There Is No Place Like Home

Ever wanted to click your ruby red slippers together three times to get back home?  I sure did.  After months on the road traveling to far-away, beautiful places for training and racing all I could think about was being back home.  I made one of the most difficult decisions in my career a few weeks ago.  With a 700-point lead in the Overall World Cup standings I decided to follow my heart and stay home.

Our season began back in August with our opening World Cup events in Australia and New Zealand.  I favor the icy, hard conditions and won seven out of the seven World Cup races Down Under.  A continuous winning streak I had never experienced but knew deep in my heart simply could not continue because that is not the nature of ski racing.  From there things went “downhill” and try as I might to get back on top of the podium again, I made mistakes, crashed and did not finish as many races as I had consecutively won.  All the while my longing for home, family and friends was mounting until I made that difficult decision – go on the road for 22 World Cup races in five different countries over a two month period and race every race BEFORE departing to Sochi -OR- go home, train, rest and feed my soul giving up a chance at the Overall World Cup Globe, a trophy I had not won since 2007!

2007 World Cup Globes

2007 Overall World Cup Globe, Overall World Cup Giant Slalom and Slalom Globes

After hours of consultation with Marcel (my husband, coach and everything), my incredible sports psychologist Suzie and our Alpine Director Kevin Jardine, I determined that winning a gold medal in Sochi and winning the Overall World Cup simply could not be accomplished simultaneously for me this season due to the demands of the travel on the World Cup circuit and time away from training.  I would have to choose one or the other.  I chose to give my best performance in Sochi!

I grew up in a small town (sounds like I am about to start singing the John Cougar Mellencamp song – I’ll spare you), but everything that comes to mind about a small town when someone says, “I grew up in a small town” is true for me.  I did not know when I was growing up how wonderful small town life was. Instead I daydreamed about going to Hollywood and becoming an actress.  I wanted to star in moving dramas that would change people’s lives.  Not until my daydreams came true, and I moved to Los Angeles to attend film school at the University of Southern California did I begin to realize the beauty and safety of a simple life in a small community where people say, “hello how are you?” on the street and genuinely care.  I missed my family terribly.  If it weren’t for meeting my still best friend and soul sister Meredith Escabar at University of Southern California, I think I would have perished.  In our household my mother and father both owned their own small businesses.  They modeled hard work, commitment, dedication, honesty and love to my younger brother and me.  Their values became our values and my brother and I both in our own way wanted to grow up and be “good people.” Alone in a city of 12 million people not only did I miss sharing that daily interaction with my family, I realized it was the very core of who I am.

Age 4 - ready for Hollywood!

Age 4 – ready for Hollywood!

The Sundance Film Festival brought me to Park City.  I was promoting a small part in a film (not actually in the festival), which was my acting debut after loosing my legs.  I loved Park City from the moment I arrived (although I had been here before for a ski trip in college and when I spoke at Senator Hatch’s women’s conference two year’s before).  This trip was special because I met Marcel.  I had my first lesson in a mono-ski with him at the National Ability Center.

January 1999 first day I met Marcel and tried a mono-ski at the National Ability Center

January 1999 first day I met Marcel and tried a mono-ski at the National Ability Center

I was so taken by his passion, his love of life and skiing that I would do whatever it took to be on the mountain and ski with him.  The perspective of the world that he showed me from the mountaintop was unlike any other.  I had spent the last three years prior to meeting him in and out of the hospital, having 14 reconstructive surgeries.  From the top of the mountain that day on my very first lesson with Marcel I saw my entire life play out.  Small town girl raised in a loving family pursues acting dreams until one night simply going out to dinner, an out of control car crashed into me and in order to save my life the doctors had to amputate both my legs.  I would never walk or run or dance or stand in the shower as I once had.  My life had changed drastically, but as it holds true for all of us, I knew that my fate, my going forward was still in my hands.  I could create my destiny, my happiness, and my love of life if I so chose. On the mountaintop with Marcel I made the decision that I had no idea would fulfill my creating a new, beautiful life for myself.  I decided to move to Park City, train with Marcel and pursue Paralympic success in Salt Lake City in 2002.

2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Bronze Medal in Downhill, Marcel cheering in the background

2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Bronze Medal in Downhill, Marcel cheering in the background

As a result of that decision, on that one day on the mountaintop, I have married the man I love and adore more than anything in the world (in Deer Valley of course!) and I have an amazing career I share with him doing what we both love – ski racing.  Together we have won Gold in the Paralympic Games in Torino and in Vancouver.  We strive to win another this March!

