Behind the Scenes with Ski Patrol

Deer Valley patrollers all look the same. That’s what we hear, anyway. We understand. With our chiseled, All-American looks, not to mention our identical red-and-black uniforms, it can be hard to distinguish one patroller from the other, or tell how many of us there are on the mountain.   

It’s the question I’ve received most often: “How many of you are working today?” Followed by: “What the heck do you guys do all day?” 

Here are the numbers: 

Roughly 40 full-time patrollers at Deer Valley

17 of them are rookies

20-30 others are part-time or on-call

25-30 patrollers are on-duty on any given day

3-7 patrollers are assigned to each of the resort’s six patrol shacks 

Together, patrol represents a varied lot, ranging from former tree-trimmers who hail from Minnesota, to former real estate developers who lived in Florida, to paramedics, firefighters, physicians’ assistants, and journalists-on-hiatus (ahem).   

We’ve proven, however, a truly cohesive unit, one united by the drive to maintain Deer Valley Ski Patrol’s reputation as one of the elite patrols in North America. More on that in a future post.  

Our day starts with morning meeting at 8 a.m. Picture roll call from any police procedural, and you get the idea – albeit without the Formica desks or crusty sergeants. 

For about half-an-hour, we review major events from the previous day, the ski-trail grooming plan, any projects that need attention (such as opening or closing trails), and the weather forecast. If there’s time, we do a practice assessment: one patroller plays a patient, the other the first-responder – think of it as early-morning amateur theater, replete with a peanut gallery. Then we head to our assigned mountains for opening runs.   

Each patroller is tasked with skiing several particular trails during openers. The main purpose is to ensure each run is safe to open to the public, a task which includes surveying the snow conditions, making sure bamboo and rope lines are firmly planted in the snow, and checking that pads are still in place on lift towers, trail signs, snow guns, and other obstacles. Opening runs are also when we plant our slow signs.  

The rest of the day then proceeds much you might expect: responding to skier-wrecks, installing or removing bamboo and rope lines, performing speed control, training, and otherwise skiing around. The end of the day approaches at 3 p.m., when Empire Patrol begins its sweeps, closing that portion of the mountain and funneling skiers back toward the Silver Lake and Snow Park lodges.

 Sweeps are staggered across each mountain. And in addition to ensuring that no guests are left on any runs, we also prepare the trails for Deer Valley’s overnight workers: the snowmakers and snowcat operators. We remove the slow signs we installed that morning and pull back rope lines to allow the snowcats to groom the trails. If all goes according to plan, we’re off the slopes by 5:15 p.m., just as the cats are rumbling from their garage off Ontario run.

The day flies by. With six mountain peaks as our office, how could it not? Next up: more on responding to skier wrecks, the divide between “wreck” and “project” patrollers, and The Wheel of Misfortune. 

Any questions? Shoot an email to alneuhauser@gmail.com.

5 Responses

  1. DJS says:

    How about adding a former lawyer to your crew! Would love to hear about how to become a member of Ski Patrol.

  2. Matthew Pures says:

    Being a Ski Patrol “Shadow” when i worked at DV back in the late 90s was a truly enlightening experience for me and one I have thought about often. You all do an amazing job, all the best to you and keep up the tremendous job you do!!!

  3. Claire N says:

    I was recently one of the “skier wrecks” that ski patrol had to respond to. I was so impressed by the speed at which the ski patrol lady appeared, and she was very helpful and made sure i got down the mountain OK and knew where to go to see an EMT. So thank you, to all of you, for the job that you do. Throughout my stay at Deer Valley i really felt that the employees truly cared about their jobs and every one i met was so upbeat…..even though i have many years to go I am already planning my retirement at Deer Valley!!!!

  4. Jamie S. says:

    Hey ski patrol, I am glad to hear that you all are actually real people, not that I ever doubted it. I enjoyed reading this post and I am looking forward to more posts about the patrollers. Thank you Deer Valley!

  5. S. Jefferson says:

    how can I get my hands on one of your cool red hats?

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Deer Valley Resort's Global Athlete Ambassador, Ted Ligety, is back on skis after 10 weeks of recovering from microdiscectomy surgery. Welcome back Ted! | #DeerValleyMoment ... See MoreSee Less

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Eric HandMore impressed by the steady camera work of whoever was following him

4 hours ago   ·  7
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Matthew LivingstonShredd!! You're the best. Same run I fractured my tibial plateau on last year. Glad to see you're back. Hope I can do the same next year.

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Mitch MannWe wore the same color jacket and skied DV today as well, but our skiing form was a tad different.

