Girl’s Weekend – Ski Rental Makes Life Easy and, in Our Case, Memorable.

What do you pack for your girl’s ski weekend? Well, everything of course! You need bibs and ski jacket or two, under layers for warmth, choices of outfits for dinners out and your après ski boots. My girlfriends from California were so sweet to pack hostess gifts (yeah!), a bottle of my favorite Old Vine Zinfandel and a Barbera from the California wine country.

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Let’s see what else? Girls have to have their hair care products, make up, and skin care goodies. Plenty of fashion accessories are necessary so we can all share when we are getting ready to go out for dinner. Do you think there was much room in their suitcases for ski boots? Not really. As I suspected, their suitcases were completely packed so they had to sit on them to close the zippers!

Knowing this might happen, ahead of time I set them up with ski rentals from Deer Valley’s Ski Rental shop. Who wants so schlep their stuff on the plane and check an extra bag for skis and poles? Besides, their equipment is quite a few years old, and this gave them a chance to try new technology. Bonuses: less stuff to carry, fewer baggage fees and opportunity to test new equipment.

Here is how it went:

Preparation: I made a call to the Deer Valley Rental shop with my friend’s names, ages, height, weight, and ski ability. Then I reserved rentals for them during their stay. Confirmations were emailed back and we were good to go.

Morning of Day 1: Since they were set up and I knew they’d be well taken care of, I dropped them off at Snow Park to get started. “See those guys dressed in green?” I said. “Have them point you to the rental shop and I’ll meet you down there.” Then I parked the car and grabbed the shuttle.

By the time I met up with them, they were already through registration with boots in hand, and were getting their skis and poles. Deer Valley Rental shop wants to get every customer through their rental experience in 5 – 10 minutes so they can get out and enjoy the snow. My girlfriends were floored it was so quick and easy. We headed to the boot warmers and hit Wide West ski run to warm up!

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End of Day 1: We handed our skis and poles to the valet for free overnight storage at Snow Park Lodge. No schlepping boots either; we loved that we could leave the boots with the basket concierge for free overnight storage, too. Boots were placed in the baskets, and off we went.

Morning of Day 2: These girls were antsy to get back out there. They wanted to get in as many runs as possible so we arrived just after the resort opened. My friends quickly put on their matching rental boots, grabbed a basket to store our shoes and we were off. On the stairs, the girls were walking a little funny but I shrugged it off as being a little sore from the long day skiing the day before.

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At the base of the Carpenter chairlift, my 5’2” friend Lynn was really having trouble getting her skis on. I said to her, “Lynn, set your skis sideways on the hill. They are sliding backwards.” She shot me a look that said, “I am not stupid! I know that.” She seemed a little agitated (which is not like her) so I popped out of my skis and went to investigate.

Her boots weren’t clicking into her bindings. It didn’t make any sense since she’d skied on them yesterday. The bindings looked too small. Then 5’7” Heidi couldn’t get her skis on either. Her bindings looked too big.

Einstein here (yeah, that was me) wasn’t connecting the dots either. I said, “Do you have the right skis?” Yep. Heidi’s skis had her name of them and so did Lynn’s. Ok. It’s not the skis. The three of us (normally fairly intelligent people) all deducted that it must be the bindings!

So we take the equipment back to the rental shop to investigate the bindings. We meet up with Deer Valley ski technician Howard Ritter who helps Lynn. He pulls up her information and grabs a boot the same size (then she won’t have to take off her boot – very thoughtful.) He checks the boot and binding. “This fits. Let’s take a look at your boot.” We both look down at the personalized sticker on her boot. It doesn’t match the ski.

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Two stations down, Heidi’s technician is telling her that the boots she has on aren’t hers. Heidi says, “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BOOTS?” (You might be wondering, “How many skiers does it take to change a light bulb?”)

Gary Wassmer, the rental shop supervisor happens to be standing there. He smiles as he and Howard state the obvious at the exact same time. You and your friend switched boots – you have each other’s boots on.

