Trip of a Lifetime Winner: Deer Valley

Scott Dwyer was the winner of SKI Magazine’s Trip of a Lifetime Contest to Deer Valley Resort. While flying home following the trip he was able to reflect and so kindly shared his experience with us. Enjoy!

I’m here to say that dreams really do come true and, when those dreams include Deer Valley, there is a very fine line between fantasy and reality. At times, the delineation between the two is only separated by the smile on my face and the joy in my soul.

I suppose I could qualify as the quintessential reader of SKI Magazine and fan of Deer Valley: I typically read the magazine cover-to-cover, and, prior to my first visit to Deer Valley last year, considered reading the trail map to study the terrain and amenities a mandatory night time activity. Further, I was well aware that Deer Valley was awarded the top spot in the reader rankings for the fifth year in a row and knew the exact dates the SKI Magazine Deer Valley Trip of a Lifetime entries were open.  Like many I’m sure, I submitted an entry and forgot about it.

In late December, though, my fantasy turned into reality as my email inbox glowed with the subject line “Trip of a Lifetime Winner: Deer Valley”! It took several glances to confirm it as fact and me not delusional.

It didn’t take long to fall in love with Deer Valley during our first visit, but I suddenly knew that our second visit would be infinitely more special. Sure, my wife and I looked forward to sitting in Cushing’s Cabin while gazing out over the majestic snow-covered peaks again, but imagine our delight when we discovered our award included elegant accommodations, a loaded welcoming gift basket, lift tickets, and all meals highlighted with dinners at the Seafood Buffet and Mariposa! Yes, our second visit would be special!

While all of the resort amenities were nothing short of remarkable, the highlight of our trip was meeting a bunch of really nice people. These are not just ordinary people; these are a cadre of very special people that elevated a very nice trip to a magical experience and helped us turn the resort into “Our Deer Valley.” It is impossible to mention everyone that had an impact on our trip, but some highlights include: breakfast with Communications Manager Emily Summers, meeting other members of the marketing team that had a hand in making our trip happen (thanks Terry, Ed, and Coleen!), our Mariposa waiter Jon Good, a litany of on-the-mountain hosts and guides, and ski equipment storage representatives that handled all of our gear with warmth and a smile.

How do you say thank you for something like that? I suppose a vote towards the sixth straight number one ranking is a good place to start. That is kind of a given, though, and I wanted to do something more. You see, leading up to our first visit, I became so enamored with the 30th anniversary Deer Valley logo that I decided to paint it.

(Scott’s fantastic painting for Deer Valley’s 30 Year Anniversary)

This year, though, required something more unique, so I used the view from Cushing’s Cabin as inspiration and painted a fall scene using the Deer Valley logo and a large number one. I’m proud to say that both are now in the possession of the resort and, I hope, serve as just one reminder of how special this place makes people feel.

(Scott’s latest painting)

So, on the plane ride back to North Carolina with my wife by my side, I started typing…and thinking. My thoughts were dominated by the reality that our stay at Deer Valley was really an Experience of a Lifetime, a remarkable series of events that we will never forget. And, while our vacation did many things, it certainly made me wonder how quickly we could get back, hopefully sooner than later. Until that time, I’ll be filtering through my memories of a special place and thinking of what to paint next year. For that, I’m certainly open to suggestions.

It’s My Deer Valley with Stephen Harty

We couldn’t wait to sneak down to the bakery and catch up with Silver Lake and Empire Pastry Chef, Stephen Harty. The man behind some of the wonderful desserts at the resort shares with us “His Deer Valley.”

When did you come to Deer Valley?

I started as a seasonal baker in the Snow Park Lodge in the 1995/1996 season (17 years and counting). I was a production baker working three 6 a.m. shifts, so I could get out skiing for two hours after my shift, and two 8am shifts. I had a young family so I had Tuesdays and Thursdays off to be Daddy daycare/preschool.

What does a perfect ski day mean to you?

