Carving Skis, Powder Skis and Skis In Between

I often look at my ski rack and wonder what I could change to make skiing even more fun and a little easier. In other words, which ski do I really need? This basic question conjured up so many parameters that just one simple answer seemed totally impossible. But I was determined to find out and what follows is the story of my search for the perfect ski.

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I began by visiting the Rossignol North American Headquarters, right here in Park City, Utah. I spent some time with Nick Castagnoli, communication and public relations officer for the brand. Deer Valley Resort works closely with Rossignol, one of the world’s leading equipment manufacturers, both at its Empire Test Center and also in all of its ski rental operations. Nick took me to the showroom where next winter’s collection was already on display. Needless to say that I was overwhelmed by the breadth of models available, but his expertise quickly brought some order to my confused mind.

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He first introduced the carving skis, Rossignol’s new Pursuit line. “These are pure carving tools,” said Nick, “Their mid-sole dimensions only range from 71 to 73 mm. These are fast edge-to-edge. You barely roll your ankle and you’re gone.” He immediately saw that this wasn’t quite my type of ski and explained that the carving and powder ski categories were bridged by a wonderful family of All-Mountain skis, called the Experience Series for men and the Temptation Series for women. “From coast-to-coast these skis represent the majority of our sales. They stand as benchmark of versatility for consumers. Not everyone skis deep powder.” added Nick.

I asked what might be the best width for me in the Experience line and Nick suggested that I try a few different versions at the Rossignol High Performance Test Center at Deer Valley Resort. I also asked what seemed to be the practical range of acceptable ski width (this is measured in millimeters under the foot at the mid-section of the ski) for the kind of skiing I was doing. Nick just smiled and said: “We’ve seen all kinds of widths in recent years, but the pendulum always swings back. Today from 85 to 110 mm seems to be where it’s at!”

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Nick skis on the Soul 7, a powder ski, the other flagship of the Rossignol line. “Skiers want a ski that’s versatile. Something that works for any occasion. The Soul 7 is an aspirational ski; Everyone wants to become a good powder skier.” He went on to explain the distinctive, longer lightweight (air) tip in that series of skis designed to minimize swing-weight and also match the rocker location. Nick explained, “weight is a big deal for us. Lightweight is the trend these days, so we are working hard at making both our skis and bindings significantly lighter, which in turn makes skiing much easier without compromising performance.”

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My meeting with Nick Castagnoli brought me one step closer to understanding what would be the perfect ski for me. But since I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned, I returned to the Rossignol High Performance Test Center, located near the Empire Canyon Lodge at Deer Valley Resort. I had paid one visit in January and needed to refresh my memory.

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I wanted to ski again on the Soul 7, Rossignol’s best-selling freeride ski (the Savory 7 is the women’s equivalent). If you’re not familiar with the term freeride, simply equate it to powder or deep snow skiing. This very distinctive yellow ski spans over backcountry, freestyle and powder skiing. Its particular “rocker” design is meant to prevent tip flapping and brings an effortless flotation. Because of this the ski literally plows its way through the most challenging snow conditions, from bottomless powder to forbidding crud and even spring snow. The ski also does a decent job on hard-pack but this is not where I would primarily use it. I particularly liked its tip that projects higher up, offering an added feature when going over unknown terrain in fresh snow or extremely deep moguls.

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Since I don’t spend much time skiing hard-pack, I didn’t look at or test the carving skis that Rossignol offers in this product category. I was looking for the everyday Deer Valley ski, that I think I found in the Experience series. I just want my skis to initiate easily when I take them in tight forested spots and yet I need them to be stable when I happen to find myself on groomed runs, which is where I often end up during the early and late portions of the season. The rest of the time my favorite playground is natural terrain, trees, crud (mostly) and powder of variable depth each time mother nature programs a snowfall!

I remember trying both the Experience 84 and 88. The 88 was the one I liked the most. I found it to be very versatile for my type of skiing and solid enough in terms of quickness and stability. It can carve when it has to and is very responsive, perhaps because of its more subtle rocker design. I also found it quite stable and easy to control when it had to plow through changing snow conditions or transition from smooth to bumpy terrain.

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That’s it; I have determined that the Experience 88 is the perfect ski for me. Doing a little homework was worth it and made me confident that I didn’t have to make much compromise as I have done so many times before. I’m satisfied that I have made the perfect choice, found the right equipment for me, and can already look forward to the next ski season! I hope this helps you choose your perfect ski too. 

Gearing up!

“Do the boots fit? Have they outgrown their skis? Will their goggles cover their foreheads, or have they outgrown those too? What about mittens? We never seem to have enough mittens.”