Lynn and Heidi lock eyes and simultaneously look down at the boots and burst our laughing.

Howard, the voice of reason, says with a huge smile on his face, “How did this girl (pointing to the long skis) fit into this girl’s (pointing to the shorter skis) boots?” Scratching our heads, we wondered how we could have possibly missed this when, (tiny feet) Lynn’s boots went on so easy and (tall) Heidi had a lot of trouble with hers and both could hardly walk up the stairs?

Now all the technicians and other renters are laughing with us. I get this party moving by directing my girlfriends to sit down and switch boots (while snapping photos to embarrass them). They are no longer hobbling and miraculously, their boots lock right into the bindings on their skis. We wave to our new best friends in the rental shop and hit the lift for an amazing day of run after run of Utah powder.

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End of Day 2: I have asked my friends for the tenth time, “now who put their boots on first?” Someone tells me not to bother applying for Mensa anytime soon.

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Despite our “user error,” we have a fantastic experience renting skis and skiing at Deer Valley.

Lessons learned:

Renting equipment is a great hassle-free way to enjoy a ski weekend out of town.

If the shoe fits, wear it. (Check your tag anyways to make sure it’s yours.)

If the shoe doesn’t fit, it’s probably not your shoe. (Check your tag to see whose it is.)

And laugh early and often with your girlfriends. Repeat.

For more information on ski rentals at Deer Valley resort, click here.

Check out more photos from our girls weekend ski trip.

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Deer Valley Resort Launches On-Mountain Interactive Mobile App

Deer Valley Resort has partnered with CarteScape, Inc., a San Diego-based mobile development company, to launch a customized mobile ski app that provides guests with a range of resort navigation, resort services and social media features.

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Available now on both iOS and Android platforms, the Deer Valley® app includes GPS navigation with augmented reality and an interactive map. Users can search runs, lodges, chairlifts and more from the app.

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Users are able to record the statistics of their ski runs, tracking both vertical distance and speed measurements. The beautifully designed app has social media integration, allowing users to share photos and run statistics on Facebook and Twitter. Users can also find friends on the mountain.

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An e-commerce component allows for easy purchase of lift tickets before arriving at the mountain and allows skiers to contact Ski Patrol with the touch of a button.

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“Deer Valley Resort makes guest service its top priority, which is why we are constantly looking for the best ways to provide guests with convenient and up-to-date technological offerings,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort.

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Features and enhancements will be released though upgrades throughout the season. For more information on the Deer Valley ski app, visit the resort’s website at deervalley.com/app

Give your Skiing the Boot

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about boots, of late. It’s happened with enough frequency, that I’m taking to my soapbox for a Public Service Announcement. Get thee to the boot-fitter, stat.

I know, you and I may not know each other. But in my un-scientific sampling of friends, I’m noticing a trend. Nobody’s skiing comfortably in their boots. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I was one of those folks for a few weeks.

Remember, a couple of years ago when I found Boot Nirvana?

Well, I realized, a couple of weeks ago, that Nirvana had left the building. I found myself committing all manner of cardinal boot sins. Like clamping down my buckles, for instance. Bad skier. Baaaaad.

Then, there were signs that I should heed the warning my boots were sending me—in the form of achy joints after skiing (doesn’t happen when my boots are fitted properly) and knees that felt “tweaked,” for extra measure.

I heard instructors telling tales of students showing up in tears because their boots were ill-fitted and causing them extreme pain.

I skied with a friend who was skiing in boots that, to my non-professional eye, were at least two sizes too big. And her husband, who was skiing with 99 percent of his lower-body wardrobe tucked into the cuff of his boot. (“Repeat after me,” Jeff scolded, gently. “Nothing goes inside the boot except your sock.”)  I’d dismiss this as a rookie error, but another friend, who’s a lifelong skier, was making the same mistake.