Embracing Marcel in the finish area just after I won my first Paralympic Gold medal in the 2006 Torino Paralympic Games

Embracing Marcel in the finish area just after I won my first Paralympic Gold medal in the 2006 Torino Paralympic Games

I won the first ever, Paralympic Gold medal in Super Combined in the 2010 Vancouver Games

I won the first ever, Paralympic Gold medal in Super Combined in the 2010 Vancouver Games

For the last 15 years throughout my entire ski-racing career, I have been supported by our local community in Park City, a small town we call home.  Deer Valley has sponsored me and been our official home ski area for training.  Marcel and I have spent thousands of hours training in Deer Valley over the last 15 years and we know every square inch of the entire ski area, just like my backyard growing up in Sewickley, PA.  But more important than the safe and familiar, feeling of our home landscape is the connection we share with all the people who work at Deer Valley.  We deeply value the 15-year friendship with the same amazing people who supported me and provided for me in so many ways to make my Paralympic dreams a reality.  The deep bond of friendship we share has for many years felt like family.  I am so grateful to experience on a daily basis the warm welcome from guest services when we roll into Snow Park for training.  The personal inquire about “How I am doing?”, “How is training going?” from people who genuinely care.  Or the chefs who know my special training dietary needs and like my mom still want me to have a chocolate chip cookie reward so they offer me the gluten free one instead!  Deer Valley is my home and the people who work there are my family.  Compared to all the ski areas I have visited world wide, the atmosphere and the people of Deer Valley provide a comfort and charm I associate with the love of my small town upbringing.  I hope it will always stay that way.

We are so fortunate to train both at Deer Valley and at Park City Mountain Resort where we also have an incredible support system not just from our friends at PCMR but from all the teams we join for training at Park City.  My small town connection also includes a 15-year partnership with Rossignol, my ski company who doesn’t just provide me the fastest skis in the world, we share a bond of friendship and they have provided me incredible support.

As I prepare for my fourth Paralympic Games at age 44 in 2014, it only makes sense to return to where I started, to Park City with Marcel and focus on a Gold medal victory one last time.

Eat it Up

We gathered as soon as I had dropped off my kids at day one of Children’s Sunday Ski Experience. There were seven of us, and we dove into the day’s powder with gusto. My friend Stacey, who I met four years ago during Women’s Weekend, was first to say, “I am a Powder Day Plus One Skier.” Meaning she likes a good powder dump as much as anyone, but prefers to ski on it after the groomers have had their way with it, the next day, thank you very much.

My friend Kellie and I were fresh off our first Women on Wednesdays lesson, so we were eager to see if we remembered all the mad skills we’d picked up on that day. Our group also contained two Miriams (one I’ll call Mir, to keep them straight), Catherine, who skis DV only occasionally, and Sue. We were all of compatible levels, but Mir and Sue are likely the most experienced and confident skiers, and Catherine is a good, gutsy skier. Mind you, in the days leading up to this outing, I got comments from several of my friends, saying they were a little nervous to ski with me—which made me laugh. “We are skiing for lunch, people,” I reminded them. “It’s social and fun.”

What followed was exactly that. A fun, social day, laughing as hard as we skied—which is to say, plenty. I couldn’t get away with copping out of much, since Kellie and I had just skied together on Wednesday, and she knew what I could do. Which is, of course, how I wound up taking Square Deal ski run from the top, rather than snaking around to the trees on skier’s left of Hidden Treasure and cutting in below the first long pitch. I was so pleased with myself that whenever I answered a question from my kids, that night, I simply said, “Square Deal. From the Top.” It wasn’t always the answer they were looking for—or, rather, it wasn’t ever the answer they were looking for—but, they got the message: Mama is hardcore, now.

Fresh Tracks under Quincy Lift

Of course, I couldn’t resist finding a path to hike through the glade between Hidden Treasure and Square Deal, a few hours later. Kellie was kind enough to snap some photos of me, and of Stacey, as we stopped to admire the gorgeous surroundings.