These are the conversations that preoccupy my family’s fall weekends. We dig through ski bags. We try on helmets. And as being the beneficiaries of some pretty sweet hand-me-down jackets and pants, we have the kids try on the pieces that seem closest to their sizes.

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This year Lance is 11 which means that on his next birthday he will officially complete the annual rental contract at Utah Ski and Golf, he started at age three. Since enrolling he has upgraded to the front-entry boots. He has gone up to a ski length that is closer-than-ever to my own ski length. (Just as his bike is but one size smaller than mine.) We’ll be taking Seth to Surefoot and Jans to see where he falls on the trade-in scale—certainly he’s up at least a size in boots at least a size in skis. I thought recently, “there is nothing quite so humbling as marking the passage of time in outgrown ski gear.”

I am also humbled by the leaps in maturity, too. Lance turned the “boot corner” this year. The minute he slipped his feet into his new boots, he announced, “These feel great!” No drama, no discussion about how they “should feel.” He’s a skier. They felt right. He knew.

Lance turned another corner. When the tech asked about his ski level, we didn’t hedge. Our instincts and experience told us that he is, officially, a great skier. He attacked terrain with a different confidence last season, and he had the look—the one that says, “I can’t wait to attack it again.”

Share with me how you are gearing up your family for this season on Twitter   or @Deer_Valley. See you on the slopes!

Scott Sports Announces the start of a multi-year partnership with Deer Valley Resort

Scott Sports and Deer Valley announced today an Official year-round Partnership in which Deer Valley is now the home resort for the multi-season brand.  Starting this 2014/2015 season Scott Sports will be the official goggle, pole, helmet and bike sponsor of Deer Valley Resort.

Photo courtesy of Scott Sports

Photo courtesy of Scott Sports

“We couldn’t be happier about this newly formed partnership. Since our recent relocation we have been eager to grow its presence within the local Utah community. Deer Valley has an outstanding reputation for delivering a world-class experience to its year round visitor’s, making it a seamless fit to our message as a multi-season brand,” said Scott Sports Executive Vice President John Quinn.

Under this agreement, Scott Sports will be the equipment supplier for Deer Valley employees for winter products and Scott bikes will make up Deer Valley’s entire rental fleet for their summer lift access trails.

Photo courtesy of Scott Sports

Photo courtesy of Scott Sports

“Scott is the perfect company to be represented here at Deer Valley. Their history in the skiing industry as well as the bike industry makes them well known across many adventure sports. The expertise, technology and design that they put into each of their products will be well represented here at Deer Valley,” said Bob

Since 1958 Scott Sports has pushed the limits of innovation, technology and design. From the first aluminum ski pole, to the introduction of aero bars and the original plastic motocross boot, we have led the way in the sports industry. Combining endless determination to improve with the methodical intricacy put into each product, Scott prepares athletes to reach their highest potential. Learn more at www.scott-sports.com

#DeerValleySummer Mountain Bike Lesson

The #DeerValleySummer is filled with more adventures than I could have ever imagined. Friends and family ask me all of the time, “What do you do when the ski season is over?” Lift-served mountain biking, hiking, concerts, standup paddleboarding, the list goes on and on. The question isn’t what do I do, it’s how do I find time to do it all?

Before I started working at Deer Valley, I didn’t know you could take a mountain bike lesson. I soon became aware that Deer Valley Resort’s Bike School offers knowledgeable mountain bike instructors who will teach you the proper techniques to help you ride safely and confidently, while navigating the nearly 70 miles of trails at Deer Valley Resort.

I signed up for a mountain bike lesson so I could learn the ropes of downhill mountain biking. Unlike skiing, I had zero experience in mountain biking, unless you count riding my bike around the neighborhood as a child. I knew that if the instructors in the Ski School could turn me into a skier, then the Bike School could turn me into a mountain biker.

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Not having a mountain bike myself, I rented one from the mountain bike rental shop in Deer Valley Resort’s Snow Park Lodge. The rental shop also made sure I had a helmet, elbow pads and shin guards. Going into the lesson, I was very nervous; after leaving the rental shop, I felt prepared to take on the mountain. I met my bike instructor, Doug Gormley, and we made our way outside to start the lesson.

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Doug showed me the basic braking functions of the bike as well as the gears and how to properly shift. He taught me a trick that I used all day; easy or lower gears, use your thumb and harder or higher gears, use your index finger. I was very surprised how light the bike was and the incredible amount of spring in the shocks.