Big POW and still snowing! I love those days when it just keeps on coming. I’ll admit I am a “crack of ten o’clock” skier so all day dumps suit me. The storms from the south that bring the biggest snow to the Sultan side of the resort are my favorite.

Where is your favorite place to eat at Deer Valley?

The Natural Buffet during lunch at all three lodges offer such a variety of unique salads, creative sides, as well as house made dressings and of course homemade breads, you can’t beat the great tastes. You do have to be creative in the way you stack your plate to get the value as well as the flavors.

What do you enjoy about baking?

The great thing about baking at Deer Valley Resort is that we do such a wide range; from artisan breads and baguettes, bulk production of cookie dough (huge amounts) and carrot cakes, small production of high end plated desserts (with all their sauces and garnishes), elaborate wedding cakes, and chocolate. I truly enjoy the variety. I enjoy the creativity and the science of baking, especially at the varying altitudes. I enjoy working with new flavors and products to keep Deer Valley baked goods at the fore front of trends. I enjoy mastering the classic recipes so we can put our own twist on them. And I really enjoy all the taste testing!

Your must have treat at Deer Valley?

17 years and 1000’s of batches of cookies and I still love the cookie dough! Plus all the chocolate that we serve.

What run is a must for every ski day?

Anything off-piste off the Sultan lift and Ontario bowl (I have some “secret stashes” in there that are good for days after a storm).

Who is your favorite person to ski with?

I have been riding chairlifts with my beautiful bride, Sandy, for 25 years. We celebrate together on our first ride up each year and I look forward to continuing for 25 more.

Can you share a recipe with us?

French Silk Pie
Yield: 1 Pies

5 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
8 oz Butter,Room Temperature
8 oz Brown Sugar
1 1/2 t  Vanilla
1 c  Pasteurized Eggs
1    10″ Brisee Shells,Pre-baked
-
Whipped cream,AS Needed
Chocolate Shavings,AS Needed
1.  Pre-bake 10″ brisee shells.  Let cool completely.
2.  Melt unsweetened chocolate over a double boiler.  Set aside.
3.  Cream butter until very soft.
4.  Add brown sugar and beat until very soft and fluffy.  Stopping to
occasionally scrape.
5.  Add vanilla extract.
6.  Add melted chocolate and mix until combined, scrapping occasionally.

7.  Add eggs VERY SLOWLY, about 1/4 cup at a time, incorporating well
after each addition.  Stopping to scrape occasionally.
8.  It will take awhile to add all of the eggs if you do it correctly.
**If you add the eggs too fast-the batter will be grainy and not light
and fluffy**
9.  When all the eggs are added divide into crusts.  Using an offset
spatula, spread to smooth out top.
10.Wrap and Chill.
11.  To Serve:  Finsh top with whipped cream pipped in a shell pattern
using medium star tip. and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

Epic feast at the Seafood Buffet

One of the best reasons to do a specialty clinic at Deer Valley is not necessarily the top-flight ski instruction—although, that’s certainly a worthy selling point. It’s the chance that lightning will strike, and you’ll be placed in a group with interesting people you wouldn’t have otherwise met. And if you’re really, really lucky, they’ll become your friends. This certainly happened last year , when I met Stacey and Jackie and our talented, big-hearted instructor Letitia.

We’d all stayed in touch, and tried our best to plan a Women’s Weekend Redux—and we almost succeeded. Jackie had family commitments that kept her from the March weekend we’d chosen. Stacey and I, however, were in “game on” mode. Stacey’s pregame strategy consisted of quick witty emails to me that described her ski days (“found my mojo in Perseverance Bowl today!”) and accused me of leaving her in the dust after I completed the Mahre Training Center camp at Deer Valley in February.

My pregame strategy was entirely different: I invited Letitia, along with Stacey and her husband Steve, to join Jeffrey and me at Seafood Buffet on the Thursday evening before the Women’s Weekend began. I half-joked that I wanted to see to it that Letitia overate, so that she’d go easy on us in the morning. I had another thing coming.

