OCEARCH at Deer Valley Resort’s Summer Adventure Camp

For the second year in a row, Chris Fischer from OCEARCH enlightened Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Campers on the importance of preserving our oceans.

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Mr. Fischer and his team allow scientists to study sharks in an environment safe for both the researchers and the sharks. They do this by catching and tagging sharks so scientists all around the world can study them. While most people would say they’re afraid of sharks, Mr. Fischer explained that sharks should actually be scared of humans; nearly 200,000 sharks are killed each day and if this continues, future generations will not be able to enjoy these awesome creatures.

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“I’m thrilled to be part of Deer Valley’s Summer Camp. Park City is home for my family and I, and I’m excited to be able to connect these kids to the OCEARCH mission and bring the ocean into their summer camp. Thanks to Deer Valley for inviting me!” - Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader

OCEARCH is a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on great white sharks and other large apex predators. After having Mr. Fischer speak with the campers last year, the kids decided to donate the proceeds from the annual end-of-season Art Show to OCEARCH; nearly $800! They were also able to SKYPE with Mr. Fischer while he was on an expedition in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This year Mr. Fischer returned with Dr. Alex Hearn, a world-class scientist who specializes in the study of fish movements with a strong focus on conservation. Mr. Fischer and Dr. Hearn not only spoke about the importance of preserving our oceans but also gave some great life advice to the young campers.

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“An inch is a cinch and a yard is hard.”

Mr. Fischer explained when his team first started out, no one had ever done what they were attempting to do. By working together and taking little steps, they have been able to accomplish a lot, but there is still room for improvement. Mr Fischer shared his message that we have a lot of things we can improve on when it comes to ocean conservation and it starts with an inch.

One way OCEARCH is bringing attention to ocean conservation is with the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app, available to download for free. The app allows you to see the shark migration patterns, just like the scientists who are studying them; you can even track individual sharks by name and see where they were tagged and where they have been since. I downloaded the app and follow OCEARCH on Facebook. I think it’s so cool to be able to see where the sharks have traveled.

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After OCEARCH was done with their presentation, I spoke with Kurt Hammel, Deer Valley Resort’s Children’s Programs Assistant Manager.

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Ryan: How did Deer Valley Resort get involved with OCEARCH?

Kurt:  We learned of OCEARCH from one of our staff members. We are always looking for people who have ties to the Park City community to get involved with our Summer Adventure Camp.

Ryan:  What is the biggest thing the kids take away from these presentations?

Kurt:  I think the oldest kids realize the impact that killing sharks has and that they need to be the next generation to help. The younger kids seem to be really fascinated with sharks.

Ryan: Do the kids ask you a lot of shark questions in the days after the presentation?

Kurt: Some of the kids could talk about sharks all day, every day! The boys love to make shark pictures. A lot of these pictures will end up in our Art Show at the end of the season.

Ryan: Can you tell me more about the Art Show?

Kurt: The annual Art Show is held the first week of August. It allows the campers to proudly display the many and varied art projects they worked on so diligently all summer. The pieces are available to purchase for a donation to that year’s S.A.V.E. project.

Ryan: What does S.A.V.E stand for?

Kurt: Summer Adventure Volunteer Effort. This effort raises money through an art show for a selected organization. Some of our past recipients have been the Carmen B. Pingree School for Children with Autism, Recycle Utah, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project and the Blind Children’s Learning Center.  In 2013, the kids raised $800 for The OCEARCH organization.

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Ryan: What other speakers do you have lined up for the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: This summer we have some great speakers lined up, including former Olympians, the “Hired Guns” cowboy entertainers, Hawkwatch and an Origami demonstration during the week of our Art Show.

Ryan: Origami; see if they can make hawks and sharks.

Kurt: I’m sure the kids will ask for those first.

Ryan: What is your favorite part of the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: The great thing about Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp is that we are involved in a broad variety of activities with the goal to be active in our community and at the resort as well. We are not sport/activity specific and kids get to experience a lot of different things in just one week here.

Ryan: Can guests still sign up their little ones for Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: Absolutely, Summer Adventure Camp is open until August 20. Parents can sign their children up weekly or even for just a day or two. For more information on the Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp, please visit the website here.

Have you downloaded the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app? Tell me what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley.

Midweek Mountain Bike Race Series: A Family Affair

When Mom and Dad are avid mountain bikers and love to race on fat tires, the next great thing to do is bring the whole family along and have a fun, late day competition, where every one can enjoy the company of friends in a cool mountain environment. That’s what the Midweek Mountain Bike Race Series is all about and they have two upcoming events at Deer Valley Resort. To learn more about the series, I met with Brooke Howard, one of the race co-directors, during a Round Valley event, in Park City, Utah.

