While I certainly don’t agree with it, I can understand why many people wouldn’t venture to learn to ski after age 65. The older you get, the more you realize that life (and your body) is fragile. It doesn’t help that everyone loves to tell skiing horror stories, either. You might ski a hundred times and have an amazing day after day but do you share those stories? Of course not.
Everyone tells the story of their most dramatic day that either involved extreme fear, pain or a combination of both. For example, my brother told me the story of when he skied in college as a novice with his buddies in California, his friends took him in the trees instead of staying on groomed runs. He fell flat on his face with his skis sticking straight down and he couldn’t get back up! His toe nails turned black and eventually fell off since his boots were too tight. Unfortunately, this happened to be my first introduction to skiing, and I was left with a less than favorable impression.
Another favorite storytelling subject is “falling” which involves ledges, trees and collisions with other skiers. Then there is the story of a friendship ending day when someone is taken to a black diamond mogul run, chute or bowl that is way too advanced for them. The friend ditches them and leaves them to somehow slide or trek down alone, scared and angry.
Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Doesn’t really make you want to grab your gear and head to the lift. Why would you put yourself through this at 65? Well if you read this previous blog, you’d know why my husband is doing it. He wants to ski next season with our three year old granddaughter. He also wants to do it right so he can enjoy himself and minimize his chances of injury. At 65, he also certainly can’t afford to waste time learning things the wrong way and then having to relearn them. He wants to do it right.
We called in the professionals. We booked a couple one-on-one private lessons with one of Deer Valley’s professional ski instructors. Since Mary Lou Mignot helped me bump up to a solid intermediate skier at the Women’s Ski Clinic Weekend, we asked for her to put together a Beginner Boot Camp for Jay.
Mary Lou got Jay from surface lifts on Wide West to the Carpenter Express chairlift in a matter of a few hours but more than that, he got a solid foundation in balance and control that will stick with him forever. The lesson began with helping Jay get a feel for the skis and enjoying the slide. He then learned to take the wedge to more of a parallel turn and control his speed.
By the second lesson, he was very comfortable on the lifts and enjoying runs following Mary Lou’s ‘S’ shaped turns and having her follow him observing and providing tips to improve. He even kept his cool when some pint sized skiers went flying out of the trees within a couple feet of him. They didn’t faze him one bit and he passed his first test for skiing with grandchildren.
There were no dramatic stories of run-ins with trees, crashes, or cliffs. He did catch the bug, however. You may know it well. It’s the bug that changes your whole perspective on life; the one that makes you excited when it snows on April 1st, where you count the number of ski days left in the season and you no longer talk of events in years but in terms of “ski seasons”. You know what I am talking about.
It makes all the difference in the world to start your ski experience off well. Especially as you get older, you don’t take anything for granted … especially a ski season at Deer Valley.
True story: I’m “Facebook friends” with over 1,800 people. At least a dozen of those are people with whom I rode the school bus to Rutland Town Elementary School with from 1978-1986 in Rutland, Vermont. As the small world turns, I run into one of these pals, Julie, on a weekly basis at our favorite exercise class at the Silver Mountain Sports Club. Another friend, Tori, lives in Atlanta, and I’m used to following her adventures from afar—she and her family (including two young boys, not that far in age from my guys) travel a lot, and get to go to a lot of fun events, in far-flung locales. So, imagine my delight when I found a Facebook message from Tori, letting me know she’d be skiing at Deer Valley on the first Sunday of Sundance Film Festival.
“Smart move”, I told her. “The hotels are full, but the slopes are empty!” I promised to meet her by the ticket window after I dropped off the boys at Ski School, so that we could say hello in person—which we had not done in over 25 years.
I was so excited to see Tori and meet her husband and kids that I forgot to take a picture of us together. But I did score this great photo of her family enjoying their day at Deer Valley Resort. I’d say they fit right in, wouldn’t you?
Come back sometime soon, Tori and family… so we can ski DV together!
