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.“

There Is No Place Like Home

Ever wanted to click your ruby red slippers together three times to get back home?  I sure did.  After months on the road traveling to far-away, beautiful places for training and racing all I could think about was being back home.  I made one of the most difficult decisions in my career a few weeks ago.  With a 700-point lead in the Overall World Cup standings I decided to follow my heart and stay home.

Our season began back in August with our opening World Cup events in Australia and New Zealand.  I favor the icy, hard conditions and won seven out of the seven World Cup races Down Under.  A continuous winning streak I had never experienced but knew deep in my heart simply could not continue because that is not the nature of ski racing.  From there things went “downhill” and try as I might to get back on top of the podium again, I made mistakes, crashed and did not finish as many races as I had consecutively won.  All the while my longing for home, family and friends was mounting until I made that difficult decision – go on the road for 22 World Cup races in five different countries over a two month period and race every race BEFORE departing to Sochi -OR- go home, train, rest and feed my soul giving up a chance at the Overall World Cup Globe, a trophy I had not won since 2007!

2007 World Cup Globes

2007 Overall World Cup Globe, Overall World Cup Giant Slalom and Slalom Globes

After hours of consultation with Marcel (my husband, coach and everything), my incredible sports psychologist Suzie and our Alpine Director Kevin Jardine, I determined that winning a gold medal in Sochi and winning the Overall World Cup simply could not be accomplished simultaneously for me this season due to the demands of the travel on the World Cup circuit and time away from training.  I would have to choose one or the other.  I chose to give my best performance in Sochi!

I grew up in a small town (sounds like I am about to start singing the John Cougar Mellencamp song – I’ll spare you), but everything that comes to mind about a small town when someone says, “I grew up in a small town” is true for me.  I did not know when I was growing up how wonderful small town life was. Instead I daydreamed about going to Hollywood and becoming an actress.  I wanted to star in moving dramas that would change people’s lives.  Not until my daydreams came true, and I moved to Los Angeles to attend film school at the University of Southern California did I begin to realize the beauty and safety of a simple life in a small community where people say, “hello how are you?” on the street and genuinely care.  I missed my family terribly.  If it weren’t for meeting my still best friend and soul sister Meredith Escabar at University of Southern California, I think I would have perished.  In our household my mother and father both owned their own small businesses.  They modeled hard work, commitment, dedication, honesty and love to my younger brother and me.  Their values became our values and my brother and I both in our own way wanted to grow up and be “good people.” Alone in a city of 12 million people not only did I miss sharing that daily interaction with my family, I realized it was the very core of who I am.

Age 4 - ready for Hollywood!

Age 4 – ready for Hollywood!

The Sundance Film Festival brought me to Park City.  I was promoting a small part in a film (not actually in the festival), which was my acting debut after loosing my legs.  I loved Park City from the moment I arrived (although I had been here before for a ski trip in college and when I spoke at Senator Hatch’s women’s conference two year’s before).  This trip was special because I met Marcel.  I had my first lesson in a mono-ski with him at the National Ability Center.

January 1999 first day I met Marcel and tried a mono-ski at the National Ability Center

January 1999 first day I met Marcel and tried a mono-ski at the National Ability Center

I was so taken by his passion, his love of life and skiing that I would do whatever it took to be on the mountain and ski with him.  The perspective of the world that he showed me from the mountaintop was unlike any other.  I had spent the last three years prior to meeting him in and out of the hospital, having 14 reconstructive surgeries.  From the top of the mountain that day on my very first lesson with Marcel I saw my entire life play out.  Small town girl raised in a loving family pursues acting dreams until one night simply going out to dinner, an out of control car crashed into me and in order to save my life the doctors had to amputate both my legs.  I would never walk or run or dance or stand in the shower as I once had.  My life had changed drastically, but as it holds true for all of us, I knew that my fate, my going forward was still in my hands.  I could create my destiny, my happiness, and my love of life if I so chose. On the mountaintop with Marcel I made the decision that I had no idea would fulfill my creating a new, beautiful life for myself.  I decided to move to Park City, train with Marcel and pursue Paralympic success in Salt Lake City in 2002.

2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Bronze Medal in Downhill, Marcel cheering in the background

2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Bronze Medal in Downhill, Marcel cheering in the background

As a result of that decision, on that one day on the mountaintop, I have married the man I love and adore more than anything in the world (in Deer Valley of course!) and I have an amazing career I share with him doing what we both love – ski racing.  Together we have won Gold in the Paralympic Games in Torino and in Vancouver.  We strive to win another this March!

