JF’s Five Favorite Ski Runs at Deer Valley Resort

I love to ski Deer Valley and I am fond of many of its trails, some more than others. If I were asked to list my top five favorite trails I’d be forced to leave many of the ones I like on the table. For these top five, I’d probably break them into two categories: groomers and natural terrain.

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Among the groomed runs that stand out for me, Jordanelle ski run tops them all. This double blue ski run follows the Jordanelle Gondola from top to bottom. It’s perfectly groomed everyday and skis best in the morning, when the sun begins shining and heats it up ever so slightly to make its pristine corduroy feel “creamy” under the skis. I see the run as a white, undulating ribbon that unfurls towards the reservoir and freeway below.

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Ski this on a perfect bluebird, because it’s mostly about expansive views for as far as the eye can see. Again, early morning is best. I call it my “little downhill run!” I also enjoy the relaxing ride up the gondola, sitting quite comfortably, either enjoying the views of the reservoir and the distant Uinta Mountains, or just facing up Little Baldy Mountain and getting a close view of the wonderful ski-in, ski-out homes and their stunning designs.

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In the “groomer” category, my second favorite is Nabob, a blue ski run. I like it because it’s also always groomed and it offers a huge variety of terrain and grade. Starting at the top of Bald Mountain, it faces north, keeping the best snow on the mountain, and offers panoramic views of the entire town of Park City, reaching all the way to Kimball Junction, framed by distant mountain ranges. In the middle of Nabob, there are tree islands creating natural markers, adding fun and character to the run.

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The grade is gentle before plunging once more towards a flatter transition leading to the Nastar race course and the Silver Lake Lodge. Finally, Nabob ski run makes a sweeping turn to skiers’ right and plunges towards the Wasatch Express chairlift below. I like to use Nabob as a warm-up run and often repeat it before going elsewhere on the mountain. I find it easy, varied and fun. It is the perfect run to ski with family and friends, or people you’ve never skied before and want to assess their skills before picking an itinerary for the rest of the day.

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Of course, I only ski groomed runs a small percentage of my time and prefer powder, trees and crop. That’s my preference and that’s what make skiing interesting for me! In that category, I also have many favorite trails, but here are just three that complete my list of five favorite ski runs.

Mayflower Bowl overflows with scenery. Just like Jordanelle ski run, this bowl overlooks the reservoir and towers over the beautiful Heber Valley. This time, we’re no longer in the “blue” category, but in the single and double black diamond class. A snowy or very cold day is the best time to enjoy the Mayflower Bowl to take advantage of the best possible powder conditions. The bowl can be accessed on skiers’ right from the first third of Stein’s Way ski run. After crossing the entry gate, you find yourself standing on a mostly convex slope that conceals what lays beneath the horizon.

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Watch for some of the avalanche control craters and begin your descent. Soon what you thought was already pretty steep becomes even steeper. You have now committed to the Mayflower Bowl and the rest of the run comes in to full view: a seemingly never ending open space that gradually goes from extremely steep to gentle, before vanishing into the aspen groves below. The run is engaging, stimulating, seems endless and forever fun!

On a snowy day or right after a major snow fall, this is a “must-ski” trail for any powder hound worth their salt! You don’t generally run “laps” on Mayflower Bowl. Once is a good measure; twice perhaps if you decide to venture into the nearby chutes, to skiers’ right, another double black diamond. 

DThen, there is spring skiing, when powder turns to corn. It brings another totally different experience that is quintessentially “Deer Valley”. It is best consumed in the morning when the sun has just begun to bake the spring snow and when the ski edges can get a good grip into the buttery snow surface. Like skiing the bowl in powder, it’s a unique feeling too, but this time the sensations can be totally different!

Ruins of Pompeii is a black diamond ski run that begins at the top of Bald Mountain and drops you to the lower part of Tycoon ski run and ends up at the base of Sultan Express chairlift. Until this season, I wasn’t particularly infatuated by this ski run, but it has grown on me to the point that I have now become a fan of its varied terrain.

dvr-5run8aThe entrance to Ruins of Pompeii ski run is hidden from views behind a curtain of pine trees. As you poke your head through them, you soon appreciate the steepness below and begin studying a safe spot for your first turn! The initial pitch is super steep and there are even a few trees interspersed in the middle to make linking turns even more challenging!

DThis part is followed by a gentler slope where most skiers are allowed to regain their composure before it transitions toward trees to skiers’ right, or continues down the rest of the trail into a long gully, to the left. The latter is the complete run and is guaranteed to focus one’s energy and attention until the trail merges with Tycoon ski run, one-third of the total distance away from Sultan Express chairlift. An alternative is to take Peerless ski run, through the trees, and rejoin Perseverance Bowl. I choose this option half of the time, because I find it more varied and since I adore skiing in the forest, much more!

dvr-5run9For me, Centennial Trees is the holy grail of tree skiing at Deer Valley Resort. This double diamond begins skiers’ right, at the top of Lady Morgan Express chairlift. It’s only trees and it’s very challenging, always fun, and filled with surprises. The top is forested with large pine trees and can get quite bumpy as each turning spot is marked by a giant evergreen. After a major snowfall, though, the moguls disappear and this the best time to enjoy it!

