Interview with Steve Graff, Bike/Ski Patrol Manager

Last week I caught up with Deer Valley Resorts’ Bike and Ski Patrol Manager, Steve Graff, as he was returning from inspecting the impressive network of hiking and mountain bike trails the resort will soon re-open to the public. Here are some of the many interesting things I learned about his busy department and their myriad of responsibilities…


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JF: Steve, it’s good to be visiting with you and the patrollers again. Tell me, where’s all the snow? What has happened to you and your staff since the end of the skiing season and what are you up to now?

Steve Graff (SG): After we closed the mountain down in April, we spent another week taking down signs, ropes, pads and getting everything ready for snow melt. After taking a little bit of time off to transition between seasons, our staff is back to work. As you can imagine, our personnel shrinks a bit at this time of the year; most get back to their seasonal jobs. Many go to work as National Parks Rangers all over the country, while those who can never get enough winter continue ski patrolling in New Zealand and Australia. Some are wild land fire fighters or smoke-jumpers, and the rest of us are back at Deer Valley Resort getting the place ready for warm weather activities.

JF: How many employees return for Mountain Bike Patrol?

SG: Out of our 70 or so ski patrollers, about 15 stay on during the summer.

JF: How long is the season?

SG: It goes from mid-June through Labor Day (September 2, 2013).

JF: Are you the crew in charge of maintaining trails and cutting new ones?

SG: Our main priority is helping injured but the bulk of our work is actually trail construction and trail maintenance.

JF: Any new trail this year?

SG: The two newest trails were actually started last season. Both are in the Empire Canyon area, off the Ruby Express chairlift.

  • Drift: An intermediate trail
  • Payroll: More of a free riding, “flowy” trail, with some nice jumps and drops that should add some extra levels of excitement in that general area

JF: This sounds promising! By the way who comes up with these unique trail names?

SG: Payroll is actually a mine name and Drift comes from a drift road that is off Tour de Sud. Some others come directly from the public, “Devo” is a good example; we were just finishing constructing it when we ran into a lady that said “Yeah, that trail is ‘Devo.”

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JF: Does your remaining staff receive summer-specific training?

SG: There’s a lot of cross-over between summer and winter duties like medical training and lift evacuation skills and those are regularly being refreshed.  We add motorcycle, ATV and six-wheeler riding that are unique to our summer season.

JF: You mean, training on vehicles that get you around the mountain?

SG: Right; instead of snowmobiles, toboggans or skis, we use bikes, motorcycles and ATVs!

JF: What types of interventions are typical to the warmer months?

SG: Overall, the few injuries we deal with are less severe than in winter because speed is less of a factor. We see a quite a few scrapes and bruises though, maybe a few dislocations, perhaps more blood than usual, but in general, far less severe injuries.

JF: It seems to me that you and your staff aren’t always on the mountain; over the years, I’ve noticed your presence at all the Deer Valley’s summer concerts. What’s your role there?

SG: To attend the concert!

JF: I should have expected this! So, all Patrollers are music aficionados?

SG: Well, this is another one of our Mountain Bike Patrol duties. We offer first aid response at the Deer Valley concerts, so we attend them all. Depending on the event, between two and four of us are present. We’re there for medical emergencies or other situations.

JF: Are they specific recommendations you’d like to share with mountain bikers and hikers intent to use the Deer Valley Resort trail system?

SG: There are a few good rules; first, we don’t charge for uphill travel outside of chairlift rides. If trail users bike, they must wear a helmet and dogs must be left at home whether their owners hike or bike. Always make sure to look at the map and come up with a route before heading out; remember that there are some trails that are specifically for downhill mountain biking, others specifically for hiking and then they’re others that are designated for both. So, it’s good to know what kind of trail you’re planning to take. If you want to hike and don’t want to see bikers, go on a hiking-only trail. If you want to pedal up, make sure you chose the multi-use trail, not the downhill-only one. That way, everyone can enjoy their experience to the fullest.

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JF: Are there lessons or orientations tours visitors can take?

SG: Yes; both are available and are highly recommended. We offer guided tours of the mountain that will also provide some mountain biking tips; those are for intermediate level and above, but they’re also “mountain bike 101” lessons that will take a rank beginner straight to the single-track trails. Many riders often say: “I know how to handle a bike, therefore I don’t need lessons” but as you know JF, mountain biking is a very different deal, it’s not like riding in the neighborhood; there’s weight transfer, forward-and-back and side-to-side involved, it’s a lot more dynamic experience than pedaling on asphalt around the block.

JF: What other recommendations would you give hikers or mountain bikers visiting Deer Valley Resort?

SG: I know some people who chose to ride their mountain bike by themselves, purely for exercise. If you’re one of them, just let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. Always wear a helmet and sunglasses. Even if you’re going on a short trip, throw an extra power bar in your pack, a replacement tube, enough water, some basic tools if you ever break down.  Even if you aren’t quite sure how to fix it, some passer-by might be able to assist you and get you back on your way. Always wear gloves; if you ever fall, the first thing that’s going to hit the ground is your hand. Some extra protection goes a long way!

JF: Any tips about the weather?

SG: Always be prepared for anything! In the mountains, the weather can change rapidly. Look for thunderstorms. If you can hear thunder, lightning isn’t far, so get off the high ground, don’t huddle under the tallest tree, just wait for the storm to pass; it generally never lasts very long.