Embracing Marcel in the finish area just after I won my first Paralympic Gold medal in the 2006 Torino Paralympic Games

Embracing Marcel in the finish area just after I won my first Paralympic Gold medal in the 2006 Torino Paralympic Games

I won the first ever, Paralympic Gold medal in Super Combined in the 2010 Vancouver Games

I won the first ever, Paralympic Gold medal in Super Combined in the 2010 Vancouver Games

For the last 15 years throughout my entire ski-racing career, I have been supported by our local community in Park City, a small town we call home.  Deer Valley has sponsored me and been our official home ski area for training.  Marcel and I have spent thousands of hours training in Deer Valley over the last 15 years and we know every square inch of the entire ski area, just like my backyard growing up in Sewickley, PA.  But more important than the safe and familiar, feeling of our home landscape is the connection we share with all the people who work at Deer Valley.  We deeply value the 15-year friendship with the same amazing people who supported me and provided for me in so many ways to make my Paralympic dreams a reality.  The deep bond of friendship we share has for many years felt like family.  I am so grateful to experience on a daily basis the warm welcome from guest services when we roll into Snow Park for training.  The personal inquire about “How I am doing?”, “How is training going?” from people who genuinely care.  Or the chefs who know my special training dietary needs and like my mom still want me to have a chocolate chip cookie reward so they offer me the gluten free one instead!  Deer Valley is my home and the people who work there are my family.  Compared to all the ski areas I have visited world wide, the atmosphere and the people of Deer Valley provide a comfort and charm I associate with the love of my small town upbringing.  I hope it will always stay that way.

We are so fortunate to train both at Deer Valley and at Park City Mountain Resort where we also have an incredible support system not just from our friends at PCMR but from all the teams we join for training at Park City.  My small town connection also includes a 15-year partnership with Rossignol, my ski company who doesn’t just provide me the fastest skis in the world, we share a bond of friendship and they have provided me incredible support.

As I prepare for my fourth Paralympic Games at age 44 in 2014, it only makes sense to return to where I started, to Park City with Marcel and focus on a Gold medal victory one last time.

Deer Valley FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup: “Sick Air Package”

Being an avid reader my entire life, I have a fairly good grasp on commonly used phrases in the English language. Well, I thought I did until I attended the Freestyle Ski World Cup  event at Deer Valley Ski Resort. The event was exciting in-and-of itself but the fact that some of the athletes were qualifying for the Aerials and Moguls Competitions for the Olympics in Sochi added another dimension.

World Cup and Champion

During the competition, I picked up some new vocabulary and idioms to add to my repertoire. Here are some examples:

We are all familiar with a “selfie,” of course, but this is a new one. A “chesty” was described as an ill-fated move an athlete made when she looked down and instead of landing on her skis, she landed on her chest! Ouch! This was not a pleasant experience to say the least. In the future, I will avoid pulling a “chesty” at all costs.

2014 World Cup Aerials Finals 367

The announcer mentioned an athlete had done a “double ejecto face plant tumbler” in practice. Fortunately, during the competition, he executed his jump well and we didn’t have to witness a spill. A double ejecto tumbler might be difficult to watch.

A jump I observed in the aerials is called a “Big Daddy.”
This move is made up of:
Double = two flips
Full = full twist on the first flip
Full = full twist on the last flip

One athlete who pulled this off was described as having a “sick air package.” I would have to agree!

2014 World Cup Aerials Finals 198

On the moguls competition we observed a speedy athlete who was “bogeying down the hill” and even faster was the competitor who was “smoke show” fast.

Moguls Final Night 449

The competition was exciting to watch and cheering on our favorite athletes was exhilarating. Even better that fans were able to walk away with some new words and phrases to add to our vocabulary from the event.

Celebrity SkiFest: A Conversation with Mark Feuerstein

Mark Feuerstein

The star of Royal Pains—and too many movies to list, here—has been skiing his whole life. And when I caught up with him at Celebrity Ski Fest, we immediately bonded over skiing—and the fact that his son was lucky enough to spend the day with Letitia Lussier, who is not only one of my favorite instructors, but is a Feuerstein family favorite, as well.  And while Mark was excited to tell me about his races—or, at least the first race—he may have a second career in journalism. Before I realized it, he was grilling me about the skiing life.

BNC: Tell me about your races!

MF: I would certainly like to dwell more on the first one, because I won that one.

Opening Day 2013-2014 657

BNC: So, lets!