The middle portion of the descent brings some gentler grade and transitions from the pine tree forest into aspen grove. Every tree is an open invitation to weave your way around it and an opportunity to search for the next possible turn. It never stops, it’s relentless and, in our mountain parlance, it’s a true “ski-turner!” The lower segment of the trail keeps on running through the aspens while plunging into a gully that demands a last-ditch effort and some extra nimbleness.

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Unlike most trails, this one isn’t over until it’s over, as total focus is necessary to keep control and remain standing on the skis. Each season, the Deer Valley “Glading Team” has been enlarging Centennial’s skiable acreage by opening more paths and increasing the number of options available to skiers. If you love double-diamond tree skiing, don’t miss it!

What else to do with your kids around Deer Valley

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Hard as it may be to believe, my family does not spend every spare minute of every day during winter skiing. Sometimes it’s too cold (yes, I admitted that double-digit below-zero weather is enough to send even the hardiest of die-hards indoors), sometimes your legs are literally skied out, and sometimes, well, you need to eat.

Herewith, some of our family’s favorite alternative activities.

Please, sir, I want Smore

St. Regis

This ski-in, ski-out hotels at Deer Valley offer s’mores, nightly, from 7-9 p.m. at their outdoor fire pits. The St. Regis offers an extra layer of fun—as in, funicular. If we didn’t know about the S’mores (or, you know, the decadent mussels available at J&G Grill (or at the bar), the ride alone would be reason enough to take a break from skiing. 

Fun Fine Dining

Seafood Buffet

This is the kind of fine dining that works really well for families. During ski season, the Snow Park Lodge restaurant is converted into the Seafood Buffet. Don’t let the “buffet” moniker fool you. This is an experience in indulgence. It’s also a great way to introduce kids to a variety of different foods, textures and seasonings. They can try a little bit of a lot of things, and then go back for more of their favorites. Plus, there’s always a crowd-pleasing Mac-n-Cheese on the menu, just in case. The fact that getting up from the table is encouraged is enough to make it kid-friendly, all on its own. Add to that the extensive dessert display, and you’ve got a winning evening.

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Its all about the Climb

The Mine, Bouldering Gym

A recent addition to the Park City sports scene, the Mine is an all-ages experience, with rock-climbing wall routes for all abilities. My kids are particularly fond of the “TreadClimbler,” a human-powered vertical treadmill with rock routes galore, on—yes—a never-ending loop. More than just a bouldering gym, the Mine offers yoga, as well. And, if you present your day pass from a local ski area, during the month of February, you can receive a 50% discount for a Mine Bouldering Gym day pass, so you can relax and recharge with some climbing and yoga.

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Skating Fun!

Park City Ice Arena

Even with it’s schedule full of practice sessions for local figure skating, speed skating, hockey and curling clubs, the Park City Ice Arena carves out at least one—if not two—public skate sessions daily. The rink offers skate rentals and loaner helmets, so all you have to do is arrive with layers to keep you cozy (word to the wise, dressing kids in ski pants means they will slide when they fall, making it less traumatic) and a pair of gloves, and you’re good to go.

Look out below!!

Sledding

You can tote a sled to the ice arena for a dual-activity afternoon. Recently, we did this with my cousins, and it was a huge hit. The hill outside the Park City Ice Arena slides steep and fast, so you’ll want to don a helmet before you bomb down the hill. Tiny shredders may enjoy the shorter and slightly gentler slope outside the Park City Library.

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Kick and Glide!

Nordic Skiing

Sometimes the best way to be hospitable is to get out of the way. In that spirit, my family opts, often, to make room for visiting skiers at the resorts during the busiest weeks, by hitting the nordic trails instead of the alpine hills. There are many, many miles of groomed trails, which you can use free of charge thanks to Basin Recreation and the Mountain Trails Foundation. But if you need rental gear and skiing in one handy location, nordic athletes have two options: White Pine Touring on Park Avenue (in the Hotel Park City), or The Jeremy Ranch Nordic Center on the Jeremy Ranch Golf and Country Club’s golf course. Both locations offer rentals, lessons and trails for every ability level—in both skate skiing and classic configurations.

These are just a few of the awesome options available in town. I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments!

 

Date Night At The Mariposa: Five Times The Enjoyment

Shorts Program is my new film favorite at the Sundance Film Festival.  Though full length feature films give you a 90 minute in-depth movie experience, a Shorts Program provides five different films filling the same time period. The way I look at it, you get five times the enjoyment during your 90 minutes of film watching.