Then, a girlfriend injured her ankle, skiing at another resort. It was a really bad sprain—she’s off the hill for at least a few weeks. “I think my boots are kind of loose,” she admitted. She’s an expert skier. She should know better. But, she’s also a parent, and in the habit of deferring nuisance tasks like gear maintenance in favor of other tasks related to her kid’s skiing safety gear, etc. I get it.

Finally, after all that, I marched myself in to see “my” Boot Fitting Dude at Jans. No sooner had I put down my boot bag than he was extricating the boots from it, spiriting them off to the shop in the back and asking me questions as he went. “Mm hmm, mmhmm,” He nodded his assent to my “complaints,” and then disappeared. Moments later, he was back. We were trying the boots on. There were some minor tweaks. My awesome fit was restored. It took—wait for it—fifteen minutes.

Even if you think your boots are fine, do yourself a favor and spend fifteen minutes with a boot fitter. The good ones (and there are a lot of them in this town) are never going to try to sell you on a new boot if you don’t, honestly, need one. They’ll just fix you up and get you back on the hill. You’re welcome.

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Four

Doctor Peter Taillac and Ski Patrol’s Hylton Early have told us how to make the best of your Deer Valley ski vacation. Today, they will conclude their great tips series by discussing safety issues that are of concern to our most advanced skiers and learn how to stay safe under most weather and snow conditions!

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JF: Can you tell us about avalanche control and snow safety in general?

Hylton Early: These are issues that we take extremely seriously at Deer Valley. We have a snow safety program that includes four rescue dogs that are specifically trained for avalanche rescue both at Deer Valley and out in the back country as well. We do conduct explosive control work to make sure that the runs are safe. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that they will be absolutely safe as avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing, and it’s important to keep this fact in mind.

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JF: Is Ski Patrol available for on-hill, last minute updates?

Hylton Early: Yes, you can always check-in with Ski Patrol at the top of Bald Mountain or the top of Empire before you head into areas that could be avalanche-prone. This way, you will also get the latest reports because the Ski Patrol staff would have been there early on and will able to tell you where the safe lines and the best places to ski are. If you’re not quite sure about what to take along, the Ski Patrol is available to remind you about the necessary equipment you might need to stay safe out there.

JF: What about ropes line and closed signs?

Hylton Early: You always want to respect these. They’re in place for a reason. Just like anybody else, we want to open runs as fast as we can but we want to make sure that they are safe before opening them to skiers!

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JF: Any advice for the lone skier?

Hylton Early: It’s very important to let someone else know where you’re going and to have a plan of a place to meet up. In today’s cell phone culture, it’s easy to get complacent, but your battery can die or your phone can fall out of your pocket, so it’s always good to have a fail-safe meeting point, like meet for lunch at a certain lodge. If you are skiing some expert terrain, I would really recommend that you always ski with a partner, so if you were to get injured, this buddy can provide aid to you and let the Ski Patrol know where you are.

JF: How can skiers reach Ski Patrol?

Hylton Early: The Ski Patrol number 435-645-6804 is located on the back of all the trail map, or you can dial extension 6804 from any mountain phone. It’s a smart idea to program it into your cell phone. You can of course always report an injury to any lift employee as well. The Deer Valley Mobile App also has a button to immediately call Ski Patrol.

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JF: Do you have tips for the great Deer Valley powder days?

Hylton Early: Everyone gets so excited and so filled with adrenaline on these wonderful powder days, that it’s always a good idea to remember to ski safely and to follow the Skier’s Responsibility Code. The most obvious incident is when you lose your ski in deep powder; if your ski came off, make sure to remember the last point when you saw it, which will help greatly if Ski Patrol comes to help you locate it. If you’re skiing the trees, always be on the watch out for stumps and obstacles and be also aware of tree wells; some people have the smart idea of carrying a whistle clipped to their jacket that can serve to alert others of you were to fall into a well and signal your location; this warning signal also comes very handy if you were injured in any location hidden from view.