MF: The victory of the first one far exceeded the loss of the second one, and that is because Patrick Warburton and I raced once, two years ago, and kind of a rivalry was established. So that felt good. Then, for the second—Tim Daly is a very good skier, and I was racing against him.

Opening Day 2013-2014 666

BNC: Yeah, that’s a problem.

MF: And I was beating him the first half of the race, but I got too excited, I caught an edge, and he just swooped by me and I could not catch up.

BNC: Are you staying warm?

MF: Yes! They have these new things called heaters on your boots, which I have never seen. They are phenomenal. I have been rocking those, but I can’t say they keep your toes warm.

BNC: I wear them every day that I ski. And on the colder days, they don’t always keep up.

MF: And you ski every week?

BNC: Yes, I do—multiple times a week, actually.

MF: Wow. Do you get as good a workout as a hike?

BNC: Oh, yeah. If I ski hard. If I’m on the bumps with my friend Mel—or really, behind her.

MF: So, you’re very good.

BNC: No, I’m not.

MF: [Looks as though he doesn’t buy it, and takes a different journalistic tack.]

Did you ever ski competitively?

BNC: Yes—if you count my stint on the Hopefuls devo team at Pico Peak in Vermont—where I was more concerned with getting down safely, than quickly. Let’s say it was a short-lived career. I’ve been a happy recreational skier my whole life.

MF: I grew up skiing on the east coast. I broke my thumb when I was about ten, skiing at Catamount, where I slid down an entire sheet of ice on my thumb. So I know how to persevere. East coast skiing is a different sport—it’s like an endurance test!

BNC: Without the Deer Valley dining options—so, what’s your favorite thing to eat at Deer Valley?

MF: I just enjoyed the roast turkey that I had. That was lovely.

And, the S’mores at 4 p.m. every day at the Montage Deer Valley are all one needs, with three children, to keep your children happy. So, I am very happy about the s’mores.

BNC: How old are your children?

MF: They are 7, 5 and 4.

BNC: Are they all skiing?

MF: Just my son today. I want to get my older daughter out, but I can’t force her…

BNC: That’s the whole trick, you can’t force them because you want them to love it.  Also, Swedish fish.

MF: Oh? Is that part of the incentive?

BNC: Yes, I have a ten year old and a six year old, and it’s Swedish fish in the cargo pocket of your ski pants, so that at the bottom of every run, you go, Hey, Nice Job! And hand them a fish.

MF: Like a biscuit!

BNC: Yes, I’m not above it. Also, multiple hot chocolate breaks, and cookies as big as their heads.

MF: Bribery—it will get you everywhere.

BNC: Yes! It is all you need as a parent…you can dress it up, call it “incentive” “reward.” It’s bribery, people, and it works. How did you potty train your children? You bought them a condo in the Hamptons, because they WENT IN THE POTTY.

MF: That’s exactly right, we are still paying the mortgage on that.

BNC: I know! I did the same thing—and we live here. So it required a G5.

(We kid, people. We kid.)

There’s Always Something New at the Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival 2014 was my third in a row so I knew there to expect surprises. Obviously the films are the draw, but the experience at Sundance is always different, too. Three new and/or innovative things in particular caught my attention. In technology, the new E-Wait List was the buzz on the street. People were jumping all over themselves to show me how it worked when I asked.  The Air BNB Haus was another place everyone said I “had to go” and the round pavilion that seemed to pop up out of nowhere showing “The Source” by David Aiken was a “don’t miss.”

Technology – the E-Wait List

You certainly can’t completely avoid waiting in line to see a movie. Besides it’s part of the experience to chat it up with people in line but the E-Wait List site cut down on unnecessary wasted time.  Basically, all you had to do was sign up and then sign in to the Sundance E-Wait List. Then you simply checked the website – which looked and felt like an app – as to the upcoming movies to grab your numbered spot on the list – two hours before the movie.

The downside I heard was that people signed up for movies capturing coveted wait list spots but didn’t cancel when they ended up not attending. But if you did make it in, you showed up to the venue a half hour before and cued up in line based on your number – very civilized!  You didn’t have to leave your friends behind either. Because you linked up with them, you were “in-line” together. To top it off, the real question you wanted to know was answered for you right there on the screen, “What’s the likelihood of me getting in?”  Pretty good? or not!