Before we embarked on the epic feast, Letitia tried to prep us for the coming weekend. “You can’t expect the same magic we had last year in our group,” she said. “You can only hope for it. And you—” here, she turned to me—“you are probably going to land in a higher group than mine. I hear you’ve made more progress.” Stupid me, and my big mouth.

Stacey added, “I don’t want you to feel obligated to ski with me. I don’t want to hold you back.”

I tried to remind myself that I’d learned not to downplay my ability—but I really couldn’t imagine that the differences in my skiing would be that great. .

Instead of engaging in a debate, I suggested we embark on the team activity at hand—tackling the Seafood Buffet.

The great thing about this restaurant is the subtle sense of surprise.

First, whether you’re a rookie—and yes, we had what we termed a “Seafood Bufffet Virgin” at the table (Hi, Steve!)—or a veteran, you can’t help but be surprised by the abundance of choices and the quality of the food—both in taste and presentation.

Second, there are always some new items woven into the mix—on this evening, there was a runaway hit with an appetizer of a roasted tomato stuffed with warm goat cheese—and a hint of heat.

Third, no matter how hard you try to pace yourself, you will always, always surprise yourself with the quantity of food that you’re able to consume in an evening.

We chided each other over sushi—“Don’t fill up on the rice! You need to save valuable digestive real estate for the crab legs!”

Letitia uttered a maxim that is as true as the local’s rallying cry (“No friends on a powder day!”) when there’s a foot of fresh on the hill—“There’s no waiting,” she said. “When you’re ready for the next course, you go get it.”

Our Virgin was not disappointed. Neither were the rest of us.

Skiing the X-Files is just like Stand-Up Comedy

I’ve been fantasizing about skiing the X-Files since JF Lanvers posted a series of blogs (with video!) about this mysterious tree run in Empire Canyon. I knew it would be fun, if I could work up the nerve—I didn’t realize that skiing it would mark a major milestone in my life. Of course, it goes without saying the big-deal milestones of my life—marriage, motherhood—are beyond comparison. And I’m reasonably certain that I’ll be hard-pressed to compare even my best day on the slopes to those moments. (However, in the unlikely event that I am invited to compete in the Winter Olympic Games—Senior or otherwise—I reserve the right to revise that.). Still, it was something I’d long-fantasized about, and hoped I’d do someday.

In fact, skiing the X-Files was exactly—EXACTLY—as much fun as one of the most treasured moments in my professional career: The night I opened for Caroline Rhea at Caroline’s Comedy Club in New York City.

The back-story is that I was the assigning editor on a story that Caroline Rhea, one of the funniest people in America, did for a magazine where I worked. We spent a lot of hours together—and in that time, she decided I was funny, that the silly stories I told her about my life and my family were actual “bits,” and that the world needed to hear the comedy of Bari Nan Cohen. Oy vey. I balked for a half-second and then realized I had access to a unique opportunity.

So she helped me hone this material and, there I was—legs shaking with adrenaline and with a view from the stage of that freaky digital countdown clock that only the talent can see. 2:59, 2:58…breathe.

I was reminded of this experience on the last day of this year’s Women’s Weekend Specialty Clinic, which found me, by 10 a.m., hiking across the ridge above Daly Chutes, like I owned the place. (For the record, it’s wider than I thought, and has one of the most breathtaking 360 degree views I’ve ever seen—and not a clock in sight.) The hike made me grateful that I’d (mostly) kept up with my running habit this winter—I was only a little winded as we crested the highest point of the ridge. And, yes, I had a stellar mentor in my instructor Letitia, who’d sized up my skills and determined that X-Files needed ‘em.

Thus, we glided over to the entrance to X-Files. And as we found turn after turn, I was nearly overcome with emotion. (“Don’t cry—your goggles will fog,” I told myself.)  It’s beautiful and peaceful there. And eminently skiable—the trees aren’t nearly as tightly packed as they look from the “outside.”

