Park City and Courchevel (a ski resort in the heart of the French Alps), became sister cities in 1984. Over the years, both towns shared an active student exchange program that has been a wonderful experience for high school students, educators and their families.
In 2014, Courchevel extended Park City an invitation to renew the bonds. Park City sent a delegation that included Mayor Jack Thomas, Assistant City Manager Matt Dias, ski resort officials from Deer Valley and Park City, as well as the directors of the student exchange program.
Early this month, it was Courchevel’s turn to reciprocate, and I had the privilege to ski Deer Valley Resort with the entire Park City – Courchevel group, including its mayor, Philippe Mugnier.
The group was full of excellent skiers. They loved skiing through the trees, especially Triangle Trees, Sunset Glades, Ontario and Lady Morgan Bowl as well as Ruins of Pompeii. We also took the group up Empire Express where they skied the X-Files ski run before launching into Daly Chute #4!
Throughout the day I listened to the wonderful comments made by our French guests about Deer Valley, and realized the stunning impressions the resort made on every one of them.
“What really stunned me,” said Philippe Mugnier, Courchevel’s mayor, “were the open vistas as far as the eye could see, the superb snow quality and all of the positive vibes that emanated from the employees. We truly felt welcome and sensed that all of the employees were happy in their roles, passing on that feeling to the guests!” Since Philippe is a wonderful skier, has been a long time ski instructor and continues to take his long-time clients on the mountain, I asked him which part of skiing at Deer Valley he enjoyed the most. His response was an unequivocal “the tree skiing!”
As the Director of Courchevel’s Visitors Bureau, Adeline Roux was also impressed by the “the lift attendants’ kindness and pleasant attitude, along with their natural, personal attention.” She added, “they all were a true delight!” From a business standpoint, Adeline was impressed with the the flexibility, the control and the autonomy that comes with a privately owned and independent resort like Deer Valley. “At Courchevel,” she said, “we depend upon our other resort-partners, plus we can’t make up specific rules like, for instance, a ‘skiers-only’ policy.”
Nicolas Feidt, Courchevel’s city manager was impressed with the overall quality of the chairlifts and the staff’s positive and outgoing demeanor. He added, “I was really surprised to learn that the resort limits the number of skiers during peak periods.”
As President of the Courchevel / Park City Association, Martine Parizot, had visited Park City on countless occasions, but until that time, never during ski season. As someone who began her career as a ski instructor, she was also very impressed by Deer Valley’s unique skiing experience, its grooming and staff friendliness. When I asked her which specific detail caught her attention, she said, “having tissues available at each chairlift, we don’t offer this in the Alps!”
A younger and more aggressive skier, Benjamin Escama, who works as Courchevel’s director of education, said that what moved him the most was Stein Eriksen’s Celebration of Life during the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup. Like the rest of the group, he loved the ski terrain and of course, the exceptional quality of the snow. He also liked the impressive grooming and the endless variety of ski options. He added, “From what I’ve experienced at Deer Valley, it’s as easy to quietly cruise a blue run with your family, as it is going crazy in the trees with some of your best buddies! It’s magic! I couldn’t have imagined the place like this.”
On the last day, Pascal de Thiersant, president of the lift operations for Courchevel, Méribel Mottaret and La Tania resorts, shared with me how amazed he was with the tree skiing. I explained that Deer Valley Resort, over the course of three decades, had gradually gladed large expanses of its aspen groves and pine tree forests, to the point that tree skiing still feels very natural and has now become a high point in the resort’s overall ski experience.