Give your Skiing the Boot

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about boots, of late. It’s happened with enough frequency, that I’m taking to my soapbox for a Public Service Announcement. Get thee to the boot-fitter, stat.

I know, you and I may not know each other. But in my un-scientific sampling of friends, I’m noticing a trend. Nobody’s skiing comfortably in their boots. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I was one of those folks for a few weeks.

Remember, a couple of years ago when I found Boot Nirvana?

Well, I realized, a couple of weeks ago, that Nirvana had left the building. I found myself committing all manner of cardinal boot sins. Like clamping down my buckles, for instance. Bad skier. Baaaaad.

Then, there were signs that I should heed the warning my boots were sending me—in the form of achy joints after skiing (doesn’t happen when my boots are fitted properly) and knees that felt “tweaked,” for extra measure.

I heard instructors telling tales of students showing up in tears because their boots were ill-fitted and causing them extreme pain.

I skied with a friend who was skiing in boots that, to my non-professional eye, were at least two sizes too big. And her husband, who was skiing with 99 percent of his lower-body wardrobe tucked into the cuff of his boot. (“Repeat after me,” Jeff scolded, gently. “Nothing goes inside the boot except your sock.”)  I’d dismiss this as a rookie error, but another friend, who’s a lifelong skier, was making the same mistake.

Then, a girlfriend injured her ankle, skiing at another resort. It was a really bad sprain—she’s off the hill for at least a few weeks. “I think my boots are kind of loose,” she admitted. She’s an expert skier. She should know better. But, she’s also a parent, and in the habit of deferring nuisance tasks like gear maintenance in favor of other tasks related to her kid’s skiing safety gear, etc. I get it.

Finally, after all that, I marched myself in to see “my” Boot Fitting Dude at Jans. No sooner had I put down my boot bag than he was extricating the boots from it, spiriting them off to the shop in the back and asking me questions as he went. “Mm hmm, mmhmm,” He nodded his assent to my “complaints,” and then disappeared. Moments later, he was back. We were trying the boots on. There were some minor tweaks. My awesome fit was restored. It took—wait for it—fifteen minutes.

Even if you think your boots are fine, do yourself a favor and spend fifteen minutes with a boot fitter. The good ones (and there are a lot of them in this town) are never going to try to sell you on a new boot if you don’t, honestly, need one. They’ll just fix you up and get you back on the hill. You’re welcome.

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Four

Doctor Peter Taillac and Ski Patrol’s Hylton Early have told us how to make the best of your Deer Valley ski vacation. Today, they will conclude their great tips series by discussing safety issues that are of concern to our most advanced skiers and learn how to stay safe under most weather and snow conditions!

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JF: Can you tell us about avalanche control and snow safety in general?

Hylton Early: These are issues that we take extremely seriously at Deer Valley. We have a snow safety program that includes four rescue dogs that are specifically trained for avalanche rescue both at Deer Valley and out in the back country as well. We do conduct explosive control work to make sure that the runs are safe. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that they will be absolutely safe as avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing, and it’s important to keep this fact in mind.

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JF: Is Ski Patrol available for on-hill, last minute updates?

Hylton Early: Yes, you can always check-in with Ski Patrol at the top of Bald Mountain or the top of Empire before you head into areas that could be avalanche-prone. This way, you will also get the latest reports because the Ski Patrol staff would have been there early on and will able to tell you where the safe lines and the best places to ski are. If you’re not quite sure about what to take along, the Ski Patrol is available to remind you about the necessary equipment you might need to stay safe out there.

JF: What about ropes line and closed signs?

Hylton Early: You always want to respect these. They’re in place for a reason. Just like anybody else, we want to open runs as fast as we can but we want to make sure that they are safe before opening them to skiers!

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JF: Any advice for the lone skier?

Hylton Early: It’s very important to let someone else know where you’re going and to have a plan of a place to meet up. In today’s cell phone culture, it’s easy to get complacent, but your battery can die or your phone can fall out of your pocket, so it’s always good to have a fail-safe meeting point, like meet for lunch at a certain lodge. If you are skiing some expert terrain, I would really recommend that you always ski with a partner, so if you were to get injured, this buddy can provide aid to you and let the Ski Patrol know where you are.

JF: How can skiers reach Ski Patrol?