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JF: How did this program get started?

Brooke Howard: Jay Burke, the original founder of the series, started it at nearby Solitude Resort. At first, it was just a very casual, small group of racers who wanted to compete. Jay was also the founder of the Park City Point 2 Point and as this program grew in popularity, it quickly captured his entire focus away from the series.

JF: So what did you do?

Brooke Howard: At that exact same time, I wanted to start a midweek type of event, maybe not necessarily in mountain biking, but our family came out to the series every Tuesday; it was a wonderful event. My husband and my kids raced and the idea of seeing the series go away was simply terrifying. I met up with Jay and we took over the series. Today, Luke Ratto is my partner and the series’ other co-director.

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JF: When did you take over?

Brooke Howard: In March of 2011, so this is our fourth year.

JF: At the program’s inception, how many participants did you have in a given race?

Brooke Howard: Jay was averaging 75 racers and when we took the program over, our first race attracted close to 150 participants, including the kids. We nearly doubled the attendance and today we are averaging about 230 participants per event.

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JF: Counting the kids?

Brooke Howard: Not counting the kids! We have about 40 plus children at each event and those are free to participants.

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JF: How many events do you have in a season?

Brooke Howard: We organize 12 events.

JF: Where do they take place?

Brooke Howard: We have two at Corner Canyon (near the Point of the Mountain, in Draper, Utah), one in Heber, Utah, four at Solitude, two at Deer Valley Resort, two in Round Valley (Park City) and one at Snowbird.

JF: How long is a loop for the kids?

Brooke Howard: For the kids, we do a mini loop that takes about 15 minutes and depending on the location, we offer different options. For instance, at Deer Valley Resort we create a skills course for them.

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JF: What’s the course for adults?

Brooke Howard: For beginners we average four miles. The sport class is about eight to ten miles and the Pros and Experts are between 12 and 16 miles.

JF: Is it the same course for everyone?

Brooke Howard: Yes, for the most part. In the majority of cases, it’s just a matter of doing loops and on other courses, we will have a break-off loop.

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JF: Is it always a cross-country type race?

Brooke Howard: Yes.

JF: Why do you offer free registration for children under 12?

Brooke Howard: Mostly to give them a taste of what mountain biking is all about, get them outdoors and exercising. As a matter of fact, and with few exceptions, all the children that come out here are children of racers competing in the main event.

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JF: Lucky kids!

Brooke Howard: Right! But that’s not all. Summit Bike Club coach Kristi Henne coaches the free kids race too, so you can see that children are especially cared for and receive our undivided attention.

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JF: So you’ve created a program that fosters both a fun and active family outing that everyone can look forward to?

Brooke Howard: Absolutely!

JF: Did the series start with that scope in mind?

Brooke Howard: For me personally, that’s what it was from the beginning: something we did on Tuesday’s with other racers. It’s a casual, family-friendly event, filled with camaraderie and aimed at encouraging health and fitness while helping grow the sport.

JF: How do you get the word out?

Brooke Howard: Facebook is a very good friend of ours, but most importantly, it’s word of mouth.

JF: Are bike shops helping you too?

Brooke Howard: Yes, we have flyers and posters in all the Wasatch Front bike shops, from Springville all the way to Ogden, Salt Lake, Heber, and of course Park City. Bike shops are also actively involved with the series. Locally, we work with White Pine Touring; they support the races in Park City and at Deer Valley.

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JF: I’ve also noticed your impressive list of sponsors.

Brooke Howard: Among the main ones, there’s Mark Miller Subaru, our title sponsor behind the funding of our series, and there’s also Backcountry.com who came in last year, as well as Scheels, our 2014 “Wrench’n Sponsor”. Sheels has “trail marshals” who are out on the course, packed with a supply of tools, tubes and the like to help those in need of a fast repair or a tire change. All of our sponsors provide raffle prizes at the end of each event and the end of the season.

JF: Are there prizes at each event?

Brooke Howard: Yes, there are prizes at every single race and our sponsors also provide a monster raffle at the end of the season. Instead of honoring the winners after each race, we accumulate their points and, at the end of season, we award the top five finishers in the expert and pro class with some money and winners in the sport class are awarded with some prizes or a pass for next year. We also give a little goody bag to all the children.

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JF: What about the monster raffle?

Brooke Howard: We reserve this one for those who participate in six or more races; prizes are season passes to a ski resort, bike racks and other sporting equipment.

