Dining with Friends at the Seafood Buffet

SnowballWhere do I begin or where do I stop? Well, it’s easy to know where to stop at Seafood Buffet- the selection of desserts, but how you get there is a different story.

The other night I went to Deer Valley’s Seafood Buffet with my husband and good friends, Pete and Jolie Iacobelli. I can’t remember the last time I dined there. Not one of us left disappointed, eating at the Seafood Buffet is one of the most relaxing ways to dine. It’s a great way to catch up with friends because eating is at your own pace. You go to a food station, come back to your table, talk, and decide when you’re ready to select another station OR repeat the same station because it was so good.

Even though there is a suggested way to visit the stations, there are no specific directions or order you need to follow. We all started with the raw bar of oysters and sushi. After, I went to the grill for steamed clams and mussels. I could be completely satisfied the entire night by staying here and repeating this stop many times.  It reminds me of being on the beach in the summer because when I’m on the Cape that’s all I eat. So much for ski season weight loss after eating at our Deer Valley restaurants! Heck, life is short might as well enjoy the good stuff!

I then followed with the shrimp bisque. Yummy! I think I should challenge someone to see if they can eat everything at the Buffet just once. I wanted to try the Italian soup too, but I knew I needed room for the rest of my wish list. Now this was just my plan (of course it’s always about me) ha, but Tim and Jolie followed my path.  Pete went his own way. He came back to the table with his choices but with a sample of a dessert already! He continued to bring a dessert each time he returned. He is Italian after all.

I then ventured over to the entree station. I am a sushi and fish fan, and I will hands down say the Ahi tuna, seared rare, is best in town! My three dining partners concurred with thumbs up! We all repeated this station a couple of times even though we were trying to pace ourselves. Next came the carvery with duck & prime rib! What is nice are the small, tasting size portions you are given. You can eat a lot and try foods that you may otherwise not.

Finally it’s time for dessert. So many choices again, but my favorite is the Chocolate Snowball.  When I find my favorites, I rarely go off course. Just like Royal Street Cafe’s tuna tacos, I can’t stay away from those!

If I haven’t tempted you to dine at the Seafood Buffet then get out and ski! Start your snow dance and see you on the slopes!

NextGen DV

L1002576As a parent, anything that makes skiing with my family easier is a treat—and when that added ease involves treats, you know I’m in.

Obviously, I know enough about skiing with kids to have an arsenal of bribes—candy in my jacket pocket, and plenty of cash on hand for cocoa and cookie breaks. And that’s for an activity the kids enjoy. However, that enjoyable activity involves something that my kids consider a necessary evil—shopping.

Fortunately, Deer Valley has my back—and yours, too. The friendly staff at NextGen DV also runs Quincy’s, the attached self-serve frozen yogurt shop.



They know that if we’re running in to buy ski gloves, because, say, Lance’s hands were cold on the hill (as happened one recent day), that he wants the process to be quick and painless. And they do it one better—because they make it fun. The team in NextGen DV has a knack for making the kids feel like they are the central decision-maker in the purchasing process, while keeping the parents in the loop. And–this is key—since the yogurt shop is at the front of the store, it’s very easy for the ultimate parenting deal to be struck on the way in: “If you’re cooperative, you will be rewarded.”

We figured out one more way to make all the angst of shopping go away—we bring friends. It didn’t take much to coordinate with a couple of other families for some “get it done” shopping time—which quickly turned into lots of laughs as the kids tried on goofy hats, our boys’ boys goofed off in some pink helmets (don’t tell them I said this, but they looked fetching in pink!), and the girly girls got to play dress up all afternoon.


Airing My Dirty Laundry

photo (14)The sign of a well-skied powder day exists in my mud room: gear is laid out everywhere, drying.photo (15)

Sunday was another ski day that wasn’t for the faint of heart—it seemed warmer than two weeks ago (and it was, in truth), but it was snowing, blowing and drifting so that it felt pretty cold when the gear got wet. It was the kind of deceptive day that had us running back into the lodge after the first run to grab neck gaiters and face masks, and switch out goggle lenses for flat light. All that accomplished, and with the boys in ski school, Jeff, Mel and I took off for a day of powder turns.