Hylton Early: The Ski Patrol number 435-645-6804 is located on the back of all the trail map, or you can dial extension 6804 from any mountain phone. It’s a smart idea to program it into your cell phone. You can of course always report an injury to any lift employee as well. The Deer Valley Mobile App also has a button to immediately call Ski Patrol.

Call SP

JF: Do you have tips for the great Deer Valley powder days?

Hylton Early: Everyone gets so excited and so filled with adrenaline on these wonderful powder days, that it’s always a good idea to remember to ski safely and to follow the Skier’s Responsibility Code. The most obvious incident is when you lose your ski in deep powder; if your ski came off, make sure to remember the last point when you saw it, which will help greatly if Ski Patrol comes to help you locate it. If you’re skiing the trees, always be on the watch out for stumps and obstacles and be also aware of tree wells; some people have the smart idea of carrying a whistle clipped to their jacket that can serve to alert others of you were to fall into a well and signal your location; this warning signal also comes very handy if you were injured in any location hidden from view.

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JF: Doctor Taillac, is there anything you’d like to add to these details and advices aimed at keeping us safe on the mountain?

Doctor Peter Taillac: I just would like to compliment the Ski Patrol for the great job they do, here at Deer Valley Resort. They’re very knowledgeable and take a great deal of pride in what they’re doing for skiers. They are very diligent at keeping up with their medical training on regular basis so they stay very sharp. We feel that they have a great relationship with the Clinic. Our doctors and nurses know what they’re talking about when they bring in a patient. Guests are safe, here at Deer Valley, they have a great medical safety net available to them and if there is an incident, they’ll be in very good hands.

JF: Hylton, do you have any other comment on behalf of Deer Valley Ski Patrol?

Hylton Early: Unlike many ski resorts that have a mix between professionals augmented by part-time ski patrollers. Deer Valley Ski Patrol is 100% professional and this allows us to keep the highest level of training standard and care for the benefit of our guests.

Thank you for following this four part series on Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net. If you missed any of the posts follow the links below.

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part One

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Two

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Three

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Four

Camera-Ready Skiing

A wise friend once told me: “Nobody wants to watch your skiing videos.” She’s probably right. However, I’m here to make an argument for watching your own skiing videos.

One of the benefits of enrolling in a Specialty Ski Program at Deer Valley is that it usually includes video sessions. I’ll be the first to admit that video days make me a little edgy—I feel like it’s the “final exam” I couldn’t possibly study for, or the one moment I’m going to make the “wrong” kinds of turns. I feel this way about the ski off at the beginning of a clinic, too. But the truth is, you can get a lot out of watching yourself—and your classmates ski.

The Women on Wednesdays program includes two video days. I missed the first one, due to the plague hitting my house in the form of strep throat. But on the final  Wednesday, there was another opportunity to ski for the camera. Our video point was on the section of Solid Muldoon ski run, just below the Little Bell ski run. The Murphy’s Law of Video Day is that, inevitably, other guests ski in front of your camera angle. Sometimes, they mistakenly think the camera is set up for them,  in fact. But the video crew are pros at keeping their focus on the students.

We watched the playback in the video shack that is tucked in the trees between Solid Muldoon and Success ski runs. There, under the guidance of our awesome coach, Donna McAleer, we were able to critique and appreciate our skiing. I say “appreciate” because when you’re well-coached in one of these clinics, there turns out to be a lot to like in what you see on the screen.

I was shocked to see that my form had improved dramatically since the beginning of the season. My stance was strong, and balanced. My edges were engaged. My arms were reaching forward at the correct angle to keep me facing downhill. Unbelievably, neither my coach nor my classmates had a single note for me. The notes for the other women were minor tweaks to form, that were helpful to all of us. We even busted our coach for a couple of form slips. (She got us back by making us ski a “Cowboy Drill,” down the Success ski run, using an improbably wide stance. It was, of course, enormously helpful, but I’m sure we looked ridiculous to the other skiers.)

“Video is very powerful.” Donna reminded us. “Even if you can tape each other—everyone has a phone with a camera, now—it’s a good way to check your form.”

Later that day, one of our classmates took that to heart. We were on our second run of moguls off the Orion ski run. Donna told us she wanted to watch us from the bottom, so she skied ahead. We all agree that it’s a gift to watch Donna ski. She’s strong and graceful. “You looked like that,” said my new friend Kim. “Really.”