JF: That’s quite a comprehensive program.

Brooke Howard: Indeed! While we are on the subject of rewards, I would also like to mention that, at the end of the season, a portion of our proceeds go back to help maintain the trails and keep providing a wonderful experience to all trail users. All of our funds go back to the trail community both in terms of physical work and cash.

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JF: You said earlier that you have two events scheduled for Deer Valley Resort?

Brooke Howard: That’s right. The first event is at Snow Park on June 24 and the next one is at Silver Lake on July 22.

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JF: Are both events for children and adults?

Brooke Howard: Yes. Snow Park will be set up as a skills course for kids, while Silver Lake will offer the regular children’s race.

JF: I’m sure many locals will be eager to participate. Could you tell us more about these two events?

Brooke Howard: Registration always begins at 5 p.m. If you register online, the adult entry fee is just $15, or $17 if you register at the race. The free kid race always starts at 6 p.m. and the adult race begins at 6:30 p.m. The adult race is a staggered start, beginning with the pro men and continuing all the way to the beginners group.

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JF: Are spectators encouraged to come and cheer the racers?

Brooke Howard: Absolutely! Spectating is free and we love to have crowds at the finish line. We would just love to see you all come out and have a great time mountain biking and cheering the competitors.

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Three Unique Adventures Near Park City – Racing Mustangs, Watching Bison and the Wild West

Race a high performance Ford Mustang GT, spot a bison herd and go back 200 years in history, all within about an hour’s drive of Park City. Who knew there were so many adventures so close by?

There is so much to do in Park City that until we moved here full time, we never even considered getting in the car and exploring.

Now that we have been here a few seasons, we have ventured out exploring in different directions. Here are some unique adventures we came across that are close enough for a day trip.

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Racing Ford Mustang GTs at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah

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Is driving upwards of 100 mph in a Ford Mustang on your bucket list?  If so, head west on Interstate 80 to Miller Motorsports Park.  My husband Jay and his “motorhead” friend Tom enjoyed the experience immensely.

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After 30 minutes of classroom instruction, the guys headed to race at high speeds on the 4.5-mile circuit track – the longest track in North America.  After following the pace car for a few laps to learn the ropes, each guy got a chance to be the lead and “let her rip” at close to 100 mph.

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Not a Ford fan?  Drive your own car on Wide Open Wednesdays – WOW.

Resource: http://www.utah.com/saltlake/miller_park.htm

Wide Open Wednesdays – http://www.millermotorsportspark.com/get-on-track/wide-open-wednesday.html

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Heading north –

Day trip to Antelope Island

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Did you know there is an island in the Great Salt Lake connected by a land bridge?  Did you know the island has fresh water springs and is home to a herd of about 600 bison?  It’s a little over an hour and a half drive from Park City (because you have to travel north of Salt Lake City to access it).

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Get out your hiking boots or bring your bike to visit Antelope Island State Park for the day (or you can even camp overnight if you are so inclined).  In addition to the bison, Antelope Island is home to large herds of mule deer, pronghorn antelope and big horn sheep. Also, take in the working farm– the Fielding Garr Ranch museum.

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Resource:  http://stateparks.utah.gov/park/antelope-island-state-park

Heading east –

Rendezvous at Fort Bridger, Wyoming

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Ever dreamed of being a frontiersman or woman during the fur trade when the west was really wild? You are almost 200 years tardy … but not too late.  You can still celebrate an old west rendezvous that occurred from 1825 to 1840 at Fort Bridger, Wyoming (a short distance east of Evanston.)

Drive east on Interstate 80 for about an hour and a half to the annual Rendezvous at Fort Bridger – a reenactment of the events when fur traders would bring their wares for trade. These gatherings were attended by hundreds of fur trappers and traders, mountain men, thousands of Native Americans and the occasional missionary or two.

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The event happens over Labor Day weekend and over 40,000 visitors and participants attend.  Many dress in period costumes to take part in festivities such as black powder musket shooting, archery and a frying pan toss competition. Hmmm… sounds interesting.

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Come in costume to participate or street cloths to watch. You can also shop at any of the 120 trading booths set up during the event.

Walking through the teepees and camps, you are transported in time and have the chance to experience a little slice of what life was like back then.

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Resource: http://www.wyomingtourism.org/articles/detail/Mountain-Man-Rendezvous/30972

Whichever direction you decide to go (even if it’s just staying right where you are), you’ll never be lacking for something to do in Park City and the surrounding area.