Everywhere I turned there were skiers giving up—too cold, too windy, too wet. In fact, a friend who will remain nameless, in town for a three day ski trip, sent a text that he was toughing out the weather in….a spa. REALLY????

Never mind Mel and I had already locked in our hardcore mettle for the season, and Jeff was too stoked to be out for his first kid-free runs of the season to even consider packing it in. The powder, too, was delicious.

We met up with our friends Ethan and Robert for a couple of runs—Ethan told us all about his first race with Rowmark Ski Academy, and I reminded him that just a few years ago I was scared to death of skiing with him. Back then, he was a fearless four year-old, bombing down any terrain with only speed on his mind, and not a turn in his quiver. “I’m so proud of your TURNS, E!” I exclaimed. “You’re rocking them!” Ski racing is a great way to give a speed-demon some discipline.

Mel and I couldn’t resist the siren call of the trees between Hidden Treasure and Three Ply, nor could we keep ourselves from gobbling up the bumps. Jeff was more than happy to carve down Hidden Treasure and watch us make our descent—or, really, because Mel takes a bumps run faster than regular skiers carve a groomer, they both watched me make my descent. Later, Jeff said to me, “I couldn’t believe how great you looked on the bumps, you should be proud.”

The compliments flowed both ways, as Mel and I watched with glee while Jeff made a graceful glide through some nice powder on Gemini. “That used to terrify me,” he said. “Now, it’s just fun!”

We finally broke for lunch after 1 p.m., and Jeff seemed utterly relieved to be able to send me back out for more turns with Mel, while he relaxed in the lodge. As we rode the lift we debated the relative merits of skiing cruisers on such a fabulous powder day—and, duh, opted for the runs with the best powder stashes. By that time, it was snowing so hard that Little Bell offered us fresh tracks for three consecutive runs. On one of those, Mel watched my turns and said, “It’s not just that you’re getting down it, it’s that it’s PRETTY. You’re doing all the right things, and it looks GREAT.”

I may bask in that praise for the rest of my days.

After each sweep down Little Bell, we cut over to Gemini, where, again, we were treated to fresh powder. And, on one run, we were treated to a Seth sighting—carefully carving turns with his group, behind their instructor. We tried to hide like spies behind some trees, but you can’t out-smart my Ninja boy, and he spotted us, treating us to a big, wide grin of recognition. I couldn’t wait to see how Lance fared—and a few minutes later, I was rewarded with a smile from big brother, too. Later, I would get their tales of hardcore skiing, but for now, all they wanted were cookies.

Ski Racing Momma

IMG_3484I was a race mom again this past weekend and it was great! I think the best part of the weekend race was seeing Lucas aka “Billy Goat” hobble up to the start on crutches to get his little brother organized. He didn’t think I could help (so be it). You can see in the pictures Stefan listened to his brother and big brother was right there cheering him on.

IMG_3488Lucas has had a great attitude even though he has been benched for a few weeks due to his broken leg. All he says every day is, “I want to ski”.  Always having a positive attitude will pay off in the end.

IMG_3848Lucas will be on the slopes soon and the brothers will be back to challenging one another. Ohh the joys of having boys! They just don’t realize Mom can still play.

See you on the slopes!

Skiing… A Love Story

lvTo be perfectly frank, I don’t like the title to this essay. It’s borderline trite, fairly vague, and leads to some pretty personal emotions. But, I cannot get those words out of my head this week. Since they popped up they have been pushing and pushing on me to write; although I am intimidated by the prospect.