I did not believe her. Our first run had been good—I found a good line and just skied it. The snow was soft, the bumps were forgiving, and I had just cruised down them. But I had not considered that it had looked at all good, from a technical standpoint.

“Here, I’ll tape you,” she said. And then Kim revealed herself to be a true friend. It was absolutely frigid out there. Single digits. Wind chills. Cold. And she took off her glove and then held up her iPhone, and proceeded to film her classmates.

Off I went. I don’t think it was my most graceful run, ever, but I can see where my turns and form are consistent, and I know if felt good while I skied. See for yourself.


I got to the bottom, and Donna said, “What are you thinking about when you are coming down?”

“I’m not,” I told her. “Perhaps the trick for me is to get out of the habit of over thinking, and just ski.”

“Good point,” she said, as we turned to watch the other women descend.

After we closed down Empire Express chairlift, we cruised over to Hidden Treasure ski run, and found an entrance in the trees, skier’s left, that would take us to the lower section of Square Deal ski run, for more bumps practice. I had not seen the video, yet, but I knew my “don’t think just ski” approach was working, so, I worked it.

Our final run of the clinic was the Solid Muldoon ski run “Ski it to the bottom, and I’ll see you inside,” Donna said. Or I think she said that, because I took off. I locked the image of the morning’s video in my brain, set my edges in, leaned forward and zoomed down the run. I’ve always had a little love-hate relationship with the very bottom of Solid Muldoon ski run. The fact that it turns, goes steep and is often a little, shall we say crispy, can mess with my head. On this day, my skiing brain was having none of that. She was just riding that hill for all that it had to offer. My classmates and our coach were not far behind, but they all remarked on my speedy run.

“Before you ask, Donna, I’ll tell you,” I began. “I was thinking about that image of myself on this morning’s video. I skied it just like the woman on the screen.”

Double Blues for the Views

Growing up in Utah, I have always been surrounded by the mountain scenery. It’s not until I leave the friendly confines of Utah or ski at Deer Valley Resort until I really appreciate what I get to see every day. Recently I headed out on the slopes with a friend from North Carolina named Cash. All day Cash was raving about the incredible views at Deer Valley.

Cash is a strong skier and you could say that I still have a few things to learn. We stuck to green and easy blue ski runs for most of the day. During lunch at Empire Canyon Grill, where I introduced Cash to the famous Deer Valley Turkey Chili, we started planning new runs we hadn’t skied. Cash assured me I was ready for more difficult terrain.

Using the new Deer Valley Resort App we scouted out the best places to take my skiing to the next level. We started off and took Empire Express chairlift to the Orion ski run. Cash and I were taken aback by the amazing view at the top.

Ski Day View

The view made me forget I was about to embark on a double blue ski run, the most difficult run I had ever attempted on skis. When I passed the sign that said Orion I thought it was only appropriate my first double blue to be named Orion, a name so close to mine. Right before I made the turn to totally commit to the ski run I thought to myself “OhhhhRyan what are you doing?” And got a good laugh.

Orion Sign

After making it down in one piece my skiing confidence was at an all-time high. Cash and I made our way over to Little Baldy Mountain to take on our next double blue ski run. After taking Ruby and Homestake chairlifts we found ourselves at the base of the Mountaineer Express chairlift after a few runs. We took Mountaineer chairlift to the top of Little Baldy Mountain.Taking a left off the chairlift we made our way down the Jordanelle ski run, our second double blue of the day. The top of the run is lined by homes to skier’s right. Once we passed the homes the view becomes breathtaking. The white snow paired with the Jordanelle Reservoir made for an incredible sight. We were clearly not the only ones who thought the view was incredible. Two sets of skiers were pulled off to the side taking pictures. We couldn’t help but stop and take pictures of our own. One skier offered to take our picture after Cash struck up a quick conversation with the gentleman.

Ski Day Crop2

From the views to the terrain, this was the peak of our ski day. According to my Deer Valley app this was also the fastest I skied all day, 39 MPH. What are your favorite views from around Deer Valley? Share your thought with me in the comments below or on social media @RyanMayfield on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Spring Break at Deer Valley Resort

Spring weather and bluebird days in the mountains bring exceptional values at Deer Valley Resort. During the coming months, guests can experience Deer Valley’s award-winning accommodations at a fraction of its winter rates. Spring break holidays provide families an ideal time to experience a getaway tailor-made for all ages, from Deer Valley’s lodging specials and packages that offer great savings to the new Steeps & Stashes specialty clinic for adults.