The weather was superb on the day I was going to find out how many of Deer Valley Resort’s runs I could ski in about seven hours. Usually, I’m not a morning skier; while I generally get up around 6 a.m. every day, I first spend time reading the news, doing some chores, going on my morning run and after a late breakfast, I always find a few more things to do. My morning goes by too fast and it’s already lunch time. This Monday was an exception to my otherwise slow-morning routine and my afternoon skiing.
While I was a bit apprehensive the day before, but I got up early and by 8:40 a.m., I was standing in the Snow Park parking lot, outfitted and ready to go. At 8:45 a.m. I was in the lift line waiting for Carpenter Express to open and by 8:58 a.m. I was already boarding the chairlift ready for my long ski day.
The weather was overcast but quite cool, the snow felt great on Little Stick, my first run; soon, I found myself on Deer Hollow, headed to the base of Mountaineer Express chairlift. My next big run was Jordanelle where I “flew” as I was among the first few skiers on a perfectly manicured run. I sampled the rest of the trails served by Mountaineer, doing a few “firsts” on runs like Keetley, Crescent and Dynamic.
Upon completing Little Stick and visiting Wide West, I was back riding the Carpenter chairlift. It was just 10:05 a.m. and I had 12 runs in the bag! From the top of Bald Eagle Mountain, I got to the Sultan Express and collected a large number of runs, both on groomed and bumpy trails, including Grizzly and Ruins of Pompei. Reminding me that fine corduroy and rough-and-tumble bumps were still a way to separate the men from the boys!
After another run on a groomer and a fast lap on Reward, I made it to the Wasatch Express chairlift at 11:59 a.m. I had already skied 25 different runs! After challenging myself with the tough moguls on Rattler, I relaxed on what are arguably the best, most popular and most enjoyable groomed runs of Deer Valley: Wizard, Legal Tender, Nabob, Keno and Birdseye. At the same time, I committed what should fairly be called a “Deer Valley Sacrilege” by eating my lunch on the Wasatch Express.
It was almost 1 p.m. when I boarded Quincy Express, on my way to Empire and Lady Morgan Mountains. There, I would mix some great cruisers like Orion or Magnet with the bumps that carpet Empire Bowl, on runs like Domingo and Solace as well as Argus or Hillside, off Lady Morgan. I also managed to pay a visit to one fun run that originates from the right of the bridge on Bandana, and plunges into what’s known by most young skiers as “Bucky’s Backyard,” the perfect interlude made of giant rolling bumps with peaks and valleys that never fail to capture all the attention of the most jaded skier!
At 2:21 p.m., I rode Ruby Express one last time to rejoin Flagstaff Mountain and its collection of fine groomed runs, beginning with Hawkeye, my 50th run of the day. Then it was time to hit these wonderful, pleasant runs that are Lucky Star, Lost Boulder, Sidewinder and Blue Bell. I paid a quick visit to the Silver Strike Express chairlift and after a few more runs off of the Red Cloud and Quincy chairlifts, I found myself riding the Crown Point lift. It was 3:45 p.m. and I could already claim 62 different runs!
Flying under the road bridge on Kimberly is something I love and consider to be a quintessential Deer Valley experience. I skied down Navigator and caught another ride on Carpenter Express. Descending Big Stick felt like a flash and enabled me to catch another ride up Carpenter just after 4 p.m. that gave me access to a swift, Solid Muldoon, and then, just in the nick of time, I grabbed the very last Carpenter chair of the day that brought my total of different runs skied to 67 out of some 100 possible. In the meantime, I had accumulated 62,100 vertical feet!
When I took my skis off at Snow Park, I was so excited that I did not even feel tired. Moreover, that night, after dinner, my wife and I went for a 2 mile walk; I guess I just needed to unwind a bit!
In the early days of winter it is easy to cope with the darkness and bitter temperatures through the wonders of powder skiing. After not skiing for so many months early bedtimes are no problem, the rest welcome and satisfying. We dine and sing our way through the holidays, all the while dreaming of February face shots and seamless groomers. Mid-winter finds us celebrating the milestones of our favorite future ski champions. Your child’s first true carve, and their exuberant laughter as they veer off trail for every powder patch they see mark the days of January. By the time of late February storm cycles our legs are strong, our spirits sated, and imaginations nearly refilled for another season.
