Deer Valley Celebrity SkiFest: My Favorite “White Carpet” Event

With the Sundance Film Festival in town, you’d think there’s only one “see and be scene” event in Park City. Well, Deer Valley faithful know that the best celebrity event of the season happens….on the mountain.

Sure, there are red carpets rolling out all over town. But Opening Day at Deer Valley—features a white carpet, for Celebrity SkiFest.

Of course, wardrobe concerns take center stage when you’re prepping for the White Carpet. And it’s as much about “who” you wear, as “what,” so I’ll give you the rundown.

 Base layers by Patagonia

Socks by Smartwool

Full-sole stick on foot warmers by Grabbers

Hand Warmers by Grabbers

Shiny black ski pants by Obermayer

Shiny gold cheetah-print ski jacket, fully vented, also by Obermayer

Shearling hat, by Uggs

Boots by Sorel (I made not turns that day—I was saving those for my family’s first ski day of the year, the following week.)

And yes, the event was chock-full of VIPs, including some of my favorite green-jacketed types. To wit, the always hilarious guys from the Ski Check at Empire. On the White Carpet, they’re the greeters, welcoming the guests to the VIP tent. Rick, Johnny and Hal are consummate hosts—if you’ve ever checked your skis before lunch at Empire, or visited the Rossignol Demo Center there, you know what I’m talking about. And, I got them to take their first “selfie” with me.

Empire Guys

Inside, I caught up with old and new friends. Like my friends and former Good Housekeeping colleagues, Sara and Courtney, and my pal Summer Sanders, who was covering the race for CBS Sports.

Rob Morrow was there with his family, including wife Debbon Ayer, and daughter Tu. You may remember Tu from a few years ago—she was a little kid with impeccable taste in ski pants. I know this because we were wearing the same pair of Marker ski pants in brown plaid. I was, thus, outed for my shopping in the kids’ department. Debbon greeted me with a warm hello, as well. Tu, charming and funny as always (and now, rather grown-up), remembered our moment, and I thanked her for letting me feel young, hip and awesome that day. She was decked out in a floral pant this year. “Let me take a photo?” I asked, “So I know what to look for when I shop for new pants!”

Tu Morrow Pants

The Morrow clan were also excellent sports about my uncontrollable urge to photobomb. After the evidence was recorded, Rob handed me his phone so I could text the photo to myself, and, in turn, share it with you, dear reader:

Photo bomb

“Remembah” Rachel Dratch From that Wicked Saturday Night Live sketch with Sully? Yup! She’s also the author of the hilarious, smart memoir, Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle. We shared some fun “New England” moments, and then she dished up her top three experiences on the racecourse: “One, I didn’t fall. Two, I only did one practice run, but the race went better than the practice run. And three? Lunch at the end of the race.”

Rachel Dratch

Turns out, Rachel is a Deer Valley regular. “I used to come out with a group of friends, every year, during the Sundance Film Festival, and it was our little girls’ weekend tradition to ski at Deer Valley.” That’s the trick: full hotels, empty slopes, and the best week of skiing all season. I couldn’t agree more.

Cheryl Hines

Funny, when I interviewed actress Virginia Madsen for SELF magazine, some time ago, she and I never talked about skiing—but it turns out that she didn’t learn until fairly recently. “I love being here,” she told me. “This is where I learned how to ski—about 13 years ago.”

Virginia was not exactly thrilled with losing her race, but she offered some good insights into what makes a successful race—and, really, a successful ski day.

“In these conditions, I was just off my game, there was a white-out up at the top, and it really takes a lot to ski in this light and this snow. The visibility took me down,” she said. “But the thing about skiing is it’s all mental. Women are thinkers, we multitask 24/7, but skiing is almost like meditating, like yoga. You have to get out of your head and stop thinking. It becomes very peaceful and zen-like. When we think we are going to fall, in life, we pull back. But, on the mountain, you go with gravity, like you are going to fly. From skiing, I learned to stop judging myself. “

As one would expect, when you interview Dr. Oz, you’re going to learn a thing or two.

Rule number one: Never ask anyone what their meditation mantra is. I know this, now, because when I asked Dr. Oz to share his, he and his smart, engaging wife, Lisa, were quick to say, “You’re not supposed to tell anyone your mantra—it’s private.” Somehow, they managed to not make me feel silly for having asked, in the first place.

He told me that he coached Cheryl Hines at the top of the racecourse. “I was giving Cheryl some tips on how to stay calm in the face of adversity,” he explained. “I gave her earphones to listen to so she could meditate to them. It took her a while to figure out there was no music, because they weren’t connected to anything. It broke the ice, anyway.”

Rule Number Two: Don’t pigeon-hole people. Just because he’s a world-class surgeon with a hot, daily talk show, and a new magazine, “Dr. Oz: The Good Life,” (hitting newsstands on Feb 4), doesn’t mean he couldn’t also have a career as a comedian.

Still, he seemed to be all business when he started telling me about his favorite eateries at Deer Valley—“I love it all–from fine dining at Stein Eriksen Lodge, to the great food you can find at the cafes all over the mountain—it’s all delicious.”

Dr. Oz had to cut our chat, short, since he was set to race again in a few minutes—but I caught up with him, and with Lisa, at a party that evening (at which neither of us were wearing ski boots!):

Dr. Oz Wife