We went over the four basic riding fundamentals I would need for downhill mountain biking; balance in an athletic position, look ahead, smooth braking and controlled momentum. 20140815_101753

Doug asked if I played on my bike as a child. He said that people who have experience on a bike, even if it’s just jumping off curbs, have a huge advantage when it comes to mountain biking. This helped me get into the balanced athletic position or “platform” as Doug called it. Doug emphasized that I needed to be standing on the bike with both pedals even and my weight balanced. Since this was downhill mountain biking, leaning back was encouraged and being light on the handlebars to avoid going over them.

Looking ahead was the next lesson in my biking education. “Don’t look down, you need to see what’s coming up, not what you’re on. Trust your vision and your body to react.” ,Doug stressed. At first this was the most difficult thing for me to do. I wanted to see what I was rolling over. I soon realized that I needed to see what to prepare for and be looking ahead to properly position myself for the upcoming obstacle.

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Smooth braking was the third fundamental Doug taught me before we made our way to the mountain. I learned how to use the front and rear brakes evenly. I had never been on a bike with hydraulic, disc brakes. These were not the same brakes on my 1998 bike I rode around Taylorsville as an 11 year old. I could tell that too much front brake would cause you to fly over the handlebars. Doug showed me how to place my hands so that my index fingers were on the brakes at all times near the end of the handles. This allowed me to evenly brake and not use one more than the other.

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The last of the four fundamentals was learning how to control my momentum. We practiced in the parking lot going down stairs and hills, controlling my momentum, not too fast and not too slow. A consistent motion all the way down was the goal. Doug stressed going into turns slower with a consistent speed and accelerating out of the turn when I felt comfortable to do so. By this time, I was ready to take on the first trail which was Naildriver, Deer Valley’s easiest downhill mountain bike trail on Bald Mountain.

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After riding up Silver Lake Express chairlift, we rode Sterling Express to the top of Bald Mountain. We stopped at the beginning of the trail for a few last-minute pointers and we went over the four fundamentals again. I was so excited; being scared in the rental shop beforehand felt like a lifetime ago. After the fundamentals, I honestly can’t remember what Doug said. I’m pretty sure it was just “follow me.”

We headed down Naildriver trail, a smooth single track. The views of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the Heber Valley were breathtaking. I followed close behind Doug and felt at ease on the mountain bike. I tried imitating Doug’s route. Little jumps in the trail made for fast learning experiences. If I saw Doug run over a huge rock, I then knew that the mountain bike I was on could handle it as well. I just needed to remember the fundamentals and stay loose.
20140815_121331 (1)Like my first ski lesson, we would stop and talk at certain spots on the trail. Doug gave me pointers and praise along the way. During one of the stops, I learned to lean to steer. The key to this was to lean your bike, not your body. Doug showed me how to make long arm turns and turns with one pedal up and one down. I tried to soak up the 26 years of mountain biking knowledge Doug was sharing with me like a sponge.

We made our way down Bald Mountain and to the end of Naildriver trail. I was surprised at how many different muscles I used navigating down the mountain. The other person in my lesson was wearing a heart rate monitor. It said she burned 800 calories in the short time we had been in the lesson. This was easily the most fun exercise I had ever done. After a few more turning lessons, I said goodbye to Doug and my lesson partner at the bottom of Sterling Express chairlift.

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I had the option to download on Silver Lake Express chairlift or take Tour Des Homes trail down to the Snow Park Lodge. This trail was a lot different than the first one I had been on. Lots of loose gravel and wider trails made for a different experience. It was very cool to see this part of the resort during the summer. Tour Des Homes mountain bike trail follows much of the same trail line as Silver Dollar ski run. This is one of my favorite ski runs, because of the views you see along the way and the homes that line the trail.

I can’t wait to explore more of the fantastic trails Deer Valley Resort has to offer. Have you ever had a mountain bike lesson? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley.

Want to explore Deer Valley’s variety of trails? Sign up for a guided mountain bike tour led by Deer Valley’s professionally trained instructors. Gain some riding tips while meeting other riders and learning about the mountain and the resort. Participants must be intermediate level and 13 years or older.

For more information on mountain biking or to reserve a space in the Mountain Bike School, please call 435-645-6648 or 888-754-8477.

Things you never thought you could do on a mountain bike

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Your brand new mountain bike is ready to take you on the many exciting trails that Deer Valley Resort has to offer. You may also know the expression, “He who can do the most, can (also) do the least,” and this perfectly applies to this piece of equipment because of its versatility and ruggedness. Today’s mountain bikes feature highly-engineered features, some powerful hydraulic disc brakes and great riding comfort thanks to a full suspension frame. This said, did you even suspect that there was more than one way to enjoy these sturdy and highly technical bikes? I found out by asking some of the experts who work at Deer Valley Resort. In just a few minutes, I was amazed to learn at what a mountain bike can accomplish.

