Where to Bike in Park City during “Shoulder Season”

Hidden Gems in Park City – Bike Edition

Where can you take a detour from your trip to Home Depot and find an amazing mountain bike course that is free to the public?  Park City, of course! This past weekend my husband and I were headed to the hardware store east of Park City on Highway 40 and decided to take the scenic route and drive through a neighborhood.   We stumbled upon Trailside Park and its soccer field, skateboard park and the amazing mountain bike training course.

We looked at each other and said in unison, “Let’s check it out.” We didn’t see any bikes on the course (maybe because it was really windy.)  So we opened the tailgate, let the dog out and headed up the trail.  It started off with a beginners course called “Bella’s Course” with a couple of stone bridges and curved dirt trails for little ones to try. I can imagine a little girl with a pink bike and helmet tearing around those corners like there’s no tomorrow!

Not for the faint of heart: this trail is challenging!  We hiked up the path and found tons of strategically placed wooden ramps and side rails that were six feet tall!  The course was full of small and large dirt ramps to test the skills of every mountain biker young and old.  We saw a few when we ran into a couple of teenagers with helmet cams taking the big jumps and filming each others landings.

 

This course wouldn’t be for the beginner but if you or your kids love a challenge,   check out Trailside park.  www.basinrecreation.org/trailside_park.html

For the faint of heart: Willow Creek Park. We found this park  in much the same way – we went for a leisurely drive through a neighborhood  and out popped this amazing park with two play structures, finely groomed soccer fields, a pond, and wide paths for walking,running or biking.  The bike paths connect to a couple of nice trails.  On this ride, you won’t find a ramp or a bump in sight but what you will see are wide rocky pathways that are great to either pick up some speed  for a good workout or to take at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery.

I sometimes start at Kimball Junction and ride along the Swaner Nature Preserve past the Swaner farm on the Highway 224.  The bike trail winds past some wetlands and creeks  before it opens up to the meadow at Willow Creek Park. You can ride up to the soccer field there and grab some cold water from the drinking fountain. Take a rest in the shade before heading up further to catch up with the Farm Trail for more stream side riding or head back the way you came.  Www.basinrecreation.org/willow_creek.html

Whether you are a hard core thrill seeking biker or looking for a scenic spring ride and  some exercise, Park City parks are a great way to explore while waiting for Deer Valley’s lift-served biking and hiking to open on June 15.

The Art of Spring Skiing

Outside of some basic technical facts, there are few rules that apply to skiing in general, but when it comes to spring skiing, there’s a capital advice that should always be considered very seriously: Do it early in the day!

Even if you are on vacation, it’s always worth getting out of bed early. Program your cell phone or your clock radio, so your morning wake up call comes with all the lead time you’ll require to get ready, eat a hearty breakfast (believe me, you’ll need it!) and do everything possible in order to reach the nearest ski lift by opening time.

When you and your gear are ready for some action, with plenty of suntan lotion and a pair of sunglasses on hand to take over your goggles as “eye-wear-of-the-day,” spend some time doing some basic orientation. Ask a resort employee, a ski instructor, a lift attendant or a well-informed front desk clerk to tell you which slopes and ski runs get hit first by the sun.

If you listen carefully and with a tiny bit of common-sense, observation and ability to orient yourself, you should be able to locate the right spot at the right time. That’s right, you want to begin your ski day by visiting the runs that are first on the path of a rising sun. From that point forward, you’ll have to focus your efforts in picking the next ski run, using the principle of “following the sun” and visiting the slopes that are successively receiving the early morning rays, working your way to the next ones and so on, until you have looped the loop and your legs are now begging for some serious rest.

If you follow this advice, you’ll be one of the lucky skiers dashing through corduroy and doing “first tracks” on that heavenly material that never fails to give early-risers a subtle, but out-of-this world “foot massage.” After these “good vibrations,” what comes next is that wonderful stage in which the snow, that was corduroy, becomes perfectly polished and slowly begins to melt so slightly, turning into a magical, creamy substance, long before it becomes spring slush. As you move to your next run, you can repeat this terrific sensory experience.