I believe there is magic in skiing. It has been the most powerful force in my life since junior high. Skiing was the safe place I could go after losing my best friend in a car accident. He was gone, but all of our pre-adolescent hiding places on the ski hill were still there for me. In high school it was the equalizer between myself and other traditional student athletes. I couldn’t read a defense to save my life, but my offensive skills in bumps at 30 miles an hour were to be reckoned with. Each time I stood unsure in life I put my boots on and transformed into a capable and confident young man. That is the power of skiing, and I had fallen in love with it.

kjAt 22 I found myself finishing several successful deployments in the military service and unsure how to move forward. Skiing and I had taken a break for those four years, seeing each other infrequently, each changing in important ways. I missed it, so I packed my sea bag and moved to the Wasatch Mountains, skiing in the Rockies for the first time and quickly falling in love again. Along the way I met a beautiful woman that worked for a local lodge, carelessly living and loving in the way that only 23 year old’s can. As my second winter season ended, the riptide current of life pulled us apart, heartbroken and theatrically sad. Another person gone yet skiing remained.

Time passed, finding a different perspective and life outside of skiing and away from Utah seduced me. Money was more than abundant through the bubble that was the Mid-Atlantic housing market of the mid-2000’s, and I was well placed to capitalize on it. With an ego that only a 30 year old up and coming man could muster, I stood on job sites watching my work unfold and declared myself to be at the top of my game. Laughter and love permeated every part of life and skiing became secondary to worldly pursuits. You know the things that seem so important to have before you find what it’s like to have nothing at all. Before you find out what and who is really important in life.

gcI did not stop skiing, but I treated it as a mistress. Something hidden and not shared with the ones I loved, believing that it was mine alone. When the recession began (does anyone remember that?), and my world was dismantled one possession at a time, I tried to turn to the mountains again, but the rolling green hills of Appalachia were no longer enough. With everything gone, but the love of my family and some very close friends, I began to miss my old flame. Her mountains reaching above the clouds to the bluest sky I had ever witnessed, the comforting embraces of her deep, light snow, the whispered sweet nothings as I flew between the spruce and the fir. I knew that to love I must live, and to live I had to go back to the mountains of Utah.

bmA year has passed since returning, and the love affair I began with skiing as a child is in its twenty fourth year. We have seen each other grow and change, enduring periods of separation and doubt. Through our relationship there have been celebrations and tragedies along with friends made and lost, but in the end we haven’t lost that spark, that feeling you get when you open your eyes and know you will spend the day in love. Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope it’s full of love and fresh snow!

It was lunch with Paralympics Champion and Deer Valley Ambassador Stephani Victor and her Husband/Coach Marcel that put the title of this essay into my head. When they return from World Championships in several weeks I will be skiing with them again and learning what it’s like to ski sitting down, how the Paralympics work, and why poorly termed “disabled” skiers consider themselves far more able bodied than you or me.

DSC_4150 (1)

Interview with Marilyn Stinson, Chief of World Cup Volunteers

Marilyn 2013 World CupMarilyn Stinson is Deer Valley’s Tour and Travel International Marketing Manager. Yet before, during and just after the annual FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup, she becomes the Chief of Volunteers for this acclaimed sporting event. Marilyn has been assigned to that event position since 1999. During that period of time, she has gone through one Olympic Games, two World Championships and every single World Cup event. Currently, she is responsible for around 220 volunteers without whom the event wouldn’t be possible.

What is your main role in this position?

My main role is signing up the volunteers and putting them in their appropriate area of expertise. This represents a lot of preparation before the event and some constant coordination as the competitions unfold. It carries on until the festivities are over, into the tear-down of the hill that is conducted jointly by our volunteers and Deer Valley’s staff.

How do go about recruiting volunteers?

They seem to come to me directly. I don’t need to do much recruiting. We built a great database of those interested in volunteering from the 2002 Olympic games. Volunteers seem to enjoy the Deer Valley experience. In fact, we have a wait-list of people who want to volunteer with us for next year’s World Cup.

So is there more than your nice smile and your pleasant personality to attract these volunteers?

I hope that’s part of it (chuckling…), but I think we want to make sure the volunteers are respected and know that their time is very important to us, in making that important event happen.

What makes a good volunteer?

Someone who’s timely, has a great personality, is always positive, has a flexible schedule and likes Deer Valley Resort.

So if I wanted to be a volunteer, what qualities would you be looking for?