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New this year, is “Steeps and Stashes,” an adult co-ed specialty clinic for strong intermediate, advanced and expert skiers. The two-day clinic takes skiers to Deer Valley’s lesser known off-trail terrain, where guests will push their limits and test their stamina. Deer Valley’s professional ski instructors help guests improve their skills, while creating lasting, memorable experiences. Included in the program is an opportunity to try a variety of skis from the resort’s Rental Shop (a Rossignol Experience Center) and a closing reception.

Family Value Package

Kids ski FREE and save 20% on lodging, lift tickets and kids’ ski rentals. With family-friendly amenities, including an outdoor pool and hot tub, free hot breakfast buffet, onsite Deer Valley Rental Shop and complimentary in-town shuttle all within close proximity to Snow Park Lodge and ski school, Lodges at Deer Valley and Silver Baron Lodge are the perfect choice for families vacationing at Deer Valley Resort. Package is valid March 30-April 6, 2014. Receive up to two complimentary child lift tickets per day and two Deer Valley ski rental discount vouchers for children 12 and under. The purchase of four adult lift tickets is required.

Late Season Package

Experience Deer Valley Resort during the late winter season period and receive 25% savings on lodging and lift tickets at a wide range of accommodations managed by Deer Valley. Package is valid March 30-April 6, 2014. A minimum of four lift tickets total must be purchased with this package. Minimum night stay is required and varies by property.

Spring Ski and Stay Package

Save 15% on lodging and lift tickets when you book your Deer Valley Resort spring ski vacation. Package is validFebruary 23-March 8, and March 23-29, 2014. A minimum of four lift tickets total must be purchased with this package. Minimum night stay is required and varies by property. This package is not offered at Black Diamond Lodge.

Spring Lodging at Summer Rates
Enjoy spring skiing at Deer Valley Resort with summer lodging rates starting at $165 per night for a hotel room at Lodges at Deer Valley and 25% off lift tickets. Valid from April 6-13, 2014. Minimum night stay is required and varies by property.
 
Stay Longer, Save More

Receive free nights lodging the longer you stay at Deer Valley Resort. Purchase six nights and receive one additional night free, purchase eight through 10 nights and receive two additional nights free, purchase 11 through 13 nights and receive three additional nights free, stay 14 nights or more and receive four additional nights free. The ‘stay six nights and receive one night free’ option is not valid March 7-22, 2014.

The following apply to all packages: At time of booking, offers are based on availability at select properties, on new reservations only and packages cannot be combined; tax and service fees not included. Purchase of daily adult lift tickets is, at times, required to obtain lodging discounts; end dates are checkout dates.

Please speak with a Vacation Planner to clarify all package details. Visit deervalley.com for additional packages or promotions.Guests can visit deervalley.com or inquire with one of the resort’s Vacation Planners at 800-558-3337 or 435-645-6528 for further package details. For a complete list of Deer Valley Resort’s 2014 spring packages, rates and restrictions, please view Deer Valley Resort Lodging & Reservations on our website.

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part Three

In the two previous blogs, we’ve learned from Doctor Peter Taillac and Ski Patrol’s Hylton Early about the amazing “Doctor Patrol” roaming the slopes at Deer Valley Resort, and we received some great tips for planning a perfect ski vacation. Today, they’ll share more tips aimed at enhancing your safety on the slopes.

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JF: Let’s talk about gear for a moment; what precautions should people take with their own equipment?

Hylton Early: Obviously, you want to make sure that your equipment is in good shape. You want to check that the ski brakes work properly, or if you happen to Telemark, for instance, you must make sure you have safety leashes, a requirement that is part of the skier’s responsibility code. It’s also a good idea to have your bindings checked once a season to make sure they are still properly adjusted to your boots and set to your weight, age and ability. Also if you haven’t skied on them for a season or two, it might be a good idea to have them tuned up so bases are flat and your edges are sharp enough so they respond as expected when you need them.

JF: What trends are you seeing these days in terms of skier’s injuries?