Lastly, don’t overstay your welcome, know when to fold, and that’s generally much earlier than you usually do or end up doing in most cases. If you get caught muddling through slush at 3 pm, you should probably have quit an hour earlier!

Now, with still plenty of sunny days and acres of gentle spring snow left for you, put all that fine spring skiing strategy to work…

Leap Year Birthday Boy

Leap Year is now my favorite holiday—because it means that we get an extra ski day every four years! In honor if Leap Year, I’m introducing you to Deer Valley’s own…Leap Baby. He has skied at Deer Valley for ten years—which is astounding, considering he’s only having his third birthday this year. He has two younger siblings, Natalie and Ethan, both of whom have had more birthdays than Jack. While you struggle with the mental math, get to know my favorite Leap Boy!

Name: Jack Rubenstein, parents: Robert and Katia Rubenstein

Hometown: Hollywood, FL; He and his family are part-time Parkites, and they’re planning to celebrate Jack’s Bar Mitzvah next year (birthday confusion notwithstanding) at Temple Har Shalom in Park City.

Age: 3 or 12, depending on how you count.

Years skiing: 10

Happy Third Birthday Jack! What’s the best part of being a Leap Baby?
Thanks! The best part, probably, is not getting very old so soon, and I get to celebrate my birthday all week for three other years because I don’t have an official birthdate.

What are your three favorite runs to ski at Deer Valley?
Chute 1/ Daly Bowl
Chute 2
X-Files

What is your favorite restaurant for lunch at Deer Valley? And what is your favorite thing to eat there?
Royal Street Cafe- Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich with Hot Fudge
Stein Eriksen’s Buffet- everything

What is your favorite dinner restaurant at Deer Valley?
Seafood Buffet- I love the prime rib and shrimp and king crab. (Don’t forget the homemade whip cream at dessert!)

How many cocoa breaks do you like to take during a ski day?
Are you kidding? I’m here to ski not drink cocoa!!!!!

Which runs do you ski better than your dad
All of them. (Mostly, moguls.)

What is your favorite part of skiing with your dad?
Waiting for him at the bottom!

What is your favorite part of skiing with your whole family?
Ummmmmm…..

Do you like bumps or groomers?
Bumps

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have no clue, I am only three years old.

What are you looking forward to about having your Bar Mitzvah in Park City?
The party, skiing, and getting presents

What is your favorite memory about skiing at Deer Valley?
Going down Chute 10 for the first time.

Attempt at skiing, #2!

I woke up this time and felt so much more at ease for the upcoming ski adventure. I knew that I could at least wedge down the mountain if absolutely necessary, but that Eddy probably would be rather disappointed (and that is something that I couldn’t handle).

After I went through the process of getting all my equipment I met up with Eddy on the beginners slope and felt even more at ease with the situation. However, unlike my first day I was not ready for the cold. I realize that you can’t always have a beautiful sunny day, but from my personal experience, I can say without a doubt that if you don’t like being cold and you are trying to learn to ski, you won’t have a great experience. Eddy gave my some hand warmers to put in my gloves and we made our way to the lifts.

The first couple of runs we took just went very slow and reviewed all that we had learned at a slow pace. I cannot say enough how great Eddy is! He was trying to cheer me up because I was frustrated at how I wasn’t doing as well as before and not to mention that I had turned into the abominable snowman. As great as he is, cheering me up was not happening and I was losing my excitement quick. Eddy then suggested we take a break and warm up inside, which I was more than happy to do. We then met up with JF Lanvers in the lodge who was very excited and couldn’t wait to see how much more progress I had made. Eddy delicately explained it was too cold to get as good while showing me puppy pictures to bring my smile back. I think that the most important thing that Eddy taught me in this lesson was that you can’t be hard on yourself and you need to be patient (whether that is with your progress or with the sun).

We decided that it was time to give it another chance because the sun had come out and I was on a cute-puppy-picture high and now was as good of a time to try as any. We started with our run and the difference between that run and the previous runs was unbelievable! I was for sure not as good as I had been towards the end of the first lesson, but I was much, much, MUCH better than before. My mood instantly got better and I was ready to go. (Again mad props to Eddy for being able to read me and know how to best ensure I had a good day!)

