Major Mountain Bike Trail Improvements, New Dining and Concerts Usher in Deer Valley Resort’s 2015 Summer Season

As the mountains turn from white to green, Deer Valley Resort reopens its doors and lifts to guests looking to experience summer play available day and night on its mountains. From the rush of a mountain bike descent through the trees or an exhilarating hike along a ridge top to lunch served al fresco and open air evening concerts, Deer Valley offers an unparalleled alpine escape. New this season, guests can relish in summer season longer, as Deer Valley has extended its summer operations to include weekends after Labor Day through Sunday, September 20, 2015, conditions permitting.

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Summer 2015 mountainside activities promise to provide an even higher level of enjoyment as Deer Valley Resort embarks on its largest-ever summer investment to modernize and update its existing mountain biking/hiking trail inventory. Deer Valley Resort enlisted world-renowned bike resort development company, Gravity Logic, to conduct a feasibility analysis of the current mountain bike/hike trail system and provide improvement recommendations. Select recommendations provided by Gravity Logic will occur throughout the 2015 summer season, beginning in June and finishing in mid-August.

“Gravity Logic is known for having designed and built some of the planet’s most well-known, most-ridden and time-tested trails,” said Steve Graff, mountain bike manager for Deer Valley Resort. “We are excited to work with one of the most prominent designers in the world to create an even greater resort trail system that has more mass appeal for novice to expert bikers.”

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One of the scheduled improvements includes a two- to three-mile downhill mountain bike intermediate “flow” trail. This trail will be machine excavated and in-sloped with berms, rollers and jumps. To date, the majority of Deer Valley’s trails have been hand-built. The trail will be approximately four feet wide, as opposed to Deer Valley’s mostly single track trails, and will lead from the top of Bald Mountain to Silver Lake.

“Deer Valley Resort has an expansive network of mountain biking and hiking trails and the resort is already a favorite summertime destination for mountain bikers and hikers said Rob Cocquyt, owner/director of Gravity Logic. “Our goal is to work closely with Deer Valley’s in-house team to enhance what is already in place to elevate the experience for riders/hikers of all ages, skills and interests.”

In addition to trail work with Gravity Logic, Deer Valley and Mountain Trails Foundation have partnered to create an extension of the Mid-mountain trail. The trail will lead from Silver Lake to the Deer Crest trail, eliminating the climb from Silver Lake to the top of Bald Eagle and circumnavigating Bald Eagle.

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“For outdoor, nature, relaxation and music enthusiasts, Deer Valley Resort truly has it all,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort. “Summers at the resort offer guests the unique opportunity to try new outdoor activities, challenge themselves physically, discover an appreciation for nature, create lasting family memories and rejuvenate the senses—all experienced in generally mild, pleasant temperatures.”

Summer operations at the resort run seven days a week from June 19 through Labor Day, September 7, 2015, then weekends only through September 20, 2015, 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 at Empire Canyon. Summer chairlifts operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (conditions permitting) and ample parking is available at Snow Park Lodge. The resort website provides detailed information on mountain biking and hiking/scenic ride lift ticket rates, as well as information on bike rentals, clinics and tours.

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For evening play, Deer Valley Resort brings in an exciting lineup of celebrated singers/songwriters/musicians to entertain guests at open-air, mountainside concerts. To compliment any evening concert, Deer Valley features Gourmet Picnic Baskets or Bags filled with delicious epicurean items from Deer Valley’s kitchens, with options for children’s single bags, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian meals.

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The summer calendar of events features a complete line-up of outdoor concerts at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater and mountain bike races. Beyond the resort, the Park City surrounding 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 not only as property manager but also as the 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 and plan outings and adventures tailored to their individual needs.

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When the fun and excitement of summertime activities leave the body famished, Deer Valley now offers four delicious options for refueling. For Deer Valley guests and visitors looking to grab a quick bite or more, the new Silver Lake Snack Shack will now be open daily during the summer season. Located in the Silver Lake Ski Corral at mid-mountain, the shack offers wrap sandwiches, picnic snacks, beverages, beer, desserts and ice cream sandwiches. The shack is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 19 through September 7, 2015, then September 12, 13, 19 and 20, 2015.