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JF: Doctor Taillac, is there anything you’d like to add to these details and advices aimed at keeping us safe on the mountain?

Doctor Peter Taillac: I just would like to compliment the Ski Patrol for the great job they do, here at Deer Valley Resort. They’re very knowledgeable and take a great deal of pride in what they’re doing for skiers. They are very diligent at keeping up with their medical training on regular basis so they stay very sharp. We feel that they have a great relationship with the Clinic. Our doctors and nurses know what they’re talking about when they bring in a patient. Guests are safe, here at Deer Valley, they have a great medical safety net available to them and if there is an incident, they’ll be in very good hands.

JF: Hylton, do you have any other comment on behalf of Deer Valley Ski Patrol?

Hylton Early: Unlike many ski resorts that have a mix between professionals augmented by part-time ski patrollers. Deer Valley Ski Patrol is 100% professional and this allows us to keep the highest level of training standard and care for the benefit of our guests.

Thank you for following this four part series on Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net. If you missed any of the posts follow the links below.

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part One

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Two

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Three

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Four

The ever Evolving Face of Rental Equipment.

ToddDainesThis interview with Todd Daines, Rental Manager at Deer Valley Resort, sheds a new light on the new array of options made available to skiers and families who are considering renting their equipment.

 

 

 

JF: How long have you been renting ski equipment, Todd, and how have you seen this activity evolve over the years?

Todd Daines: I’ve been here for 31 years in Deer Valley. I’ve seen quantum changes in terms of ski shapes, lengths, composite materials and of course performance! Predictably, at the same time, I’ve seen our rental activity grow exponentially with the resort and as our rental equipment has gotten better and better!

JF: As you are gearing up for a new ski season, are you renewing your fleet of rental equipment?

Todd Daines: New is the name of the game with us, as we change our equipment every year. We have five categories of skis that we renew either yearly or bi-yearly. As a full-line Rossignol shop, we focus on their Premier products which are the high-end Rossignol skis and boots, with something for everyone, from Junior to Adult!

JF: So, what’s new this winter?

Todd Daines: Skis continue to improve in terms of shapes and construction materials. The new ski that will probably be the most popular this year, the one that’s also the most versatile, is the Rossignol Soul 7, we have those in our Premier line.

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JF: Let’s say, that I’m a skier who loves groomed runs, what ski do you have for me?

Todd Daines: I’d get you on the Rossignol Pursuit. It’s a wonderful ski for making large, arcing turns!

JF: The buzz today seems to be all about “rocker skis;” what do you have in this category?

Todd Daines: The rocker technology is build into almost all of the skis that we offer, here at Deer Valley. Some are more extreme than others in terms of the shape they take while some are more qualified for different type of skiing; for instance, we have rocker skis more geared towards groomed runs, other for tree skiing and of course, powder snow.

JF: Do you offer gender-specific skis?

Todd Daines: We certainly do. We offer both women and men specific skis. When women skiers come in and want to try a lighter ski or something more suited to their style, we have it for them.

JF: What are the options for kids and juniors?

Todd Daines: We see kids coming to us at the age of two and a half, three years old, and we get these new skiers on ski length starting at 67 cm and into boots starting at size 7 that are just perfect for them. We have a full line of brand new Rossignol skis, boots and bindings that covers all needs from toddlers to teens, all the way to 140 or 150 cm skis.

JF: What happens if, during my stay, I needed to change gear, from say hard-pack skis to powder boards; is there a way I could switch?

Todd Daines: Most definitely, we have two locations on the mountain, you can just sneak into one of our shops and swap your skis for something that works better for you or the snow conditions at that time. There’s no additional charge to the customer, there may only be a short waiting time, but since we have all your information on file, you’ll be on your way before you know it!

JF: Besides skis, boots and poles, what else do you rent?

Todd Daines: We also rent helmets, of course, and those are designed to fit the smallest child the the full size adult!

JF: If I’ve never rented ski equipment with Deer Valley Resort before, what are my options?