We skied a little of everything that day—those who were tired, nursing injuries or wanting an easier run felt no pressure to do what the bumps-and-powder-chasers were doing. One of my favorite runs of the day was suggested by Stacey: Orion to Solace, off of Empire Express chairlift. It left me feeling like I could ski anything, even though I had passed on the opportunity to take Daly Chutes with Mir and Sue.

Powder from Stacey

As I suspected, it mattered not which terrain each of us skied that day, but rather that we encouraged each other to eat it up, and take in as much powder and as many turns as we could, before the promised lunch. Ah, yes. Lunch,

Royal Street Café did not disappoint. Mulled Wine, and Blueberry Vodka Hot Chocolate—honestly, we could have stopped there. But with such a delicious menu, why would we? We split a few appetizers, and enjoyed our entrees. Mostly, though, we enjoyed each other’s company—no one in the group, aside from me, knew everyone in the group when we started the day. But after a day of riding chair lifts, together, the lunch conversation flowed easily. By day’s end, I was floating down to ski school pickup, on Stacey’s words: “Powder Plus Zero!”

Food

It’s Official: My Kids are Better Skiers Than I am.

Family Picture

Meet the newest contributor to the Deer Valley blog, Summer Sanders. In 1992 at the Olympic Games, a 19-year-old Summer Sanders won four Olympic medals, bringing home 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze. The moment she hung up her Speedo, she embarked on a television career, hosting shows for MTV (Sandblast), the NBA (Inside Stuff), Nickelodeon (Figure It Out), and Fox (The Sports List, Skating with Celebrities), and acting as a correspondent for shows such as Good Morning America, Rachael Ray, and The Today Show.  She has been a contestant on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” and the Food Network’s “Guy vs. Rachael Celebrity Cook-Off”. Sanders recently created and hosted “Find Your Fitness” on MSN, where she challenged herself to try new fitness trends for the education and amusement of the audience. A health and fitness realist, Sanders is a working mom who prides herself on living a hands-on active lifestyle and being a “life is perfectly imperfect” motivator. She has two children, Skye (7) and Spider (5), with her husband Olympic skier Erik Schlopy. Follow the Deer Valley blog and keep up with Summer as she blogs about her experiences at Deer Valley.

Group Picture

It is now official, my kids, who are 6 (Spider) and 7 (Skye), are way better skiers than I am. I’ve had a hunch for a few years but after this past weekend, I have proof.  Together, my kids and I took a family ski lesson at Deer Valley, something that I’d wanted to take for a few years but never got around to scheduling. My kids are solid skiers already, but I wanted us to feel good about it as a family and really know where we could go together to enjoy a day on the slopes. Our instructor took us through all the amazing kids runs at Deer Valley, most of which were in the trees, which my kids think are fabulous, and with names like “Oompa Loompa”, “Ruby’s Tail”, “Bucky’s Backyard” and “Quincys Cabin”, you knew it was going to be nothing short of heaven for the them, their mama was another story.

Cabin

Let me be very honest with you. Up to this point, I had never taken the kids skiing by myself. There was way too much room for error in the process for me to stomach it, the gear, the schlepping to and from, and keeping myself from getting lost. It was all a little too much for my swimmer brain to handle.

Our instructor’s name was Lance Swedish, and he was awesome. It took the kids about 25 seconds to warm up to Lance, and then it was game on. I worried for a second whether he could keep up, not only with the kids skiing (they aren’t first timers), but with all of Spider’s questions. He must have asked Lance 20 times how old he was. It’s still a mystery, although we do know he isn’t 100 or 22. We started by skiing down one run so he could assess our skiing abilities. Although I was worried to finally hear that I was at the bottom of the class, I’m happy to report that I did not feel judged in the slightest. After that run, Lance suggested that we all ski without poles just like Spider.  My son doesn’t like them. His reasoning is that you are a much more centered skier without your poles. So he stashed our poles and away we went. I think this is the point when I realized that this “lesson” was more for me than anyone else in our party. Lance even said to me at one point, “Your kids are great skiers, so let’s work on you.” I was both proud of them and cracking up inside because what he said was so true. I was kind of thrilled at the opportunity to get better. I know the longer I wait, the more I’ll fall behind my kids.

Instructor

The day started strong and fast, and we never slowed down. We cruised thru Bucky’s Backyard and his front yard. We skate-skied across a run to reach the super famous Oompa Loompa Land, where I unsuccessfully tried to convince the kids to sing the song from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” We skied Ruby’s Tail and a few other unnamed spots. I stayed with the kids for most of this adventure, and along the way I picked up some wonderful tips.