Then the most magical experience in all of life begins; the tulip and Lily of the Valley bulbs stir just beneath the surface of the soil, the sun warms the breeze as trout begin to rise and swirl more often, and the familiar scents of spring flow through long shuttered windows.
Skiing in the sunshine of spring is not a continuation of the previous three months, not the same thread that wove our lives together in mittens and heavy coats. It is a new skin worn under sleeveless vests and sunglasses, embellished with cold beverages and decks filled with people randomly looking at the mountain, at the sun, and smiling.
Spring at Deer Valley is the time to stand atop the Champion bump course across from your lifelong buddy, like two teenagers in ’69 Camaros revving your engines at the same stoplight. Both of you looking all the way down the street to the deck of the EBS Lounge, knowing that somewhere down there a pretty girl is briefly looking up the hill, knowing you have only this one shot at glory.
And when the light turns green you both drop, accelerating through the same bumps that Brad Wilson burned down on his way to his first career World Cup podium in February. Your rhythm is just right, your pole plants just right, and in the back of your mind you already hear the sound of après applause from the EBS deck – just before leaning back ever so slightly.
Spring at Deer Valley, on the deck of the EBS, is a time and a place to give cheers to your best friends, to rub your knees and look back up the mountain at the bump line you almost had. To smile in the sunshine and wistfully hope for a few more face shots before summer, before next year when those high fives from fellow skiers on the deck will be yours.
~ I think I was supposed to be writing a bit more specifically about the menu and atmosphere of the EBS, but an hour basking on its deck last week caused my overactive imagination to free float through the crowd, and imagine what their day and winter must have been like. With live music on the weekends and an outstanding drink menu, including a simple yet delectable martini created by founder Edgar B. Stern, be assured you can satisfy your après spirit in comfort and style this spring. Cheers!
One late evening recently, I spent a couple of hours with Brian Johnson, Lead Groomer at Deer Valley Resort. Brian took me for a ride in his snow cat and I while doing that, I learned quite a few things about weaving white corduroy during the hours the slopes have been temporarily deserted by skiers…
JF: How long have you been a snow groomer?
Brian: Twenty-five years; it’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun!
JF: What do you do in the summer?
Brian: I work in construction, operating heavy equipment.
JF: Are you a skier?
Brian: Yes, I grew up in the Bay Area, but I learned to ski in the Sierras and began as an alpine and freestyle competitor before discovering Deer Valley.
JF: Does it help to be a skier in order to drive a cat like this?
Brian: Definitely! It helps understand what skiers need and want in terms of slope preparation and give us a much better understanding of how the snow feels, performs and the way it changes over time.
JF: Are all the other groomers skiers?
Brian: Yes, even though some of them no longer ski for a variety of reasons, most do. We pretty much have people who love the mountain environment, the snow and the ski industry. People who work with us have been doing it for a very long time and seem to come back to work with us, season after season. That means most of them have lots of experience, and still enjoy both skiing and grooming slopes. As a result, we rarely have to train new drivers and our new recruits are few. Most of them learn the job and generally stay with us, which is really good.
JF: How do you recruit and train your drivers?
Brian: Some have experience when they start at Deer Valley and others don’t. In both cases we train them to do the work, or if they already have experience, we train them to Deer Valley’s specific procedures and quality standards. It does take a long time to get very good and proficient at that work and training plays an important role.
JF: What makes a great snow groomer?
Brian: Experience and lots of it! Consider this: groomers can only do that type of work for about 22 weeks per year. With most professional trades it typically takes three to four years to become proficient. For a snow groomer, that translates into a full decade of work before one becomes perfectly skilled. That’s the technique then comes the art, when you consider an elusive material like snow. That’s right, snow is an amazing creation, it’s constantly changing, it never stays the same from the time it falls out of the sky; it remains in constant state of change and I guess that’s part of what keeps the job interesting.