Royal Street Café offers a casual atmosphere with scenic deck dining and creative American and international cuisine the entire family can enjoy. Royal Street Café serves creative appetizers, salads and specialties such as a fresh Dungeness crab tower with avocado and sauces of wasabi, ginger-soy and sweet chili, tuna tartare with wild arugula, truffle oil and lemon salad and of course, the famed maple bacon, barbeque bison burger. You’ll also find an equally exciting children’s menu, fine wines, beer and refreshing cocktails. Open for lunch daily June 19, through Labor Day, September 7, 2015, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Royal Street Café is located mid-mountain at Silver Lake Lodge adjacent to Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Express chairlift.

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Enjoy the view and mountain air while dining lakeside on the outdoor deck at Deer Valley Grocery~Café serving fresh roasted coffee and espresso drinks, 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 as well as wine, beer, liquor and seasonal cocktails are available for purchase. Deer Valley Grocery~Café, located in the Deer Valley Plaza building in the Snow Park area, is open daily 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (With extended evening hours until 8:30 p.m. June 19, through Labor Day, September 7, 2015.)  Please call 435-615-2400 for to-go orders.

The Brass Tag restaurant, located in the Lodges at Deer Valley, is open daily from 4 to 9 p.m. and serves their full dinner menu from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The menu features Deer Valley-inspired brick oven cuisine including fresh seafood skillets, seared meats, oven roasted fresh fish, locally sourced produce, seasonal flatbreads and specialty sides. A full bar, beer and wine are also available.

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For Deer Valley’s younger guests, ranging in age from 2 months to 12 years, the resort’s Summer Adventure Camp offers creative activities that ensure campers have fun while learning and connecting with nature. Based out of the Children’s Center at Snow Park Lodge and running Monday through Friday June 8 through August 19, 2015 (no camp on July 3 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.

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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.

Date Night at The Brass Tag

The Brass Tag at Deer Valley was our destination for date night but I didn’t pay much attention to the name. To me a brass tag was a pull on your jacket or an engraved name plate attached to the bottom of a picture frame.

Brass Tag - Nancy by logo sign If I had been paying any attention to subtleties, I’d have thought “mining!” “Park City” and “Deer Valley.”  I didn’t put those three together until I got there.

In the foyer of The Brass Tag, there is a shadow box with a series of tags. Historically, brass tags were used in mines to indicate who was in the mine and who was out of the mine, it gave a quick visual of how many miners were below. A miner would “tag in” or “brass in” by putting his tag (with his name or number) on a board and subsequently “tag out” or “brass out” when he left.

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For a miner, a brass tag could save his life. Now they are works of art for us to enjoy.

After our history lesson, we opened the drink menu, and found some names of our favorite Deer Valley ski runs (which are named after mining claims). While we associate Deer Valley with incredible skiing, world class service and family fun, it is nice to be reminded of the mining industry that originally built this community.

Jay kicked off the night with a Brass Tag take on the Manhattan – named Autumnal. The Brass Tag puts their twist on it with homemade citrus and spice bitters. I chose wine (not surprising) and the waiter suggested the Barbera after discussing my possible entre selections from the menu. The night was off to a solid start.

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Now I knew the Brass Tag had a brick oven but I didn’t realize the menu was expansive and innovative. I was thinking pizza, but to my surprise, the chef prepares everything in the brick oven with the open flame. It’s pretty amazing.

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Here is a taste of what we had (pun intended):

Appetizer

Oven Fired Chimichurri Chips (The Brass Tag’s take on nachos). Gold Creek cheddar, gruyère, bacon.

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Entrees

Jay came hungry and was extremely pleased with the Niman Ranch Bone-In Pork Chop with bourbon glazed acorn squash, and whole grain mustard sauce.

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 I loved the flavors as well as the portion size in Tandoori Rubbed Quail with bacon corn bread stuffing, kale chips, sweet potato purée, and lime coconut sauce.

 Brass Tag - Quail Different Angle

Our waiter brought me a Rosé to taste just to experience another side of Tandoori spices. It was interesting to taste the difference in flavors pairing the Rosé with this dish and the Barbera.  Both were excellent but different.

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Dessert 

For dessert we started with Sorbet fired in the brick oven- just kidding. (I wanted to see if you were paying attention.) Though this frozen delight was not roasted in the oven, it was an amazing mix of fresh berries.