  1. Keeping your hands out in front is key for balance.
  2. Bending your knees into a bump actually slows you down.
  3. If you fall you must, without fail, scream “WIPE OUT!”
  4. When jamming out of the trees into the open run, always check to see if someone is coming or have a “look-out person”.
  5. Screaming for no reason is absolutely fine, you’re in the trees, you can say it was someone else.
  6. There is always a hard way and an easy way down.

Yes I did get scared a few times on along the way. I mean speed is my enemy, my nemesis even – although you’d never know it watching my kids zoom by. The bumps and I don’t always get along, I have yet to conquer my fear of tree skiing. A little fear is part of the fun. I did really get a little more than scared at the top of “Toilet Bowl” (It does have another name but once you hear toilet bowl that’s all you remember, that and the fact that the kids kept saying “Mom, you’re gonna get flushed!”)

Fun Ski

I stood at the top while listening to Lance give us instructions and decided I needed to put tip #6 to work. I’m happy to report that there was and easier way down, and after checking with the kids and they were both ready to do it, (Lance also assured me they were strong enough skiers to handle it) I met them at the bottom. I listened to their hootin’ and hollering and giggling until they shot out of the trees with the biggest smiles on their faces. What a fabulous day!

I have shared my day with so many of my local friends, and every time they look at me with this hilarious expression and say either “that is the coolest thing ever, I didn’t know that existed” or “Oh bless your heart.” It was such an awesome three hours full of fun, knowledge, and memories. I think I’m more than prepared to take on the mountain with my kids. I may not quite be able to keep up, but I’m definitely more prepared and confident that we’ll be fine and have a wonderful time. Next up is a powder skiing lessons.

Skier’s Superstition on a Powder Day.

02082014 002So, I’ve told you before about my skier’s superstitions—that I believe in a freshly washed car being an invitation for two feet of snow to dump onto the resort, for instance. I’ve also come to believe that posting about early symptoms of powder flu is a bad idea. Here’s why: I had an amazing day skiing with my girlfriends on Sunday. I was already scheduled to be back on the mountain Wednesday, for my second session of Women on Wednesdays. That left me two days to get work done, manage some chores, and generally behave like a responsible adult. No, I wanted MORE. I texted a friend, I posted on Facebook. And…

I awoke to punishment—my kids were paying the price for my greed, in fact.

They woke up sick. Not the kind of “it’s just a sniffle” sick that would let me send them to school, either. Verifiable temperatures. These boys had coughs that could not be controlled by any amount of disgusting syrupy medicines. Call-the-doctor-at-8 a.m. because-your-six-year-old’s-fever-is-pushing-103 sick. And did I mention that my husband was out of town, day three of a six day business trip? And that I had been so blinded by powder, the previous day, that I missed every single clue that they were coming down with something?

Umm, no. I not only missed a great powder day, but I also missed the opportunity to ski with my Women on Wednesday group. Sure, there are worse fates. I got lots of extra snuggles from my kids. I made them chicken noodle soup and plied my own immune system with green juices, for good measure. I was informed that “Mommy School,” is way more boring than actual school, by my six year old. I’m calling it a win.

But, mark my words, I will never, ever, ever take to social media and attempt to wrangle a powder posse for the following morning. And, I most certainly will not take for granted the fact that I had a day of devouring delicious powder runs as if they were so many chocolate truffles, just the day before.

What are some of your ski superstitions?

Checking the Ski Day Meter

As January has come to an end and after the Sundance Film Festival has left town for another year, it’s time to refocus on skiing and take stock of what we’ve been doing to keep up with our beloved activity. This is the time when it’s always refreshing to check how our skiing compares against any possible New Year resolutions involving technique learned, runs visited or just frequency.

dvr-skidays1

While we are on the slippery subject of resolutions that relate to winter sports activities, mine were to ski at least a hundred times. A good, impressive number, but so far my activity on snow doesn’t seem to be on track to meeting this ambitious goal. Here’s the truth: At the end of January, I can only claim 28 times out skiing! This compares to a high number of 36 in 2010 and an average slightly over 30 times, each year since 2008.

dvr-skidays2

Of course, there’s still time and I still harbor some hope to make it to the 100 mark, but this will take more dedication if I am to catch up and lower my ski day deficit. Deep inside, I know this will be tough; arithmetically, I better get out every day from now on. The problem is that, this season, there were just too many competing activities that have been ganging up on my serious resolution. For one thing, I am in the middle of a construction project that is moving too slowly for my taste and is literally devouring my skiing time. I hope it will get better, but it’s merely a hope, not a reasonable certainty!

dvr-skidays4

This said, if I had lesser days of skiing, the ones I had were all exceptionally great.