As I completed turn after turn, I found myself drawing on all the preparation I’d unwittingly done for this moment, pulling a variety of tools from the skill sets Letitia and the other teachers had drilled into me over the course of three days. Side-slips turned into swooshes of snow pushed out of the way, wedge Christies became parallel turns. Just as the days leading up to my comedy debut were spent under Caroline Rhea’s careful tutelage on projection and timing, so that on performance night, I’d be good to go.

I can’t say with any certainty that either performance was “pretty” from a technical standpoint. I can, however, confirm, that both hold places of honor in the category I like to call, The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had Standing Up. And no, I’m not working blue right now.

But what I can tell you is this: In both instances, I didn’t really care how it looked. I was having so much fun, how it looked, well, it just didn’t matter. In both instances I had a great support system. In the club, I’d planted some key friends and colleagues in the audience. In the trees, I had Letitia, my pal Stacey and two other women who were just rockin’ ski companions. We cheered each other on, the same way my friends had laughed at my jokes louder than anyone else in the club.

The skills I brought into the X-Files—timing, correcting my form errors to prevent falling—even looking past the trees (for, if you look at the tree, you will most certainly ski into it) and reaching down the hill to make the turn—had their roots in those rehearsals with Caroline. You need to think fast when you’re onstage, you need to revise your bits to fit the audience, and you need to have good timing, you need all those things to be able to improvise. You need to look beyond the clock and read the audience. Caroline Rhea may not think of herself as a ski instructor, but I’m telling you, I would have had a lesser foundation for absorbing the lessons I’ve had on the hill, without the comedy coaching.

And, while the bragging rights to both things are cool, it’s not really (much) about that. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing you have the tools to do something.

I’d like to say I didn’t continue past my one night in comedy because life got in the way. That could be true. But comedy requires singular focus, driving passion, and the ability to travel the country for low-paying gigs rife with hecklers in the hope you can eke out a living—and the very faint hope you’ll get famous doing it. As it happens, the night I did standup occurred during my last weeks in New York—my heart was already in Park City, we’d just closed on the house; Jeff was checking on things, scheduling the water softener installation; service on the furnace, making sure the lawn sprinklers were set properly, meeting the neighbors. And maybe if I hadn’t planned the move, I might have taken some improv and stand-up classes in the city, and given it a go on open mic night.

Instead, I followed my heart and my skis to Utah—and learned to ski the trees. Decently. I’m not stopping ‘til I’m awesome at it. And then, who knows?

So, if you were one of the hundred or so people in the world who got to witness my comedy debut, all I can say is: Come ski with me sometime. I’m a better skier than I am a comic. And if you weren’t—maybe I’ll dig up the video of my time on stage and show it to you.

Katie learns just how much fun spring skiing can be on Day #3

So truth be told, I love to complain. If it were a sport in the Olympics, I would hands down take the gold, silver and bronze. So although I’ve said that I hated skiing before and I’m starting to like it now, doesn’t mean that I didn’t have my fair share of complaints during this whole experience. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t cold, and that falling didn’t hurt, or even that it was an easy experience that I fell in love with instantly. But I will tell you that it was something that I have zero regrets doing and that I may not be a diehard skier now, but through this experience I have grown to be more patient, more confident, and willing to put effort into it even though I’m not that great. It’s easy to love something that you are good at, but much more difficult to find fun in something that you’ve sworn to loathe.

After my first and second lesson, I was pleased with my progress and thankful for the chance to learn a new skill, but I really had zero intentions of ever going again (this is where my excellent complaining skills came into play). And then I was informed that I got one more lesson! I was excited, but also really nervous because I was probably going to have to really ski, like actual runs, with actual potential to eat it hard core. So while heading up the canyon I told myself that it was fun and I loved it and I would live. Cue complaining, again.