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Though the Sundance Film Festival has long since packed up and cleared out of Park City, Utah, my yearning for “five times the enjoyment” has not. When my husband. Jay, and I celebrated with a “date night” at Deer Valley, we were excited to find the opportunity to try the “Mariposa Tasting Experience.”

Looks like I found what I was looking for. The experience reminded me of an award winning “Shorts Program,” but for dining.

You see, the “Mariposa Tasting Experience” is unique. Rather than choosing one entree, guests choose a variety of small plates.  Our waiter recommended we make 4-5 choices plus a dessert. So we did!

Now, of course, date night in and of itself is inherently fun. It’s just the two of us, out for a romantic dinner, celebrating life and, in our case, our 20 year partnership in marriage. Spicing things up by experimenting with new, unique, and abundant culinary delights added five times the enjoyment to date night.

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Each special small course at the Mariposa had enough to enjoy, to share and not too much to preclude us from trying another. Our date night at the Mariposa started with:

A bottle of red wine from the Mariposa’s extensive wine list. As transplants from California, we have long enjoyed wines from Napa and Sonoma so we chose a Cabernet from Sonoma.

An Artisan cheese plate with made locally at Deer Valley with four different cheeses.

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Wild Mushroom Beggar’s Purse – wild mushrooms, of course, with beaujolais reduction sauce, Deer Valley Triple Truffle cream brie, and baby greens in a beautiful delicate pastry pouch.  Almost too beautiful to eat.

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Bison Carpaccio- with wilted spinach. This was a first for me.  Wonderful!

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Quail – I might have had quail in the past, I don’t recall but I certainly won’t forget this quail dish!

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Sorbet – Jay and I shared three different types of sorbet with my favorite being green tea. To my delight, it was served with a tiny fortune cookie that included an edible fortune – a new experience!

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Whether you dine at the Mariposa with family, friends or just your sweetheart, consider coming with an empty stomach and bringing an appetite for culinary adventures.

If you are coming for date night, though, be sure to experiment with a few new interesting dishes to spice up your night.


For more information on the menu and to make reservations, click here.

Three Things that Make a Good Ski Lesson Great at Deer Valley

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Our daughter, Ali, has been skiing since she was three years old. She’s now 10 and just like in nearly every other facet of her life, there’s been a shift. Oh, hello, our young tween who is figuring out she has a mind of her own.

When she was younger, we’d all ski together, guiding our little cherub with our ski instructing wisdom that she happily took to heart, heeding it as if it was written on the golden tablets themselves. A year or two later, she took a series of large group ski lessons where the kids mostly played follow the leader, but that gave her the basics and got her to keep track of her own gear. I say yes to that!

Then she hit the magic age of eight, and listening to mom and dad’s advice to keep her knees bent, close the gap from pizza to french fry, and can you please ski just a little faster?!!?!, went straight out the window.

It was time for the pros to take over. We needed another round of ski lessons, but this time with more focus and attention on just her. We needed to push our little Lindsay Vonn-wanna-be to the next level and not destroy our skiing as a family in the process.

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Our daughter loves her friends almost as much as mom and dad (yikes! that teen thing is hiding right around the corner) and when she goes skiing, being on the snow with her pals is one of the best parts of her day. So we gathered a group of some of her friends and headed to Deer Valley Resort.

This group of gal pals all ski at about the same level. They can easily cruise the greens and are firmly entrenched in the blues. They plow through the trees on their way to Quincy’s Cabin and are all at the stage of making the leap from an advanced snowplow to a graceful parallel. But they needed to be pushed out of their comfort zone, and neither my husband nor I could take them there.

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Enter ski instructor Kristin Egan, a 26-year veteran of the Deer Valley Ski School and a Park City local. As impressionable young girls who are always on the lookout for great role models, we’d hoped they’d have an instructor who was a woman. The girls were thrilled to be paired with Kristin.

The half day lesson took the girls from the bottom to the top of Bald Mountain, over to Empire and back again. Kristin saw what motivated each of these young skiiers and assigned them each something to work on as they went down the mountain.

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Sarah said, “I liked when she explained to us the easiest ways to stop on a steep hill. You can stop by doing a big C turn, or if you’re going faster you can do a J.”

Katie said, “She had me ski on one leg for a whole minute and to practice so I could feel the turns.”

Elise said, “Kristin showed me how to put my skis sideways on the mountain and take little bounces down, or slide slip, to get out of a tricky spot.”

And Ali said, “Mom, she was really nice. She told us WHAT to do and not just to do a good job.”

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After experiencing a day of ski lessons at Deer Valley, I realized there are three things that are essential to taking a ski lesson from good, to great.