While I missed the big “dump” on January 30, I recall three wonderful ski days that were nothing of exceptional. The first one happened on opening weekend. The new snow came just on time for celebrating Deer Valley’s new season and was indeed a sweet surprise. My second wonderful ski day happened on December 20, the very last day of fall. There was powder everywhere and it was as good as it ever gets on a snow day. I even ventured into “Son of Rattler,” which is not what I would rate as a “PG” run, but I had first tracks on that one, and to hard-core skiers, first tracks are always very special.

dvr-skidays6

Then, as we turned into a brand new year, there was January 5th, the weekend the Mayflower chairlift opened up to the skiing public. The snow was nothing short of spectacular as we got to ski for the very first time into the entire snow depth that had accumulated since the beginning of the season.

dvr-skidays7

I should also mention my first serious spill of the year, on January 31. I was minding my own business enjoying some new powder left from the day before just below Sultan Express top station. My two skis met a good size bump and they sent me head over heels on the snow below, giving me a full “face shot” I wasn’t expecting. It sure got my attention! All these unexpected and fun events take place through the whole winter at Deer Valley Resort if you make the effort to get out of your house and just show up for them!

dvr-skidays5

Of course, in addition to these special occasions, they were all the other days during which everyone could enjoy the superlative grooming Deer Valley Resort is famous for. Blue bird days were almost the rule during January, a crispy, cool weather kept the snow just perfect. It was not too soft nor too hard; just in-between as a skiing Goldilock would have put it. I skied very fast, had tons of fun and my only regret is that I didn’t ski a few more days. Not so much because of my near obsession with my century goal, but because there is nothing better than a day spent on the hill.

Which reminds me, it’s now time for me to begin February on the right foot.

Time to go skiing now; goodbye!

Deer Valley FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup: “Sick Air Package”

Being an avid reader my entire life, I have a fairly good grasp on commonly used phrases in the English language. Well, I thought I did until I attended the Freestyle Ski World Cup  event at Deer Valley Ski Resort. The event was exciting in-and-of itself but the fact that some of the athletes were qualifying for the Aerials and Moguls Competitions for the Olympics in Sochi added another dimension.

World Cup and Champion

During the competition, I picked up some new vocabulary and idioms to add to my repertoire. Here are some examples:

We are all familiar with a “selfie,” of course, but this is a new one. A “chesty” was described as an ill-fated move an athlete made when she looked down and instead of landing on her skis, she landed on her chest! Ouch! This was not a pleasant experience to say the least. In the future, I will avoid pulling a “chesty” at all costs.

2014 World Cup Aerials Finals 367

The announcer mentioned an athlete had done a “double ejecto face plant tumbler” in practice. Fortunately, during the competition, he executed his jump well and we didn’t have to witness a spill. A double ejecto tumbler might be difficult to watch.

A jump I observed in the aerials is called a “Big Daddy.”
This move is made up of:
Double = two flips
Full = full twist on the first flip
Full = full twist on the last flip

One athlete who pulled this off was described as having a “sick air package.” I would have to agree!

2014 World Cup Aerials Finals 198

On the moguls competition we observed a speedy athlete who was “bogeying down the hill” and even faster was the competitor who was “smoke show” fast.

Moguls Final Night 449

The competition was exciting to watch and cheering on our favorite athletes was exhilarating. Even better that fans were able to walk away with some new words and phrases to add to our vocabulary from the event.

Celebrity SkiFest: A Conversation with Mark Feuerstein

Mark Feuerstein

The star of Royal Pains—and too many movies to list, here—has been skiing his whole life. And when I caught up with him at Celebrity Ski Fest, we immediately bonded over skiing—and the fact that his son was lucky enough to spend the day with Letitia Lussier, who is not only one of my favorite instructors, but is a Feuerstein family favorite, as well.  And while Mark was excited to tell me about his races—or, at least the first race—he may have a second career in journalism. Before I realized it, he was grilling me about the skiing life.