And then I got my stuff and we were off, just to the beginners slope at first but Eddy assured me that we would hit the actual slopes today in his perky-I-love-skiing-more-then-life- sort of way that he does best. The first run down I was shaking and not loving it, and then all of the sudden it hit. I felt that I was OK and that I could survive the full lesson and then real skiing began.
We went to some of the runs where it was super sunny, and created a whole new type of snow that I was not used to. Snow that’s a little slushy is clearly my kind of snow. It makes turning a bit more difficult but helps keep your speed in check, no complaint with that. Not to mention the sun! It was so beautiful and made the resort look so much different in such a breathtaking way. We made it over to Deer Crest and Eddy could easily sense my change of mood and knew that this sort of skiing was Katie Fredrickson sort of skiing. We went down our first run which was an easy blue, and I felt good about it. Then we did the same run again, and again, and again. It got to the point where I could relax and enjoy the run, instead of focusing on what my feet were doing.

Then Eddy told me that I was ready for a harder run and that it was not much different at all. Looking at this run was very frightening. I looked at Eddy and said, “Alright crazy, what run are we really going to do?” After about five minutes of me standing there and Eddy reassuring me about a million times that I was more than capable to handle this run, we set off. Turns out, I could handle that run, and had fun all the way to the bottom. When we reached the bottom Eddy started laughing and I asked him what was so funny, assuming I looked like a spazz. His reply was, “Look at you, actually skiing and you are smiling. First time I’ve ever seen that smile!” No joke this was when I knew that I would come back and ski on my own sometime.

Eventually we met up with Deer Valley blogger JF Lanvers and he asked me how I was doing. My answer was, “fantastic, we are skiing and looking legit!” And his response is probably the greatest thing that I have ever heard. Imagine his French accent and his smiley face saying, “Well why else would we ski but to look cool?” LOVE IT! We got some good runs in, I did fall (which was so kindly edited out of JF’s video), but if you don’t fall, you’re not trying.

This experience was the only thing that would ever have made me enjoy skiing. I’ve even have plans to go within the next week. I never thought I would actually have plans to go skiing. Thanks to everyone at Deer Valley, especially Eddy, you all made me like skiing and build the skills so that I can learn to love it.

Shane Symes’ Deer Valley

With 34 days left in the season there is still a chance to experience some of Deer Valley’s unique dining options. To help make the most of your Deer Valley experience we caught up with another employee for their expert opinion:

Meet Shane Symes, Sous Chef at Fireside Dining.

When did you come to Deer Valley?
Shane: I came to Deer Valley the winter of 1984-85. This is my 27th year.

What does a perfect ski day mean to you?
Shane: A perfect day skiing is a deep powder day off of Lady Morgan Express chairlift. I love that mountain and rarely come off it on a powder day. But on a REALLY good powder day I would actually prefer to snowboard at one of the other awesome resorts in Park City!

What is your favorite thing on the menu at Fireside?
Shane: This is one of our new dishes this year. We do a seared beef or venison medallion on top of a bacon pancake served with a homemade huckleberry jelly. We also serve this dish with a little fried quail egg and a little lemon butter.

Try the bacon pancake out for yourself!

2 Cups AP Flour
2 1/2 Cups Buttermilk
2 Eggs
1 T. + 1 t. Olive Oil
1T. + 1 t. Sugar
2 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Vanilla
1 t. Salt
1/8 cup Water
3-4 Bacon Slices
Slice the bacon up into small pieces and fry it over medium/high heat until it is the crispiness that you desire. When finished drain on a paper towel.
While the bacon is cooking mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix the dairy, egg, oil and vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated.
Over medium heat, pour the pancake batter onto the pan.
Immediately after you pour the batter, sprinkle a hand full of bacon bits onto the pancake. You could mix the bacon directly into the batter, but I have found that you get better distribution if you sprinkle it on this way.
Once you see bubbles forming and bursting on the top of the pancake it is time to flip. Only flip pancakes once.
Another minute or two later the pancake is cooked. Remove onto a plate and either eat, or place the plate in the oven on warm to keep the pancakes hot until you are finished cooking all of them.

