Date Night—Park City Style.

Saturday night, with my little one well into his second dose of antibiotics, and the big one eager to hang with Claire-the-cool-babysitter, Ski Dad and I headed out for a double date with our friends Miriam and Josh.

(Seth filling out his own prescription)

As I laced up my Sorels, zipped my fleece, and made sure my pockets were stuffed with packets of hand-warmers, I started to giggle—partly with anticipation for a grown-up night out, and partly in appreciation of the difference between dressing for date night in New York City—skirt, heels, cute-but-not-necessarily-warm top—and date night in Park City. I shared this with our friends when we picked them up a few minutes later, and Miriam said, “I know—I’m not even wearing makeup! I didn’t see the point.”

The mood in the crowd was festive, excited and very social. We ran into tons of friends—and even made a few new ones. Here I am with my new pal Mike Hale—locals know him as the star of commercials for the Acura and Chevy dealerships he owns in Park City and in Salt Lake City. We know him as a newfound friend. He immediately struck up a conversation with us, introduced us to his son (also Mike) and, yep, talked skiing. (Ok, we talked a little bit about business—he was quick to tell me I don’t have to drive all the way to Salt Lake to get my car serviced, since his shop can work on any type of car. And that his team will also wash and vacuum the car after they work on it. Which, any mom will tell you, is enticement enough!)

 

Most impressively, Mike told us how much he’s enjoying his first season skiing—on his new knee. This, my friends, was a lot different than date night chatter in New York City. And, to boot, I got my breath taken away—multiple times—by the excitement of the dual moguls competitions.

Here’s why: People crash. They cross in and out of each other’s lines. Their bumps skiing goes awry—massively awry. And then, poof! They regain their line, their balance, their mojo, just in time for the second jump near the bottom of the course, and POW! They land these killer, killer tricks. Perfectly. And it happens again and again. My favorite moment in competition was watching two US Women—Heather McPhee and Hanna Kearney—go head-to-head in the finals. Astounding, inspiring. And I can’t wait until next year.

 

 

Valentine’s Day Crush

My friend Josh likes the action verb “crush.”

But his version is more rockstar than cupid.

Let me explain:

When I bump into him and his son, Jack, at Deer Valley, he looks at me with a hint of irony and says, “We’re going to CRUSH Success!” And Jack, on cue, pipes up with a manly growl. Or, the best impersonation of a manly growl that an adorable seven year-old orange belt in karate can muster. Which is beyond cute.

And, yes, the kid can CRUSH a ski run.

And, so, in the spirit of Josh, Jack and Deer Valley skiers everywhere—and with apologies to David Letterman—I bring you:

Bari Nan’s “Top Ten Deer Valley Runs I Love to Crush….”

•Mountaineer

It’s longish and uncrowded; it’s got a couple of killer, empowering steep pitches. It carves like a champ.

 •Stein’s Way on a powder day

Yes, this is the run that inspires bragging rights. And while it’s a killer groomed run, nothing—and I mean nothing beats it on a powder day. When I have the top section to myself and I can bounce around in the powder, I sing while I ski. (Apologies to anyone in earshot…I can’t really carry a tune. But I can’t stop myself. I’m having too much fun). The pitches and dips on that run ride the way I would imagine a series of perfect rip-curl waves might ride…if I were a surfer. Which, for the record, I’m not.

•Tycoon

Steep, fast, and …steep. And long enough that if my form starts to tank, I have time to recover it and save face before I get to the bottom.

 •Supreme

Yes, I bust out the occasional Diana Ross tune while I make my turns here. There’s usually a little powder to be found on far skier’s left. Just enough to make it playful. There’s a neat little jug handle around the left side of the first mini-glade, and then three steeps that alternate with stretches I like to call “recovery flats.” Ski Dad and I did laps on Supreme a couple of weeks ago—and I’m still daydreaming about it.

 •Lucky Jack

Gladed rolling terrain unfurls after an initial quick, gentle drop. I’ll follow my kids through the trees on Ruby’s Tail or pick different lines to weave around the trees on Jack-proper. And, as with Supreme, the reward lies at the bottom…Empire Canyon Grill, home of the perfectly-crisp handmade potato chip. (You knew there would be food, right?)

 •Lucky Star

An excuse to sing Madonna while I cruise? Nuff said.