 Brass Tag Dessert Sorbet

Pretzel bread pudding – Jay ordered this (and I ate most of it). As a pretzel lover, I went nuts over this dessert. It’s officially my new favorite.  Try it and let me know if it’s yours!

Brass Tag Blog Dessert Pretzel

We ended the evening having our coffee at the bar. It’s a map bar.  Like how Red Square Bar in Las Vegas has an ice bar, The Brass Tag’s take is a historical map of the mining claims of Deer Valley. We saw the claims we were standing on, claims we had skied on, as well as all the way to the Jordanelle Reservoir (which wasn’t a reservoir back then).

A little history, an interesting menu, a relaxed atmosphere and great food made a nice combination for an evening out.

To review menus, get directions and make reservations at The Brass Tag, click here.

Don’t forget to let me know how you liked the pretzel bread pudding in the comments or Tweet me @nancy_moneydiva

#SkiTheDifference with Bari Nan Cohen

#SkiTheDifference is, quite possibly, my favorite hashtag because it represents everything I love about the Deer Valley Resort experience. To me, it means that it’s possible to feel, simultaneously, the satisfaction of a weary body, shredded by incredible terrain, and the unmitigated joy of having been pampered, throughout the day. As I wrote here recently, it can be a spiritual experience to #SkiTheDifference.

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For me, the “Difference” is in the details—many of which come into play before you’ve clicked into your bindings. I love the fact that ski valets meet me when I open my car door and offer to help with my family’s gear. I’m thrilled by the dedicated parking for the Children’s Center, because it’s one less hassle in the experiment of skiing with young children. And, trust me, each time is an experiment in patience, resilience and fun.

When you head for the parking lots there’s never any guesswork about where and how to park—friendly attendants wave you into open spaces and keep the lots from getting unruly. This year the additions of small structures over the staircases that lead from lots 2 and 3 to lot 1 ensure that the stairs don’t accumulate a lot of ice and snow. Another shift is the boarding area for the parking lot shuttles in the turnaround under the plaza. It’s was moved a few feet and benches that were up against the building are now arranged in a comfortable waiting area. When I discovered this change I thought, “I didn’t realize the waiting area was ‘broken,’ but someone saw a better way.”

The on-mountain experience has the same attention to detail. The Mountain Hosts who will tell you the skinny on the best terrain they skied that day and lift operators who brush off the seats of the chairs before you board. There is delicious food in every lodge, with friendly people there to make sure there’s a clean table at the ready. Thoughtful touches like hand lotion dispensers in the bathrooms, complimentary glove dryers in the lodges, and ski check corral near every lodge. Suddenly a ski day (itself, a treat) is elevated to a resort experience.

These are experiences available to every skier on the hill, from beginner to expert. For those of us lucky enough to live here, #SkitheDifference mean our kids know their way around the entire mountain. They know that they can ask, nicely, for help boarding a chairlift. #SkitheDifference means my family can ride a lift together and then divide and conquer: two of us can take an easy run and two of us can ski the bumps, and then we all meet up at the bottom to compare notes. It means that there is always something to please every palate in the restaurants (even if it drives me nuts that there are so many choices, and my kids default to pasta, almost every time).

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This is the mountain my family calls home.” The chefs at Snow Park kept me well-fed throughout the winter I was pregnant with my second child while my husband and our firstborn tore up Wide West ski run. When the boys were tiny it took an army of ski valets to help me schlep the stroller, the ski gear, the kids and the other “stuff” kids require into the lodge. I never asked for help, it was always handled before I realized that I needed it. When I ask my kids about their favorite restaurants, The Seafood Buffet tops the list. We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries at Mariposa, entertained friends at Fireside Dining, toasted visitors at Royal Street Cafế , and destroyed chili fries at Silver Lake Restaurant. We’ve even shared breakfast with Olympic champions at Silver Lake Lodge, more than once, simply by happenstance. “When did they get so big?” is a familiar refrain in the shops and restaurants around the resort. #SkiTheDifference is a community. And that, for us, has made all the difference.


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Skiing is a state of…style

I’ve taken the idea that skiing is a state-of-mind to a new level this year. Some in my family would argue that this isn’t entirely a good thing. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to dress when you’re off the slopes, is in clothing that tells the world, “I am a skier. I love to ski. I even wear clothes with skiers on them!” Bear with me.