JF: What about encounters with wildlife?

SG: We do see quite a bit of wildlife. This is one of the great things about hiking and mountain biking around Deer Valley. I’ve had the pleasure to see all kinds of animals around this mountain. You just got to give them space. We’ve taken a lot of space away from them and we should always treat the mountain as their own domain. If I see a moose on the trail, I make my presence known, and hopefully he’ll amble on.

JF: So, how ready are you for Deer Valley Resort summer opening?

SG: Well, we’re opening on June 14, and based on my most recent trail inspections, we’re going to have a fantastic opening, with ninety percent of the trails perfectly passable, so please, come and join us!

 

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Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Deer Valley Resort. | Video Credit: Instagram User @scottusa ... See MoreSee Less

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Leon AllbrightWhere is that

10 hours ago

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Kim Wohleking-FernandezThat snow is for real!?

11 hours ago   ·  5

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Sarah BulverThat is beauty!!!!'nnnn

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Melissa BaileyMichael Bailey this is why they have moose on everything there 😂 still never saw my moose

10 hours ago   ·  2
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Jacob VincentRuth Arbagey apparently we needed to be at deer valley today!

10 hours ago   ·  2
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Meg McKownSuzanne Mckown Seeeee...Park City has all the cool animals too! Haha

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Dan PhelpsCourtney, could be a good season...

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Lisa Borgfeld WhiteGwenn Beaver, what a difference a week makes!

11 hours ago   ·  1

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Ged CarringtonHeather Sherry see they have moose in Utah lol

10 hours ago   ·  1

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Michela SeehusenShirley Hartlauer are you guys missing Utah yet???

10 hours ago   ·  2
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Alicia MoranAmanda Sanford, this is what we got today.

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Jessie JohnsonBeautiful ❤️❤️💜💜❤️

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Brenda Perry-KerrI wish I was there!!

11 hours ago   ·  1
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Patricia Davis LahnMy neighbor... just checking in(lol)

11 hours ago   ·  2
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Marie Benson PitilloAwesome!!! Can't wait!

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Sarah Kaul PettigrewI am so in love!

10 hours ago   ·  2
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Angie MattinsonBeautiful!!!

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Jill Catalano TrosoSnow already!!!!

11 hours ago   ·  1
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Eric PikeWow so early

11 hours ago   ·  1
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Janet Bissell MooneySooo beautiful

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Jeff NesslerThat's the smaller one, when we were up there on Saturday my wife had the bigger one walk right in front of her yeah that scared her

10 hours ago   ·  1
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Meredith Amelia BerlyColin Alexander Berly hey you who keeps up with deer valley's weather on a regular basis is it snowing this much there???? Already????

10 hours ago   ·  2

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Martha BurlesonAwww,,,How pretty! My daughter n family lives there in Park City,,,I just visted them few weeks ago,,,,Love Park City,,,We even lived there in Utah awhile...Snow was Always beautiful....

5 hours ago
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Sheila BortreeWow. I have been going to see Chris for years, not lucky enough to see Moose yet. Looking forward to that day

37 minutes ago
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Suzie GordonOh yes mam! Snowed all night and all day!!!

8 hours ago
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Today’s #DeerValleyMoment. | Photo Credit: @scottusa

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Amy DavidsonJudi Zarrella is it really snowing there??? I was seriously looking into moving that way..... but snow in September?!?!?!?

10 hours ago

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Eric AlexanderI swear only a week ago I was standing there drinking a cold beer and it was 70 degrees

14 hours ago   ·  2

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Jeff HallAnd to think, last week it was brown pow and perfect cycling conditions.

14 hours ago   ·  1
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Ed MccallOh Mother keep it coming, no more hot weather!

12 hours ago   ·  1
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Regan EdwardsMy 3 month countdown to Deer Valley is ON! ❤️👏Christopher Flint, I'm all about that base!

16 hours ago   ·  1
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Suzie Gordon...and it's still snowing now!

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Jennifer StebenGoing to be another great season!

13 hours ago
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Tasha Spencer AgnewSimon Agnew, the countdown is on!! White stuff....yay!!!! 🎿⛷

15 hours ago
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Ed KliczewskiOMG Scott Scott Kliczewski, check out Park City!

11 hours ago   ·  1

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Melissa BremauerSue Wood yes yes yes!!! I have booked dinner for NYE at Cena, all confirmed 💃💃

12 hours ago

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Steve DawsonAnde Dawson need to sort out our plans

16 hours ago
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Angee Palmer DeanI'm so not ready for snow. We need to have fall first.

8 hours ago
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Wendy ChiojiI love this.

14 hours ago   ·  1
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Melissa Jane Ruberts GusemanNot yet, please

11 hours ago   ·  1
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Jeffrey HainesWinter is coming...

17 hours ago   ·  1

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Todd WallaceIt will be melted by next week.

11 hours ago
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Judi Zarrella

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James RazerLove to see this in the snow!

13 hours ago
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Tina WeyersWow look at all that snow!

13 hours ago
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Staci HugginsSooooo, not right!

10 hours ago
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Rick KolminHere’s to nice powder all ski season.

9 hours ago
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Karen GrossmanAwesome!

13 hours ago
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Cindy CreteauToo early😬

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Raquel Aliceayayyyyyyy!!!! 💙💙💙💙

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John ThompsonSee you 2/25/2018!

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