Family Fun on the NASTAR Course at Deer Valley Resort

Family

I know a thing or two about competitive fire. Living with an Olympic ski racer in Park City, Utah my kids are growing up on the slopes. I definitely feel like a fish out of water at the start of the NASTAR course, but I love it anyway!

Just picture it: I’m standing at the top of the race course, eyes focused on the first gate and occasionally at the tough competition to my right. I know this girl well. She loves speed and she knows how to work her skis like she is straight off the World Cup circuit. It runs in her family; well at least half of her family. Let’s face it, my almost eight-year-old daughter is better than I am on skis. But I am addicted to the competition. It’s the speed, intensity, terrain, and of course, the final gate and the finish that keep me coming back. NASTAR is ski racing at its amateur best!

Summer Start

Every time I squeeze my size 11 foot into my ski boot, I grimace, and then I smile thinking of making my way to the NASTAR course at Deer Valley Resort. It’s a family affair for us, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. The kids and I can’t wait to get out there and compete. We love being able to measure our improvement and of course just the adrenaline of the race. Of course, we are usually just competing against each other but there is still so much fun in that. Skye and I will joke saying, “You’re goin’ down, circus clown!” And while I try my hardest, she beats me every time. I probably ask my husband how I can get faster about 20 times every run. Mr. three-time Olympic skier just chuckles, knowing that speed is actually NOT my friend and replies, “We can get you there. You gotta get out of the gate faster.” And I’m fairly certain my face lights up at the prospect, and my brain in pure Jim Carey from Dumb and Dumber style says, ”So you’re sayin’ I have a chance!”

My kids LOVE the medals. And don’t get me wrong, I’m fond of my NASTAR silver too, but my true motivation is that desire to just shave a second, or even one-hundredths of a second off my time. It’s scary and exciting and it takes me back to my days in the pool, working on being my personal best. I have such appreciation for the best skiers and their abilities, and it’s fun to PRETEND to be one for 25 seconds. Plus, they announce your name!

Kids Start

So if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, the NA-tional STA-ndard Race, or NASTAR was started in 1968 by Ski Magazine to allow your average recreational skier (like me) to compete against friends and family regardless of when and where they race. You can find a course at over 115 resorts across the country and measure yourself against the best, your little bother, or in my case my son and daughter. There is a pace setter that establishes the course time at each course, and the timing and medals are based off of that. Our course setter at Deer Valley Resort is Heidi Volker. I know her as an Olympian and mom. I asked her a few NASTAR questions that I would like to share.

Summer: Why NASTAR? Why do so many people like it and what does it let you compare?

Heidi: People love NASTAR courses because it allows you to compare yourself to the best in ski racing like, Ted Ligety and AJ Kitt. Ted is racing on the World Cup so AJ Kitt is the national pacesetter and travels around to handicap racecourses. Racing always get you hooked.

Summer: How can a family use NASTAR for fun and growth in their skiing?

Heidi: Families can use NASTAR to compete against each other for bragging rights. This creates healthy and fun competition for your family.

Summer: Does it teach kids the skills of racing and/or more?

Heidi: NASTAR does teach the basics of ski racing. The courses are about a fourth of the regular length of World Cup races.

Nastar Magic

One fine Monday, I found myself out skiing with my kids. Or, dare I say, out-skied by my kids.  I’m pretty fast, when I want to be, but on this day, I felt like I was skiing in  molasses. This, friends, is not to say the snow conditions were not perfect. They were. Therein lay part of the problem. So lovely was the snow, so bluebird the day, my kids were zooming around the hill like Mario Andretti on a country road—or at least how I imagine a racecar driver would take a country road.

None of this, by the way, is said by way of complaint. It is a point of pride that my kids engage with this sport, and love it as much as their parents do. And, I’m telling you, this is the year our family ski days turned a corner (if I’m to drag that racecar metaphor out for another go-round). No longer are we enduring endless laps on Wide West. Gone are the days of one-run-and-done. Our family can take a trip down nearly any intermediate run without hesitation.

So, when we took some laps off of Flagstaff Mountain, and then Bald Mountain, I was in my glory. Except for the fact that they were moving so quickly (sometimes in a little tuck), that I was in constant “worried mother” mode. It wasn’t that I needed to ski fast to keep up, it was that it was nearly impossible to “hover and sweep” to protect them from other skiers who may not expect pint-sized Speed Racers, however well-skilled they may be.