After a few runs on the bunny hill Eddy decided that it was time for an actual run. My heart just about stopped and I was less than enthused to fall down a very large and much longer hill. Eddy promised me that he would never endanger me by putting me on a run that he didn’t know I could handle. Eddy is a very optimistic person clearly, because I for sure felt like that was something that I could not accomplish. But he had never steered me wrong so I needed to trust him and everything he had taught me…

Fast forward to the top of the run which was called Success, which Eddy promised was super easy and just a longer version of the bunny hill.

At the top of the run I snapped this pic to both A) show the world my mastery of the sport B) lie to the world and say I skied skillfully down the run.

We started down the run and I cannot believe what happened. I destroyed it (In a good way!). I did so well and I felt that excitement of skiing and accomplishing something. I did fall twice, on two flat parts because I was spazzing out and looking directly down which you should not do! Eddy told me half way through that he had a secret that he would tell me when we finished, which I knew was something I was either or that the run was maybe not the easiest of the beginner runs. I flew down the rest of the mountain (still a bit of a ski hazard so if you ever see a fully purple ski suit looking a little nervous and in the way, it’s me and I will apologize now if you run into me, I’m sure it’ll be great meeting you like that.)

At the end I felt so accomplished and was so happy to be able to say that I skied my first run and lived to tell the tail. I was so proud of myself and I know that Eddy was really proud of me as well. He then proceeded to tell me that I had just skied the hardest beginner’s hill and “killed” it. Eddy is very sneaky and totally tricked me into realize that I’m good enough for even the more difficult beginner runs.

Long story, very short; Had a really hard morning, decided I hated skiing, hung out with Eddy and listened to him and finally skied down an actual run. Decided that I like skiing and I have a lot of potential to be good at it.

As always, a special thank you to JF Lanvers for catching my lessons on video and showing everything I cannot describe in words.

Sundance Wrap Up

There are a number of reasons that I love the Sundance Film Festival. First, there are the films—I saw a couple of documentaries that knocked my socks off this year: Rebirth and Hot Coffee. But in many ways, the festival holds personal appeal. I get to spend time with colleagues with whom my contact is limited to phone, email and Facebook messages. Not the least of these are my friends at Self Magazine, where I worked as Entertainment Editor before I moved to Park City.

These women, who edit a healthy lifestyle magazine for women, practice what they preach, pushing the envelope on their comfort zone in the name of staying healthy and active.  To wit: a few years ago, the magazine’s executive editor and managing editor decided to take lessons at Deer Valley—in part because their kids had taken up the sport. They loved it. At the same time, other of our colleagues met me for first chair in what would become a tradition of a Self Sundance Ski Day.

And, so, the morning after I attended their lovely dinner event, “Honoring Women who Make Women Look Good on Film,” I met my friend Lauren, the magazine’s publicity director (we also, by some coincidence, went to college together) for a handful of turns and some Snow Park lunch. The previous evening, I’d sat with a documentary filmmaker and explained how, in part, working at Self had inspired me to leave New York for a new life here—what better way to capitalize on all that information I’d learned writing about healthy habits than to move to a place that thrives on them?

In truth, I pulled a locals move, and met Lauren at Silver Lake at the crack of noon. By then, she’d already taken a tour with a Mountain Host, and had that glint in her eye I’ve come to love. “It was great—we took one run on every part of the mountain,” she noted. “But they didn’t want to ski as fast as I did…” I cracked up—Lauren’s unofficial skier nickname is Speedy. So, we zoomed along the groomers (safely, in control, making full use of our edges, thank you very much), and then looked for little pockets of crud and moguls to test out our off-piste legs. On the chairlift, she told me about her 5 year-old daughter’s first weekend of ski lessons, and we compared notes on parenting beginning skiers.

 

After a while, I took her over to Hidden Treasure, explaining ahead of time that I like to use the flat area to skate for a thighs and glutes workout. Lauren looked for a powder stash on the side, and found herself grounded for a minute. “That will teach me!” And we had a good laugh before heading to Homestake so we could cruise Homeward Bound—a must see for any DV visitor.