JF: So there’s also an art in addition to a grooming technique?
Brian: That’s right. A groomer must understand where the snow is, where to find it during lean years, have a good eye for what needs to be fixed and so on. For a first-time groomer it’s essential to understand how the runs are laid out, especially at night. We never let new people groom alone during their first season, they always work with an experienced groomer.
JF: I see other snow cats working along with yours; do you always work in teams?
Brian: We’ll work in groups depending on the project and at Deer Valley, two cats working together is about the norm.
JF: How many drivers are needed for grooming all of Deer Valley runs?
Brian: To cover both shifts and days off requires about 30 people. We need a fair amount of personnel because we cover a lot of runs. Then, since conditions are everything and constantly changing, they always dictate how we will conduct grooming on any given night.
JF: Are there female drivers?
Brian: Yes, we currently have three female drivers with one of them being a Lead Driver on the graveyard shift
JF: In a typical night, how many runs does the team groom?
Brian: About 45 to 50, which is about half of the total number of marked trails at Deer Valley. We’re responsible for certain runs on swing shift because we want them to set longer overnight. We want the runs more durable during the day, especially on our high traffic runs. This applies to Bald and Flagstaff Mountains then our graveyard shift will complete the work and take care of all the lower runs and any other runs we can’t get to on the first shift.
JF: What do you mean by “setting longer overnight?”
Brian: It means letting the snow “rest” for a longer period; it makes for a much more durable skiing surface, which skiers really like. They feel more comfortable on a snow that’s consistent from top to bottom and get more enjoyment out of it. We call this “setup time” or “curing time,” from late afternoon until the next morning when the sun and skiers begin softening the snow surface and we start the whole process over again.
JF: How hard is it to drive a snow groomer?
Brian: First and foremost, it demands lots of attention. It takes time and experience to drive a snow cat. You must be looking everywhere, constantly. I look in my mirrors to see how the grooming is coming out of the back, I check my side-mirrors to make sure I have clearance on both sides; I look across at all of my front plates, how I’m cutting the surface in front of me. Your eyes are constantly looking in all places and behind you after you groom for a fair amount of times; it comes automatically. You’re just looking everywhere to avoid objects, to make sure your sidelining looks good and to see what needs to be adjusted as you go along.
JF: Do you run into wildlife when you work at night?
Brian: We see lots of it. Of course, it depends on the type of winter or snow fall patterns we’re having. Some animal will stay at different altitude depending on the snow conditions. We often see deer, moose, and many different birds, like owls. We have our fair share of coyote and occasionally we’ll see a fox.
JF: Over the years, how has grooming equipment evolved?
Brian: It has come a very long way. It’s been the result, I guess, of constant interaction between us, (the groomers) and the machine manufacturers. The manufacturers often come to see us, ride with us, and ask us how their equipment performs. We both interact and see how we can improve things. Manufacturers also come here to test their new products because they value our reputation, the way we work and the product quality we want to provide to our guests. In turns it helps them in refining their product, from cabin comfort, to overall reliability of the machines and grooming performance.
JF: What’s steepest run that you groom?
Brian: That would be Stein’s Way, is has an 88% grade! Generally groomers from other resorts that visit us never fail to be impressed by how steep the runs we groom are!
JF: How does a fresh snow fall impact your work?
Brian: Just like when you ski, new powder makes the work much more fun! We look forward to grooming when it’s snowing. Of course, the snow cats won’t climb or descend as well in new snow. We must be particularly careful when we’re going down: The machine can slide and the operator needs to control that slide. I find it to make our job much more challenging and fun!
JF: Have you told us all the secrets behind Deer Valley’s legendary “corduroy?”
Brian: Almost, I guess. But don’t forget that the best part of the story is to come out and experience it!
In this blog, a few seasons ago, I shared an obsession of mine to rack up as much ski vertical as I possibly could. I’ve since gotten over it, and this season, I’ll be focusing instead on a new challenge a friend of mine suggested we try to accomplish: ski as many runs at Deer Valley Resort as we possibly could, in just one day. When I heard about the idea, I liked it a lot, thought it was a great way to further my knowledge of the resort. So, I immediately began researching the subject.