As I chased them down Birdseye ski run, delighted by their enthusiasm for the run, I wondered, “What if I could channel this energy, this need for speed?”

Would it shock you to learn that my boys were, ahem, ahead of me?

“Mom! Look! It’s the Nastar Course! May we race, please?”

What if, indeed.

I raced NASTAR as a kid—it’s a grass-roots public recreational ski race program. The largest in the world, as a matter of fact. And I remember the thrill of coming down the course off the “Triple Chair” run at Pico, and hearing my name called. My kids have run the Deer Valley Nastar course before, along with courses at other resorts, but they wanted to show off for me.

Race

This, friends, was a boon. A boon, I tell you. Not only did they do laps on this course, but I got to do a couple of quick runs down Little Reb ski run, solo, to wait for them at the bottom. Fewer more lovely words were ever spoken, at least on that day, than “Wait for them at the bottom.” Here, they could ski fast, to their hearts’ content, and I could simply enjoy watching them. No other skiers on the course, except my cute boys. Even the announcer got in on the game, “Here’s Lance and Seth, and their Mom at the bottom taking pictures for future Facebook posts,” he called out on the first run.

The fun thing is, we got to ski together before and after each run. Because, of course, one boy earned a medal, and we had to go to the top of the course to collect it. Then, the other wanted to try for a medal, and then they both earned medals, and we had to go back up to the top of the course and collect them. So, we’d ski down McHenry ski run to the Wasatch chairlift, ride it up, ski Birdseye or Nabob ski runs down to the top of the course, and repeat the process. Finally, after three races, I called the Costanza Rule, and declared it time to find our way to the car. “You can race more for Daddy this weekend,” I said, explaining that we’d be back as a foursome in a few short days.

And then, we were off to Little Stick ski run, and I was back on Mommy Patrol. Hilariously, there were several skiers on the trail who identified my plight. “You just have to hope,” one woman said, helpfully, as she watched me attempt to keep my kids safe. “Wow! They are great!” said another couple, navigating the bottle neck at the bottom of the first section of Little Stick. “Thanks!” I shouted over my shoulder. “You should see them race!”

NASTAR National Pacesetting

Its official, the 2012-13 winter season has started with a bang! First, the Celebrity Skifest events, which were followed by the big three-day snowstorm that dropped enough snow to ski the Daly Chutes in Empire.

Most recently, I participated in the NASTAR pacesetting trials at Snowmass.  I go to the national pacesetting trials in order to get a handicap for Deer Valley’s NASTAR racing course. By doing this I can give handicaps to the race crew and I set the pace time every Saturday so it’s as if you’re racing against AJ Kitt who is the NASTAR National Pacesetter.

The NASTAR national pacesetting trials consist of three days of ski races, seeing old athlete friends and ski racing fans.  Of course there is a lot of skiing involved while we are at Snowmass, but there is also time to catch up and recap old time stories.

Bobkie

Bobkie at NASTAR

This picture is me with AJ Kitt, Bobkie (Aka Bob Roll, the Tour de France color commentator and long-time professional bike racer!), my friend Ivan and his son Nicholas. If you think I look as if I never skied before but that’s because I’m having too much fun and not thinking about skiing, my form or even my crooked goggles!

NASTAR Pacestting crew

NASTAR Pacestting crew

But of course, the best part of the pacesetting trials are the ski races and trying to set your best time. Each year, I am reminded that NASTAR is a huge part of skiing culture. It was great to see Ivan’s 10-year-old son skiing so well and enjoying watching everyone else. I can only image he was hoping that someday maybe he’ll be the fastest.

If you’ve never experienced NASTAR, come to race Deer Valley’s race arena at Silver Lake or to any NASTAR course at participating ski areas.  A full list and more info can be found at NASTAR.com.

You’ll get hooked and want to come to the finals with us in the spring! Race fast and most importantly have fun. Ski racing and the NASTAR program has blessed me with the best friendships and memories!

See you on the slopes!

How Heidi Prepares for the Season

The time is approaching when we all start to anticipate this coming winter. The question being, “is it going to be a big winter?!” I guess time will tell, but anytime on skis is always a good thing.

At this point I’m assessing what equipment I might need to replace and bringing in the new stuff.  I may not be able to predict the snow, but the one thing I can guarantee is my new outfits for this season. I’ll still be skiing in Marker outerwear (my 16th year). This year’s line is really fun and next year’s (yes-I’ve already seen it) is even brighter! I haven’t even worn any of this year’s yet!  My mom loved polka dots so whenever I can, I sport the print, too.