 •Blue Bell to Silver Buck to Star Gazer to Gemini

This run never fails to make me smile. The terrain starts out pretty mild, and ramps up as you turn down Star Gazer. And Star Gazer and Gemini are seldom crowded, so it can be fun to do laps here. And if I like the six or so turns on Star Gazer that link Silver Buck to Gemini, I’ll make sure that I finish the next lap by skiing Star Gazer all the way to the bottom. Then, I’ll scoot right onto Red Cloud Lift, eyeball the bumps below and see how brave I’m feeling (and whether there’s much life left in my legs).

If I’ve got the urge, I put a pin in it for a minute. Why?

•Star Gazer, top to bottom. That’s why. It’s usually good for two laps—three if it’s not crowded. After which, I slide into the line for Quincy Express, and make my way around the top of Ontario, and cut across the field, through the trees to my favorite run on the mountain.

•Hidden Treasure

I’m never bored here—powder or groomed, it’s a favorite run. Sometimes I’ll ski the top, then cut through the trees on skier left into Square Deal, making some gladed turns before opening up on the bumps. Other days, I’ll wait to cut into the bumps until they pop up after the trees toward the bottom of the run. It’s about 10 bump-turns to the bottom—just enough to say I crushed ‘em.

Finally, I’m ready to head home…

Solid Muldoon-to-Dew Drop-to-Little-Kate

It is, perhaps, my favorite way to (attempt) to end the day. It usually takes three tries. Because the first time, I am riding the high that comes from carving the top of Solid Muldoon, sliding across Success through the safety gates at the top of Dew Drop to the pitch that I know I should do with no turns, except that I can’t NOT turn. Weaving through the trees, finding little pow stashes at skier’s right and then zooming back across Success to Little Kate feels, strangely, like “home.” Or, rather, like I’ve just stolen home. By then, it’s 50/50 whether I’ll crush it or bottom out on my form from sheer fatigue. Which means there’s 100 percent chance I’ll do two more runs. One in which I’ll make a last-minute executive decision to do Solid Muldoon top-to-bottom, at speed. And the second, in which I’ll attempt to either redeem myself on Kate or relive the CRUSH.

Now…tell me what’s your Deer Valley crush run?

 

I’m a hopelessly romantic…skier

I’m not really a Cupid hound.

Ski Dad and I, of course, exchange cards every February 14th. And, without fail, he brings home a bag of Conversation Hearts (only the original Necco hearts suffice for this New England girl). And while I’d like to say we downplay the day because we’re too cool for school, the fact is we are total dorks who like to mark February 24th as a special day. It’s the day we had our first date. Twenty-three years ago. We’ve been going steady ever since. Which is astonishing since I’m only 25…but I digress.

But this year, we’re doing something special to get ready for Valentine’s Day. We are, together, embarking on the Mahre Camp at Deer Valley, Feb 10-12. Because we both want to up our game—and what better way to lock in what we’ve learned than to give ourselves a rest day on the 13th (seriously, we’ll need one after three days of first-to-last chair skiing. Someone may take away our Locals’ Cards—or at least our membership in the Crack of Noon Club!), and spend the day, er, racing each other down the steeps?

Of course, no Valentine’s Day would be complete without some chocolate and bubbly. I’m voting for lunch at Royal Street Cafe, complete with the Ice Cream Sandwich and Hot Fudge, and a cocktail (St. Germain, anyone?).  Cheers!

What’s your perfect Valentine’s Day at Deer Valley?

Valentine’s Dinner at The Mariposa

I’m no romance expert, but I’m sure people gaze adoringly into each other’s’ eyes at Fireside Dining at Empire or Seafood Buffet. But to my mind, the sure bet for a romantic night is The Mariposa. Consider it the Valentine’s Day dinner destination of romantic skier-types (and non-skier-types) alike.

It’s one of the few restaurants in Park City with underground parking—so, ladies, you can safely bust out the cute shoes for a night out.

Plus, every time I eat dinner at Mariposa, it feels like Valentine’s Day, or my anniversary.  I’m not the only one who thinks of the warm candle-lit room with the crackling fireplace as Romance Central. I’ve witnessed a marriage proposal in that room.