  1. Keep class size to a minimum. Deer Valley’s ski school kids private lessons are kept at the small size of just 4 or 6 per class and are available for all ages 3 -18 and abilities. As we all know with any school situation, small class size emphasizes personal attention. While we could have chosen to send Ali up on a ski lesson by herself for the ultimate one-on-one ski education, we felt like having the girls together motivated them to challenge one another. Because who wants to be outdone by your bestie? Not these gals.
  1. Experience is essential. Deer Valley Resort has over 550 ski instructors total and 176 of them have been teaching at Deer Valley from over 10 years. These instructors are experienced professionals who take their jobs very, very seriously. And love it! With these years of experience, there’s an emphasis on safety, certification and of course, motivation by having fun. With years of instructing under their goggled helmets, there’s not much they haven’t run across when it comes to inspiring, coaching and wrangling kids.
  1. Time for food! As parents, we all know that if a kid is hungry that kid is no good at all. When hunger pangs appear, attentions leave the mountain and there is no one, and no way, to motivate a hungry, grumpy kid. If your child’s ski lesson includes lunch, you want your kid to have a great one. In a group lesson Deer Valley treats their child patrons just as well as the adults and provides a delicious, nutritious lunch menu created specially for them by Executive Chef Jodie Rogers. It makes lunch almost as much fun for the kids as the time they’re having on the hill. Pass the Bucky’s Beef Sliders, please!

Don’t be Afraid of the Cold

Brrr, It’s Cold Outside!

I am right there with you.  When it is cold outside, all I want to do is curl up in front of the fire with a warm blanket, someone to snuggle with, a good movie and some popcorn.  Sounds perfect, huh?!  Well, perfect is rare and quite frankly a bit boring.  Besides, there is always time to come back in and enjoy that warm toasty moment.

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As parents we have to lead the charge on this one. If we don’t urge our kids to get outside on winter days, they won’t know what they are missing. Honestly, every time we bring it up, at least one of our two kids will whine for a second about how cold it will be. But we keep pushing forward and work to get the family suited up for the elements. Being prepared can help you achieve a victory.

  1. Be prepared: Make sure you have all of the necessary accessories to keep everyone warm: hat, gloves, snow pants, goggles, hand warmers.
  2. Get outside before making a concrete plan: Sometimes just showing the kids that it’s not really that cold can help motivate them.
  3. Always go to the bathroom before stepping outside: This will allow you to go straight to the slopes when you get to the resort. (Hopefully)
  4. Anything is possible: There are very few “no’s” when embarking on a winter cold outside adventure. Take off your mommy hat and let the kids have fun.

Now, we move onto the plethora of possible activities, which I have stated should be discussed outside.  When kids are in the elements, they see the fun. Standing in the warm house, it is tough for them to cast an educated vote.

  1. Snowy sandcastle anyone?!: This is such a fun and easy activity that quickly turns into exercise.  You will be surprised how much the kids like to mold the snow.
  2. They don’t have to know it is a chore. Some of my best workouts have involved shoveling the walk. In fact, I almost went into labor with Skye because of it.  You can make it fun by creating a contest out of it. Who can collect the “Biggest Pile” of snow?! It’s more fun!
  3. Snow tag or hide and seek. A snow ball fight never ends well, but a snow tag battle can last a bit longer with more room for strategy and fun. Just moving around in snow is harder and therefore burns off more energy.5
  4. Snowman: Building a snowman is such a great family activity. I just learned the proper way this year. You have to start with a small snowball and roll it around in the snow, packing down the new particles of snow that the snowball picks up as you go.  It creates the perfect ball!!! So much fun!
  5. Skiing: If you have the means and the access, skiing is a super fun family adventure that I highly recommend.3

Parents, always pack snacks when heading away from home for snow activities.  The cold weather makes kids SUPER hungry. A few M&Ms can go a long way!

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Have fun and don’t be afraid of the cold!!

Ski Mom Survival Guide

Each phase of my children’s lives brings me a different perspective on what are the essential survival skills for a skiing mom. When the kids were tiny it was the simple fact of remembering that sometimes a “ski day” meant a total of 30 minutes on snow, and then hour after hour of building Lego creations in the lodge, with frequent breaks for cookies.
As they’ve gotten older my “survival skills” have expanded to include having the boys manage their own gear and allowing them to lead me toward more technical terrain. The “mom” in me doesn’t want to believe that they can handle it. The “skier” in me could not be more proud.

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I think a successful family ski experience boils down to keeping a balance between the supremely efficient and the supremely silly. Here, in no particular order, are my tips: .