With 100 designated ski runs at Deer Valley and six open bowls, I would have my work cut out for me! At first, I was not quite sure how to go about defining the project. What originally was intended to be a team event ended up becoming my sole responsibility as my friend and his busy calendar couldn’t join me within the dates we had originally targeted.
So here I was, on my own and compelled to design the project from scratch. Being one’s own boss isn’t that terrible though; I would be able to make my own rules and fashion them so the contest would be as user-friendly and as convenient as I wanted it be. With that in mind and since there was no one to watch over my shoulder, I also committed to follow my rules to the letter.
I began by deciding that I would only focus on marked ski runs with perhaps one exception: I like some of the kid’s runs. I’m particularly fond of Bucky’s Backyard, a whimsical bumpy run off the Bandana ski run. I would also leave the resort’s six bowls out, as the infinite variations they offered might complicate things and be subject to endless interpretations. I would also allow myself to conveniently count one small run that would be close to a larger one so I could score an extra run without having to take the same lift one extra time for just completing a tiny trail. For example, Trump is a sub-set of Ontario, and I assumed that going through Trump, while skiing the remaining balance of Ontario should count for two runs.
With that in mind, I began by inventorying all the marked trails that I could see on the official Deer Valley Resort map and tried to organized my findings in a sequential order that I felt, would maximize the number of runs I could cover during the time most lifts were open, that is from 9 a.m. until just after 4 p.m.
For each trail, I estimated the time it would take me to ride up the lift, plus the necessary time to safely ski down to my next lift or run, and I added everything as I went through the Deer Valley trail map. I came up with a total number close to one hundred and figured it would take me more than twelve hours to navigate the whole itinerary. With the lifts being opened just seven hours, I would not be able to ski all the runs in the space of one day, but would do my best to ski as many trails as humanly possible.
They were, of course, a few unknowns like the possibility for some bad weather and, if that were the case, perhaps some wind-hold during which certain lifts could be temporarily stopped. In addition there was also the likelihood of fairly large crowds as I wanted to run my experiment during the Spring Break holidays. More skiers would demand more attention and reduced speed while skiing down the hills. Any significant delay would have a detrimental impact on the total number of runs. At first, I had considered taking a break for lunch, but that possibility quickly appeared to be a luxury I could hardly afford if I wanted to rack up the highest possible number of runs.
I could also have tried to optimize my course so I would hit only those runs or lifts that provided me with the best return on my time and efforts, but I decided against it. I had in mind that I would begin with the Little Baldy Peak area then move to Bald Mountain, Empire, return to Flagstaff and conclude the day around Bald Eagle Mountain. Finally, I was asked by some why I wouldn’t use a smart phone app to account for my day, but I must say that I didn’t want to take any chance and suffer any breakdown due to failing technology, so I planned to keep the running tally by hand.
Shortly, I will let you know how the project went and how many runs I was able to cover in just one day of skiing. Of course you don’t have to wait for these results; you can try tomorrow if you feel like it and discover what a typical ski day at Deer Valley Resort can be worth in terms of total ski trails visited. Modify or change some of my rules if you have to and please, ski safely!
Do you -
Want a day off from downhill skiing?
Want to cross train and use different muscle groups?
Have a friend who doesn’t downhill ski that you want to spend time with?
All of the above applied to me so I made a reservation for two for cross country skate ski lessons with White Pine Touring Company. Since I don’t cross country ski, I assumed skate skiing would be a challenge to learn but a great workout so the learning curve would be worth the effort.
Surprisingly, we were able to learn the basics in an hour and ski the 3 kilometer track the same day! I went from what looked like a duck walk to a basic skate with the help of the instructor, Don. As often happens in Park City, Don was more than meets the eye. He is a cross country ski instructor on the weekends and during the week he is a paleontologist (dinosaur expert) for the State of Utah. In other words, Don is an interesting guy.