Deer Valley Resort Heats Up Its Summer Offerings

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When the snow melts, Deer Valley Resort reopens its chairlifts for guests looking to experience the exciting pulse of summer activities available day and night on its mountains. From the rush of a mountain bike descent through the aspens to an exhilarating hike along a ridge top to lunch served al fresco to evening concerts in the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, Deer Valley® offers an unparalleled alpine escape.

Summer operations at the resort run seven days a week from June 13 through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, weather and conditions permitting. Lift-served mountain biking/hiking and scenic rides are offered from the Silver Lake Express chairlift at Snow Park, the mid-mountain Sterling Express chairlift and the Ruby Express chairlift in Empire Canyon. Summer chairlifts operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather permitting) and ample parking is available at Snow Park Lodge. The resort’s website provides detailed information on mountain biking and scenic ride lift ticket rates, as well as information on bike rentals, clinics and tours.

Riders at Deer Valley will find over 60 miles of twisty, fun mountain bike trails, which will challenge beginners and experts alike. Many Deer Valley trails connect with Park City’s network of singletrack, providing access to 400 miles of trails. This year, Deer Valley Resort was honored to be named the #2 Best Bike Park in the Rocky Mountains by MTBparks.com‘s Rider Choice Awards and voted Best Biking by City Weekly’s Best of Utah. This summer, the resort is moving forward with a master plan and trail design that will focus on connectivity between its three lodges and lift areas. The focus will be on upgrading trail systems to include more modern trail design.

For evening play, Deer Valley Resort brings in celebrated singers, songwriters and musicians to entertain guests at outdoor, mountainside concerts. To complement any evening concert, Deer Valley features Gourmet Picnic Baskets or Bags filled with delicious epicurean items from Deer Valley’s kitchens, with options for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and children’s single bag meals. The summer calendar of events features the complete lineup of outdoor concerts at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater as well as mountain bike races. Beyond the resort, the surrounding Park City area provides a wide variety of activities such as golf, river tubing and rafting, boating, horseback riding, ATV adventures, shopping, dining, theaters and historical museums and tours.

With Deer Valley Resort Lodging and Reservations serving as both property manager and booking agency, guests have access to the largest selection of accommodations with the best service and availability in the Deer Valley area. Deer Valley’s expert Vacation Planners are available to help guests book one of the many summer lodging packages and plan outings and adventures tailored to their individual needs.

When the fun and excitement of summer play leaves the body famished, Deer Valley currently offers two delicious options for refueling, with a third opening in July. Royal Street Café, offering scenic deck dining, is open daily for lunch June 13 through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Royal Street features gourmet salads, burgers, panini sandwiches, signature cocktails, beer and wine and is located mid-mountain at Silver Lake Lodge adjacent to Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Express chairlift. Deer Valley Grocery~Café serves fresh roasted coffee and espresso drinks, soups, chili, salads made with local seasonal ingredients, panini sandwiches, creative appetizer and entrée specials, freshly baked breads, desserts, cakes and other items. A selection of gourmet grocery items, house prepared take-away entrées and pizzas as well as wine, beer and liquor are available for purchase. Guests can enjoy the view and mountain air while dining lakeside on the outdoor deck, complete with comfortable deck seating, bag toss games and fishing rods. Deer Valley Grocery~Café is open year-round from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and until 8:30 p.m., June 13 through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, and is located in the Deer Valley Plaza building in the Snow Park area at 1375 Deer Valley Drive.

Deer Valley Resort is pleased to announce the opening of a new restaurant and bar at the Lodges at Deer Valley. Located less than half a mile from the base of Deer Valley Resort, Lodge’s new restaurant, called The Brass Tag, will feature Deer Valley-inspired comfort food, specializing in brick oven cuisine. The Brass Tag opens mid-July 2014.

For Deer Valley’s younger guests, ranging in age from 2 months to 12 years, the resort’s Summer Adventure Camp offers creative and challenging activities and interests that ensure campers have fun while learning and connecting with nature. Based out of the Children’s Center at Snow Park Lodge and running weekdays, June 9 through August 20, 2014, (no camp on July 4 or 24), Summer Adventure Camp features hiking, hillside playgrounds, indoor entertainment and performances, a bouldering rock-climbing wall and a full supply of craft projects, games, puzzles and more.

Deer Valley’s convenient location, just 36 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport, affords guests more time to enjoy their alpine retreat. Guests leaving either coast in the morning can be settled at the resort by early afternoon, ready for outdoor play or comfortable relaxation.

For more information on Deer Valley’s summer mountain biking, hiking, scenic chairlift rides, outdoor concerts and dining operations, please visit the resort website.