 

  1. CREATE HABITS: Knowing that you have to lay out gear the night before so that kids can dress themselves (to the best of their developmental ability) is a great habit to get into. Insisting that they wear all their gear in the car including boots, is another habit. This way you simply have to run down the mental checklist as you eyeball them when they exit the car: Helmet, goggles, neck gaiter, jacket, pants, boots. When you leave the mountain, run through a similar checklist, then again when you exit the car at home. Make sure all the gear is removed from bags, and laid out to dry, when you get home.
  2. BOOK LESSONS: Ski School is often the saving grace of the family ski vacation. I live here and it has been the saving grace of entire seasons of skiing. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, instructors know how to coach people so that the equipment is doing the lion’s share of the work. People who haven’t had lessons don’t always know what their equipment is capable of doing and the ensuing overcompensating can result in very sore legs. Second, it gives your family the chance to “wow” each other with skills you developed while apart. Third, you acquire only the best skiing skills out of the gate and if you haven’t skied in a while, a good instructor will help break you of some old habits.
  1. GOOF OFF: Alternate challenging terrain with something less challenging. If your kids are starting to explore intermediate terrain, it’s still important to ski the easier stuff. I have found that my kids get as much of a mental boost out of being the masters of Wide West ski run as they do when they lay claim to bragging rights on Square Deal ski run. Also, some wise instructors have told me that when you catch your “french fries” skier suddenly relying on the “pizza” wedge, it’s time to dial back the difficulty until they find the “fries” again. Plus, some of the obstacles on easier terrain can do wonders to help improve overall skill levels.
  1. USE YOUR PHONE’S CAMERA: You can create a combo-platter of trail-memory backup and scrapbook-ready photos if you snap photos of your family standing under the trail markers at the beginning of a run. At the end of the day, you can look through the photos and make a note of trails you want to ski again. Share your photos on social media with the resorts hashtag to connect with other ski families and to learn local secrets. We use #SkiTheDifference at Deer Valley Resort.
  1. CARRY CANDY: If I have said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. A stash of candy in your pocket can go a long way toward keeping kids’ energy and excitement levels high. Recently when skiing with my extended family, my cousin Erica quipped that she’d just enjoyed a “grape smelling” run, as Lance skied in front of her while enjoying a grape-flavored candy.

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  1. AVAIL YOURSELF OF THE BASKET CHECK, LOCKERS and SKI CHECK. If you’re skiing consecutive days use the complimentary ski storage at Deer Valley. If you know your family will have “boot fatigue” by day’s end, stow your snow boots in the lockers or basket check in the bottom of Snow Park Lodge. Basket check is great if you know you’re going to be spending part of the day in the lodge entertaining yourself (book) or a young family member (small bag of toys).
  1. CONSIDER SEASONAL RENTALS. Some local shops have amazing seasonal rental programs for kids. We have used the one at Utah Ski and Golf for Lance. Many of these programs charge a flat fee for multiple seasons. Seth is in the Surefoot and Jans programs for boots and skis. At Surefoot, we receive credit toward the next size up, at Jans, we trade in skis and bindings for a 30% discount. Buying adjustable poles for both boys has saved us a bundle too.
  1. SHARE OFTEN. We all have different preferences for lunch. Lance eats a giant bowl of chicken noodle soup, every day. Seth is my pasta friend. I’m partial to the baked potatoes with various toppings. Jeff’s a fan of the daily specials at Snow Park Lodge. We’re all fans of the french fries, so we usually just get one plate to share between us. This is a strategic move that leaves plenty of room for dessert even if that’s just a shared cookie.195 Deer Valley Bakery
  1. CREATE GAMES ON THE LIFTS: Have your kids count the number of orange helmets they see. Winner gets an extra piece of candy. Everyone in the family can point out skiers who are demonstrating good form, or form we’d rather not emulate. This exercise can help everyone visualize their ideal turn.
  1. FOLLOW YOUR KIDS: If they have attended even one day of ski school, their instructor let them in on “secret” trails or even special ways to attack not-so-secret trails. From exploring the “whoop-dee-dos” on the side of the trail, to taking a detour through Bucky’s Backyard, your kids will delight in leading the way and more than likely, the upper hand in confidence on the terrain.
  1. LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE: This is another thing that bears repeating. Cut the day a little short, maybe two runs fewer than you think the group can handle. You get bonus points if you receive a ton of protest from your newly-addicted skiers. Remember, when you’re six, “a long time ago” is when you were four. So, no matter how much fun they had before 2:30 pm, if the day sours at 2:45, that may be all they remember. Giving them the opportunity to hunger for more days is a guaranteed way to ensure they’ll be ready for more the next time you ski.
  1. AVAIL YOURSELF OF APRÉS. Whatever your poison, cookies and cocoa or cookies and creme de cacao, remember that you deserve a reward for shepherding your family through another ski day. I’m a fan of EBS Lounge in Snow Park Lodge, there’s usually live music on weekend and holiday afternoons. 