He took us to a well groomed teaching area (that doubles as the driving range of the Park City Municipal Golf Course in the summer) and taught us to skate on long skinny skis. He suggested, “glide like Dorothy Hamill!” I tried but looked more like Daffy Duck. After a few “back and forths”, the glide became more pronounced.
It took me a while to get the concept and get used to the different style of skis – like skiing on toothpicks! It started to click for me when Don had us put one ski in the classic track going straight which enabled us to focus on pushing off with the other leg skating at an angle.
After an hour, we had the basics down and were cut loose to ski on the beautifully groomed track on the front nine of the golf course. The course had some gentle hills which gave us enough of a challenge as a beginner but not too much to be frustrating. We skated the 3K and at the end, I was dripping with sweat, could feel every muscle in my body, and was absolutely in love with skate skiing.
Skate skiing isn’t for everyone. In my personal opinion, you don’t have to be in top physical shape but at least be in good shape. It is physically challenging getting up the hills. This wouldn’t be the sport to go from “couch to skate ski.” It would also be best for groomed trails since it would be really tough to cut a trail using this method. So if this is an intro to the sport of cross country or you are a back country person, stick with classic cross country.
Take a lesson. I assume you could learn skate skiing on your own, but why? It was much easier taking a lesson. If you are open to feedback and want to learn something new, skate skiing could be your new sport.
Oh another thing… if you want to eat an entire pizza all by yourself afterwards and not gain an ounce, take up this sport because it burns about twice the calories of downhill skiing!
550 cc snowmobiles (with speeds up to 60 mph)
7000 acres of groomed trails
Our 23 year old son
An experienced Deer Valley snowmobiling guide named Tabitha
And a sunny day
What could be a better combination for fun than that? I have to say the experience of snowmobiling with Deer Valley was the perfect recipe for a great time.
It was a pretty safe bet the guys would like it. Like many men, they love anything involving motorized speed — motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs, etc. I am more of a human power fan myself — rowing, kayaking, or hiking so I didn’t realize how much fun I would have, too. Once we were set up with our gear and our helmets strapped on tight, we jumped on our machines to listen to Tabitha give us the run-down of how to operate the sleds.
We headed down the trail to a wide open meadow that served as a track – we could go anywhere as long as we avoided the hazards and kept going left (aka NASCAR drivers.) After a couple loops and getting a feel for the sleds, we opened them up a bit and took turns cutting through the middle and passing each other (while keeping a safe distance of 2-3 sled lengths in between, per our guide’s direction).
The panoramas were next as we headed to the top of the ridge to look over the Wasatch front.
We followed the fence line and headed through the Aspens covering a lot of territory on the ranch.
On the way back, we hit the throttle and opened up the sleds through the wide meadow before parking them at the ranch. Another adventure under our belts, I was reminded of the saying, “a family that plays together stays together” and an afternoon of snowmobiling was just the ticket for this family.
Fact: You don’t have to stay until the fireworks (read: way past bedtime) to get an awesome World Cup experience. Here’s why: opening night was, in fact, a school night. So, we high-tailed it from afternoon karate lessons to Deer Valley to watch some practice runs, a few competition runs, and soak up the atmosphere, knowing that we’d need to leave as the competition heated up. Still, I figured my kids would have enough atmosphere to soak up and that the gamble would pay off. Hey, once in a while, Mom gets it right…
My kids were as excited to ride the chairlift in street boots, at dusk, as they were to see the freestyle skiers hit bumps, jumps and tricks. As we approached Burns chairlift, an unexpected treat greeted us—in the form of the IHC LifeFlight helicopter landing at the top of Wide West ski run. (The chopper remains parked there, at the ready, in case an athlete needs quick transport to a hospital.) “I want to touch the helicopter!” screamed Seth.
Soon, we were loading onto the chairlift, bringing him ever-closer to having his wish granted. On the ride up, he was filled with questions: “How will we get all the way to the race course? What kind of food will we eat for dinner? Do you think the pilot will let me fly the helicopter?” I like how he asked two no-brainers before sliding in the “request impossible.”