National Ability Center Barn Party Fundraiser- Just Plain Fun

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The National Ability Center’s Barn Party Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. More information can be found at www.discvoernac.org/annual-barn-party. Read Deer Valley Blogger Nancy Anderson’s experience at last year’s Barn Party Fundraiser below.

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We came for the event but stayed for the party. The cause is a good one. The staff and volunteers at the National Ability Center do amazing things for the participants. I have seen members of the Ability Ski Team on the runs at Deer Valley and heard the experiences of a volunteer first hand. My husband helps with the equestrian center, handling the horses on a lead, so participants can enjoy a trail ride.

When I saw the promotion for the National Ability Center’s Barn Party Fundraiser event, I said, “Lets go!”  A few of our friends said, “We’re in!” So we put on our western gear and headed to the barn.  I know this sounds silly but the barn party was actually in the barn: it was held in the middle of the indoor horse arena. Think dirt. It was very rustic and super cool AND I am so glad I wore my cowboy boots instead of sandals.

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After watching a beautiful equestrian demonstration from several of the young riders in the program and petting a couple of little donkeys at the petting zoo, we got a tour of the barn.  Some brave people, young and old, took a ride on the mechanical bull. I chickened out and didn’t try it but did my part by enthusiastically cheering the folks that did.

My girlfriends and I also avoided the saloon, not because we don’t drink whiskey. We do; but we figured whiskey would interfere with our next activity – line dancing. Line dancing takes a great deal of concentration to avoid injury to myself and the poor unsuspecting people dancing next to me.

As usual, Anderson and Company were the last to leave the party but not until we learned the Boot Scoot’n Boogie, Allan Jackson’s Good Times Line Dance and Cotton Eye Joe (thrown in for good measure).   The DJ/dance instructor kept asking us if we wanted to learn another dance. We kept saying yes until we couldn’t think straight and finally had to sit down.

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The auction – both silent and live – raised a lot of money for a great cause to help our wounded warriors and people who otherwise may never have a chance to ski, snow shoe, shoot an arrow or ride a horse.  The party – well – it was just plain fun.  Next year I think I will try the mechanical bull riding!

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Deer Valley Resort Announces 2014 Summer Concert Schedule

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Dierks Bentley, Ben Folds, Vince Gill and more to bring music to the mountains in Park City, Utah. From classical to country and a little rock and roll, Deer Valley Resort has announced the lineup of celebrated singers, songwriters and musicians who will entertain guests on the resort’s mountainside this summer. The 2014 summer concert series, performed at the resort’s renowned Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, includes the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Deer Valley® Music Festival, the Park City Institute’s St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Outdoor Concert Series and the Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series presented by Mountain Town Music.

For its eleventh year at Deer Valley Resort, the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Deer Valley® Music Festival kicks off its series with a Fourth of July celebration featuring The Texas Tenors: Let Freedom Sing! and follows it up the next night with Kenny Rogers joining the Utah Symphony for a heartwarming special performance. Additional featured guests include Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Ben Folds Orchestra Experience, Super Diamond: The Neil Diamond Tribute Band, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and more. Running from July 4 to August 9, the 2014 season also includes the 1812 Overture!, the Music of U2, the Music of John Williams (famed for movie soundtracks including “Indiana Jones”, “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” and the “Star Wars” trilogy) and Disney in Concert which will feature a medley from the blockbuster movie “Frozen”. Show times and ticket information are available at deervalleymusicfestival.org.

The St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Outdoor Concert Series, presented by the Park City Institute, is also in its eleventh season sharing summer concerts on Deer Valley’s outdoor stage. The 2014 concert series features ten powerhouse concerts: The Bacon Brothers (June 28); Martina McBride (July 3); Punch Brothers (July 6); Dierks Bentley (July 24); Kix Brooks (July 31); Muscle Shoals Live with Lisa Fischer (Aug. 3); Five for Fighting (Aug. 16); Trampled by Turtles (Aug. 19); Nashville Café (August 23); and Vince Gill with the Time Jumpers (Aug. 30). For show times and ticket information, please visit bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.

The Grand Valley Bank Community Concert Series, presented by Mountain Town Music, a weekly staple of Park City’s social scene, is a free event, highlighting local musical acts every Wednesday night. June 18 to August 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. This year’s musical showcase includes Afro Omega, Bonanza Town, Matt Wink, Junior and Transportation and more. Additional information is available at mountaintownmusic.org.