Hylton Early: In leg injuries, most are in the ligaments that surround the knee like the ACL and MCL as well as strains and cartilage tears. Lower in the list might be tibia injuries or even farther down the list, a few traumas involving the femur.

Doctor Peter Taillac: I agree, these are the most common ones. One of my pet peeves is that people have their bindings set too tight. When you fall and the skis start to twist, they twist the knee with it and, as I always like to say, either the binding is going to open or the ligaments in the knee are going to be hurt. I prefer to see the binding go! So, again, it is super important that your bindings are properly adjusted to your weight and your ability and I personally prefer to have my binding set on the low side than ending up with a twisted knee!

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JF: Like for “defensive driving”, are there similar tips that would apply to a ski day.

Hylton Early: It all starts with knowing the conditions on the mountain, reviewing the weather report and the groomed run report Deer Valley puts out everyday, so that you know what the conditions are going to be, and also are prepared for a changing weather. A run may different at 10 a.m. than it will be at 2 p.m. Don’t assume necessarily that it’s going to be the same thing. The analogy you made to driving and skiing can be very similar. It all starts with knowing the Skier Responsibility Code, making sure your equipment is in good shape, that you stop in areas that are safe and that you never forget that the skier ahead of you has always right of way.

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JF: Are these precautions enough?

Hylton Early: Probably not if you truly want to ski “defensively.” You may want to go a little bit farther, like always looking around you to see what other skiers are doing, looking all the way down the run so you can anticipate both the snow and terrain conditions as well as the skiers’ traffic ahead of you. In addition, even though skiers behind you should be mindful of what you might do, like turning to the right or to the left, it’s always a good idea to look over your shoulder to verify that you can change direction safely, and this alone goes a long way to avoiding a possible collision.

JF: What about the use of electronic devices while skiing?

Hylton Early: You want to make sure that if you need to text or call someone, you come to a full stop into a safe spot where you’re visible from above. Of course, don’t text or phone while you’re moving. If you want to listen to music – not something we would recommend as we think its best for you to hear what’s around you – keep it in an appropriate volume, or better yet, just place one ear-bud into one ear instead of both so you’re still can hear the sounds around you.

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In the conclusion of our “Doctor Patrol” series, we’ll cover more talks about safety in powder snow, powder conditions and the like. Don’t miss it!

Olympic Fever!

Did I ever tell you about the time I earned the nickname “Rocket Girl?” True story—but it wasn’t about my lightening-fast skiing (which, yes, is a skill I have in my quiver, now, thanks to some excellent coaching in my Women on Wednesdays Ski Clinic. But more on that, soon).

In the 2002 Winter Games, Jeff and I volunteered at Utah Olympic Park, in food and beverage services. (For those of you who were in the volunteer corps, we wore the blue coat.)  Jeff was mostly in the office trailer, managing the other volunteers. I, however, was driving those fun AWD buggies around, loaded with Pop-Tarts and Nature Valley bars. And, one fine evening, during the ski jumping competitions, I wore the Rocket Pack. This, friends, is a metal tank in an insulated backpack. It has a dispenser for plastic cups on the side, and a hose with a soda-gun type trigger-dispenser at one end. It was filled with hot chocolate. It weighed—well, a lot. It was, conservatively, about half as long as I am tall. Since I may be 5’1” in boots, this isn’t necessarily huge…until I put the thing on my back and went to my assigned post. I was to climb the stairs next to the jumps and serve cocoa to the judges. Hilarity ensued.

The fact is, that volunteer experience has had a lasting impact—we are, forever, “Olympics People.” I think most people in Park City, who were here, then, feel that way, too. So, as the Olympics kicked off, I got excited all over again. Truth be told, I started to feel Olympic Fever at The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Competition at Deer Valley, last month.

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Just approaching the venue, my friend Miriam and I were reminding each other, and explaining to my friend Kathy, what Deer Valley Resort looked like during the 2002 games. Actual stadium bleachers at the base of the venue, plus, SRO areas. Jeff and I rang cowbells as we watched the freestyle skiers throw down amazing tricks.

