Old Friends

Well today couldn’t have been a better day to ski, with some fresh snow a couple days ago and sunny skies. My teammate for many years is in town on a “girl’s weekend. “Lucky for her, she gets to come ski with friends and is free of family duties for a few days.

Today was one of those days you realize the kind of relationship you have after 10 years of competing with someone. We haven’t skied together since 1994 and as we discussed the word “skiing together” we realized the definition had changed since then. We were not at the same place skiing and working together, we weren’t trying to be on the training course first, trying to have the fastest training time or trying to make sure you get one of the spots for the next race.

It was relaxing and full of laughs reminiscing about times on the road. I think her girlfriends thought we were crazy (at least me, since I did crash their party). As I reflect what it means to ski with Diann for a day I couldn’t help but think this is a lifetime friendship where we have shared so much.

I remember when I scored my first World Cup points, she was there to reinforce that if I kept going I could have a successful career. I witnessed her winning her SG gold medal in Lillehammer; she made it look so easy (It didn’t work out the same way for me, ha!)We shared our disappointments of injury and battling back and our highs when good results came our way. She even asked me for parental advice for her three year old. Now that’s a bond!

You can share so much and never realize until you’re out of the elements. A highlight of the day was our last run skiing down Big Stick. She began skiing the face and I jumped in after her. Unfortunately she didn’t get to see this, but it was as if we were the only two on the hill. Her movement into the next turn was the same movement forward I made; her next turn was the same time I began and so on… her girlfriends came down and said how cool that was to watch. The funny thing was we didn’t plan it! 

The best part of the day was when we met each other and saw we both had a yellow coat on and white warm-ups! My fault as she is traveling and I have a closet to choose from. I guess once a teammate in the same uniform, always a teammate!

 

 

“Spring” Skiing

These last few days have been a lot of fun. A mix of sun and snow that has made taking photos a pleasure. A few extra laps with the camera at work over the last couple of days has given up some amazing photo opportunities.
Here’s some photos fromthe recent 2 days. Smiles all around here!


Make My Day

So, my very best days at Deer Valley happen when I can, well, make someone’s day—either by turning them onto a new favorite run on the resort, or a new favorite dessert in one of the restaurant. Once in a blue moon, I get to do something really special—which is to make someone a fan of the resort before they have ever skied a run.

To wit: On a recent bluebird morning, I was booting up by the trunk of my SUV alongside a couple who said they were visiting from Vancouver, BC. “We heard this mountain is awesome—that we could not visit Park City and not take advantage of the best grooming in the country.”

I told them I would never disagree with that statement, and went on to offer some tips–my favorite groomers, plus the can’t-miss quality of the Blueberry Mojito at the Royal Street Café. If I drank it as much as I talked about it, there might be a problem!

“Wow, you know a lot about the mountain,” Mike said, after he and his girlfriend Arlie introduced themselves. “You wouldn’t happen to have an extra ticket voucher for us, would you?”

As it happened, I did. Instead of responding verbally, I simply slipped my hand into the cargo pocket of my plaid ski pants (you know, the ones I’m so proud of) and produced a voucher I had on hand, redeemable at the ticket window for a full-day ticket.

Is there anything better than sharing a passion with someone, and then being able to give a gift like that?

“It’s like winning the lottery!” said my new friends. I must say, that it felt like winning the lottery to hand over that pass.

“But I’m only going to ask one thing: you need to let me take your picture—and you need to email me to let me know what you thought of the resort,” I said, handing them a business card.

“Deal!”

We parted ways at that point. A few days later, this email arrived…All the way from Vancouver. I know, it’s like magic, this interwebs stuff.

“We had the good fortune of meeting you in the Deer Valley parking lot last week before our wonderful day skiing. We also had the good fortune of sharing our first lift with Tom, a former tour guide at Deer Valley to important people like presidents, who was kind enough to give us the presidential tour of the mountain all morning. We had lunch in the lower lodge instead of the Royal Street Cafe so we could get more runs in and take advantage of the amazing grooming and sunshine out on the slopes. The rumors about the grooming were all true! I can also say that the salad bar was best I’ve ever had… delicious! We were also very impressed with the service and staff at the resort. Everyone was very professional and the resort was definitely the classiest either of us have ever been to. Thank you so much for the lift ticket, it was a great start to a great day. We really appreciated it! Can you please send us a link to your blog and please feel free to ask any further questions you may have.

Michael and Arlie from Vancouver, BC, Canada HEH!”

And moments later, an email with this photo attached—way better than the parking lot shot I would have posted here!

My Favorites Part 2 – Ski Runs

It’s hard to talk about my favorite spots on the mountain because there are so many. It comes down to the specific day’s conditions. Each area has its advantages depending on if it is sunny, snowing, flat light or powder! I usually assess the weather and whoever I am skiing with and then I decide my skiing route from there.

If it is a bluebird day and the new snow has been skied out (hard to find lately considering we have so much snow) Bald Mountain is the spot, hands down. I usually start out on Nabob and then ski all the groomers. These runs are the best for strong steep intermediates. After Nabob I usually go to Keno, then Legal Tender, Wizard, Tycoon and Reward (if it is groomed). When all these runs are groomed it is the closest thing to the feeling of being in a world cup race. I call this “Ego Snow”.