Where I always seem to be short is for most on-hill positions, that includes our mogul and aerial events. I definitely look for someone who is a strong skier, capable of getting down the steep mogul course, or who doesn’t have a problem chopping the hill on the aerial course. But also important is somebody that is positive and happy!

So you need someone with strong legs and arms?

Good legs, good arms and a good smile!

Marilyn Hard at WorkBut, you’re not just doing the job of Chief of Volunteers all year round; what’s your regular position at Deer Valley?

My full-time title is Tour and Travel International Marketing Manager for Deer Valley Resort.

That’s a lot of hats to wear!

Yes, but we have a great team at the marketing department and we all step-up when it comes to World Cup!

Do you learn things during your World Cup job that you can apply to your normal position?

It’s a totally different activity for me; it’s essentially making sure that our volunteers are assigned, checked-in, in the right place, fed and are all happy!

Do you look at the World Cup as a break from your normal routine?

I wouldn’t call it a break.  It’s a change, because while doing the volunteer position, I’m also still doing my regular job.

So you’re doubling up?

I am doubling up!

Are there skills that you use in your regular job that you can transfer into the Chief of Volunteer position?

Yes. I think it’s mostly working together and enjoying the friendship that develops over the years with all the volunteers, many of whom have been with us since the beginning. It becomes an on-going relationship. Everyone knows what to do, when to be there and the whole process seems to flow easier and smoother, year after year.

2174_63757777058_1146_nWho are your volunteers, where do they come from?

Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Some are retired, some are military personnel from Hill Air Force Base. Others drive from as far as Ogden or Provo, year after year, day after day. Sometimes they show up at Snow Park Lodge at 6 a.m. to volunteer following over an hour of driving. Especially with the snowy weather we experienced just before this year’s events, it puts them through the test of being an unflinching volunteer!

Now, what do the athletes think about this World Cup event?

They really love to come to Deer Valley Resort. They’ve always told us that Deer Valley is the best stop on the Freestyle World Cup circuit and they’re so appreciative of our volunteers. With our team of volunteers, there’s no drama, and everyone makes the event happen in the Deer Valley way and the Deer Valley style.

Now that the Word Cup is over, how would you assess this year’s event?

The events this year went very smoothly. We, once again, had great volunteers who have been with us for many years and are all of them are greatly experienced. We had a volunteer thank-you dinner to recognize all of them.  We’re already thinking about next year!

Women’s Weekend Reunion – Minus the Ski Lessons

photo (17)I’ve written before about the magic that comes from meeting friends on the ski hill. Women’s Weekend at Deer Valley is one of those magical things. Or at least it was, three years ago, when I met Stacey and Jackie (and our awesome teacher Letitia).

Since then, we’ve stayed in regular contact. We keep tabs on each other—and get together whenever one or the other (or both!) is in Park City (Stacey lives full-time in New Jersey; Jackie in Southern California, both have homes in Deer Valley).  But we haven’t all three been together since we met for coffee about two years ago.  So, we were thrilled when we discovered overlap between Stacey’s schedule and Jackie’s—both in Park City at the end of January. But, we were all so swept up in other things that we didn’t even realize we would be meeting up at Deer Valley on the third anniversary of our own Women’s Weekend experience, even as the clinic went on without us.

We have an uncanny way of getting in a room together and cutting to the chase for updates, on work, on family, kids, travel, and, of course, skiing. All three of us point to Women’s Weekend as having increased our confidence on the mountain. What we’ve done with that varies—but also correlates to the amount of time we have spent on the mountain, and with whom.

To wit: Stacey continually regales me with stories of multiple bumps runs, bowls and steeps that she skis with her husband and their two grown sons.

Jackie has spent the fewest days on the mountain of the three of us. She cites more confidence in varied terrain, which, to me, is half the battle. I didn’t hear her daughter complain a bit that Mom was holding her back.

And then there’s me—I’ve been skiing blues and greens with the kids all winter, and loving it. What’s interesting is that it’s given me a lot of time to just practice carving—and slowing down no longer hurts, since I’m controlling the speed by completing a turn, and not using my quads to brake. As a result, when I hit the steeps, or go off piste, I’m rock-solid on technique and can focus on making the most of the terrain.