No sooner had we run “like the wind” off the chairlift, the kids were racing over to check out the chopper—and to stage a gag shot that they wanted me to capture. (“Mom, does it look like we’re holding the helicopter in our hands, Mom?”) Soon enough, we were hiking up to the venue, with big brother, officially an expert VIP attendee after last year’s outing, authoritatively explaining the ins-and-outs to little brother.
The VIP tent didn’t disappoint—an inventive Mexican feast awaited us, and we dove in. The kids were mesmerized by the fact that they were rubbing elbows with athletes from all over the world (and by the unlimited supply of hot chocolate). Seth improvised a bean burrito from the Fajita station, Lance enjoyed the Fajita chicken, and Jeff got smart and hit the dessert table post-haste, so that the kids (ok, so that WE) could dig into the chocolate bread pudding with nary a delay.
Outside, I realized I was in trouble when Seth stood in slack-jawed awe, staring up at the moguls course. “I want to do that,” he said as one of the athletes landed an Iron Cross. Just as quickly, he identified the helicopter pilots, and went up to introduce himself. “I want to fly your chopper!” he announced. The pilots offered a friendly chuckle, and redirected the conversation to athletes competing. “Do you ski like that?” they asked. “Not yet,” was my little guy’s swift, decisive reply.
Soon, they were settling in to watch the skiers—on a sofa of their own making. “Mom, this is just like the one we saw on your birthday last year!” Seth announced. Lance, ever the innovator, was quick to create “cup holders” for their hot chocolate cups. Nice. They drank hot cocoa and screamed loud approvals for all of the athletes. They even complied when we said it was time to leave.
Then, we discovered the “bonus round.” The “walk” down from the bottom of Solid Muldoon to Snow Park Lodge became something of a boot-ski run.
VIDEO The kids thought they were getting away with something by skiing down to the bottom on their boot soles—and I knew they’d be extra-tired by the time we got home.
We’re counting the minutes until the 2014 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January!
Dan Howard has been Director of Public Relations for the Montage Deer Valley, located in Empire Canyon, ever since the establishment opened up to the public three years ago. We wanted to know more about the Montage’s Après-Ski options that are made available to its guests and day-visitors, and we asked Dan to provide us with an update of what happens at his hotel when the ski day comes to an end…
What is the meaning of Après-Ski at Montage?
It means everything to us. Montage was recently named the number one family-friendly hotel of any resort in the world, and our Après-Ski program is one of the reasons we have been recognized in that way.
Are you saying an “Après-Ski Program?”
Yes, we have eight activities that really fall into that category at Montage. Again, we’re a family-oriented, multi-generational resort. The family generally skis together and Après-Ski together at Montage and all of these activities are geared to everyone, from the youngest to the oldest.
Can you start with traditional Après-Ski that includes food and beverages?
Although Après-Ski isn’t limited to food and wine, I will start with that category and introduce the Apex Restaurant that is easily accessible from the mountain. It’s located directly above Compass Sports and features a large wrap-around terrace, perfect for blue-bird days, with Adirondack chairs circling a large fire-pit. We have some wonderful foods available including a lunch menu until 3 p.m. followed by a bar menu that runs until 5:30 p.m. when the dinner menu begins. To accompany our delicious bar menu we have two beers that are brewed for us locally by Wasatch Brew Pub, the Montage Mountain Ale, on tap, and the Monty Belgian White Ale, in bottles, that is named after Monty, our Bernese mountain dog. We also offer our extended wine list and local whiskey.
What else is available?
Right below Apex near Compass Sports, we’ve added a new popular option, the Beach Haus, that is also a children favorite. There, we’re grilling bratwursts, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, right on the mountain, and people can ski-in and stay in their ski boots while making just a fast stop if they wish to still keep skiing.
What happens if some guests, not staying at Montage, have so much fun that they miss the last Ruby Express chair at 4 p.m.?