Deer Valley Resort Lodging and Reservations is offering a Summer Concert Package that provides a 20 percent savings on deluxe accommodations and tickets to select concerts. And to complement any evening concert, Deer Valley also features Gourmet Picnic Baskets or Bags filled with delicious epicurean items from Deer Valley’s kitchens, with options for children, single bags as well as gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan meals. Orders must be placed and purchased by 5 p.m. the day prior to the event; cancellations will not be accepted after that point.

The shows, performed rain or shine, are family-friendly and guests are welcome to bring picnics, blankets and chairs; dogs are not permitted. For more information on Deer Valley’s summer concert series, concert packages and Gourmet Picnic Baskets and Bags, please visit deervalley.com.

2014 US Freestlyle National Championships at Deer Valley Resort

Over the past 15 years, Freestlyle skiing has become a Deer Valley tradition. Not only did the resort host the 2002 Olympic Aerials, Alpine Slalom and Mogul events, but it has also held two World Championships and a dozen World Cups over this time span. The very first Freestyle World Championships were held in 1986. Two years later, mogul skiing was a demonstration sport in Calgary before becoming an official medal event at the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics. World class mogul skiers who come to Deer Valley Resort to compete appreciate its challenging run on Champion ski run, as well as its impeccable and fun filled organization.

Like an overwhelming number of mogul enthusiasts, I never miss the annual Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley early in the year, and the dual moguls event in particular. Why the dual moguls? Because it’s a turbo-charged version of the regular event, as not just one, but two competitors, are jousting neck-to-neck, fighting the tremendous pressure of completing the run, in addition to managing the thought of having an opponent just ahead or right on their tail.

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For the spectators it doubles up the excitement and the potential for upsets. All these elements are why I didn’t want to miss the dual mogul event when I heard that the 2014 U.S. Freestyle National Championships would be held at Deer Valley Resort at the end of March. Since I couldn’t attend the regular mogul competition on Friday, I set my sights on the dual moguls held the last Sunday of March.

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I must admit that the usual Deer Valley spring sun wasn’t present that day. Instead, a fierce blizzard had taken over the mountain, with strong gusts of wind and a steady snowfall that would increase in ferocity as the competition came to its conclusion. There were about 60 men and 40 women engaged in that event and all would dual in a succession of heats, beginning at round 32.

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As an official Deer Valley blogger and videographer, I was given access to the start of the race, where competitors get a plunging view of the slope below. In reality, the slope on Champion ski run is so steep that from the start, competitors can just see one edge that transitions down into the finish area. That’s right, the grade is so forbidding that the whole field of moguls isn’t even discernible – it’s a straight line separating start and finish – and the two sets of jumps can barely be spotted as the eye scans down towards the area where the spectators are massed!

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That said, it takes a lot of courage, cool concentration, good preparation, and great physical shape to launch from the top of Champion! I watched the entire competition, making notes and taking pictures. While the fresh snow falling in abundance kept the course rather soft, it held remarkably well and the only challenge was visibility that, at times, made the contest even much more competitive than it would have been under normal, sunny circumstances.

In particular, it wasn’t easy on competitors who had to constantly switch goggles because of the heavy snow that dumped nonstop, and to make things even more stressful, skiers had to duel from a round of 32 participants, something unusual when compared to World Cup events where it only start at 16.

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As usual, the women completed their runs first and the contest was won by Eliza Outtrim, from Hamden, Connecticut, who had already won the single mogul event on Friday. These successive victories brought Outtrim a total of three U.S. Titles to her name! Second in that dual mogul contest was Sophia Schwartz from Steamboat Springs, Colorado while Elizabeth O’Connell from Winter Park, Colorado took third.

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In the mens category, Bradley Wilson, a Deer Valley Resort athlete, climbed on the highest step of the podium, while local Nick Hanscom from Park City took second, preceding Joe Discoe from Telluride, Colorado.

When the race was over and just after the award ceremony took place in the finish area, I ran into Bob Wheaton, President and General Manager of Deer Valley Resort who introduced me to Skip McKinley, one of the male competitors.

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Remarkably, Skip ran the rental ski department at Deer Valley some 33 years ago, but even more remarkable was the fact that the man was still competing at Deer Valley Resort that day, and managed to finish in the top 40 at more than 60 years of age.

What an incredible achievement and what an inspiration to all of us that would love to ski bumps but no longer have the skills, nor the “suspension” required to make it to the bottom of the course. Way to go Skip!