I guess you can call this my purple outfit. I haven’t worn purple before, but this outfit just shouts out CARVING! The coat is tighter fitting and the pants are fun and might even whistle as you ski fast; I’ll probably wear this outfit as I rip up the groomers.

The Blizzard 8.0 ski is made exactly for this type of skiing. It’s a men’s ski because the women’s Agivilate 8.0 doesn’t come in a length long enough for my liking. No, this isn’t because I think I can ski with the men it’s because I skied GS on 205cm back in the day, so I prefer something longer than 165cm. Of course, all my skis will have Marker bindings. I haven’t gotten to mounting my skis or truth be told someone hasn’t mounted my skis yet!

All of my outfits will be with hats and this snowflake hat is made by our very own Mountain Host, Jennie Lewis. They are comfortable and cute!

This might be my favorite outfit. It could be called the “preppy outfit” of skiing. You can tell I don’t mind color or drawing attention to myself!

Last year, as I was walking out of the Lodge, someone said to me, “I hope you know how to ski with that outfit!” For comparison, I merely had polka dot pants on and my Tecnica orange Inferno boots. I can’t wait for this year’s reaction!

The Blizzard Black Pearl ski pictured is, I think, one of the most beautiful skis. I’ll probably be skiing on this these most days because; I love to look at it, but mostly because of the performance. It’s amazing!

The matching headband wasn’t planned, but I’m always one to sport a headband. Watch, they will be back in style soon and it was my signature look when I competed!

Lots of fun again with these colors… I would have never thought of putting lime green and blue together. But it works! Orange and pink together is hot, too. I’ll probably wear this outfit when I’m out skiing with the kids.  The fake fur (green no less) will bring me back to my childhood. This might fare well for a low light and powder day so I don’t get lost! The vest and fleece will be my layering pieces if it’s cold or just worn arriving to the hill and after for après ski. Jennie Lewis’ snowflake hat brings the outfit together along with my Smith goggles with a little bling on the band.

This image speaks for itself. FAST. These boards will be brought out for Saturday’s pacesetting at Nastar, the town race series, Celebrity Skifest opening weekend and for Nastar Finals. I don’t have an outfit displayed because I put together the most areo-dynamite pant and top without having to go to the speed suit. I’m too old to stuff myself into a speed suit and it’s uncomfortable! You’d have to pay me to get into a speed suit. Matter of fact, I like to ski with my coat and pants while on this setup (Marker bindings again) because it slows me down! ha

Again all about fun! I have the polka dots on my hat and the coat buttons. This coat can also be worn with my pink polka dot pants seen in the second photo. Most of my coats & pants can be switched around to maximize the number of different outfits. The green fleece can be used as a layer piece although it might be too warm under the “puffy,” but best used to be comfortable at après ski.

Now for the ski-the Dakota! This ski is really fun and you can ski it hard at the same time. Whether your skiing groomers or 3’ of fresh powder, this is the ski!

So if you recognize any of these outfits on the Deer Valley slopes make sure and come and say “Hi”.

Until December 8 hope for cold temps and lots of snow! See you on the slopes.

 

NASTAR National Championships

I’ve been out of town for a week and I’ll let you in on where I was. I often hear, “I haven’t seen you all year” well even if I’m not at Deer Valley, I’m always skiing! I have had the fortune of partaking in the NASTAR finals in Winter Park, CO for the last four years. No, I didn’t qualify, I’m invited to be one of seven pace setters. This entails trying to set the pace against, AJ Kitt, Jake Fiala, Doug Lewis, Ted Ligety, Picabo Street and Steve Nyman. The adventures begin Friday where we are paired up.  I was with Doug (Mr. Universal Sports) and he had me laughing the entire time (not hard to do). We start by setting our new handicap with two runs then we go to our designated race arena. Somehow Doug and I had the most courses. Friday & Saturday we took 14 runs. These aren’t free skiing, easy runs these are behind the wand race runs. Remember we are trying to beat each other, I must be getting old. We also have receptions, sponsor dinners and awards ceremonies that take hours. I’m not complaining just trying to shed some light on our busy days. Although the days are full it’s a blast to be around all these successful skiers.