If guests are enjoying Après-Ski so much and find themselves still with us at 6 or 7 p.m., on the “wrong” side of the mountain from where they’re staying, we’ll gladly take them home. We have complimentary transportation, and we’ll take them to Silver Lake, Snow Park or even Main Street, wherever they came from, within Park City, we’ll take them there.
Is there live music available anywhere at your hotel?
Yes, we do! It begins in the Apex from 12 to 4 p.m. and we have speakers for those outside on the patio can also enjoy the music. At 4 p.m., it moves into the Vista Lounge. (Here’s a tip: the Lounge fills up between 5 and 7 p.m.) The Lounge features a roaring fireplace and live music, the menu is Asian entrees, served in a relaxed lounge setting with a huge variety of signature drinks. Vista is wonderful because it’s a true family gathering place, a giant living room; it’s our largest space and the classic Après-Ski lounge.
Is there a place where guests can get light fare?
Yama-Sushi near the Vista Lounge is perfect for that. It opens as early as 4 p.m. It’s another great option for Après-Ski that offers signature rolls, nigiri, Japanese beers and sake pairings. As you probably know, “Yama” means mountain in Japanese. Then from 4 until 5 p.m. each day, we offer complimentary marshmallow s’mores for guests staying at the hotel and everyone can roast the s’mores on the open fire-pit, next to the Vista Lounge.
Do you have outdoor Après-Ski activities too?
Yes, we have the Powder Park, our own tubing park. Even though it starts at 11 a.m. it is another after ski favorite. Access to the park is complimentary to our hotel guests. It’s a fun Après-Ski option for kids who still want to play in the snow and it’s always a perfect complement to roasting s’mores at the end of the ski day.
What else is there for kids and their families?
The other family gathering place is the Daly’s Pub and Rec, on the lower floor of the resort. There, we offer four bowling lanes, billiards, English darts, a nostalgic video game arcade and the more modern, Wii Lounge. Fresh pizzas made from scratch and other pop foods are served and are perfect for families that choose to hang out in what is the most popular section of the whole hotel.
Does your famous Spa also participate in Après-Ski activities?
As you perhaps know, ours is the largest spa in Utah. It’s also a place where guests can enjoy their Après-Ski experience with food and wine served right in this indoor, mosaic spa pool. Lots of people are looking to this unique spa experience after a long day on the slopes. Guests can pick between the whirlpool, the swimming pool or even book a spa treatment. While our spa doesn’t offer family hours during the day, our guests’ families are always welcome from 6 to 8 p.m. in the spa pool.
Any other Après-Ski options?
Oh yes, I almost forgot; there’s Buzz, our coffee, hot-chocolate and tea quick-stop. There, you can find homemade sweets from our pastry kitchen and it’s where our resident beekeeper offers his honey production that is available along with some hand-made gelato. Buzz is located alongside the retail promenade, a wonderful shopping area complete with designer jewelry and extraordinary fashions which completes in high-style the Après-Ski cornucopia at Montage.
What happens to Après-Ski at Montage when winter is over?
When the ski chairlifts close, Montage becomes a family camp as the days grow longer. One of the first things that changes is that s’more-time goes from 4 and 5 p.m., to 8 and 9 p.m. in the summer months around our camp fires that remain a daily, year-round routine, and then Compass Sports converts from ski shop into a mountain bike shop. We’re the only official demo center from BMC Swiss mountain bikes and guest can try them all on Deer Valley’s trails.
What other activities do you offer outside of winter?
Compass Sports becomes the recreation hub for 30 different activities that are offered to families in the summer and in the fall as long as the sun is up. Activities cover soccer, croquet, badminton, complimentary archery lessons on the front lawn, now that the tubing park has long melted. When the sun goes down we also offer star-gazing, a non-winter activity, that gives the opportunity to urban guests to discover a sky and some constellations that are almost impossible to observe from any large metro areas.
So, are you magically turning Après-Ski into Après-Sports as soon as the snow melts?
Absolutely, you can say it; the end-of-day fun never stops at Montage!