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Deer Valley Resort to Host U.S. Freestyle Championships

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has announced Deer Valley Resort as the site for the 2014 USANA U.S. Freestyle Championships held Friday, March 28, through Sunday, March 30, 2014. Deer Valley’s World Cup venue will host U.S. athletes coming together for the final event of the 2013-2014 season to battle it out for the title of U.S. Champion. The Championship event, originally scheduled to take place at Heavenly Valley, CA, will include moguls, dual moguls and aerials.

“Deer Valley® is pleased to be able to step in and host the U.S. Freestyle Championships for our partners at the U.S. Ski Team,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager for Deer Valley Resort. “We are excited to showcase the athletes right on the heels of the 2014 Winter Games and offer our guests a chance to see them compete live.”

Leading the team for the championship event in moguls are Deer Valley sponsored athletes, 2010 bronze medalist Bryon Wilson and his brother, 2014 Olympian Brad Wilson (both of Butte, MT). Two-time Olympian Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn, VA) will lead the aerials team, along with Olympian Mac Bohonnon (Madison, CT), who finished fifth in Sochi. Deer Valley Resort is one of the world’s most renowned freestyle venues, having played host to the World Championships twice and is a perennial stop on the FIS Freestyle World Cup tour.“Deer Valley is the preeminent venue worldwide in freestyle skiing and will provide the platform for a great conclusion to the Olympic season,” said Calum Clark, vice president, events for USSA.

 2014 USANA U.S. Freestyle Championships Schedule 

  • Men’s and women’s moguls qualifications and finals will take place Friday, March 28 from 9:55 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. 
  • Men’s and women’s aerials qualifications and finals will be held Saturday, March 29  from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Men’s and women’s dual moguls finals will finish the event on Sunday, March 30 from 11:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. .
 All events during the 2014 USANA U.S. Freestyle Championships are spectator-friendly and free to the public. A complete schedule of events can be found on Deer Valley’s website.

Olympic Wrap Up

I have come out of my Olympic cloud and routine of staying up way too late and waking up early for two weeks. What else are you supposed to do during the Olympics? Although I even stick to this schedule during the summer Olympics, the alpine events are still my favorite to watch.

At the beginning of the games I was watching a women’s speed skating event when a German woman false-started. She got another try and did it again. Just like that she was out of the competition. I wanted to scream. I could feel the heartache she was going through. I wanted to reach through the TV and tell her it was okay. Millions of people are still proud of her, but at that moment no words can comfort you. I remember my Olympic moment where I was a favorite in my event and then in a second, it was gone. My mom came up to me and all she said was, “what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Thanks mom!

We didn’t get to see any of the women’s ski jumping events. It saddens me because no matter the result, Americans want to see Americans compete. Especially if it’s history making .(It was the debut of the event in the Olympics.)

I must admit, I am relieved that the games finished and seemed to go off without a hitch. Okay well, maybe the opening ceremony’s lighting of the rings didn’t go as planned. But, if that was the worst thing that happened, these games were a success. I’ve been asked about the snow conditions and weather for some of the events. Do I think the playing field was fair? Do I think it was a tough venue to hold the skiing? Did “unknowns” get lucky? First of all, you’re not an “unknown” if you’re in the Olympics. Next I would say, everyone had the same conditions. Also, it’s an outdoor sport; fog and sun can come in and out at any race at any time. This is why as an athlete, sometimes World Cup overall titles are a bit more meaningful. Olympics are great but it’s one day and ANYTHING can happen.

With that said, did Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin get lucky? No, they are simply the best. They can deal with any condition; it’s what skiers train for. Bode, Ted, and Mikaela  are amazing. Julia Mancuso and Andrew Weibrecht had great performances. It’s an incredible feat to perform under pressure on a world stage and make it happen; congratulations to every athlete and their performances!

I always love the Olympic fever that comes with the games. I watch with anxious anticipation. The best part is watching them with my boys. You can start to see them thinking, “Can I do that some day?” or “I want to be like him/her.” I bet it is like this in most households. This is were the dreams begin.

As the Olympic anticipation was beginning with the personal stories and commercials, my most proud moment was a story about Mikaela Shiffrin. Even though I didn’t reach the highest goal that I started dreaming about as a kid, watching the Olympics and becoming an “Olympic medal winner”, I was flattered to see the acronym on Mikaela’s helmet A.B.F.T.T.B. (Always Be Faster Than The Boys). I still try to live by this and I’m happy I made a difference!

See you on the slopes!

Olympic Fever!

Did I ever tell you about the time I earned the nickname “Rocket Girl?” True story—but it wasn’t about my lightening-fast skiing (which, yes, is a skill I have in my quiver, now, thanks to some excellent coaching in my Women on Wednesdays Ski Clinic. But more on that, soon).