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Tess TeurlingsTyler Teurlings they finally got around to posting this video of me from spring break

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Stephen PohlmanWizard

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Ron ReillySmooth

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Kelly DetweilerLooks good to me ☺

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Max ScottPaul Stu Herlan you guys just missed ripping some runs with Ted

3 hours ago   ·  1

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Larry WeiderThat's what I look like in my head when I ski. It's better I never know what I actually look like.

3 hours ago
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Dennis BressGreat run and great camera work. :-) Kerry Rutherford

4 hours ago
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Octavio BarreraEmilio Fernandez our next level of skiing for next winter 💪🏽

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John TredentTrue carve turn, Ted is one of the best in the world.

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Scott DillmanGo Ted. I am sure it feels really good to be carving some turns. Enjoy your regained freedom.

2 hours ago
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James EvansBoth Ted and the snow conditions look great . .

3 hours ago
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Dan LudwigDude is flyin...

5 hours ago
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Jon T FruendLegity split!

2 hours ago
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Mehrnaz ZuieYousef Zuie this is where I want to go!

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Shanna RidnerLikes this picture

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Effie BaramSo nice

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Jon Blumbergbautiful skier

5 hours ago
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Wesley MillerDan Duncan Corey Baumgartner definitely gotta make it happen

5 hours ago   ·  1
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Tzachi AlmogNadavo Ha. מזכיר אותך

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Matt ShawDamian Leopard those lines.

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Lauren SaulAlana Saul

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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Deer Valley Resort has recieved over 400 inches of snow this season and still has a 101" base. You can only #SkiTheDifference for three more weeks. | Skier: Jillian Vogtli Video: Chris Morgan / Two Sherpas LLC on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
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Rose JutrasGo Jillian!! What an Ambassador!!

13 hours ago   ·  1

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Dennis WillisYep, only $1.28 per inch for that base. Or $15.52 per hour if you ski from opening to closing.

7 hours ago
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Adi DeOltManon Mbd she has the same color equipment like me. And I skied there. Could it be me? 😂😂😂

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Claine CowdrickWhy end the season if there is still enough snow to ski on? Extend the season maximize profits

8 hours ago
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Marcela MrugalaIt was a fantastic day of skiing yesterday!

13 hours ago
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Brandon BenallyCute but can she ski MOGULS as fast?

1 day ago
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Steve ZebrowskiSure didn't look anywhere near 101 inch base Saturday

9 hours ago
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Nic ReneeAwesome skiing this year

20 hours ago
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Lou KaltensteinWatched her cut her teeth at Holiday Valley! Go girl!

4 hours ago
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Elaine Lawrencer u having a good time

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Indy BaileyVery cool!!

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Tai RobinsonYeah Jillian Vogtli!

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Today's #DeerValleyMoment | Photo Credit: Emily Summers ... See MoreSee Less

Todays #DeerValleyMoment  | Photo Credit: Emily Summers

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Stephen HelmI thought that was Upper Stein, I have a shot real similar to that one

3 days ago   ·  1
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Joyce GriffinBeautiful photo, Emily Summers! It makes me want to be there making the first tracks down.

3 days ago   ·  1
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Brian ParkerIf I squint, I can just barely see my old house!

3 days ago   ·  1
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Randy CarterBeautiful and my acrophobia will dissipate as the thrill of downhill takes over.

2 days ago
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George LadnerI was there 2 weeks ago and loved it. Nearly as good as the Swiss alps/Zermatt¿¡¡

3 days ago
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Eric LongabardiNice shot Emily Summers! :) I can see Heber!

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Todd RameyTop of Steins, just past Sultan .

3 days ago   ·  1
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Alma WeldeLovely

2 days ago
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Francis GougeonWith this view you can pretend you are an astronaut.⛷

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Ariana B. AlvarezI want to be the first one down!

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Janis Bauer FullmerBeautiful!

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Rafael TorresWHAT A SHOT!

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Gerry FeherCorduroy....yea baby !!

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Will WilliamsDebbie Riley-Williams favorite place to ski in the USA 😎

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MaryEllen ProctorBarb and Karen, wish we were there.

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Drew DealIs this the run to the gondola?

3 days ago
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Linda Glore-SewardI must get my knees in shape so I can ski that again!

2 days ago

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Holly EtlinStein's Way, nice!

3 days ago
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Charlotte StrackBeautiful!

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Paul Stu HerlanRipped that yesterday...thanks Stein!

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Alan HorganI want to there now! Pity our £ is so cheap...

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Carolyn MacherBeautiful...

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Lisa AntellJordanelle run?

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