Todd Daines: You can call in or register on line, give us or fill up the information and submit it to us. Depending on how early you make your reservation, you’ll be sent a bar-coded ticket, which contains all your information. Just bring it into one of our rental locations, you can bypass all the lines, go straight to your gear and you’ll be out of the door. If you didn’t have time to get your bar-coded information, you come in, we print out a small ticket, you receive your skis and boots and you’re done.

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 Deer Valley Rental Shop Website 

JF: How long does the process take?

Todd Daines: Since we have such a large fleet of equipment and so many fitting stations, the rental process can be as short as 5 minutes if you have your ticket ready. It might take you up to 15 to 20 minutes if you rent a new pair of boots and want them to fit you perfectly. If you’ve rented before with us, that time can be much shorter because we have your information on file. We also have what we call a “Grab and Ski”, where you can call in, give us all your information and agree to the size of the gear you want. Since it’s all preset, you just come in, okay your rental paperwork and you’re off the door. You only need to take one single step into the rental shop, you bypass all the lines and your skis are ready to go!

JF: So why should I rent skis from you instead of bringing my own equipment?

Todd Daines: It’s such an easy process! When you rent with us, you don’t have to worry about carrying your equipment ever. You can walk up to the shop in your tennis shoes, grab your gear, leave your shoes in the locker and slide on the snow. So once you’re here, you don’t have to leave the resort, you don’t have to call a room delivery service to come bring the gear to you in a van. We’ll take care of it all, right here!

JF: What do I do with my equipment at the end of the day?

Todd Daines: After you’re done with your ski day, you can leave your skis in the coral; likewise, you can leave the boots with us in our boot check. Then, you can then either go to your car, walk to your hotel or take the bus back to your condo. Today, with the breadth of inventory we offer and the kind of high performance equipment we have available, you can experience with us the latest technology in skis and boots and never have the need to purchase anything!

 

 

 

 

 

Ski All Day with New Technology in Women’s Skis

I want to ski the entire day.  I’d love to be the girl who is racing to get on that last chair before the lift closes.  I haven’t been able to do it yet, though.  The excuse I give myself for coming in early is I live here now and have a season pass so I can always come back tomorrow.  I simply tell myself, “Oh it’s nice to just ski for a few hours and then relax in the lodge.”

But the cold hard truth of it is, I get tired. My legs start burning, and I can’t ignore them.  I get worried that they won’t respond when I need them to. I might take a break but I end up going in instead of staying out as long as I’d like.

My girlfriends who visit find themselves in the same boat.  They don’t have the luxury of skiing next weekend though because they have to fly back to California.  This is their vacation – they want more skiing and less sitting. There is plenty of time for relaxing after 4 o’clock when the lifts close.

I recently found out that it might not just be me.  I don’t have iron legs by any means but I am in pretty good shape. I should be able to ski longer (with breaks of course.)  The answer could lie in my equipment. New ski technology is helping skiers gain more control, reduce fatigue and frankly have more fun. In the past, I’ve been confused and overwhelmed by ski technology, but this year I am bound and determined to learn.  My plan is to “geek out” because I have a goal – ski longer and get better.  Last year was the quest to become an intermediate skier. I did it!  Blue runs for me, my friends.  This year, we are going for the double blues, baby!

My friends at Rossignol helped me out and gave me a primer on the latest ski technology for intermediate women skiers this year.

Here are some things I learned:

photo 2Rocker.   As a classic rock fan, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “rocker” is AC/DC’s “Back in Black” but that’s not exactly what we are talking about here.  Rocker refers to the tips of the skis, like a rocking chair.  In powder, a rocker tip helps you to stay on top of the snow – floating on top of the powder like a water skier on water, not with skis planted in it.  On the back of the ski, the rocker helps you lean back to maintain control and slow your speed as you need to.  A tip and tail rocker helps you pivot without getting hung up.  Sounds good to me!