Who is your favorite person to ski with?
Shane: My favorite person to ski with is by myself, I really enjoy the solitude. I also enjoy skiing with my staff as we have fun together and ski everywhere.

Your must have treat at Deer Valley?
Shane: The must have treat at Deer Valley is anything that Debbie Swenerton (Snow Park Bakery Chef) makes. Mostly the peanut butter truffles and white chocolate rice krispy treats.

What run is a must for every ski day?
Shane: There are two “must” runs, Magnet and Hidden Treasure.

 

Heidi Heads to NASTAR Championships

I just realized how time flies and I haven’t posted an update for a while. Where does the season go? I guess it’s spent being busy on the mountain! I’m not complaining. I was able to demo Blizzard’s new Samba ski recently. First I had to go into Cole Sport and make sure my bindings were adjusted correctly. I tried tuning them myself, which anyone who knows me knows was a mistake. I can’t tune a ski, I’ve never had to tune my own skis. But I do know a well-tuned ski and a ski that performs. Let me say skiing the Samba is like doing the Samba dance! So much fun! I also had a peek at next year ladies Black Pearl. If they ski anything like their top sheet cosmetic, they will perform beautifully.

Heidi Head to Head with Doug Lewis this winter a .01 separation.

I was looking at my calendar and realized I’ve been skiing almost every day and we have just over 5 weeks left to the season. Only 34 days left to ski. Out of those 34 I’m on skis 25 days from the looks of my schedule. Out of the 25, 5 are days at the NASTAR Championships.  If you haven’t registered yet make sure you do, the deadline is March 14. If you haven’t attended the National Championships before, it’s a great time to be around people that love skiing; or simply a great opportunity to take some time off from your regular routine. It will be really fun this year because NASTAR has added two new events, Return of the Champion Family Challenge event and a Pro-Am with old and current U.S. Ski Team athletes. Come and watch the old and young battle it out on the mountain. I’m excited to catch up with Sarah Schelper who I haven’t seen since my last race 15 years ago! NASTAR Championships is a social event.  I’ve been involved for four years and look forward to it every year. It’s a great way to catch up with past teammates and fans! I think the new Pro –Am will be so much fun and a great addition. How cool will it be to have a current U.S. Ski Team member ski with you on a team for the day? Go to the NASTAR website and see who you can pick. By Tuesday you’ll be tired of the “pacesetters” and will be looking for fresh fast skiers. I’m also looking forward to The Family Challenge. Just think, you could earn the title of the fastest NASTAR family nationwide. I think that deserves some bragging rights. I hope this excites you to join the party go to nastar.com and sign up!

Make sure you come by Deer Valley’s NASTAR Race Course and get a few practice runs in. I usually go there to make sure I can still turn them. It’s a great way to get the rush of racing and prep for the finals. Even though the NASTAR Championships are all about fun, we all still want to be the lowest handicap. It just won’t happen for me when I’m racing against Ted Ligety, Sarah Schelper, Aj Kitt but Doug Lewis.

I hope to see you at NASTAR finals and the NASTAR Race Course at Deer Valley. I will let you know how the Championships end up. I have two weeks to practice!

See you on the Slopes.

Ski lesson = Opposite Day

In my Max 4 ski lesson, I felt like George Costanza in the Seinfeld Episode, Opposite Day.  In the episode, George decides that every decision he has ever made in his life has been wrong.  Since his life is the complete opposite of everything he wanted it to be, with a little prompting from Jerry he decides to do the opposite of whatever his normal choice would have been.  Today I learned that in skiing, if my body naturally reacts one way, I should do the opposite.

The lesson started with all the adult students skiing a run under the watchful eye of our green jacketed instructors.  We were then grouped by our ability and the specific skills we needed to work on.  Two guys and I were picked by Dan and we were off to explore Flagstaff Mountain.  I jokingly asked Dan if he was going to teach us to ski backwards by the end of the day (as the instructors were demonstrating earlier as they watched us earlier) and much to my surprise, that is exactly what he did at the very beginning of the lesson.  I was starting to realize this was indeed “opposite day” as we learned about balance skiing backwards.