And, frankly, you can check your brain at the door when you go to Mariposa—it’s impossible to make a bad choice on the menu. But the best part is, you don’t have to make a choice. There are two tasting menus—one vegetarian and one that’s decidedly carnivore-friendly—complete with flawless wine pairings. I have it on good authority that the restaurant manager and the sommelier have personally taken (more than) one for the team and opened bottle after bottle to make sure the pairings are just right.

Mother-Son Night at World Cup

World Cup Fever hit hard in my house.

So did the regular fever, which turned out to be strep—but it only derailed our mad spectating skills for one night. More on that in a minute.

No sooner had Sundance ended, than my family was plotting out our strategy to be spectators at the VISA Freestyle International . We decided that the moguls on Thursday would be my mother-son night with Lance—in part to compensate for my all-day birthday ski date with Seth earlier in the week, while Lance was busy being a third grader. Said third-grader wasted no time telling his teacher that he’d be out late Thursday at the World Cup. Thankfully, Park City teachers get it—Lance said Ms. Thompson was really excited for him.

The buildup was immense—so when we got home from karate and I discovered that little brother had a fever, I saw Lance try to mask his disappointment at the prospect of missing out on our evening. Dad, of course, saw no reason for us to change our plans—all Seth needed was one parent in the house to take care of him. Mom and brother? Redundant.

So, we bundled up and off we went. I can safely say there was nothing the kid did not enjoy about the World Cup—from the walk through the parking lot to the chairlift ride with no skis, to the hike up the bottom of Little Stick. Seeing all the kids (and some adults) sliding on their bottoms off the runout on the bottom of Solid Muldoon was a hoot, too. And then…the holy grail:  We were lucky enough to be invited to the VIP Tent, so my soup-loving boy got to enjoy a second dinner of Tomato Basil Soup and unlimited cookies.

And this kid—he may be but a yellow belt in karate, but he’s got a black-belt in events. “Mom, it’s warm in the tent, and we’re bundled up—let’s take our soup outside and eat where it’s cooler,” he said, wisely. “Plus, we won’t miss a minute of competition!”

And, of course, the competition was amazing.

In the process, I think I found the phrase that will make my kids roll their eyes in that “Mom, you’re such a dork, you always say that!” way that teenagers acquire. It is…

“You know, if you were growing up in New York City, you would not get to do this!”

Admittedly, it’s kind of a preemptive strike against the kind of groaning I have anticipated as soon as my kids figure out that my old life as an Entertainment Editor in New York City involved premiere tickets to just about every major studio release, house seats to popular Broadway shows, and concert tickets with backstage access at lots and lots and lots of teenybopper concerts. I once said to Ski Dad that I wondered if, for all the effort we put into moving to Utah and creating a certain kind of life here, if our kids would “reward” us by lusting after city life, as a sort of karmic joke. (I was the originator of that particular bit—growing up in Vermont, I pined, pined I tell you, for life in the big city. Three cities and twelve years later, I was done.)

So, yes, I went ahead and made that statement, aloud, to Lance as we got ready to watch the women’s and men’s moguls’ competition on Thursday night. Shameless.

But something cool happened. Lance got the same look of awe on his face watching the competition as he got when I took him to see American Idol Live on Tour, or the first time he watched Star Wars. He was both completely absorbed in being entertained, and impressed with what it took to make this entertainment happen. And you know what? Even though mom’s job still have the kind of perks that get us into VIP tents, that wasn’t the thing that impressed him about the experience:

“Mom, look how good they are,” he said. “I’m thinking about how hard they all worked to get here. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it, Mom?”

For once, I just shut my mouth and let the experience speak for itself.

Thanks, Lance.

Birthday Ski Day

I have a long-held birthday tradition of skiing the day away. Last year, I spent it with my new, wonderful friends who were my partners in crime at the Women’s Weekend ski clinic at Deer Valley.

This year, it fell on a Monday, and I was determined to play hooky from work and go ski. I put out a note on Facebook and a few text messages, and found some willing friends. Then, a voice piped up from the next room: “Mommy, I’ll go skiing with you, today!” I quickly recanted my nascent plans with friends to capitalize on some quality mommy-son time. Oh, I was so glad I did.

