rethinking your ski wardrobe!)


Employee Communications & Training Coordinator

Years at Deer Valley: 7

Hometown Boston, MA

I came to Deer Valley—when I finished college, to work as a ski instructor. Eventually, I became a ski school supervisor—and found myself working as colleagues with my very first instructor, Marion Blazer, from when I was in the Fawn program as a child. My family took our vacations here for many years, but I never imagined I’d live here.

If it takes me till noon to get out of the house…I am not going skiing. Ideally, I’m heading to the hill around 9.

My perfect ski day means…I’m skiing with my husband, Ben. He’s a ski instructor in his 11th year at Deer Valley, and it’s rare that we get a whole day together. Some days, I want him to give me pointers—other days I just want to enjoy my husband, not the instructor. We’ve been married for five years, and our son Grayson was born last January; so now ski days are really at a premium.

We love to eat lunch…at Empire. It gives us a little goal to work our way over there. If it’s a Salad Bar day, then I’ll try to stick it out and ski till 3:30. But if it’s baked potato and carrot cake day, then it’s easy runs home right after lunch.

My other favorite DV day is spent with my dad. He and my mom moved out here three years ago, following me from Boston. We’ll start around 10:30, do the Northside blues, cruise around, and then he likes to stop for coffee and a cookie at Cushing’s Cabin. Then we go to Empire for lunch and work our way down. My dad is 68 skies 100 days a year, 10-2, some days that’s exactly perfect; it’s what I want to do.

My musthave treat is…the carrot cake. Its gotta be the carrot cake. It’s a rare treat, but whenever someone visits, that’s the first thing we say, and look for a piece that’s heavy on the frosting.

The trails I can’t ski enough are…Big Stick, in the morning—I don’t like it in the afternoon. The other place I have to go is Lady Morgan. I was afraid to ski in trees and Ben has been making me get over it, taking me to Centennial Trees a lot, When you ski there, it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. I finally got the message when my friends saw me skiing toward the trees—“Stop looking at them, look between them,” they said. “You are staring at them like they are coming to get you, no wonder you are skiing toward them!”

When I really want to push myself I go to Son of Rattler—it’s the trees next to Rattler off the Wasatch chair. Rattler is a tough mogul run that Ben loves, and for me, I have to endure skiing bumps under a chairlift, but it is good practice.

My ski day is over when The chairlift seems like a welcome break. My legs are my clue— when I am skiing down and every turn is harder than the last, I know it’s time to go.

My worst mistake on the hill was the first winter I lived here. My sister Lauren came to visit and we got dressed to ski in our “ski clothes.” It was a sunny day in March, and we decided to ski Mayflower—and by the time we got to the bottom, it looked like we’d just gotten out of the pool. Of course, we were dressed “to ski,” in our fleeces, neck gaiters, warm jackets. We get to the lodge and we see people dressed appropriately in a T-Shirt and maybe a little hat. We realized we needed to reassess the “ski clothes” thing. I am proud to say, my husband finally convinced me that warm days are meant to be skied without a base layer under the ski pants. I get it now.

It’s Your Deer Valley – Ed Shaul

Continuing my series of employee interviews inspired by Deer Valley’s National Ad Campaign …

Ed Shaul is quick to tell you he turns 50 this year—and that his job title may seem like it requires he crow about the resort, but the truth is, he’s never experienced a resort as dedicated to making things run well as Deer Valley. He may hail from the East Coast, but he long ago adopted Utah as his home. “I have lived in Utah for 27 years now, and lived in Massachusetts for 17 years,” he says. “So Utah feels like home now.” In a recent interview, I got him to dig deep and reveal a few favorite powder stashes—among other details that make up Ed’s Deer Valley.


Ed Shaul

Marketing Coordinator

Years worked at DV:  7

Hometown:  Foxborough, Massachusetts

My normal Deer Valley ski day starts at 8:45 a.m. at the Jordanelle Express Gondola, which is very conveniently located in the Deer Crest area of Deer Valley, just 10 miles from my home in Heber. It depends on the day but usually I will be either skiing with my girlfriend or one of my other best friend powder hounds.

My personal ski traditions include “C&P” Snow Park breakfasts. . A new tradition for the past several years is starting my Christmas morning with the huevos rancheros at Snow Park Lodge. On big Powder days, I will also make the drive to Snow Park from Heber to enjoy a hearty breakfast at Snow Park Restaurant before jumping on Carpenter Express as soon as it opens. That always puts me a bit ahead of the curve to get the goods, since if I start at Jordanelle on a powder day; I am a gondola ride behind everyone else.

My Midday Must is the turkey and ham Panini sandwiches at Empire Canyon Lodge. The turkey and the ham ones are the best!

Tracks I must make include:  Tycoon, Stein’s Way, Sunset Glades, Ontario Bowl, X-files, Magnet, Argus, Hidden Treasure and Solid Muldoon. Usually Hawkeye and Legal Tender sneak their way into the hit list too.

When I want to push myself…The skiing in the Daly Chutes is where I can push the envelope a bit. Centennial Glade and Mayflower’s Chute and Bowl can get my heart pumping too.

Begrudgingly, I’ll share a powder stash—but be forewarned, there will be secrets kept. I enjoy Triangle Trees on a powder day and there are areas within that zone that can last for days. Ontario Bowl and Sunset Glades are perennial favorites on a powder day. And then there’s Secret Glade, but I’ll leave it up to your readers to find that one on their own. In my book, Deer Valley has some excellent runs but I think it’s great because of the “trees between” and we’ll just leave it at that.

The end of my ski day is signaled by— a struggle between mind and body. My mind always wants to keep going but my legs are usually the ones begging for the break. Fortunately, my body usually wins and I live to ski another day.

The worst mistake I’ve ever made at Deer Valley was…falling victim to gluttony–not practicing more restraint at the Seafood Buffet restaurant last winter. I love the cold and hot appetizer sections at the Seafood Buffet and when I visit, I am like a kid in a candy store. It’s hard to try everything and then to revisit the favorites and then save room for the main dishes and the desserts, but I think I made a pretty good stab at it one night last winter. It was an uncomfortable ride home because I had eaten too much and it took hours to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Too much of a good thing can indeed be a bad thing I learned, so I now try not to overindulge quite as much at the Seafood Buffet.