In the 2002 Winter Games, Jeff and I volunteered at Utah Olympic Park, in food and beverage services. (For those of you who were in the volunteer corps, we wore the blue coat.)  Jeff was mostly in the office trailer, managing the other volunteers. I, however, was driving those fun AWD buggies around, loaded with Pop-Tarts and Nature Valley bars. And, one fine evening, during the ski jumping competitions, I wore the Rocket Pack. This, friends, is a metal tank in an insulated backpack. It has a dispenser for plastic cups on the side, and a hose with a soda-gun type trigger-dispenser at one end. It was filled with hot chocolate. It weighed—well, a lot. It was, conservatively, about half as long as I am tall. Since I may be 5’1” in boots, this isn’t necessarily huge…until I put the thing on my back and went to my assigned post. I was to climb the stairs next to the jumps and serve cocoa to the judges. Hilarity ensued.

The fact is, that volunteer experience has had a lasting impact—we are, forever, “Olympics People.” I think most people in Park City, who were here, then, feel that way, too. So, as the Olympics kicked off, I got excited all over again. Truth be told, I started to feel Olympic Fever at The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Competition at Deer Valley, last month.

World Cup 2014 Moguls 01092014 026

Just approaching the venue, my friend Miriam and I were reminding each other, and explaining to my friend Kathy, what Deer Valley Resort looked like during the 2002 games. Actual stadium bleachers at the base of the venue, plus, SRO areas. Jeff and I rang cowbells as we watched the freestyle skiers throw down amazing tricks.

Even at the decidedly smaller-scale World Cup event, it’s obvious that there is a ton of work that goes into creating it. I wanted to know more, so I caught up with a few of the folks who make World Cup happen. Here, some fun facts about World Cup from Jim Bragg, Mountain Venue Services Manager, and Chris Cowan, Mountain Venue Services Assistant Manager. Study up and impress your fellow viewers with these tidbits:

It takes a village to run a venue. While there are many volunteers that work on World Cup at Deer Valley, It took about 1,200 staff hours for “Field of Play” set-up, maintenance, operations and teardown. This doesn’t include the snowmaking crew, 151 volunteers and a bevy of other “unseen” heroes that make the event happen.

2014 World Cup Aerials Finals 096

Course specs are, well, quite specific. The moguls course, per FIS regulations, has a maximum length of 300 meters. Champion runs approximately 280m. “The course the athletes compete on is defined by 10 control gates on each sideline, and is about 10 meters wide,” notes Jim.

Athletes choose their own line. “There are four ‘zipper lines’ the athletes can choose from to do their run,” says Chris.”

Building a course requires art, science, machine and muscle. “The mogul course is brought to grade and the bumps and jumps are roughed in using a winch cat. Due to the steepness of Champion ski run, a snow cat with a winch is used. After the snow cat “cut” is done, moguls are shaped by about 20 volunteers (with shovels), under the supervision of a Chief of Course and a Chief Builder,” says Chris. “Once the bumps are shovel shaped, the Wasatch Freestyle Team runs the course to complete the bumps and better define the “zipper lines”. The jumps or “kickers” are created using wooden jump forms. Snow is shoveled into the forms and mixed with water from snowmaking hydrates alongside the venue to build the “kickers.”

Moguls Final Night 351

Course conditions are weather-dependent. Yes, I know, that’s a bold statement of the obvious. The weather for this year’s World Cup was a mixed bag of wind, rain, snow and more wind. “The first night of competition the course was very fast, with steady uphill winds throughout the night. This hampered visibility for the athletes as well as the judges. The athletes had trouble seeing the course and the judges had difficulty viewing the athletes (especially with sporadic winds gusts),” says Chris. “On Saturday, the second night of mogul competition, wind and a few inches of fresh snow and warmer temperatures changed the conditions of the course, especially the “kickers”. These condition changes had an obvious effect on the athletes; many had trouble staying on course and with the transitions after landing tricks off of the “kicker.”

The pine bough grindings at the base of the jumps aren’t debris—they are a safety measure. “The lighting was also very flat Saturday night, so guests may have seen more pine bough grindings on the course,” says Chris. “The pine bough grindings are used on the jump landings to improve depth perception for the athletes and help them get oriented while in the air before landing an aerial maneuver off one of the “kickers”. The practice of spreading pine bough grindings or chips is also used on the landing hill for the Aerial athletes. Pine boughs are chipped and collected from the Park City Christmas tree recycle lot. Typically, 50-60 bags of pine boughs are used between both venues.“