Capture

Connections:

After getting my cup of coffee and hanging out at the Air BNB Haus for a while, I tweeted “very chill.”  This little spot, well I guess not so little since they took over an entire building, felt like you were visiting your best friend’s place. It was a nice respite from hustle and bustle of Main Street during Sundance – a great spot to relax between movies. You could connect with other people there or find a spot to relax with friends.

There were comfy chairs for reading:

Book

Complimentary tea and coffee for everyone:

Tea

Free Wifi:

Long Table

And a creativity corner where children and adults created some artwork:

Art

 

Innovation – The Source at New Frontier

I was thinking, “Was that building there before?”  A 2,000 sq.ft. round pavilion seemed to appear out of nowhere by the Gateway Center and housed the New Frontier Exhibit, “The Source.”  Filmmaker Doug Aiken interviewed “groundbreaking pioneers in various disciplines who are shaping modern culture” about the source of their inspiration as well as the journey to the finished creation.  These interviews were shown in this round pavilion with six viewing rooms.

The StructureFilms

Watching interviews with architects, musicians, photographers and other disciplines, was inspiring!  I walked away with a greater appreciation for artists who are ahead of their time. Enjoying Sundance experience #3 only made me want to come back for more next year.

Deer Valley Resort Announces Special Take-Away Menu for Super Bowl Sunday

Just in time for the big game, the resort has announced a take-away menu guests can order from and pick up at Deer Valley~Grocery Café for their Super Bowl parties. 

Super Bowl to-go menu options include:

    • Chilled cooked shrimp
    • Chilled Dungeness and Opilio crab legs
    • Housemade tortilla chips and salsa fresca
    • Purple, sweet and russet potato chips with caramelized onion and balsamic dip
    • BBQ and cilantro lime glazed pork ribs
    • Buffalo-style chicken wings
    • Pulled pork sliders
    • Mini cup cakes
    • Assorted half-size cookies
    • Assorted brownies and bars
    • Mini chocolate éclairs
    • Cashew caramel corn
    • Football shaped sugar cookies

Additional information and pricing for the take-away menu items can be found at deervalley.com. Orders may be placed by calling 435-615-2400. Orders must be placed by 5 p.m. Saturday, February 1, and picked up at the Café by 7 p.m. Sunday, February 2, 2014.

DVGC

Deer Valley Grocery~Café serves fresh roasted coffee and espresso drinks, soups, chilies, stews, salads made with seasonal ingredients, Panini sandwiches, creative appetizer and entrée specials, housemade breads, desserts, cakes and other freshly baked items. The café also offers daily soup, sandwich and salad specials. A selection of gourmet grocery items, house prepared take-away entrees, as well as wine, beer and liquor are available for purchase.

Deer Valley Grocery~Café is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and located in the Deer Valley Plaza building at 1375 Deer Valley Drive, Park City, UT 84060.

Deer Valley Celebrity SkiFest: My Favorite “White Carpet” Event

With the Sundance Film Festival in town, you’d think there’s only one “see and be scene” event in Park City. Well, Deer Valley faithful know that the best celebrity event of the season happens….on the mountain.

Sure, there are red carpets rolling out all over town. But Opening Day at Deer Valley—features a white carpet, for Celebrity SkiFest.

Of course, wardrobe concerns take center stage when you’re prepping for the White Carpet. And it’s as much about “who” you wear, as “what,” so I’ll give you the rundown.

 Base layers by Patagonia

Socks by Smartwool

Full-sole stick on foot warmers by Grabbers

Hand Warmers by Grabbers

Shiny black ski pants by Obermayer

Shiny gold cheetah-print ski jacket, fully vented, also by Obermayer

Shearling hat, by Uggs

Boots by Sorel (I made not turns that day—I was saving those for my family’s first ski day of the year, the following week.)

And yes, the event was chock-full of VIPs, including some of my favorite green-jacketed types. To wit, the always hilarious guys from the Ski Check at Empire. On the White Carpet, they’re the greeters, welcoming the guests to the VIP tent. Rick, Johnny and Hal are consummate hosts—if you’ve ever checked your skis before lunch at Empire, or visited the Rossignol Demo Center there, you know what I’m talking about. And, I got them to take their first “selfie” with me.

Empire Guys

Inside, I caught up with old and new friends. Like my friends and former Good Housekeeping colleagues, Sara and Courtney, and my pal Summer Sanders, who was covering the race for CBS Sports.