BNC: Tell me about your races!

MF: I would certainly like to dwell more on the first one, because I won that one.

Opening Day 2013-2014 657

BNC: So, lets!

MF: The victory of the first one far exceeded the loss of the second one, and that is because Patrick Warburton and I raced once, two years ago, and kind of a rivalry was established. So that felt good. Then, for the second—Tim Daly is a very good skier, and I was racing against him.

Opening Day 2013-2014 666

BNC: Yeah, that’s a problem.

MF: And I was beating him the first half of the race, but I got too excited, I caught an edge, and he just swooped by me and I could not catch up.

BNC: Are you staying warm?

MF: Yes! They have these new things called heaters on your boots, which I have never seen. They are phenomenal. I have been rocking those, but I can’t say they keep your toes warm.

BNC: I wear them every day that I ski. And on the colder days, they don’t always keep up.

MF: And you ski every week?

BNC: Yes, I do—multiple times a week, actually.

MF: Wow. Do you get as good a workout as a hike?

BNC: Oh, yeah. If I ski hard. If I’m on the bumps with my friend Mel—or really, behind her.

MF: So, you’re very good.

BNC: No, I’m not.

MF: [Looks as though he doesn’t buy it, and takes a different journalistic tack.]

Did you ever ski competitively?

BNC: Yes—if you count my stint on the Hopefuls devo team at Pico Peak in Vermont—where I was more concerned with getting down safely, than quickly. Let’s say it was a short-lived career. I’ve been a happy recreational skier my whole life.

MF: I grew up skiing on the east coast. I broke my thumb when I was about ten, skiing at Catamount, where I slid down an entire sheet of ice on my thumb. So I know how to persevere. East coast skiing is a different sport—it’s like an endurance test!

BNC: Without the Deer Valley dining options—so, what’s your favorite thing to eat at Deer Valley?

MF: I just enjoyed the roast turkey that I had. That was lovely.

And, the S’mores at 4 p.m. every day at the Montage Deer Valley are all one needs, with three children, to keep your children happy. So, I am very happy about the s’mores.

BNC: How old are your children?

MF: They are 7, 5 and 4.

BNC: Are they all skiing?

MF: Just my son today. I want to get my older daughter out, but I can’t force her…

BNC: That’s the whole trick, you can’t force them because you want them to love it.  Also, Swedish fish.

MF: Oh? Is that part of the incentive?

BNC: Yes, I have a ten year old and a six year old, and it’s Swedish fish in the cargo pocket of your ski pants, so that at the bottom of every run, you go, Hey, Nice Job! And hand them a fish.

MF: Like a biscuit!

BNC: Yes, I’m not above it. Also, multiple hot chocolate breaks, and cookies as big as their heads.

MF: Bribery—it will get you everywhere.

BNC: Yes! It is all you need as a parent…you can dress it up, call it “incentive” “reward.” It’s bribery, people, and it works. How did you potty train your children? You bought them a condo in the Hamptons, because they WENT IN THE POTTY.

MF: That’s exactly right, we are still paying the mortgage on that.

BNC: I know! I did the same thing—and we live here. So it required a G5.

(We kid, people. We kid.)

Deer Valley’s Invisible Safety Net: Part One

Skiing is fun, exhilarating and Deer Valley Resort has its own ways to minimize the risk inherent with the joy of skiing, thanks to an original program that involves local doctors, nurses and its professional ski patrol staff. In this four-part interview, I sat down with Doctor Peter Taillac and Hylton Early, a Deer Valley Ski Patroller.

JF: Let’s start by doing a quick introduction, gentlemen…

Doctor Picture 1

Doctor Peter Taillac: I’m a clinical professor of emergency medicine at the University of Utah, and member of the Doctor Patrol here at Deer Valley Resort. I’m a full time emergency physician and take care of hurt and ill people for a living.

Doctor Picture 1a

Hylton Early: I’ve been a ski patroller at Deer Valley Resort for four winter seasons. I’m an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and outdoor emergency care technician.

JF: I wasn’t aware that, every day, there’s a doctor available to work with the Deer Valley ski patrol?

Hylton Early: That’s right; every day, we have at least one doctor on the mountain. Each doctor serves under the medical control of Doctor Robert Wynn, our medical director. The doctors are available on a daily basis should we need to consult on an incident. It might involve skiers that aren’t feeling well or aren’t quite sure what’s going on with them. Of course, it could also be a more serious traumatic injury for which we want to get our doctors’ expertise to see what we can be done for that patient.