I was thrilled to see how quickly he sprung into action, assembling his gear, hunting high and low for Swedish Fish (priorities!) and buckling his own boots! [Seth Boots]

He insisted on being slope-ready before getting in the car. So, yes, dear reader, he rode to the mountain wearing his helmet and goggles. He was delighted by the tram-ride from the parking lot, and excited to introduce me to everyone he encountered. “This is Mommy!” he said, proudly. “It’s her birthday!”

Then, he launched into Cruise Director mode (wonder where he gets that from?), instructing me on the itinerary for the day. “Mama, we are gonna do Excess (oh, how I don’t ever want him to outgrow that particular nickname for Success run!) and then we are gonna ski to Candyland and then two runs on Wide West, one with the Race Course and then we can stop for lunch.”

Aye, aye captain. He delighted in leading me down the hill, creating hide-and-seek games that centered on hiding behind the “Slow” signs that Ski Patrol posts on the green runs. We talked lots about pizza and French fry turns—so much so that we ate pizza and fries for lunch in Snow Park Restaurant. Then he led the surrounding tables in serenading me with Happy Birthday. And then, it was back to the hill.

This time, he insisted we ski Last Chance—and he crushed it. He made up Jedi Force Field games to play all the way down (he’s a diehard Star Wars fan) and then, after we did the first part of Rosebud,  tried to convince me he could ski the bottom of Little Kate. Now, dear reader, there is nothing cooler than seeing your kid eyeball a ski run, contemplate it for a moment and look over his shoulder at you to say, “Let’s do it!” But Nervous Mommy won that battle. I know he could have skied it, but I worried about the fact that people would not expect a four year old making slow, deliberate turns as they whizzed down the run. “Next time!” I assured him. Of course, as we finished Rosebud, he spied some bigger kids taking a shortcut, and followed suit, arms raised, letting out a WHOOOOOOOOOO as he bombed down the hill. He then cut over to Wide West, did a few more CandyLand turns and discovered, at the bottom of the SunKid Conveyor Lift, a couch made of snow. He could not resist that, either.

When the day was done, he played at the bottom of Wide West, running around in his ski boots, using my poles to “hike” and “shovel,” and generally soaking up (in equal parts) sunshine and attention. As we arrived at the Tram stop turnaround under Snow Park, we were greeted by his favorite ski teacher, Greg, who had spent a well-earned day off skiing with a friend. Seth insisted they ride the tram with us (their car was parked in a walkable spot, but they couldn’t refuse)…and he boasted to them about all the runs he took me on. When I mentioned the Little Kate debate, Greg nodded, grinned and said, “Bari Nan, he’s ready.” Ok, but am I?

Olypmic (Anniversary) Fever!

I won’t reveal what Ski Dad and I found when we reached into the pockets of our volunteer jackets, last worn when we helped out with the 2002 Olympic Winter Games…10 years ago. But I will tell you what we found when we put them on–-our Olympic Spirit. Yep, we geeked out, geared up, and got the kids psyched to check out the Olympic celebration on Main Street, before the Visa FIS Freestyle International opening night concert.

And I must have given off a very spirited vibe, because a very nice lady and her daughter asked for my autograph. Unwittingly, I gave them the impression that I was an athlete. Which cracked up Ski Dad to no end.

There were, however, plenty of athlete sightings—and lots of other former volunteers who were similarly geeked-out. Prizes were conferred upon the most spirited folks in the audience. And I was thrilled when my friend Stacey, a terrific teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary, won two lift tickets to Deer Valley for her head-to-toe Olympic ensemble. Heck, her purse had an American Flag on it, and she wore a cowbell—if she didn’t win, it would have been a crime. (And how psyched am I, Stacey, that we can get out and make some turns together?).

Another highlight, for me, was running into my friend, Missy—one of the first people I met when I moved to Utah, who worked for SLOC. My younger son knows her as “Adam’s mom,” and I think we both felt the time warp, realizing that the Games were practically a lifetime ago (B.K.E…Before the Kiddie Era…for both of us).

And in spite of the fact that they weren’t born when the Salt Lake games happened, our kids seemed to get a kick out of the whole scene—and given the fact that the festivities went on well past bedtime, I was impressed with their staying power. They even rallied for a quick stop at our favorite sushi place on Main Street. As if the snow that began to dump on us wasn’t gift enough!

Shades of Deer Valley

Yes, you can get everything at Deer Valley. Even goggles in bulk!