 

I look forward to Sundance for just these moments—sharing my new life with old friends. We happened to luck into a bluebird day—which made us giggle excessively over the fact that we once did our traditional ski day in blizzard conditions, and our legs could barely keep up with the fresh pow.

Over lunch, I confessed to having a slight case of nerves at the prospect of my upcoming 3-day Women’s Ski Clinic (three full days! Yikes!) – And tried to entice her to plan her Sundance travel to include the weekend next year. Here’s hoping!

Mixing skiing, glamour and fun at the Sundance Film Festival

Some people only like skiing, some only like to watch movies, but there’s a vast universe of individuals who are into both. If given the opportunity, many might attempt to satisfy their combined craving for the silver screen and the white slopes. If you happen to be one these special creatures, Deer Valley Resort and Park City, UT are most definitely the best spot in the world to marry your two favorite hobbies.

Most ski vacations always suggest a good mix between snow activities during the day and après-ski action once the sun set, yet very few can offer the absolutely perfect blend than a stay at Deer Valley the end of January; timed while the Sundance Film Festival is underway, in Park City. That’s right; on-slope traffic is light as film-obsessed visitors use their very short mornings to emerge from endless late night parties. In fact, skiing is at its best; just enough skiers to chat with on the chairs, uncrowded restaurants, the very best instructors available for you at the ski school and plenty of early morning skiing without the need to rush and beat the crowds.

The Film Festival that runs this year between the 21st and 31st of January only requires a few extra skills including sleep and diet management. If you can avoid the post-midnight screening and the parties that follow, and if you have a definite strength of character, then you might be an ideal candidate. The big secret is to stand up early enough in the morning and take advantage of the pristine corduroy that is waiting for you and a select few on the slopes, or the overnight fresh powder “dump” that dropped, almost as a special order, while you were having fun and catching some precious hours of sleep the night before.

If you don’t believe you can overcome mid-day drowsiness, don’t get discouraged. You will soon find out, during the afternoons and evenings that not all movies are created equal; while you’ll find some of them to be just outstanding, a few may fail to pass muster with your discriminating taste or worse, others are downright bad in spite of the appealing synopsis that you thought you had read twice. This is in fact a blessing in disguise; when it happens, do not feel bad, don’t try to resist or even feel guilty; just take a gentle nap through the panel discussion and this will go a long way to keeping you in decent ski shape the following morning or to be fully refreshed when it’s time for your next flick!

Another way to maximize your joint skiing and festival-going experience is to improve on your “food management” skills. You would ideally plan on having a good breakfast, but reality might get in the way and force you to choose between eating something and going skiing while it’s still morning. I recommend the later, because lunches at Deer Valley Resort are so delicious and are – in my view – the only true representation of the “food pyramid.” So, use the lunch break to restore your energy and even take that extra portion to make up for the long evening ahead. It’s hard to get into restaurants on Main Street at night anyway and, beside popcorn, there isn’t a lot you can munch on for the rest of the day. Eat a healthy, hearty lunch and use it as a well-timed break, right on the slopes.  Luckily, if your lunch fails to sustain your appetite throughout the night, Deer Valley’s four evening restaurants are slightly off the beaten path for festival goers and are able to offer plenty of availability and parking during Sundance.

A unique pair of extra benefits from screening movies while skiing is that you will have some compelling stories to tell your chairlift companions and chances are that the abundant cinematographic knowledge you’ll display in the process will make them think that you’re a producer, a famous director or an up and coming actor. If this wasn’t already cool, wait until you attend the hundreds of parties you’ll find yourself invited to during the evenings. Just say a few words about your day and everyone listening will soon assume that your name is Lyndsey Vonn, Bode Miller, Heidi Voelker or even Stein Eriksen, and not necessarily in this order!

Finally don’t worry about not being on top of “Everything Festival” while you’re on the hill; there are now Sundance Film Festival smart phone apps to provide you with real-time information about movie trailers, interaction with Twitter and Facebook, plus all of your evening venues while you are enjoying a wonderful ski day in the sun! Of course, you might always add some business sideline to your ski trip by bringing along the script you’ve always thought should be made into a movie, mingle with movie moguls at night to plot investment strategies and perhaps schedule your very own casting.

As always, your Deer Valley vacation could end up being much more than just skiing!