My ski lesson buddies and I were to hear the word “counter intuitive” all morning.  When we moved our body position the way were avoiding, we had more control. Doing this we learned to turn and control our speed making it easier to ski on the steep slopes. What amazed me was Dan seemed like he was always there giving me individualized attention even with three students.  He’d work with me, then ski ahead to catch up with one of the guys and then the other. Then he’d watch me ski down and give me some pointers.  Every lift ride was a lesson and then when we were ready, he led us to the blue runs.  By the end of the three hours, we were cruising down the blues like no tomorrow. I couldn’t believe it!

We even tackled Star Gazer which was a challenge for me.  I took a couple of tumbles on the steeper terrain because I reverted to the old habits (which I understand is typical for beginners).  Was that bad?  Of course not.  In fact, it was quite the opposite. Dan was there to pin point the cause of the fall so I was able to learn and make corrections. His guidance anchored that lesson in my mind and improved my confidence.  I also conquered some fears about falling and not being able to get up.  Who knew that it is actually easier to get up on steeper hills than on the flat?  Another counter intuitive aspect of skiing was etched in my memory.  Because of Dan’s coaching, now instead of being intimidated by the hill, I think to myself, “Oh good, it’s steep! Easier to get up if I fall.”

When I got home, I looked at the Deer Valley Trail map on my wall and traced all the runs we did with a blue marker. I was shocked to see how many blue runs we did.  I had not realized that we had done five as I stood there and took it in. As a beginner who’d stuck to green runs, it was quite surprising to see all the blue ink on my map. My first lesson was an outstanding success. Doing the opposite worked for George Costanza and today thanks to the skill of my instructor, Dan, it worked for me, too.

Letitia Lussier’s Deer Valley

To ski with Letitia Lussier is a singular experience—in that a day on the hill will reveal multiple facets of her personality, and of your own ski skills. Letitia was my group instructor during the Women’s Weekend last season .

As she guided us away from more populated runs, so that my newfound ski buddies, Stacey and Jackie, and I could drill down to better turns without distraction, she shared funny tales from her career, as well as from her life as an artist. And, quietly, with a lot of nurturing encouragement, she insisted we ski the trees. My mom and dad may shudder (a lot) when I talk about it, but if they’d been with us that day, they might even be convinced it was the safest place to ski anywhere.

Throughout the years, Letitia’s artist’s spirit has taken her many places in the summers, “ I live in Park City in the winter,” she says. “And I’ve lived in a variety of places in the summer- Wisconsin (x1),  Hawaii (x2), the red rock canyons of southern Utah (x2), Washington (x2) and Wyoming (x2) but I’ve also spent many summer here in PC.”

And, her work in the mountains feeds her muse when she steps into her home painting studio. Art lessons are life lessons, and vice-versa. “Every day I witness such incredible beauty,” she says. “I make it a point to take the time to notice, to really look at my surroundings as they change every day sometimes every hour. Inspiration is all around me which is reflected in my paintings of DV,” she says, “I’ve developed gratitude for the peak moments I experience in these mountains and in life. There is nothing more powerful.”

 

Hometown: Auburn, ME

Years in Park City: “I’ve been with Deer Valley since day one!” In other words, you do the math.

Year one as an instructor was…”Fun! We were a tight-knit group of 23, counting one supervisor and director. We worked hard and played hard. Now we are nearly 500 instructors.”

I’m a fan of teaching Adult Specialty Programs like Women’s Weekend because…With a well matched group you have the opportunity to learn from each other, to cheer and support one another. You have the chance to create friendships with shared interests and the added bonus of finding others at your ski ability. This cohesiveness can offer the right kind of learning atmosphere for these programs. The group dynamics can be so much fun when people want to learn and have a good time. We (instructors) love skiing and enjoying sharing that passion with others.