(Heidi and Doug Lewis)

Some of the highlights of the weekend were seeing so many Park City families participating. Thankfully I see them at home because there is no time to catch up at the finals. I have seen one mother since being back and her comment was, “all of you are in your element, so fun to watch”. Another was my little buddy Colby Starr placing second in his age group. He was nervous on race day and I got to inspect the race course with him. I think it might have calmed his nerves. And the Sheppard family came through with bells and whistles to place two kids in their age group and top ten in the family events!

(Heidi with the Sheppard Family)

Being paired up with Doug kept me laughing and on our final run after we crossed the finish with both laid down. People asked if we were tired? No we answered” were icing our backs”! The first day the courses were soooo tight. I blew my line all weekend trying to keep up. One time was I was going so slow Doug caught up to me and asked in mid-racing “how’s that turn working for ya?” I love going to the event (as we all do) because it lets us see over 1,200 people who love the sport. We try our best to say hi to all of you. It also allows us to catch up with our fellow teammates and be silly again.

(Ted Ligety and Heidi just before pacesetting)

As I approach this next week at Deer Valley it will be the last of my season. For Spring Break were going to enjpy some sun and fun in Disneyworld! Should be interesting. I haven’t been there since I was the same age as my oldest son. I’ll understand what my mom went through. However,  I will be home in time for closing weekend and closing day. I have a feeling the last day will be a snow storm. Should we make a bet? Maybe one of the best powder days will be April 15th. I look forward to a break in Florida but excited to always close the ski season at Deer Valley.

See you on the slopes.

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.

Celebrities, NASTAR and Holiday Fun

Well our season started almost a week ago. It’s probably a good time to recap opening weekend and of course the skiing. It was a great time racing in the Celebrity Skifest and for a great foundation, The Waterkeeper Alliance.  It started Friday night with opening reception at Empire Canyon Lodge where I loaded up on raclette cheese, at Fireside Dining, and caught up with the competitors.

Saturday morning came and it was time to race. I must say I had a great team and it was proven by us winning the 20th annual event. We won beautiful Bulova watches and great necklaces. It was definitely the year to win. One of the highlights was meeting and sharing the “captain” spot with Terrell Owens. He didn’t ski but coached and cheered us on from the finish. We tried to ski as fast as he runs!

I had to race against Tommy Moe the first round. The announcer introduced us as ambassadors of skiing at our designated resorts. At that moment I reflected what it means to be Ambassador of Skiing at Deer Valley. It is an honor to be part of the #1 ski area in North America for the fifth time in a row! I feel so lucky that I can work for a resort that has continued to strive to be the best. I’m proud to work with all the employees and staff and most importantly show our guests what we are all about and the great skiing we have.

Saturday evening, following the race, we celebrated at the Montage Deer Valley with dinner and a live auction. I think it was a great success! We wrapped up Sunday with a Pro-Am event. Similar style as Saturday races but a little more laid back and no title on the line.

My next fun adventure is next week when the NASTAR season begins. What this means is I travel to the western pacesetting trials to get a handicap for the year. I set the pace at Deer Valley on Saturdays and then handicap the PCMR staff for their race arena. It’s always fun because the pacesetter is AJ Kitt whom I grew up with. He is still fast but maybe this will be the year I can beat him. Just saying? I’ll let you know.

As I return from the pacesetting trials it will soon be Christmas. My sons are counting down the days till Santa arrives. Lucas wants a phone, Eskimo hat and a Go-Pro. Stefan wants a Star Wars Lego (big one), Star Wars movies and a Go-Pro. We’ll see what Santa can do. We have in the past years skied Deer Valley when Santa makes his visit on Christmas Eve (Santa visits Deer Valley each year on Christmas Eve. You can find more information on Deer Valley Events Calendar) . The boys make sure and tell him one last time their wish list. Then when we are done with Christmas morning we gear up to ski a few runs. Maybe this year the boys will make ski movie of their day skiing before we settle into dinner and say thanks.

The skiing is great. Come ski the slopes, we are opening more terrain each day. The cold temperatures are allowing the awesome snow makers to cover the slopes with our signature snow! See you on the mountain and wishing everyone a great holiday season.

Thanksgiving Means Skiing

Well its official, I have had my first day of skiing for the 2011-2012 season today, Nov. 19. I can’t tell you where it was… Ok I guess I can, our friendly neighbors next door PCMR.  The conditions were perfect for early skiing so I know when we open the skiing will be great! However, I had a panic attack while on the chair. It registered with me that when PCMR opens it’s usually around Thanksgiving. I realized its only five days away, a week out from our opening which means Celebrity Ski classic and trying to beat the boys.