10 Tips for a Successful Family Ski Trip

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After seven years as a ski parent, here are my top 10 tips for a successful family ski trip where you not only survive but also thrive on the hill. Ski trips are so much fun, but they can be terrifying to a parent. How old is old enough? What do I really need to do? Or is it worth the money? Here are the lessons I’ve learned though experience as a ski parent and wife as well as tips from my in-laws, who just happen to be the parents of three-time Olympic alpine skier Erik Schlopy (my husband) and NCAA champion Keri Schlopy Crockett (my sis-in-law). Skiing is much different than my native swimming. For example, the biggest difference is the equipment. Equipment is bigger and heavier and way more important in skiing. Just thinking about the task can be daunting, but hopefully with my tips and lessons, it’ll be just a little easier for you.

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From my seven years of carting kids up the hill, here are my 10 Tips:

  1. Choose the mountain that fits your family. Some of the best ski racers were raised on the smallest ski hills, so don’t worry about finding the biggest resort. Oftentimes, smaller resorts are more family friendly & make a smaller dent in your wallet. Our family goes to Deer Valley Resort. It’s 13 minutes from our house and has the best kids trails around in Ruby’s Tail and Bucky’s Backyard.
  2. Weather is by far the most important factor with small children! I realize that you can’t control the weather and that you’ve already paid for your vacation, but be aware of the temperatures and of the wind. If it’s bitter cold or dumping snow, make good decisions so that your kids continue to love skiing. Ski for shorter periods of time, take the shorter runs, and enjoy lots of hot cocoa breaks. In the end, only getting a quarter or half day on the mountain and loving it will be worth more than trying to cram it in and being miserable later.
  3. Patience is KEY! There are lots of things that can quickly get under your skin when you’re managing your family away from home. Here are a few things to consider so you can keep your patience. Don’t set your expectations too high and don’t think it is a failure if you have to cut a day short. Don’t let your kids tell you what they are going to wear with regards to helmet and gloves. Our policy is no helmet/gloves, no skiing. No exceptions. And be prepared to sit in the lodge until they come around. (Trust me, I’ve done this one more than once). It can be frustrating but if you’re prepared and your kids see you mean business, then it’ll go better for everyone
  4. Get lessons. I know lessons are expensive and time consuming, and they keep your children or you away from the family during your “family” vacation, but if it’s your first time out or your first trip in a long time, take the lessons. Everyone has more fun when they’re really enjoying the activities. For example, if your family is planning on being on snow for a week, commit to three consecutive days of lessons. (Note – during peak times you need to reserve lessons WELL in advance!!) After the three days, play it by ear and give the family ski day a try!
  5. Candy/Reward is magic! The last thing you want to do is let getting on all the gear become a super traumatic start to your day, so use a reward. Small little candies or treats that you can carry with you work great. When my kids first started, I would put some in a baggy in one of the zillion pockets on my ski jacket. You’d be amazed how quickly the tears were gone!
  6. Comfort is important. When it comes to ski gear, boots especially, make sure they are comfortable! This can make or break an experience. To ensure you get comfortable gear, rent from someone who knows what they are doing.  If your kid says their foot hurts, trust them, their foot hurts and try a different pair.  When they get better, then you can worry about performance! And whatever you do, DO NOT leave your boots in the car over night! Cold boots are almost impossible to get on! Take your boots out and put them near the heater, warm boots are the best.
  7. Create a list. There is nothing more useful than to make a list of everything you will need and to check it several times. To help, pack each member of the family in a separate bag and check it before and after each day of skiing.  It is amazing how many single gloves I have in my house. It takes a lot of gear and a lot of work to get your family ready to hit the slopes, and if you get up to the hill without a glove or hat, you’re not going back to your hotel to get it because it’s too much trouble. You’ll end up buying an expensive pair of gloves at the resort.
  8. Pack a lunch. Most resorts allow you to bring your own food. Take advantage of this, especially if you are on a budget. You can add to your meal with a hot or cold beverage or dessert. And on that same note, include snacks. Because everyone will be on different runs and finishing up at different times, don’t let the food meltdown of a too hungry kid or mom happen on the hill. Have a snack ready in reserve in one of your jacket pockets to get you or your little one through until the family lunch.
  9. Dress in layers. It may be warm or sunny at the resort, but think about the difference in temperature at the bottom of the hill compared to the top. You can always take layers off, but if you don’t have them to put on, you’re cold and up a creek! Facemask, headliners and neck gators can save you, as can vests and thin fleeces. There are brilliant options for layering. My kids faces and necks get so cold coming down the hill with the wind and the colder temps; we’ve found that sublimation gators/facemask are great. Their thin fabrics cover their head and face and they easily tuck into your clothes and slip on under your helmet.
  10. Reserve your skis in advance. If you are heading to a resort during a major holiday, reserve your skis ahead of time. We didn’t even know this until the Peete family came to visit a few Christmas ago. All the skis in the major shops were reserved in advance. Go online or call to get the family set up with gear! And check to see if your resort will store them overnight for you, it can make your ski life much less stressful.