When I ski Bald Eagle Mountain, I love to ski Big Stick. This run is a classic GS trail. Starts off rolling, drops into a great steep section then at the bottom you better hold on because you’re going to have tired legs when you hit the compression. Another fun run is Solid Muldoon. This follows the Carpenter Express lift line so you must be ready to show off your best skiing. A must do is Success to Last Chance. This route will take you past some of the private homes of Bald Eagle.  Many of these homes are elaborately decorated and have earned nicknames such as “the bear house”, the “raccoon roost” and the “tree house”.  

On Deer Crest, I would say Jordanelle ski run is my favorite. It’s a mile long with a vista you must see to believe. Usually when I have friends visiting this was their favorite run to rip down. I think it helps bring back the memory of their downhill days!

When it’s snowing with flat light, I try to ski in the trees for some depth perception. Sometimes that can’t be done depending on the group I am with. If it’s snowing and flat light the best area to ski is off the Northside Express chairlift. This is our most popular area because there is something for any member of the family or ability level.

OK…now to the big stuff! After a storm or if it’s snowing and accumulating a lot during the day I usually ski off piste all day. I love it when people say there are only groomers at Deer Valley. I have had two groups mentioned this to me and that’s the easiest way to find out that I love a challenge. Usually, after I prove them wrong, they are asking me to stop by 2 p.m.!

So, when the snow has fallen (or still falling) here are the best powder lines:

I usually rush right over to Empire.  However, if the snow safety is not yet completed I start in Mayflower and work my way to Empire.

 Let’s start at Empire – My first hit is the Lady Morgan Bowl fall line. Most of the time this is so good it requires another run. For my third run, I head to the Daly Chutes! I lap Daily Chute a couple times and then to Chutes 7-10 before hitting the X-Files (Don’t know how to find the elusive X-Files? See the previous blog post from JF Lanvers).

Challenger Chute

Once I have thoroughly covered Empire I push on to Ontario Bowl. I either hike in from Ontario ski run or take the traverse from Hidden Treasure.  Ontario Bowl always has a funny way of pulling the “YEE HAWS!!” out of me. The same as Lady Morgan Bowl, Ontario also requires a few passes. Sometimes I have found myself Ontario Bowl all day and only forced to leave when my legs say quit.

I find that most skiers follow this same route and head to Empire first after a big storm.  So by the time you get back to Bald Mountain and hit Mayflower Bowl, Triangle Trees, Sultan Trees and Sunset Trees there are still many great lines!

Then there are my favorite spots for skiing with the kids. They usually take the lead and it’s directly to Bucky’s Backyard and jump and Ruby’s Roost. They would stay here all day if I let them. These runs are off of Bandana and are very bumpy and rolly and of course, that is why they like them. Another favorite for kids is Oompa Loompa Land, this is an opened glade and makes the children feel as if they are skiing some big terrain.

Stefan Skiing Powder

The above is just my opinion in how to ski Deer Valley. I don’t really have a favorite spot because the entire mountain makes me happy! But I hope you have fun exploring my suggestion ski patterns on any given day.

See you on the slopes. More snow to come on Sunday and Monday, says the weatherman — stay tuned!

Fair Weather Skiing

I grew up in Vermont. Skiing there often means braving severe weather conditions in the name of sport. So when we hit the slopes in the early 20s of December, and a wet “snain” was falling, I found it oddly comforting.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a devotee of the 300+ days of sunshine Utah receives. I love the fact that skiing, most days, is a comfortable and fun affair, conducted in concert with the application of sunscreen, and proper layering to avoid the nearly-inevitable overheating on a bluebird day.  (No offense, Vermont.)

But we had so much fun making old-school jokes “How wet is it?? It’s so wet that…” and yep, making turns, my kids made only passing (and legit) complaints about the weather. 

It made me think what a service we do for our kids if we are not fair-weather skiers. It makes them see you can have fun even when the weather isn’t. It makes them hardier. If they’re going to compete on even the most casual levels, they’ll inevitably need to do it in less-than-stellar conditions, so they might as well learn to ski everything, right?

I risked sounding like one of those “uphill both ways to school” kind of moms, and said to Big Guy, “Can you believe that I spent most of my ski days in weather like this when I was your age? And I love skiing sooooo much?”

His response was one of those “Great Moments” parents live for. “Mom, I’m really lucky you still love to ski,” he said. “Because it would be a real bummer to live in Utah and have a mom who hates to ski!”

I thought, that night, as I did my usual toothbrush-time think on the day: This is what I wish for my kids—a lifetime of happy skiing, so they can share it with their kids.

 I’ll save the deeper thoughts for another post. In the meantime, don’t look askance at an overcast day. Use it as a skill-builder—hit overly-familiar terrain and remind your kids that their roll-with-it skills are as important a the perfect turn.

Weekend in Photos

 Were you able to enjoy the 8″+ of powder on Saturday?  Or the the sunny afternoon on Sunday?

If not,  here are some photos of the conditions at Deer Valley over the weekend:

Flagstaff Mountain at Deer Valley- December 11, 2010

View of Empire from the top of Flagstaff - December 12, 2010

Happy Skiing!