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Recently, my good friend Shari had sent me a photo of a cute sweater she found in the Talbot’s outlet. Neither of us are regular shoppers in that store, and yet, their sweater selections caught our attention. She popped into the store one afternoon and hit the jackpot: a sweater with a pattern that depicts a skier carving turns (stylishly, of course) down a tree-lined slope.

“That’s it!” I announced, I proudly showed the text message to my family. “I need the skier sweater.”

My style-minded spouse and oldest child looked at me, incredulously. But young Seth aligned himself with me and Shari. “You NEED that, Mom! It’s awesome. And you and Shari will MATCH.” He said with all the urgency only a seven-year-old can muster (which is to say, quite a bit). The other two looked on, quizzically, as we high-fived.

Fortunately, the doubting duo know to humor the person who makes sure that the ski bags are packed every night. [Which is how, on a recent afternoon, while Seth was at a play-date, they came to walk into Talbot’s with me, wearing their best game-faces.] To our delight, a dear friend’s mom was working in the store—and she produced not just the sweater, but also a turtleneck with a pattern of little skiers all over it. “Oh, and what about the skier scarf?” she asked, proffering one from a nearby rack. Sold, sold and sold. I grinned from ear-to-ear, as my middle-schooler shook his head in anticipation of the sheer embarrassment of being seen with me, dressed in theme clothes. (Silently, I reminded myself that if I’m not embarrassing my kid, I’m doing something very, very wrong.) My husband pointed out that I had owned a similar turtleneck, back when we first met, over 25 years ago. It occurred to me that he may not have meant this in a good way. Still, nothing could dampen my glee.

Once home I admired my loot and took a great deal of joy in photographing the apparel. I sent the photos to Shari, “I will take your skier sweater, and raise you a skier turtleneck and a skier scarf. I WIN!” She immediately wrote back that she’d be returning to the store to complete her own set. This emboldened me to send boastful text messages, photos included, to a few friends who have, like Jeffrey, known me since the last time I thought that these items were at the height of fashion. I would be lying if I told you that the responses were not filled to the brim with celebrations of my awesome style.

I will be modeling this look all over town. I have paired the scarf with basic black leggings and turtleneck, and the sweater with a pair of motorcycle-style jeans in a light blue that perfectly matches the shade of the sky on the sweater. Clearly, it’s not a “technical” piece, but what fashionistas (like, ahem, myself) would call “a statement piece.” So, I’m now on the hunt for retro-styled ski clothes—you know, Fair-Isle knits, and maybe a more technical version of the cute, printed ski-turtlenecks of my childhood. I draw the line at the neon-colored one-piece ski suit—for now.

What is your skiing state of style? Tweet me  or @Deer_Valley.

World Cup Dual Moguls Competition 2015: Those Moguls Look High

From the bottom of the Dual Moguls World Cup course on Champion ski run, the moguls look big. In fact, they look really big even from far away. Imagine what they look like to the athletes facing them down the run.

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The skiers don’t go around them either, they slam right into the side of them one after the other. All the while, (I am assuming) contemplating their aerial moves and focusing on competing against another racer right next to them.

It’s crazy fun to watch.

I don’t know about you but I doubt I’ll ever ski this run or anything like it (other than carefully peering over the edge). So I decided to get some perspective on how high the moguls might look to the athletes by making some comparisons with items we see every day in Park City.

I read the moguls can run as high as 1.2 meters which translates to about 3 feet and 11 inches.  Pulling out the measuring tape, I figured that 3 feet hits me right at the belly button and if the course set them up at maximum height, the additional 11 inches brings them to about chest-high on me.

Whew. That is high!

How would that look staring down at it?  I won’t ever know but here are a few photos showing comparisons for about 3 feet high – my waist level.

Would moguls this high, (on a steep run) be a problem for you?

Would you like to ski the top of this bike rack?

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The box office at the Egyptian Theater?

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The Moose’s legs?

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A whisky barrel at Rock and Reilly’s Pub?

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Not tall enough for you?  How about moguls this high?

Would you be intimidated jumping the Banksy?

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How about the ski rack at Snow Park at Deer Valley Resort?

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Enjoying the World Cup Dual Moguls with the crowd at the base of Champion ski run is exciting enough for me. Congratulations to winners! 