Even at the decidedly smaller-scale World Cup event, it’s obvious that there is a ton of work that goes into creating it. I wanted to know more, so I caught up with a few of the folks who make World Cup happen. Here, some fun facts about World Cup from Jim Bragg, Mountain Venue Services Manager, and Chris Cowan, Mountain Venue Services Assistant Manager. Study up and impress your fellow viewers with these tidbits:

It takes a village to run a venue. While there are many volunteers that work on World Cup at Deer Valley, It took about 1,200 staff hours for “Field of Play” set-up, maintenance, operations and teardown. This doesn’t include the snowmaking crew, 151 volunteers and a bevy of other “unseen” heroes that make the event happen.

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Course specs are, well, quite specific. The moguls course, per FIS regulations, has a maximum length of 300 meters. Champion runs approximately 280m. “The course the athletes compete on is defined by 10 control gates on each sideline, and is about 10 meters wide,” notes Jim.

Athletes choose their own line. “There are four ‘zipper lines’ the athletes can choose from to do their run,” says Chris.”

Building a course requires art, science, machine and muscle. “The mogul course is brought to grade and the bumps and jumps are roughed in using a winch cat. Due to the steepness of Champion ski run, a snow cat with a winch is used. After the snow cat “cut” is done, moguls are shaped by about 20 volunteers (with shovels), under the supervision of a Chief of Course and a Chief Builder,” says Chris. “Once the bumps are shovel shaped, the Wasatch Freestyle Team runs the course to complete the bumps and better define the “zipper lines”. The jumps or “kickers” are created using wooden jump forms. Snow is shoveled into the forms and mixed with water from snowmaking hydrates alongside the venue to build the “kickers.”

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Course conditions are weather-dependent. Yes, I know, that’s a bold statement of the obvious. The weather for this year’s World Cup was a mixed bag of wind, rain, snow and more wind. “The first night of competition the course was very fast, with steady uphill winds throughout the night. This hampered visibility for the athletes as well as the judges. The athletes had trouble seeing the course and the judges had difficulty viewing the athletes (especially with sporadic winds gusts),” says Chris. “On Saturday, the second night of mogul competition, wind and a few inches of fresh snow and warmer temperatures changed the conditions of the course, especially the “kickers”. These condition changes had an obvious effect on the athletes; many had trouble staying on course and with the transitions after landing tricks off of the “kicker.”

The pine bough grindings at the base of the jumps aren’t debris—they are a safety measure. “The lighting was also very flat Saturday night, so guests may have seen more pine bough grindings on the course,” says Chris. “The pine bough grindings are used on the jump landings to improve depth perception for the athletes and help them get oriented while in the air before landing an aerial maneuver off one of the “kickers”. The practice of spreading pine bough grindings or chips is also used on the landing hill for the Aerial athletes. Pine boughs are chipped and collected from the Park City Christmas tree recycle lot. Typically, 50-60 bags of pine boughs are used between both venues.“

Granddaughter’s Ski Lesson

The best ski lesson for your child or grandchild is one where you give them a kiss on the cheek and leave them to the instructor. The problem is you are just as excited about the lesson as they are! You want to be up close and personal to observe and take photos to memorialize the event.

That’s how my friends TJ and Lin felt when they set up a ski lessons for their granddaughter (and my little friend) Stella, age 3. The grandparents felt like it was important for the little one to have a positive experience right from the start. They called in Deer Valley ski instructor, Mark Shepard to teach her on her first day. Mark has a keen ability to really hone in on what a skier needs to make marked improvements. He helped TJ (a lifelong skier) make drastic improvements on the bumps and Stella’s Mom and Dad take on the blues. So why not make it three generations.

Mark was open to splitting a private lesson. The first hour, a private lesson just for little Stella and the rest of the morning went to their daughter and son-in-law (both beginner skiers.)  He started little Stella’s lesson in the lodge practicing “pizza and french fry” on aluminum pie pans (no skis yet – just with boots) until she got the concept down cold. The grandparents were quickly forgotten as Mark got right down to Stella’s eye level. Though TJ and Lin wanted to stick around, they knew better.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

They also had a secret weapon – a serious telephoto lens! TJ is a wildlife photographer — an expert at quietly watching from a long distance and snapping amazing photos. He put those skills to the test for Stella’s lesson.

Here is what he observed (while in stealth mode) from way over on the other side of the run:

Mark carrying little Stella to the hill.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Practicing now with skis on.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

A typical three-year-old, Stella points out an airplane in the sky during the lesson. Mark simply lies on his back to enjoy the delight of the plane with her.

In about an hour, Stella is skiing!