Healing Faster

If you have injured your leg and you’re anxious to get back on your skis in the winter, chances are that your doctor or surgeon will prescribe a strong rehab program involving the use of a bike. Since stationary bikes can be boring after awhile, consider using your mountain bike instead. You don’t need to take it to any expert single track trails though; just ride it on a nearby asphalt or gravel bike path.

Earning a Living

Besides being a professional mountain bike racer, becoming a mountain bike patroler is a neat way to earn a living by using a mountain bike everyday. Patrol work involves a fair amount of trail maintenance activities and you’ll soon find yourself carrying a rake, a pick ax or even a chainsaw while riding. Earning a living this way also applies to the lift operators who, at the end of their shift or the end of the day, can jump on their bikes and ride down the mountain for fun. Policemen in Park City also share in that perk by carrying a service bike on the back of their SUV’s.

Trail Research and Development

New trail ideas generally begin on a map. Very soon however, they must be fine-tuned in their real environment. Most of the time, new trail paths cross obstacles like ski runs, undulating meadows, creek beds, rock formations and forested areas. It often helps a great deal to trace the ideal contours of the trail through that variable terrain by first riding it, before any trail is cut, to uncover the most natural path. On grassy meadows or on ski runs, the bike lays the grass down and works as a fine tracing tool.

Assistant Bike Patrol Manager, Chris Erkkila

Deer Valley Resort’s Assistant Bike Patrol Manager, Chris Erkkila.

Trail Testing

There are moments when it’s time to test a section of a new trail; the builder has to be the guinea pig and test a delicate passage or a tricky area, just like a test pilot would do. On segments of trails that are built around a big rock drop or a succession of large stumps, patrol staff and trail builders will use a bike without a rider. The bike is rolled over the obstacle to make sure that the chainring won’t hit anything. Chris Erkkila, assistant bike partrol manager, says that he uses this technique as a training tool, “When I teach new bike patrollers how to ride on tough terrain, I follow the same procedure and tell them that if the bike clears the obstacle, so can they.”

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Snow Riding

Surprisingly, mountain bikes do quite well on snow. No, we’re not talking about the fat-bikes with gigantic tires that are becoming the new rage in winter, but just your run-of-the-mill mountain bike. They perform well as long as there is fairly good hard-packed snow; you want to look for smooth surfaces and avoid too much tire penetration. Lowering the air pressure helps traction. Of course, when there’s deep snow over some hard pack, the sensation can be one of a kind especially if the snow is some dry, Utah powder. Says Doug Gormley, lead bike instructor, “I have been in a foot of dry, fluffy snow with hard-pack below and the sensation was out of this world.” The Mega Avalanche race in Europe would be another opportunity to test your bike in a group setting and experience mountain biking as a four season sport. Please remember that mountain bikes are not allowed at Deer Valley Resort during the ski season.

The Mega Avalanche race in Europe

The Mega Avalanche race in Europe

Performing tricks

Like any other bicycle, a mountain bike can do wheelies and a variety of tricks. The price to pay is a few more pounds to maneuver, but it’s doable. Wheelies, manuals, bunny hops and the whole panoply of tricks ingrained into BMX culture are totally possible with a mountain bike. Riders can take their “fat tires” on prepared tracks and do some dirt jumping. Most of the time, a bike with only front shocks will suffice and will feel a tad lighter. Besides the added weight, mountain bikes have other limitations. BMX bikes are lighter and tend to soar higher in the air. BMX bikes also have smaller wheels and a shorter wheelbase making them perfectly adapted to the terrain prepared-tracks and dirt jumps, but if you don’t own a BMX, there’s still plenty of fun to be had on your mountain bike.

Going Up and Down Stairs:

I have saved this one for last, because I’ve always been fascinated watching mountain bikers going down stairs without even thinking twice. In fact, I have been told that it’s possible to ride down huge staircases that wind back and forth into corners and zigzag all the way. Yet, as surprisingly as it sounds, the reverse is also true. With proper gearing, climbing stairs is also possible on a bike. You can also use a mountain bike as a trial bike, on which you balance the bike and literally hop the stairs. Doug can do it and he said, “My very first experience was in a building. For stairs, a full-suspension bike is better for both pedaling up the stairs and going down the stairs. A bike without suspension would actually be better for hopping.”

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Upon reading this short overview, you now have a good idea of the amazing capabilities of your mountain bike. What cool things do you do on your mountain bike? Tell us on Twitter @Deer_Valley or in the comments below.

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.