Final results

Men’s Final

1st: Mikael Kingsbury (CAN)

2nd: Dylan Walczyk (USA)

3rd: Marco Tade (SUI)

Women’s Final

1st: Justine DuFour-LaPointe (CAN)

2nd: Hannah Kearney (USA)

3rd: Britteny Cox (AUS)

Check out footage of the women’s final here.

If you ski the Champion ski run off the Carpenter Express chairlift, let me know how it goes for you!

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Three Things that Make a Good Ski Lesson Great at Deer Valley

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Our daughter, Ali, has been skiing since she was three years old. She’s now 10 and just like in nearly every other facet of her life, there’s been a shift. Oh, hello, our young tween who is figuring out she has a mind of her own.

When she was younger, we’d all ski together, guiding our little cherub with our ski instructing wisdom that she happily took to heart, heeding it as if it was written on the golden tablets themselves. A year or two later, she took a series of large group ski lessons where the kids mostly played follow the leader, but that gave her the basics and got her to keep track of her own gear. I say yes to that!

Then she hit the magic age of eight, and listening to mom and dad’s advice to keep her knees bent, close the gap from pizza to french fry, and can you please ski just a little faster?!!?!, went straight out the window.

It was time for the pros to take over. We needed another round of ski lessons, but this time with more focus and attention on just her. We needed to push our little Lindsay Vonn-wanna-be to the next level and not destroy our skiing as a family in the process.

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Our daughter loves her friends almost as much as mom and dad (yikes! that teen thing is hiding right around the corner) and when she goes skiing, being on the snow with her pals is one of the best parts of her day. So we gathered a group of some of her friends and headed to Deer Valley Resort.

This group of gal pals all ski at about the same level. They can easily cruise the greens and are firmly entrenched in the blues. They plow through the trees on their way to Quincy’s Cabin and are all at the stage of making the leap from an advanced snowplow to a graceful parallel. But they needed to be pushed out of their comfort zone, and neither my husband nor I could take them there.

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Enter ski instructor Kristin Egan, a 26-year veteran of the Deer Valley Ski School and a Park City local. As impressionable young girls who are always on the lookout for great role models, we’d hoped they’d have an instructor who was a woman. The girls were thrilled to be paired with Kristin.

The half day lesson took the girls from the bottom to the top of Bald Mountain, over to Empire and back again. Kristin saw what motivated each of these young skiiers and assigned them each something to work on as they went down the mountain.

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Sarah said, “I liked when she explained to us the easiest ways to stop on a steep hill. You can stop by doing a big C turn, or if you’re going faster you can do a J.”

Katie said, “She had me ski on one leg for a whole minute and to practice so I could feel the turns.”

Elise said, “Kristin showed me how to put my skis sideways on the mountain and take little bounces down, or slide slip, to get out of a tricky spot.”

And Ali said, “Mom, she was really nice. She told us WHAT to do and not just to do a good job.”

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After experiencing a day of ski lessons at Deer Valley, I realized there are three things that are essential to taking a ski lesson from good, to great.

  1. Keep class size to a minimum. Deer Valley’s ski school kids private lessons are kept at the small size of just 4 or 6 per class and are available for all ages 3 -18 and abilities. As we all know with any school situation, small class size emphasizes personal attention. While we could have chosen to send Ali up on a ski lesson by herself for the ultimate one-on-one ski education, we felt like having the girls together motivated them to challenge one another. Because who wants to be outdone by your bestie? Not these gals.
  1. Experience is essential. Deer Valley Resort has over 550 ski instructors total and 176 of them have been teaching at Deer Valley from over 10 years. These instructors are experienced professionals who take their jobs very, very seriously. And love it! With these years of experience, there’s an emphasis on safety, certification and of course, motivation by having fun. With years of instructing under their goggled helmets, there’s not much they haven’t run across when it comes to inspiring, coaching and wrangling kids.
  1. Time for food! As parents, we all know that if a kid is hungry that kid is no good at all. When hunger pangs appear, attentions leave the mountain and there is no one, and no way, to motivate a hungry, grumpy kid. If your child’s ski lesson includes lunch, you want your kid to have a great one. In a group lesson Deer Valley treats their child patrons just as well as the adults and provides a delicious, nutritious lunch menu created specially for them by Executive Chef Jodie Rogers. It makes lunch almost as much fun for the kids as the time they’re having on the hill. Pass the Bucky’s Beef Sliders, please!

Don’t be Afraid of the Cold

Brrr, It’s Cold Outside!