As it came close to saying goodbye, we were quick to make more plans to see each other—and realized we’d each have the opportunity to visit one of the others in her “natural habitat” within the next few months. (Don’t tell Stacey and Jackie, but I think my natural habitat wins.)

We chuckled at the coincidence of our reunion as Women’s Weekend was taking place on the hill. We smiled at the familiarity we’ve earned with each other in a few short years. And we reveled in the pure dumb luck that got the three of us in one room for the first time in too long. And we made a promise to ski together next time we’re all at the mountain simultaneously (which, it turns out, is happening next month.)

Fast and Furious

We are hooked.  Saturday night my husband, Jay and I stood with the crowd at the base of the run for the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Dual Mogul finals at Deer Valley Resort.  After watching athlete after athlete “eat it” speeding down the course in attempt to grab a coveted top 16 semi-finals spot, we had great respect for the difficulty of the course and how steep the competition.

Nancy and Jay
The finals were insanely crazy – what a rush! These athletes flipped in the air doing the “truck driver”, “iron cross”, “heli 360”, or elegant front flip aerial moves. Then after landing, they immediately hit three – four foot tall moguls while racing a world class athlete skiing beside them. The competition was fast and furious.

Mogul Course

We watched Brad Wilson advance past #1 ranked Mikael Kingsbury ending the Canadian’s 19 event podium streak as the crowd went nuts.  We saw U.S. athlete Patrick Deneen lose the gold by a nose to Canadian Alex Bilodeau by five hundredths of a second!  Hannah Kearney has a few more raving fans after watching her absolutely kill it and win gold.

After the awards ceremony, the party kept going!


Even the volunteer clean- up crews had smiles on the faces as they picked up signs and took down the pedestrian walkways to ready the run for skiing the next day.


Our evening took an unexpected but delightful turn when we met semi-finalist freestyle skier Dylan Walczyk on the bus to the Main Street station.  He was fresh from a bronze medal at Lake Placid.  He mentioned he was headed to an Olympic test event Sochi, Russia in two weeks.

While this was our first moguls competition, it will certainly not be our last.

For more information click here.– http://www.deervalley.com/WhatToDo/Winter/FISWorldCup

Need for Speed at Women’s Weekend Ski Clinic

Reservation sign
You always want what you don’t have.  I don’t have speed and I want it — very badly. Skiers whizz right past me, not just a couple of hot shots, but literally everyone. I am sick of it! I want to be the passer not the “passee” while at the same time, skiing safely and not getting hurt. That’s why I signed up for the Deer Valley Women’s Weekend Ski Clinic.

I figured three full days of lessons with the same instructor in the same group would do the trick and … I was right! The weekend started on Friday with a nice get-to-know each other breakfast at Snow Park Lodge with both the Men’s and Women’s program attendees. There were quite a few advanced and high end intermediates all excited to bump up their skiing levels, too.

We then did a warm up run as the instructors watched and divided us into groups based on our ability. They had planned on groups of four but we didn’t match up that way skill wise. We had a couple of advanced skiers, some solid advanced intermediates, and a few “getting back into skiing after a decade” and second season skiers (like me). I was impressed at how the instructors divided us (adding an additional instructor) so everyone was very comfortable in their group. The groups fit the individuals rather than vice versa. No one felt they were put in a group that wasn’t perfect.

InstructorAs my instructor, Mary Lou, rode the lift with my group to our first run, I explained my challenges with speed (which were obvious from the warm up) and my goal of enjoying intermediate runs with my friends.  Her reply took me by surprise, “You need to slow down to speed up.” Instead of skiing fast, we worked on controlling speed using the entire turn.  I had been doing quick back-and-forth stop-and-start turns which were not working at all.

Mary Lou used tried and true coaching techniques. When Tiger Woods trained as a kid, he purposely placed his golf ball in the deepest rough and under the most difficult lips in sand traps. Along the same vein, Michael Phelps’s coach used to purposely step on Michael’s swim goggles so they would fill with water during races so the swimmer wouldn’t be caught off guard when they were waterlogged in big races.  Mary Lou took us through some obstacles to increase our skills in the way.