My experience is you’re going to have good days and bad days on the slopes, so don’t worry if your kids don’t get it right away.  When you start them young, you are setting your family up for some amazing vacations and adventures in the future!  Shred the hill!

 

JF’s Mid-Season Review

As February begins, I feel that we have now stepped into the second half of winter with longer days, deeper snow, great light and an urgent need for generous layers of sunscreen. Before we turn the page on the earlier portion of winter and look to its brighter second half, I wanted to share with you my on-snow experiences so far so we can compare notes or make you feel just a tiny bit jealous if you haven’t skied yet!

With me, winter always begins with great expectations of bottomless powder, but I publicly refrain to verbalize these thoughts as I actively manage my expectations. In fact, when I speak to other skiers, I loudly claim that I expect nothing in terms of snowfall, so Mother Nature will constantly surprise me!

While most of my skiing took place at Deer Valley Resort, I began skiing late November at nearby ski areas. The snow received through November bode very well for another great season. Still, I kept my exuberance in check and prudently, adjusted my expectations. In spite of that, I watched the weather like a hawk. It’s not something I just do daily, but several times in the course of a single day. Over the years, I have become partial to the Weather Underground website and app, that I find most accurate.

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While other weather stations give me a week preview of the weather to come, this one predicts up to ten days into the future. So if there’s something I don’t like today, I generally can find what I want to see in one of the nine remaining days. If a ten-day time span sounds like overkill, there’s the more granular hour-by-hour detail that enables you to poke your nose out when the snow stops and the sun starts filtering through the clouds.

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But enough said about weather and snow, let’s go back to my early season skiing. The very early weeks are often a progressive process. It always takes time to get a big resort like Deer Valley 100% open. That’s good, because a finite run work-in-step with early season physical conditioning and the time needed to reawaken skiing skills.

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I have had a wonderful ski season so far. I’ve skied just over 50 days and just shy of one million vertical feet. I hope to reach the century mark in ski-days before the season is over. I was lucky enough to avoid an imprudent white ermine that was crossing the bottom portion of Perseverance ski run and startled a large jack rabbit at the top of Centennial Trees ski run.

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So where did all of my skiing take place? It began on groomers; Deer Valley Resort grooms its runs better than most and the experience is always good whether we receive a foot of fresh snow a day or not. My favorite groomed runs remain both Nabob and Jordanelle ski runs and many of my days at Deer Valley are marked by one of these two runs.

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Most of my skiing takes place around my three favorite chairlifts: Sultan, Wasatch and Lady Morgan. While they’re spread at the opposite ends of the resort, with so much challenging terrain and fast chairlifts, I’m able to accomplish one full day of skiing within just a few hours. The snow cover has been especially good on Ruin of Pompeii and Grizzly ski runs, two of my favorites. These runs are wonderful; not only are they longer and more challenging than most, but they both end as a groomed segment just in time to relieve some very tired legs.

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I also like Wasatch Express chairlift for the large array of ski runs it serves. My favorite one is definitely Rattler ski run that sends an invitation as one rides up the chairlift. The early season has had great snow cover on this run.

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From the Lady Morgan Express chairlift, I’m partial to Argus, Hillside and Centennial Trees. I find the two first trails extremely technical and they never fail to provide me with a good challenge. Centennial Trees ski run remains the forest wonderland where some regular and well-thought out glade skiing keeps making the ski experience better, season after season for me. The bonus with skiing Lady Morgan is it always provides me with an excellent excuse to ski Ontario Bowl on my way back, with more trees and steeps to round off the experience of the day.

Here’s to 50 more days on the mountain this season!

Deer Valley Resort Hires New Director of Human Resources

Deer Valley Resort announced today the promotion of Stacey Taylor to the position of Director of Human Resources effective February 16, 2015. Stacey brings extensive knowledge of human resources and Deer Valley to the position.

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Most recently, Taylor served as the Payroll and Human Resources Front Desk Manager for Deer Valley Resort, where she oversaw all matters related to payroll, the hiring process and distribution of benefits to staff. Prior to her role in human resources, Taylor worked in resort accounting and the ticket office.

“We are excited to have Stacey take on this important role,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager for Deer Valley Resort. “Her knowledgeable background and passion for the resort and industry will be key in our continued success.”

As the Director of Human Resources, Taylor will oversee the recruiting, hiring, payroll, benefits and employee relationships for 2,800 Deer Valley staff members annually.

Taylor received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from Eastern Illinois University. She is an avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast and enjoys skiing, running, mountain biking and camping

Tips For Beginners: Ski With Friends Who Are Better Skiers Than You Are

There is nothing worse for a beginner than to let yourself get dragged up the mountain to runs that are more advanced than your ability. Just when you are building up your confidence, you can lose it quickly!

Picture this, you’ve been taking lessons and practicing your skills. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Your well meaning friends, who’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner and don’t realize where you are skill-wise, say…

“Oh, you can do that run.”