JF: Are your doctors all skiers?

Hylton Early: Absolutely, our doctors are on skis and are available to come right to the scene of an incident. Often, this is the most critical moment when we’re about to make the initial transport and triage decisions for an injured skier.

JF: Is there any other role for these doctors?

Hylton Early: In fact there is; in addition to their on-hill duties, our doctors are also involved with our continuing education. As patrollers, we all have to meet certain requirement to be re-certified every four years, so these same doctors regularly lecture us, talking about specific topics, like lower leg trauma, head injuries, or dislocated shoulders, so we are totally dialed-on the subject when we’re confronted with it on the hill.

JF: I’ve also seen nurses around; are they part of the same program?

Hylton Early: Correct; we also have one nurse present with us every day. She is usually based at this First Aid location, but we can also bring her along to an incident if we want to get a higher level of care on the spot, as we are triaging the patient.

JF: Are both the nurse and the doctor based at this First Aid location?

Hylton Early: The nurse is based at the Silver Lake First Aid, so if you were to walk into this room, she’d likely be available to evaluate you. She’s also able to come up on the hill with some special drugs and a wider scope of practices that can help us in a traumatic situation. The doctor is more itinerant and tends to roam the mountain. We have instant access to his cell phone and can get him right away if his presence is needed anywhere on the hill.

JF: What an impressive cadre of highly qualified individuals! Now tell me, what are the typical qualifications of your Ski Patrol colleagues?

Hylton Early: Most of them are either “Outdoor Emergency Care” technician, which is a National Ski Patrol certification, similar to an EMT Basic. Many others are EMT Basic, that is, the first level of EMT. Then, we also have a few paramedics working with us, those are professional patrollers who work part-time. They generally are employed full-time with the Park City or the Salt Lake City Fire Departments and assist us one or two days a week.

JF: So tell me, how many ski patrollers are on any given day on the mountain at Deer Valley?

Hylton Early: We have between 28 and 32 of them on the slopes, every day. If we include the doctor and the nurse, this adds up to 34 medical professionals available to take care of our ski visitors on a daily basis!

In our next blog, we’ll get some important advice about making your ski vacation with us as safe as enjoyable as possible…

 

 

There’s Always Something New at the Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival 2014 was my third in a row so I knew there to expect surprises. Obviously the films are the draw, but the experience at Sundance is always different, too. Three new and/or innovative things in particular caught my attention. In technology, the new E-Wait List was the buzz on the street. People were jumping all over themselves to show me how it worked when I asked.  The Air BNB Haus was another place everyone said I “had to go” and the round pavilion that seemed to pop up out of nowhere showing “The Source” by David Aiken was a “don’t miss.”

Technology – the E-Wait List

You certainly can’t completely avoid waiting in line to see a movie. Besides it’s part of the experience to chat it up with people in line but the E-Wait List site cut down on unnecessary wasted time.  Basically, all you had to do was sign up and then sign in to the Sundance E-Wait List. Then you simply checked the website – which looked and felt like an app – as to the upcoming movies to grab your numbered spot on the list – two hours before the movie.

The downside I heard was that people signed up for movies capturing coveted wait list spots but didn’t cancel when they ended up not attending. But if you did make it in, you showed up to the venue a half hour before and cued up in line based on your number – very civilized!  You didn’t have to leave your friends behind either. Because you linked up with them, you were “in-line” together. To top it off, the real question you wanted to know was answered for you right there on the screen, “What’s the likelihood of me getting in?”  Pretty good? or not!

Capture

Connections:

After getting my cup of coffee and hanging out at the Air BNB Haus for a while, I tweeted “very chill.”  This little spot, well I guess not so little since they took over an entire building, felt like you were visiting your best friend’s place. It was a nice respite from hustle and bustle of Main Street during Sundance – a great spot to relax between movies. You could connect with other people there or find a spot to relax with friends.

There were comfy chairs for reading:

Book

Complimentary tea and coffee for everyone:

Tea

Free Wifi:

Long Table

And a creativity corner where children and adults created some artwork:

Art

 

Innovation – The Source at New Frontier

I was thinking, “Was that building there before?”  A 2,000 sq.ft. round pavilion seemed to appear out of nowhere by the Gateway Center and housed the New Frontier Exhibit, “The Source.”  Filmmaker Doug Aiken interviewed “groundbreaking pioneers in various disciplines who are shaping modern culture” about the source of their inspiration as well as the journey to the finished creation.  These interviews were shown in this round pavilion with six viewing rooms.