Ski Lesson 3

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

The moral of the story is you can have the best of both worlds. Your child or grandchild can enjoy their lesson and you can have photos to remember the event. All you have to do is walk softly and carry a big telephoto lens.
For more information on ski lessons at Deer Valley Ski Resort, click here

I feel the need—the need for…CHEESE.

Well, dear reader, I have found my people. They are cheese people. Clark Norris, executive chef at Silver Lake Lodge and Corrine Cornet-Coniglio, have brought the art of handcrafted cheese to Deer Valley. And, considering I have the need to eat cheese nearly every night—sometimes as my meal—it stands to reason that I would find a certain connection with people who revel in the joy of cheese-making. Not to mention cheese-eating.

Imagine my delight when I was invited to a cheese tasting with this dairy-loving duo. And then, imagine the expression on my face when a plank of assorted cheese was set between us in a booth at Royal Street Café. Trust me when I tell you, we were the envy of every passer-by. (One skier stopped, tableside, and said, with some reverence in his voice, “Is that a thing you can order? Because I could just have that for every meal.”) Seriously, I could get used to this.

Over bite after bite of perfectly-aged and cured cheeses, we discussed the roaring success of the new-this-year Deer Valley Cheese program. The cheeses are not only served in all the restaurants, but they’re sold at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

“It’s all we can do to keep up with demand,” Clark admitted. “The other lodges are using Meadowlark a lot.” That would be the double-cream soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese. It’s in a white rind, and handmade in the Frence Moule a la louche tradition.

The name actually reflects the cheese’s origins. “There is always a meadowlark in the valleys of Heber and Midway, singing over the pastures as the cows graze,” he said. “This cheese is truly “terroir’—“

“Wait,” I interrupted. “Explain that term, please?”

“Terroir is the French tradition of making cheese from local cows eating local grasses,” Corrine said. “I’m very proud that we make Utah Terroir cheese, born right here.”

Corrine acquired an interest in learning the art of French cheese making as result of her former career selling cheese-making equipment. “I was traveling a lot in France and Germany,” she said. “And I just wanted to know how to do it.” Cue the career change, and she’s been making cheese for 10 years.

I deferred to the experts in choosing accompaniments for each cheese. Corrine steered me to the black walnut confit with the Blue Belle. “It’s aged over 60 days, “ she explained as she made the first cut into the new wheel. “The Blue has a mind of its own, so the first tasting is always a surprise.”

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For the record, that surprise was totally pleasant. A fun fact: Every line in the blue cheese is the result of forty holes that are poked in each wheel to give the culture room to grow.

Next, we tasted some house-dried pears with the Meadowlark—firm, buttery and delicious. Then, the Moon Shadow. I can’t say, out loud, that I have a favorite among these cheeses, but this one comes awfully close. It’s ash-ripened, and while the goat’s milk is 100 percent local, the ashes are imported from France. “They are vegetable ashes from the vine leaves in the Loire Valley,” Corrine explained. I can’t stress enough how much this sort of detail makes my day. Eating a product that is hand-crafted with such care is a privilege—and it’s clear Corrine feels the same way about making it.

“I work at night when no one is here,” she explains. “Cheese doesn’t like to be stressed or rushed—me neither. And, it needs to age.”

We moved onto Provence Kid, the fresh goat cheese encrusted with Herbes de Provence. It is served in a bruschetta on the Royal Street Café menu (yum), and is the so good that if I were to be left, unattended, with a jar of this cheese, I would eat it directly out of the container in an embarrassingly brief timeframe.

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Fair warning—Corrine and Clark rigidly adhere to the sanctity of the goat’s milk season. So, if you are having a hard time finding the goat’s milk cheeses in mid-February or early March, fear not—they will be back as soon as the milk supply is replenished. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, pick up some of the Triple Truffle, a triple-cream Camembert-style Brie that is infused with black truffles from Umbria, Italy. Trust me, it’s not a bad way to pass the time. Creamy and earthy, it’s the kind of cheese that makes a person want to alternate bites with sips of wine.

We were all smiles at the table as we finished up our tasting—all of us noting that the experience had lifted our moods. “We don’t do this enough,” Corrine explained. “Sitting and tasting is a luxury.” And then, she said something that will now be my personal mantra:

“If you’re having a bad day, say, “Cheese.”

Well played, Corrine. Well played.