The must-have item for some guests during the Sundance Film Festival were the Smith IO and IO/S frameless goggle. I know this, because I had a group of clients in town who just had to have 15 pair. They had three days of skiing at Deer Valley (plus, one night dining at Mariposa) on the agenda—and the goggles were a crucial element.

Trouble is, no one store in town had the right combination of sizes and colors to make it work. While standing in one store, where they had a handful of pairs to sell us, I called Shades of Deer Valley. The incredibly friendly and helpful Charne took my call and scoured inventory to make sure we had access to every pair in stock. My pal Jill (with whom I don’t ski nearly frequently enough, but whom I adore immensely), who happened to be working in the store that day, took photos of the goggles with her iPhone, and sent them to me—client approval a must.

And, most importantly, Jill and Charne greeted us with big smiles, waving off my “apologies” for wiping out their stock. Never fear, they assured me, the next shipment was a day away. Which is a good thing, because my birthday is next week and I really want a pair of those goggles.

Sundancing Like Crazy

I’ve been Sundancing like crazy, doing interviews, making myself generally nutso with work. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I got to attend a Toasting the Filmmakers event at the St. Regis Deer Valley, during which I caught up with Shannon Bahrke, the much-decorated Olympic and World Cup freestyle skier, who is now the official Ambassador of Skiing for the St. Regis. We made a promise to make some turns together soon, and I’m looking forward to putting together some choice runs the way a DJ assembles a playlist.

By the third day of the festival, the sky was unloading that long awaited supply of three-plus feet of fresh powder onto the slopes at Deer Valley. I was anxious to get out and play in it, but first I had to attend a few more events and interviews for Sundance—including a lovely party celebrating Kristen Bell, who is also on the cover of Self Magazine this month. But, because I used to work at the magazine, and still write for it, it felt more like a gathering of old friends. And one of those dear pals and I have a standing ski date at Deer Valley on Sundance Monday.

Lauren and I met up for our coffee in Snow Park Lodge, then hit the trails. We boarded Carpenter with a vague nod to the idea that we’d have a casual ski day. We took off down Solid Muldoon leaving that notion behind. The snow was too sweet to do anything but pound out the runs. Several hours later, we’d racked up 15 runs— 2 Solid Muldoon, one Solid Muldoon to Dew Drop to Little Kate, 2 laps on Blue Bell to Silver Buck to Star Gazer to Gemini, 1 Lost Boulder, 1 Bandana, 1 Sidewinder, 1 Orion, 2 Hidden Treasure, 2 Star Gazer runs, 1 Ontario, 1 Birdseye—all before lunch. We lucked into a table at Royal Street Café, and our friend Laura, the magazine’s Entertainment Editor, joined us for what can only be labeled a FEAST.

Amazing creamy mushroom soup, the crab tower, tuna tacos, RSC fish and chips, and Korean barbecue beef—a new and terrific addition to the menu. I highly recommend it. Lauren and Laura took off after lunch to catch their plane; I snagged one more run—Solid Muldoon to Dew Drop to Little Kate—and left the mountain very, very happy. For me, it’s not really Sundance until I ski with Lauren at Deer Valley. See you next year!

World Cup FEVER

I’ve got World Cup Fever. I’ll tell you that right now. Sundance has not even ended yet, and I’m already counting the minutes until the 2012 VISA Freestyle International. The party starts February 1 with a concert on Main Street, featuring Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I’m especially psyched because this year is the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and the concert will also include a special anniversary celebration. If, like me, you were a volunteer during the games—or just an avid spectator, dressed head-to-toe in Roots garb, wear your 2002 gear to the party on Main Street; prizes will be awarded for creative Olympic spirit.

I will be there in my official SLOC blue vest, blue jacket and black Olympic fleece. My kids were born after the Games, so I am eager to share some of that excitement with them. Sure, they’ve seen photos of Mommy and Daddy volunteering, and heard the stories, but having them see some of the Olympic stuff in action will be really fun.

And, yes, I’m letting them stay up late to attend the concert…and some of the events on the snow later in the week. There’s nothing like watching a freestyle event under the lights, cheering for the “home team.” And so much the better when the home team lives and trains in our town! So—are you coming? What are you looking forward to attending during the World Cup competitions? Any suggestions for ways I can stand out in the crowd in my Olympic garb?