Rob Morrow was there with his family, including wife Debbon Ayer, and daughter Tu. You may remember Tu from a few years ago—she was a little kid with impeccable taste in ski pants. I know this because we were wearing the same pair of Marker ski pants in brown plaid. I was, thus, outed for my shopping in the kids’ department. Debbon greeted me with a warm hello, as well. Tu, charming and funny as always (and now, rather grown-up), remembered our moment, and I thanked her for letting me feel young, hip and awesome that day. She was decked out in a floral pant this year. “Let me take a photo?” I asked, “So I know what to look for when I shop for new pants!”

Tu Morrow Pants

The Morrow clan were also excellent sports about my uncontrollable urge to photobomb. After the evidence was recorded, Rob handed me his phone so I could text the photo to myself, and, in turn, share it with you, dear reader:

Photo bomb

“Remembah” Rachel Dratch From that Wicked Saturday Night Live sketch with Sully? Yup! She’s also the author of the hilarious, smart memoir, Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle. We shared some fun “New England” moments, and then she dished up her top three experiences on the racecourse: “One, I didn’t fall. Two, I only did one practice run, but the race went better than the practice run. And three? Lunch at the end of the race.”

Rachel Dratch

Turns out, Rachel is a Deer Valley regular. “I used to come out with a group of friends, every year, during the Sundance Film Festival, and it was our little girls’ weekend tradition to ski at Deer Valley.” That’s the trick: full hotels, empty slopes, and the best week of skiing all season. I couldn’t agree more.

Cheryl Hines

Funny, when I interviewed actress Virginia Madsen for SELF magazine, some time ago, she and I never talked about skiing—but it turns out that she didn’t learn until fairly recently. “I love being here,” she told me. “This is where I learned how to ski—about 13 years ago.”

Virginia was not exactly thrilled with losing her race, but she offered some good insights into what makes a successful race—and, really, a successful ski day.

“In these conditions, I was just off my game, there was a white-out up at the top, and it really takes a lot to ski in this light and this snow. The visibility took me down,” she said. “But the thing about skiing is it’s all mental. Women are thinkers, we multitask 24/7, but skiing is almost like meditating, like yoga. You have to get out of your head and stop thinking. It becomes very peaceful and zen-like. When we think we are going to fall, in life, we pull back. But, on the mountain, you go with gravity, like you are going to fly. From skiing, I learned to stop judging myself. “

As one would expect, when you interview Dr. Oz, you’re going to learn a thing or two.

Rule number one: Never ask anyone what their meditation mantra is. I know this, now, because when I asked Dr. Oz to share his, he and his smart, engaging wife, Lisa, were quick to say, “You’re not supposed to tell anyone your mantra—it’s private.” Somehow, they managed to not make me feel silly for having asked, in the first place.

He told me that he coached Cheryl Hines at the top of the racecourse. “I was giving Cheryl some tips on how to stay calm in the face of adversity,” he explained. “I gave her earphones to listen to so she could meditate to them. It took her a while to figure out there was no music, because they weren’t connected to anything. It broke the ice, anyway.”

Rule Number Two: Don’t pigeon-hole people. Just because he’s a world-class surgeon with a hot, daily talk show, and a new magazine, “Dr. Oz: The Good Life,” (hitting newsstands on Feb 4), doesn’t mean he couldn’t also have a career as a comedian.

Still, he seemed to be all business when he started telling me about his favorite eateries at Deer Valley—“I love it all–from fine dining at Stein Eriksen Lodge, to the great food you can find at the cafes all over the mountain—it’s all delicious.”

Dr. Oz had to cut our chat, short, since he was set to race again in a few minutes—but I caught up with him, and with Lisa, at a party that evening (at which neither of us were wearing ski boots!):

Dr. Oz Wife

 

Ski Team Reunion

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During the 2014 Deer Valley FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup the U.S. Ski Team had a fundraiser called “IceMen.” In short, generous people donate to the U.S. Ski Team and in return get to ski with past members of the team.  

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I always enjoy skiing and learning from these former U.S. Ski team members. Their resumes include a two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time silver medalist, bronze medalist, and an overall World Cup title holder. I’m always in amazement when I ski with them. I have such respect for this group of skiers.   

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It was our first powder day and the group wanted good skiing, so we headed to X-Files. I didn’t realize that one of our champion leaders didn’t like to hike until it was too late. But it was worth it, he enjoyed the skiing and it was great to see him laugh harder than anyone has ever seen. The guest witnessed all of us joking around with each other all day. One mentioned that it was cool to see how close the U.S. ski family really was. I feel lucky to be part of the Deer Valley family and be able to show the friends I have made it from ski racing to representing my home resort. 

See you on the slopes.