ROCKER EXPLAINED with titleCamber.  Not being a motor head, I had no idea what this term meant.  Camber refers to the spring on the ski – how it pops up or down. When you lay the ski on a flat surface, you’ll see it’s actually not flat. It has an arch in the middle.  As a result, only two points on the ski touch the flat surface and the middle of the ski has a spring to it. On a groomed run or hard packed snow, this helps with stability, turning, and gripping edges especially when it’s icy.

photo 1Combination.  Which is better for you?  Well, both actually! I found the combination of how the ski designer puts together the rocker and the camber is the key to control.  Rockers for powder skis means you don’t have to lean back to keep your tips up, reducing fatigue and that could mean one or two more runs at the end of the day. Camber on groomer skis means more stability, automatic turning, with edge grip and power which means more control, easier turns and more confidence.  This translates into less “having to pick yourself up” after a spill and possibly being able to tackle more challenging runs.

We’ll see if powder is in my future this year. If it is, I am going to try the Rossignal S7 with the Powder Turn Rocker.  Maybe an “all mountain” ski is better for me so I follow my girlfriends through a few trees and venture onto some intermediate mogul runs (no blacks for me yet, thank you!)  I’ll try the Women’s Rossignol Temptation 88 and the other in the Temptation Series.

We can all try them out at the Rossignol Test Center Yurt at Empire Lodge at no cost for two hours.  I haven’t taken advantage of this service yet but this year, I will.

Be sure to leave a comment for me about your experience with your demos.  Double blues girls, here we come!!

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Heavy Lifting!

Last Saturday I went to shoot a video about a helicopter that was removing the old Deer Crest chairlift. This job is a necessary first step before receiving the slightly larger towers that are being built for the new Mountaineer Express chairlift on Little Baldy Mountain at Deer Valley. Before I even left home, I saw a strange helicopter flying by the Wasatch Mountains. A few moments later, I was picked up at Snow Park Lodge by Chuck English, Deer Valley Resort’s Director of Mountain Operations.

On the way up to the lift, Chuck explained that Dopplemayr, the company supplying lifts to Deer Valley, had orchestrated a complex and precise operation to remove the eighteen towers assemblies that constituted the Deer Crest chairlift and bring them down to the bottom of the lift in less than two hours. He further explained that the helicopter used for the operation was a very expensive piece of equipment, costing around $4,000 per hour of flight time. I knew a few things about choppers, but not much about the special machine that came that morning. That one was used for hauling timber, moving lift towers around or even fighting fires.

The aircraft in question was a 1998 K-1200 made by Kaman Aerospace Corporation, powered by a 1,500 hp engine and owned by Timberline Helicopters, Inc. of Sandpoint, Idaho. This company is specialized in ski lift, power lines and pipelines construction, as well as logging among other diversified activities. This model, also called K-Max has two main intermeshing rotors but no tail rotor. Its two rotors turn in opposite directions, with each rotor mast mounted on the helicopter in a slight angle relative to the other and in such a way that the blades intermesh without colliding.

This original design is what allows the helicopter to function without the need for a tail rotor. This configuration is referred to as a synchropter. Such helicopters offer both high stability and powerful lifting capability, further they are more efficient, have a natural tendency to hover and are excellent for precision work in placing suspended loads. They’re also more responsive to the pilot’s control inputs, making it possible to easily and precisely swing a very heavy load; in fact, this flying crane can lift more than it own weight – 6,000 lbs – and while it burns an average of 85 gallons of fuel per hour during lift operations like this one, it remains the most efficient lift-to-fuel ratio of any helicopter in its class.

Like on fixed-wing aircraft, the lift of the helicopter rotating wings is produced by its reaction with the surrounding air. The denser the air, the greater the reaction. As the aircraft climbs in altitude, the air becomes less dense, so the amount of lift is reduced. This is because the atmospheric pressure acting on a given volume of air is reduced, allowing the air molecules to move further apart. At some point in a climb, up into a high mountain environment for instance, the lift produced by the thinning air is only enough to maintain the altitude, but no longer enough to climb. This constitutes the absolute ceiling for the aircraft.