The StructureFilms

Watching interviews with architects, musicians, photographers and other disciplines, was inspiring!  I walked away with a greater appreciation for artists who are ahead of their time. Enjoying Sundance experience #3 only made me want to come back for more next year.

Ryan’s First Ski Lesson

Learning to ski can be very intimidating. I was nervous leading up to my first ever ski lesson. This wasn’t my first time on skis however, it was my first time since I was a small child. I have been a snowboarder my entire life. After finishing college I planned to learn to ski. I have a lot of friends that ski and instead of take the time to learn, I continued snowboarding.

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In the fall of 2013 I started a job at Deer Valley Resort. The job called for an intermediate skier. I figured that I would pick up right where I left off when I was 4 years old (It’s just like snowboarding, right!). Boy was I wrong. My first day on skis I did everything wrong. I couldn’t turn, crossed my skis, and  dropped my pole off the chairlift. It was safe to say that I was a little rusty. I knew then I needed the help from an experienced ski instructor. After recovering from a few rough falls, I scheduled my lesson for the middle of January.

I felt like I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. The Deer Valley rental shop had a sign on the wall explaining the six different skiing levels. I thought I was a “Beginner.” So I signed up for this level.

Ski Lesson Sign

Deer Valley made it really easy to find my ski instructor. Signs outside of the ski school pointed me in the right direction and signs marked where each skill level gathered. I soon met a very nice young man named Brandon. He took my lesson receipt and put me in a group of three other skiers with the same skill level.

Max 4 sign Sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took the chairlift up to the top of the Wide West ski run, after introducing ourselves to the group. After making sure we all knew how to stop, our instructor gave us some pretty basic instruction. Like, get in an athletic stance, hands in front of you, and keep your weight balanced. Brandon explained that he needed to watch us ski a little bit before he could instruct us. We made our way down Wide West making slow parallel turns as our instructor watched.

Ski Lesson Chairlift Ride

When we reached bottom of Wide West Brandon informed us that we were all actually “Advanced Beginners” and were done with the training hill.

One person in our group said she felt more comfortable staying with the beginners on Wide West. So my “max 4″ group lesson became a lesson of three and one instructor, we were about to get upgraded to “Advanced Beginner.”

I would have to say my favorite part of the lesson was getting to know the other two skiers and the instructor. Adriana was around my same age and from Washington D.C. She moved to Park City to ski for the winter with her boyfriend. Greg was an older gentlemen who had retired and lived all over the world. He told us interesting stories all afternoon about the places he had lived. Our instructor Brandon explained that he was the youngest instructor at his level of expertise at Deer Valley. This gave him the nickname “Pampers.” He was from Oregon and moved here to teach skiing and be a part of, in his words “The best ski resort in America.” I’m a huge people person and these memories are the ones really took away from my ski lesson.

Ski Lesson on Wide West

Brandon told us that he liked teaching skiing by what is called the mileage method. He explained that the only way you will get better at skiing is to ski. This was really cool because we got in a lot of runs during the lesson.

Our first run was a green run called Ontario. We got there by taking Silver Lake Express to Silver Lake Lodge, then skiing down to Quincy Express. The best part of this run was that there were a lot of designated Ski School areas. We would ski down to the signs out of everyone’s way, and get instruction from Brandon. This worked really well for me.

Ski Lesson Sign

We skied from 1 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. Skiing from one Ski School area to the next. Brandon would ski in front of us a little bit and then watch as we came down. We would work on new stuff on the easier parts and things he had already taught us in areas where it was more difficult.

At the end of the day Brandon told us that we were done with the green runs and we needed to tackle our first blue run. The group was a little nervous to say the least. We made our way up Carpenter Express and took Little Stick ski run down. This run was a little narrow in some spots. The best part of Little Stick was being able to see the resort from a different view, which was very beautiful. After reaching the bottom Brandon explained that we were now intermediate skiers!

Ski Lesson

Have you had a lesson at Deer Valley or another ski resort? Tell me about it in the comments below. Also, check back I will be updating my progress throughout my first season as a skier!