Followed by,

“I’ll take you.”

A little voice inside your head is telling you not to go. Your ski instructor just got through explaining that skiing is an individual sport and suggested you to work on your new skills before heading to the top of the mountain. Set them to muscle memory! Going to more challenging terrain often makes you revert to bad habits, wiping out what you’ve just learned. 

Does this sound familiar anyone? The whole idea spells disaster. You can’t blame your friends or your sweetheart. They mean well. All they want to do is to ski with you. 

The problem lies in the incongruity in experience. Their warm-up runs are your most challenging runs. While they are ready to head off to new territory, you are perfectly content where you are.

You want to hang with them and they with you. Everyone wants to have a great time. What are you going to do? 

Deer Valley is a perfect place to ski with friends of different abilities. If you look closely on the trail map, you’ll see that five of the six mountain peaks have nice, long “green” beginner ski runs. Beginners can enjoy gorgeous views and experience the entire resort instead of being relegated to just a few areas. 

You can ski side-by-side with your friends and ride up the lift together. Enjoy the best of both worlds: skiing with your group and staying within your ability. 

You just need a little planning and a little guidance from a mountain host is always helpful.  As the beginner, you know your limits so take an active role in planning your day. Simply pair up your beginner runs with blues and blacks that interconnect or are side-by-side.

Here are some examples I’ve found that lend themselves well to this strategy:

Bald Eagle Mountain – Success and Solid Muldoon Ski Runs (at the top)

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You take Success ski run top to bottom.

Your friends start at the top of Solid Muldoon ski run (which is way too steep for a beginner but a sweet intermediate run.) and they connect with you on Success where the two runs meet by the little cabin.  Then you ski together all the way down.

Perfect!

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Variation – alternate ending – Rosebud and Little Kate ski runs.

You take the Rosebud ski run at the end.

They take Little Kate ski run at the end and wait for you or meet at the Carpenter Express chairlift.

Flagstaff Mountain – Lily and Blue Bell Ski Runs 

Blue Bell Ski Run: This run has beginner (green) “split offs” and is one of the easiest intermediate (blue) ski runs at Deer Valley Resort, so you might want to try it if you are an advanced beginner. The top of Blue Bell ski run is steep so take the “Blue Bell Green Ski Run” cut off. 

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Instead of taking Blue Bell at the top of Quincy Express chairlift, head toward Ontario, and turn left right past the Sharp Shooter photographer.  You miss the steeper part. 

There is another “green split” on Blue Bell ski run where beginners can take Lily and Lower Lily ski runs and circle back to Blue Bell ski run. Before you do that, take a peek at the bottom of Blue Bell ski run to decide whether you want to continue or not. 

The run gets a little steeper but its very wide. It’s like a football field, it’s so wide. You might be able to do it. Trust your judgement. If you want a green run all the way, simply head over to Lily and Lower Lily ski runs and meet your friends at the bottom of Blue Bell ski run. 

They take Blue Bell top to bottom.

Ride up in chairlift together and do it again! (And again. And again. Love this ski run!)

Little Baldy Peak – Deer Hollow and Fairview or Silver Hill Ski Runs

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You take Deer Hollow ski run and slip onto Gnats Eye ski run at the top which connects back to Deer Hollow ski run. 

Take your time and enjoy this nice long wide run. (One of my very favorites.) 

They take Fairview or Silver Hill Intermediate ski runs which flow into Deer Hollow. 

There is a trick to this strategy. I find this works best if my friends go twice for every run I do. Then I don’t feel like they are always waiting for me. I’d rather wait for them and not feel pressure to go faster than I’d like to.

Fairview and Silver Hill ski runs are shorter and my friends are faster; they ski two runs for every one run I take. We catch up on Deer Hollow ski run or at the base of Mountaineer Express chairlift. 

Wait for each other at the lift and take it up together.

Lady Morgan – Pearl and Magnet Ski Runs

Ski with your black diamond friends on Lady Morgan.

If you look at the map, you can see Lady Morgan works well for a beginner and advanced group. The lovely Pearl ski run with breath-taking views snakes around the mountain and is a favorite for beginners. 

You take Pearl ski run.  Also you can try Dakota (an easier blue) if it fits in your ability level. Then head down Webster ski run to the Lady Morgan Express chairlift.

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Your advanced friends take Dakota ski run to the black diamond Magnet ski run and either meet you on Webster ski run or ski it twice and meet you at the lift. 

See how easy it is?  You can enjoy your day on runs within your ability and they can weave in-and-out skiing with you while popping onto some blue and black runs.

With a little planning and taking control of your day, you can have a fantastic ski with your sweetheart or with your friends so everyone is happy. Isn’t that the whole idea?

Stop by and talk with any mountain host to plan your runs.  Let us know how it goes and what  we should add to our list for the next post.

Enjoy!