I am right there with you.  When it is cold outside, all I want to do is curl up in front of the fire with a warm blanket, someone to snuggle with, a good movie and some popcorn.  Sounds perfect, huh?!  Well, perfect is rare and quite frankly a bit boring.  Besides, there is always time to come back in and enjoy that warm toasty moment.

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As parents we have to lead the charge on this one. If we don’t urge our kids to get outside on winter days, they won’t know what they are missing. Honestly, every time we bring it up, at least one of our two kids will whine for a second about how cold it will be. But we keep pushing forward and work to get the family suited up for the elements. Being prepared can help you achieve a victory.

  1. Be prepared: Make sure you have all of the necessary accessories to keep everyone warm: hat, gloves, snow pants, goggles, hand warmers.
  2. Get outside before making a concrete plan: Sometimes just showing the kids that it’s not really that cold can help motivate them.
  3. Always go to the bathroom before stepping outside: This will allow you to go straight to the slopes when you get to the resort. (Hopefully)
  4. Anything is possible: There are very few “no’s” when embarking on a winter cold outside adventure. Take off your mommy hat and let the kids have fun.

Now, we move onto the plethora of possible activities, which I have stated should be discussed outside.  When kids are in the elements, they see the fun. Standing in the warm house, it is tough for them to cast an educated vote.

  1. Snowy sandcastle anyone?!: This is such a fun and easy activity that quickly turns into exercise.  You will be surprised how much the kids like to mold the snow.
  2. They don’t have to know it is a chore. Some of my best workouts have involved shoveling the walk. In fact, I almost went into labor with Skye because of it.  You can make it fun by creating a contest out of it. Who can collect the “Biggest Pile” of snow?! It’s more fun!
  3. Snow tag or hide and seek. A snow ball fight never ends well, but a snow tag battle can last a bit longer with more room for strategy and fun. Just moving around in snow is harder and therefore burns off more energy.5
  4. Snowman: Building a snowman is such a great family activity. I just learned the proper way this year. You have to start with a small snowball and roll it around in the snow, packing down the new particles of snow that the snowball picks up as you go.  It creates the perfect ball!!! So much fun!
  5. Skiing: If you have the means and the access, skiing is a super fun family adventure that I highly recommend.3

Parents, always pack snacks when heading away from home for snow activities.  The cold weather makes kids SUPER hungry. A few M&Ms can go a long way!

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Have fun and don’t be afraid of the cold!!

10 Tips for a Successful Family Ski Trip

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After seven years as a ski parent, here are my top 10 tips for a successful family ski trip where you not only survive but also thrive on the hill. Ski trips are so much fun, but they can be terrifying to a parent. How old is old enough? What do I really need to do? Or is it worth the money? Here are the lessons I’ve learned though experience as a ski parent and wife as well as tips from my in-laws, who just happen to be the parents of three-time Olympic alpine skier Erik Schlopy (my husband) and NCAA champion Keri Schlopy Crockett (my sis-in-law). Skiing is much different than my native swimming. For example, the biggest difference is the equipment. Equipment is bigger and heavier and way more important in skiing. Just thinking about the task can be daunting, but hopefully with my tips and lessons, it’ll be just a little easier for you.

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From my seven years of carting kids up the hill, here are my 10 Tips:

  1. Choose the mountain that fits your family. Some of the best ski racers were raised on the smallest ski hills, so don’t worry about finding the biggest resort. Oftentimes, smaller resorts are more family friendly & make a smaller dent in your wallet. Our family goes to Deer Valley Resort. It’s 13 minutes from our house and has the best kids trails around in Ruby’s Tail and Bucky’s Backyard.
  2. Weather is by far the most important factor with small children! I realize that you can’t control the weather and that you’ve already paid for your vacation, but be aware of the temperatures and of the wind. If it’s bitter cold or dumping snow, make good decisions so that your kids continue to love skiing. Ski for shorter periods of time, take the shorter runs, and enjoy lots of hot cocoa breaks. In the end, only getting a quarter or half day on the mountain and loving it will be worth more than trying to cram it in and being miserable later.
  3. Patience is KEY! There are lots of things that can quickly get under your skin when you’re managing your family away from home. Here are a few things to consider so you can keep your patience. Don’t set your expectations too high and don’t think it is a failure if you have to cut a day short. Don’t let your kids tell you what they are going to wear with regards to helmet and gloves. Our policy is no helmet/gloves, no skiing. No exceptions. And be prepared to sit in the lodge until they come around. (Trust me, I’ve done this one more than once). It can be frustrating but if you’re prepared and your kids see you mean business, then it’ll go better for everyone
  4. Get lessons. I know lessons are expensive and time consuming, and they keep your children or you away from the family during your “family” vacation, but if it’s your first time out or your first trip in a long time, take the lessons. Everyone has more fun when they’re really enjoying the activities. For example, if your family is planning on being on snow for a week, commit to three consecutive days of lessons. (Note – during peak times you need to reserve lessons WELL in advance!!) After the three days, play it by ear and give the family ski day a try!
  5. Candy/Reward is magic! The last thing you want to do is let getting on all the gear become a super traumatic start to your day, so use a reward. Small little candies or treats that you can carry with you work great. When my kids first started, I would put some in a baggy in one of the zillion pockets on my ski jacket. You’d be amazed how quickly the tears were gone!
  6. Comfort is important. When it comes to ski gear, boots especially, make sure they are comfortable! This can make or break an experience. To ensure you get comfortable gear, rent from someone who knows what they are doing.  If your kid says their foot hurts, trust them, their foot hurts and try a different pair.  When they get better, then you can worry about performance! And whatever you do, DO NOT leave your boots in the car over night! Cold boots are almost impossible to get on! Take your boots out and put them near the heater, warm boots are the best.
  7. Create a list. There is nothing more useful than to make a list of everything you will need and to check it several times. To help, pack each member of the family in a separate bag and check it before and after each day of skiing.  It is amazing how many single gloves I have in my house. It takes a lot of gear and a lot of work to get your family ready to hit the slopes, and if you get up to the hill without a glove or hat, you’re not going back to your hotel to get it because it’s too much trouble. You’ll end up buying an expensive pair of gloves at the resort.
  8. Pack a lunch. Most resorts allow you to bring your own food. Take advantage of this, especially if you are on a budget. You can add to your meal with a hot or cold beverage or dessert. And on that same note, include snacks. Because everyone will be on different runs and finishing up at different times, don’t let the food meltdown of a too hungry kid or mom happen on the hill. Have a snack ready in reserve in one of your jacket pockets to get you or your little one through until the family lunch.
  9. Dress in layers. It may be warm or sunny at the resort, but think about the difference in temperature at the bottom of the hill compared to the top. You can always take layers off, but if you don’t have them to put on, you’re cold and up a creek! Facemask, headliners and neck gators can save you, as can vests and thin fleeces. There are brilliant options for layering. My kids faces and necks get so cold coming down the hill with the wind and the colder temps; we’ve found that sublimation gators/facemask are great. Their thin fabrics cover their head and face and they easily tuck into your clothes and slip on under your helmet.
  10. Reserve your skis in advance. If you are heading to a resort during a major holiday, reserve your skis ahead of time. We didn’t even know this until the Peete family came to visit a few Christmas ago. All the skis in the major shops were reserved in advance. Go online or call to get the family set up with gear! And check to see if your resort will store them overnight for you, it can make your ski life much less stressful.

My experience is you’re going to have good days and bad days on the slopes, so don’t worry if your kids don’t get it right away.  When you start them young, you are setting your family up for some amazing vacations and adventures in the future!  Shred the hill!

 

Tips For Beginners: Ski With Friends Who Are Better Skiers Than You Are

There is nothing worse for a beginner than to let yourself get dragged up the mountain to runs that are more advanced than your ability. Just when you are building up your confidence, you can lose it quickly!

Picture this, you’ve been taking lessons and practicing your skills. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Your well meaning friends, who’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner and don’t realize where you are skill-wise, say…

“Oh, you can do that run.”

Followed by,

“I’ll take you.”

A little voice inside your head is telling you not to go. Your ski instructor just got through explaining that skiing is an individual sport and suggested you to work on your new skills before heading to the top of the mountain. Set them to muscle memory! Going to more challenging terrain often makes you revert to bad habits, wiping out what you’ve just learned. 

Does this sound familiar anyone? The whole idea spells disaster. You can’t blame your friends or your sweetheart. They mean well. All they want to do is to ski with you. 