My ideal ski day at DV is…

A “bluebird” day of crisp blue skies and deep, fresh, sparkling champagne powder. As I ride up on the chair I look in awe at the evergreen trees which are laden with snow, even the tiniest of branches on the aspen trees are decked with snow giving them a lacy, intricate look. Reaching the summit I stand there transfixed as my breath is taken away by the expansive beauty. I can’t believe how lucky I am to witness such grandeur.  On my descent the quality of the snow as I ski through it is so light it blows up in my face refreshing me with every turn. There is a unique quality to the sound as I fly through it, it is effervescent like my favorite bubbly. The snow is so light and deep I have the sense that I am floating weightlessly down the mountain, it feels velvety soft beneath my feet.   Skiing down the slope I am enveloped in a rich alpine environment  that gives me a welcome feeling. Off in the distance, I hear the call note of the chickadee, it is a sound I recognize and enjoy. I spot some animal tracks in the snow, giving hint of the activities from the night before.   This place I call home has a life of it’s own, and I feel energized by it. Every run is through virgin powder, putting a grin on my face that stretches from ear to ear. I ski until my legs feel like noodles and I can no longer go on.

On days like this I ski with: Skiing with my beau, Tom. First chair. First run is where ever the snow looks the deepest.

My go-to areas on the mountain are…

Sultan and Empire

Favorite groomer? 

Tycoon

Favorite trees? 

Anchor Trees

Must-have lunch break plan:

Empire Canyon Lodge. Salad Bar. Arnold Palmer. Chocolate-chip Cookie

My most treasured apres ski ritual is…Enjoying a nice cold beer and reflecting on an exceptional day feeling totally spent.

Best lessons learned as a ski instructor:

How to deal with a variety of people. Developing patience is key— every person has their own pace and learning styles. Maintaining a sense of humor when things go awry. Sharing my passion is contagious—that never changes.

 

Leap Year Birthday Boy

Leap Year is now my favorite holiday—because it means that we get an extra ski day every four years! In honor if Leap Year, I’m introducing you to Deer Valley’s own…Leap Baby. He has skied at Deer Valley for ten years—which is astounding, considering he’s only having his third birthday this year. He has two younger siblings, Natalie and Ethan, both of whom have had more birthdays than Jack. While you struggle with the mental math, get to know my favorite Leap Boy!

Name: Jack Rubenstein, parents: Robert and Katia Rubenstein

Hometown: Hollywood, FL; He and his family are part-time Parkites, and they’re planning to celebrate Jack’s Bar Mitzvah next year (birthday confusion notwithstanding) at Temple Har Shalom in Park City.

Age: 3 or 12, depending on how you count.

Years skiing: 10

Happy Third Birthday Jack! What’s the best part of being a Leap Baby?
Thanks! The best part, probably, is not getting very old so soon, and I get to celebrate my birthday all week for three other years because I don’t have an official birthdate.

What are your three favorite runs to ski at Deer Valley?
Chute 1/ Daly Bowl
Chute 2
X-Files

What is your favorite restaurant for lunch at Deer Valley? And what is your favorite thing to eat there?
Royal Street Cafe- Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich with Hot Fudge
Stein Eriksen’s Buffet- everything

What is your favorite dinner restaurant at Deer Valley?
Seafood Buffet- I love the prime rib and shrimp and king crab. (Don’t forget the homemade whip cream at dessert!)

How many cocoa breaks do you like to take during a ski day?
Are you kidding? I’m here to ski not drink cocoa!!!!!

Which runs do you ski better than your dad
All of them. (Mostly, moguls.)

What is your favorite part of skiing with your dad?
Waiting for him at the bottom!

What is your favorite part of skiing with your whole family?
Ummmmmm…..

Do you like bumps or groomers?
Bumps

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have no clue, I am only three years old.

What are you looking forward to about having your Bar Mitzvah in Park City?
The party, skiing, and getting presents

What is your favorite memory about skiing at Deer Valley?
Going down Chute 10 for the first time.