The air density is not just a function of altitude though; the atmospheric pressure plays a role too; if the pressure is lower, the air is not as dense. Same effect with the temperature; as warm air expands, the air molecules move further apart, creating lighter air, but the reverse is also true as cooler air will create denser air conditions. Finally moisture influences lift as well; as the water content of the air increases, the air becomes less dense, decreasing performance. Increased relative humidity also contributes to that loss of lift.

To illustrate these physical facts, the working crew that day was telling us that while performing a similar work at 11,000 feet elevation at nearby Snowbird, earlier in the week, the weather was so hot and humid that the helicopter had a challenging time carrying some of its loads. At times and when the parts allows it certain elements like the sheave assemblies must be removed from the cross arm that sits on top of a chairlift tower and be replaced later on. In terms of lifting performance, the K-Max cargo hook capacity is rated at 6,000 lb at sea level. At 10,000 feet it’s about 5,163 lb and at 15,000 feet it falls significantly to 4,313 lb.

At the end of August, when the towers will have been manufactured, the helicopter will return to replace the new infrastructure of what will be the new “Mountaineer Express” chairlift. I hope I’ll get to be invited again to shoot the scene and focus on the wonderful choreography between some heavy hardware, a team of skilled craftsmen and a wonderful flying machine…

 

Biking is for the Whole Family

Spring came early to Park City—in a town where odds run high for snow on graduation day, it can be confusing to be able to play outside like it’s Summer in April or May. But, friends, we’re muddling through, somehow. What with all the Chamber of Commerce weather, and the fact that my kids look at bike time as cross-training for skiing (Opening Weekend), this is bound to be the summer that improves our skiing by leaps and bounds.

In fact, it didn’t take long for us to get rolling in summer mode in our house. Seth, our newly-minted five year-old, with his newly-missing two bottom teeth, has determined that this summer’s theme is “Two Wheels or Bust!” It didn’t take much—just like when he wanted to learn to ski, he saw big brother do it, and that, friends, was that (Secrets to Success). We started offering various tips on technique, offered to put a broomstick in the well under his seat so we could help him balance, suggested he use his feet to push and glide off the ground while he got the feel for it. And, in typical Seth fashion, he looked at us and said, “Why don’t I just ride?”

So, he did. Here’s the footage

The next thing I knew, Jeff was in the garage, finding the pedals to put on his own bike. Poor guy had been so busy in the last few years, the only time his bike got to roll on the trails around here was when our friend Cheo came for visits and borrowed the bike (he’s a BYOPedal kinda guy). Now, though, the kids were on a roll, and Jeff was not going to miss out.

So, with images of family bike rides dancing in our heads, we hauled Lance’s first mountain bike with gears into Jans for a tune-up (it was a hand-me-down from friends), and took mine there for good measure. While we were there, Jeff noticed some shiny new objects—and started chatting with Stephanie, one of the expert bike fitters. Before long, she had Jeff set up on demos, and he was tooling around the neighborhood, trying to choose a new bike. I won’t bore you with the list of complaints he has for his old mountain bike. We think of it as Cheo’s bike, anyway, and now this will allow the two of them to go on rides together when he’s in town…but I digress.

I owe Stephanie, Marty, and the team at Jans a debt of gratitude for helping Jeff find a new bike. First, she took the guesswork out of what gift to give my husband for our 17th wedding anniversary this month. Yes, friends, in case you were wondering, the official gift for 17th anniversary is One Sweet Ride. Second, she singlehandedly helped reconnect my guy, who raced bikes in high school, with a lifelong passion—that’s going to help push his healthy lifestyle agenda to the next level. Also, they helped me entertain my kids during the whole bike demo process, allowing many pairs of shoes to be tried on, and selling us a couple of bags of candy, to boot. As in winter, I’m not above bribing with candy. [Upping the Ante on Bribes]

After all was said and done, I was inspired to get my like-new (as in gently used, because I bought it eleven years ago and have ridden just a handful of times) bike into the shop for a tune-up.