Excitement and anxiety came across me all at the same time. I’m excited to get the season rolling again but a bit scared because when it starts rolling it’s the end of the season before I know it. Am I organized enough at this point?

Hmmm time will tell.

So as I thought about Thanksgiving and trying to get organized what are my plans? This year we are celebrating with our good friends and children the Lacobelli’s. If you don’t know them take a look at deervalley.com. They are the poster family all over the site.

Their name, Lacobelli, should be a giveaway as to how our Thanksgiving will be mapped out. It should be a blast. I’ve been told to be prepared for an Italian Thanksgiving.

“There’s Italian and then there are those who want to be Italian!” I guess I qualify as “I want to be Italian for a day”. So I guess weight loss isn’t an option before I try and fit into my ski pants DV opening day Dec. 3.

So following my Italian Thanksgiving experience I can turn my thoughts to opening day.

I anticipate opening day will be much of the same as I take part in the Celebrity Ski Fest. Phil, Steve, Tommy and I will be trash talking each other trying to psyche each other out and trying to be the one with the fastest time. I need to make sure my starts are strong. There is nothing like coming out of the gates of competition opening day. The weekend as a whole is so much fun. The skiing, competition, teammates, friends, and the evening receptions equal a great time and celebration to the beginning of 2011/12 season.

I’m grateful for this time of season. The energy in the air for the upcoming season and holidays can be cut with an edge! That is a sharp ski edge! See you on the slopes.

 

Cheers,

Heidi Voelker’s 2010/2011 Season in Review

As we are approaching closing day this Sunday, April 10 I thought I should write about some of the highlights from this season. Always at this time of year I say, “I can’t believe how fast the season has flown by! It goes by faster and faster even after 14 years!”  Maybe it has to do with age? As my mom said, “as you get older each year seems to fly by faster, so you better keep up!”  Ah this is where my “pacesetting” comes from. Kudos Mom!

Well I’ll start in the beginning of the season but not necessarily going to stay in order of favorite highlights. I’m finishing my 14thseason at Deer Valley and since I can remember opening weekend we always have the Celebrity SkiFest. Most recently a made-for-TV race that benefits the WaterKeeper Alliance. This brings together TV personalities and former racers (i.e. the Phil & Steve Mahre, Tommy Moe, AJ Kitt and luckily  myself) for a weekend of ski racing and entertainment.  It’s a fun-filled weekend that raises money for a great cause and I get to visit with old (I use this term loosely) teammates. The “boys” can still ski and sometimes I can ski too. It’s always fun to reminisce and talk about the good old days on tour.  Still when I ski with all of them I’m in awe that I get to share the days with them but most importantly have them as friends. I must confess by being able to spend time with the great skiers listed above I still learn and try to bring it into my skiing.

We then moved into the Christmas season and my family starts to arrive for the holidays. Being the sibling that lives in the mountains I’m expected to have snow whenever they come to visit. Well Mother Nature certainly did answer their requests this year! Skiing with my family in the snow storms of Christmas and after was great. The snow was so deep at times for my youngest, I would tell him I had to stay behind him to make sure I didn’t loose him.

But one of my biggest memories this year will be getting first tracks down Daily Bowl after one of our February snow storms. I have had plenty of fresh powder shots but nothing will beat this. Maybe Heli skiing? I was with clients who were ready to seek out the best lines. We were riding up Empire Express chairlift looking over to Daily Bowl, no tracks? We were not first chair. I poked my head into the ski patrol house and asked if Daily Bowl was open? They said yes and I asked, “Why aren’t there any tracks?” They said nobody has cut the traverse. I guess we’ll do it. I must say the true meaning of  “no friends on a powder day” came out. As we enter the traverse to start plowing through the snow about half through there were three guys making the path. We stayed behind them until the opening then we all raced to the top of the cornice my group still with me. As we all peered over the edge to observe this untracked snow it was so pristine nobody was making the move even the skiers that cut the track. (By the way if you’re reading this… “Thank you”) I surveyed the situation and realized I was the only girl. I took full advantage of the situation and jumped into the bowl saying the “playground is open.”  To be the only one in such a big bowl was as good as it gets. It was so quiet. I came to the second pitch where I usually stop and regroup but nope, not on that day! There was so much snow it didn’t matter where you pointed them. As everyone else finished their epic run in the bowl, I announced at the bottom “That was so good I could be done for the season!”  (Or not…)