The problem lies in the incongruity in experience. Their warm-up runs are your most challenging runs. While they are ready to head off to new territory, you are perfectly content where you are.

You want to hang with them and they with you. Everyone wants to have a great time. What are you going to do? 

Deer Valley is a perfect place to ski with friends of different abilities. If you look closely on the trail map, you’ll see that five of the six mountain peaks have nice, long “green” beginner ski runs. Beginners can enjoy gorgeous views and experience the entire resort instead of being relegated to just a few areas. 

You can ski side-by-side with your friends and ride up the lift together. Enjoy the best of both worlds: skiing with your group and staying within your ability. 

You just need a little planning and a little guidance from a mountain host is always helpful.  As the beginner, you know your limits so take an active role in planning your day. Simply pair up your beginner runs with blues and blacks that interconnect or are side-by-side.

Here are some examples I’ve found that lend themselves well to this strategy:

Bald Eagle Mountain – Success and Solid Muldoon Ski Runs (at the top)

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You take Success ski run top to bottom.

Your friends start at the top of Solid Muldoon ski run (which is way too steep for a beginner but a sweet intermediate run.) and they connect with you on Success where the two runs meet by the little cabin.  Then you ski together all the way down.

Perfect!

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Variation – alternate ending – Rosebud and Little Kate ski runs.

You take the Rosebud ski run at the end.

They take Little Kate ski run at the end and wait for you or meet at the Carpenter Express chairlift.

Flagstaff Mountain – Lily and Blue Bell Ski Runs 

Blue Bell Ski Run: This run has beginner (green) “split offs” and is one of the easiest intermediate (blue) ski runs at Deer Valley Resort, so you might want to try it if you are an advanced beginner. The top of Blue Bell ski run is steep so take the “Blue Bell Green Ski Run” cut off. 

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Instead of taking Blue Bell at the top of Quincy Express chairlift, head toward Ontario, and turn left right past the Sharp Shooter photographer.  You miss the steeper part. 

There is another “green split” on Blue Bell ski run where beginners can take Lily and Lower Lily ski runs and circle back to Blue Bell ski run. Before you do that, take a peek at the bottom of Blue Bell ski run to decide whether you want to continue or not. 

The run gets a little steeper but its very wide. It’s like a football field, it’s so wide. You might be able to do it. Trust your judgement. If you want a green run all the way, simply head over to Lily and Lower Lily ski runs and meet your friends at the bottom of Blue Bell ski run. 

They take Blue Bell top to bottom.

Ride up in chairlift together and do it again! (And again. And again. Love this ski run!)

Little Baldy Peak – Deer Hollow and Fairview or Silver Hill Ski Runs

 Deer Hollow

You take Deer Hollow ski run and slip onto Gnats Eye ski run at the top which connects back to Deer Hollow ski run. 

Take your time and enjoy this nice long wide run. (One of my very favorites.) 

They take Fairview or Silver Hill Intermediate ski runs which flow into Deer Hollow. 

There is a trick to this strategy. I find this works best if my friends go twice for every run I do. Then I don’t feel like they are always waiting for me. I’d rather wait for them and not feel pressure to go faster than I’d like to.

Fairview and Silver Hill ski runs are shorter and my friends are faster; they ski two runs for every one run I take. We catch up on Deer Hollow ski run or at the base of Mountaineer Express chairlift. 

Wait for each other at the lift and take it up together.

Lady Morgan – Pearl and Magnet Ski Runs

Ski with your black diamond friends on Lady Morgan.

If you look at the map, you can see Lady Morgan works well for a beginner and advanced group. The lovely Pearl ski run with breath-taking views snakes around the mountain and is a favorite for beginners. 

You take Pearl ski run.  Also you can try Dakota (an easier blue) if it fits in your ability level. Then head down Webster ski run to the Lady Morgan Express chairlift.

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Your advanced friends take Dakota ski run to the black diamond Magnet ski run and either meet you on Webster ski run or ski it twice and meet you at the lift. 

See how easy it is?  You can enjoy your day on runs within your ability and they can weave in-and-out skiing with you while popping onto some blue and black runs.

With a little planning and taking control of your day, you can have a fantastic ski with your sweetheart or with your friends so everyone is happy. Isn’t that the whole idea?

Stop by and talk with any mountain host to plan your runs.  Let us know how it goes and what  we should add to our list for the next post.

Enjoy!

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!