Some people in my house have described me as a reluctant biker—I’m not. I swear. I really, really WANT to bike. But I’ve never been a confident biker, which makes it hard to just get out and ride. When I first bought my bike, I took advantage of the variety of free, guided rides available to all levels of bikers through Jans and White Pine—some are even women-only. Somehow, though, once the boys were born, I couldn’t make the time for those rides. No, boys, I’m not blaming you. In recent years,  I promised my pal Emily that I would take some mountain biking lessons at Deer Valley—but other things took precedence.

Now, though, the same thing that motivated me to up my game on the snow has been brought to bear for biking; I will not be left behind by my family. So: First things first, I’m going to start riding on the flat trails around town. Next, I’ll join some of those evening rides at White Pine and Jans. And, because my kids are going to check out some Deer Valley Summer Camps, I’m going to book myself a mountain biking lesson on the mountain, too.

Let the games begin!

Free ski check—free advice

For most of us, it’s the little things that make-or-break an experience. Deer Valley’s free ski check is one of those things.

There isn’t a bathroom break or mealtime when I don’t take advantage of the free, secure ski storage located at every lodge on the mountain. And, yes, I am one of those skiers who checks in my gear at the end of the first day of the season—and every day thereafter.

I like it for a few reasons. First, I am one of those people who can never remember where I parked my car—or which rack I used to stash my skis during lunch. Second, there’s no chance of me grabbing another skier’s similar gear by accident—or vice versa. The fact that it’s free makes it a no-brainer.

However, the system isn’t flawless. If you’re the sort of person who can’t remember where you put your keys (ahem), you may be prone to losing the little numbered tag. And I’m not sure which is more frustrating—being the person who arrives at ski check in the morning, having stored their gear overnight, only to have lost the tag, or being in the line of good, tag-wielding folks who have to wait while you fill out the paperwork and fail miserably at properly describing your ski by make, model and color. (This particular predicament is not limited to those with rental gear. My friend Steve forgot the pertinent details of his skis once, and I once described the color of my skis as yellow, when the rest of the world would see them as a light, bright green). So, yes, I’ve been both people in this scenario—and found them to be equally frustrating.

Lucky for you, I’ve learned a few things from these experiences. Here’s my quick list of tips for avoiding the dreaded lost tag:

  1. Use your smartphone to take a photo of your tag. The guys at ski-check suggested it to me—and it works. If you lose the tag, you’ll be able to show the photo to the attendants at ski check, so they can retrieve your skis. You will still have to fill out a form, but it will eradicate the sweat-it-out search-by-sight that will otherwise ensue. You’ll still have to fill out a form, but it will take seconds instead of minutes. I pull out my phone and open the camera app as soon as I hand off my skis and poles.
  2. If you’re checking multiple pairs of skis for your family, photograph them separately with your phone, and put the corresponding skier’s name in the caption
  3. Attach a carabineer to the ticket ring on your jacket or ski pants. I know it’s tempting to take that wristband-sized loop and, yes, wear it on your wrist. Resist the urge. The minute you take of a glove, or remove your jacket for lunch or a bathroom break, that long-forgotten “wristband” will fly off, unnoticed and lay, useless, on the floor. Use the carabineer to hold any tags you acquire over the course of the day—whether you are using the basket check in the basement of Snow Park or Silver Lake lodges, or simply checking your skis in at lunch. You’ll never be at a loss for the tag’s location.
  4.  If you own multiple ski outfits and alternate them regularly, pick a spot in your boot bag that always houses the carabineer at the end of the ski day. This seems like a very basic rule, but it’s one that will save you a lot of headaches.

Got any other great tips for absent-minded folks like me? Leave them in the comments.