You want speed?  Then conquer steep runs, ice, powder and moguls.  Mary Lou first taught us how to control our speed by shifting our weight during the whole turn instead of making sharp “Z” turns across the hill.  Then she took us over daunting obstacles and gave us a plan on how to maneuver them.  She took us to the steep Star Gazer run then to Little Kate because the top can get slick.  She had us slip slide the whole way.  She took us down Little Bell because the top has mini moguls. We took all kinds of steep runs, narrow runs, busy runs, bumpy and powdery ones, too.  Bottom line — when have some tools to handle the challenges, confidence increases.

Reviewing our skiing in the video shack.

Reviewing our skiing in the video shack.

Solid Muldoon was my test.  When I actually skied it, not just “getting down the hill,” but nice wide controlled “S” turns and actually having fun, I knew just how far I had come in only three days.

There is something for having three solid days in a row with the same experienced instructor and being part of a bigger program –we all met for lunch each day and celebrated afterwards at the wine and cheese party — that sets you up for success.  I have to say, by Sunday afternoon my shins were tender and my quads were burning but I was happy.  I had the speed I was looking for and much, much more.

To learn more about or enroll in the Men’s and Women’s programs, click here.  Be sure to attend the celebration at the end!

World Cup and Being a Finish Line Mom

IMG_6192The 2013 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup events just finished up at Deer Valley Resort and it reminded me of the good old days.

Frankly, I’m happy not to be in the position of these athletes- in front of a home crowd and wanting to perform to your best. Don’t get me wrong, I know they want to get their personal best of the season, but there is something about competing at home that puts some added pressure on the whole performance. I’m sure they love competing at home, but they would be lying if they say it’s easy. It’s easy that you might get to sleep in your own bed, eat your favorite food and see friends and family that you’ve missed because you’ve been traveling- but that’s why there is an extra bit of heat.

You want to show everyone your best. Sometimes I think athletes might forget (take it from experience), to just focus on the performance and not the outcome. I know how it feels when you want to podium and instead get fourth at home or a top 10 finish. It can be disappointing, but everyone is still proud to see the US athletes compete!

IMG_6835So great job everyone!

Besides watching the next generation of athletes perform, I have another hat. I’m also a finish line Mom. I’m finally in my Mom’s seat- a seat where she watched so many races for her four children. She never skied so that’s why she was always at the finish line, doing the “come to momma.”  Do I get nervous watching my own children, the same as competitors on the World Cup? I would be lying if I said, “no”. It is a bit of a thrill, and I get a few butterflies at this point (my boys are only eight and 11), but, mostly because I want them to have fun. I remember so many times calling my Mom in tears. I just don’t want them to have to experience that, but I’m sure it’s inevitable!

Whether it’s my own children or my friend’s child, it hurts to see disappointment. Hopefully, I can fill my Mom’s shoes and show that results aren’t everything. Yes, they help and are fun, but in the BIG picture there is always something you can gain by just giving your best. Something you don’t realize or understand until you’re out of the “competition world”.

Heidi's son, Stefan, competing

Heidi’s son, Stefan, competing

I also try and make a point when I am at my son’s races to be low key. I missed my son Stefan’s first race this season. Many people said to me, “Oh you must be so bummed!”  Not really, because I know there will be plenty more! But, I know when I am there it’s a bit like the World Cup athletes competing at home. Mom always brings a bit of extra pressure not from my expectations, but other people assuming I’m watching with a fine comb. Although… I did reserve this coming Saturday to watch Stefan race!

Unfortunately for Lucas we won’t know if he gets to race at all this season until February 14 when his cast comes off. But, he will get on skis before the end of the season. That day will bring a smile to him and me. I bet I will have “Mom’s hat” on saying, “go slower”, “take it easy”, “let’s not make too many runs”, but I have a feeling Lucas will take off dancing on his skis!

Congrats to all of the World Cup competitors, volunteers and Deer Valley for putting on a showcase event!

See you on the slopes!