I also enjoyed bringing most my groups into X-files. If you don’t know where this is I can’t tell you. You’ll have to come ski with me or search back to a blog post by JF Lanvers earlier this season.  The best part of X-files is when there is a storm there’s still great skiing a few days after. As you see throughout the Deer Valley blog people talk about X-files. It’s intimidating to get to because you’re on top of all the Daly Chutes. But the best part is your nowhere near the cornice, but as close as you’ll get without actually skiing them. You traverse all the way over to our boundary and enter a beautiful gladded area. This area is intermediate. Why I like bringing my clients there? Because it makes them feel like they have accomplished a huge goal. They have! The approach and visual makes your heart beat a bit faster.

Another highlight this season was to watch my boy’s race. I didn’t get to watch them all season. I’m not complaining, just the way things worked out. I did plan to watch their last races. As they had some great year end races, people ask will they be ski racers. I just hope I can provide them with good tools to be gracious competitors and just want to ski with me especially when they come home from college.

The best highlight of the season was this was my busiest season yet!  This is a little like making a speech in front of a crowd. You’ll forget someone or something. So I’m taking this moment to say “Thank You to everyone, Deer Valley, my clients, my sponsors, every corporate group, press group, Powder Girls & Boys and Nastar that have come to ski Deer Valley”. We’ll see you next year and maybe more!

Cheers!

My Favorite Deer Valley Things (part 1)

Working at the resort over the last couple of weeks, I have been quickly reminded why Deer Valley has been voted the # 1 ski resort in North America for the last four years in a row.

When I meet a new client, we arrange to find each other at the Snow Park Guest Service Information Desk. The Info Desk is where our guests can check with Lost and Found or ask any questions.  I usually try and get to the lobby 15 minutes before our scheduled meeting time. After 14 years I have realized that new clients are usually nervous and don’t know what to expect, so these few early moments take the edge off.  So over the course of a few days while waiting in the Snow Park Guest Services area, I have witnessed a guest asking if his glove was turned in. He was not lucky in finding his glove but instead the guest service employee offered to let him borrow a pair of gloves that had been in the Lost and Found for a month. A woman left her cell phone in the bathroom and someone had picked it up. Guest Services allowed her to use the phone to call her cell and the guest who was on her way to turn it in answered and they arranged the trade off. Many guests asked simple questions, such as the bus schedule, where the bathrooms are, where the ticket office was, and how to get to child care. I saw each guest walk away with a smile because our guest services employees answered the question with more information than they were expecting. Most of the guests then chatted for a few minutes with our employees because they made them feel so comfortable. 

Here are a few of “my favorite things” at Deer Valley:

Complimentary ski storage during the day and overnight. How great is it to put your skis away and walk to the car and not have to worry about carrying them up again the next morning. This gives you time to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the morning (especially if you have kids and negotiating who is going to carry what).

Besides our skiing (which speaks for itself), the on mountain dining is exceptional. Imagine skiing and having to decide and actually contemplate where you want to eat. This is a nice problem to have while recreating. My favorites are: Empire Canyon Lodge for the Turkey Panini, Royal Street Café’s Tuna Tacos, Silver Lake Lodge’s Bald Mountain Pizza for their mushroom Pasta and last but not least, Snow Park Restaurant’s Natural Buffet.

Of course, you must fit in the NASTAR course before lunch. If you take any of my suggestions of where to eat you’ll definitely have a full stomach which will only make it harder to beat my time at the race arena! I set the time every Saturday morning (schedule permitting). I got my NASTAR handicap at the pacesetting trials this past December in Aspen and have handicapped the race crew at Deer Valley. What this means is, when you race NASTAR you’re actually racing against AJ Kitt who is the National NASTAR handicapper. You get to see how close you can get to former Olympic Alpine Ski Racer. Racing NASTAR and trying to better your time is a lot of fun! You can also try to qualify for the NASTAR finals or just race head to head with your friends.

Come experience the Deer Valley difference. We all enjoy seeing our guests on the mountain and want to help make your time here the best. I always look forward to going to work, that is a strong statement in itself! Stay tuned for my next blog which will be all about my favorite spots to ski.

Happy New Year and see you on the slopes!