My Definition of a “Perfect Storm”

I’m not talking about the situation that describes an event in which a rare combination of circumstances will drastically tip the natural order over, nor do I want to allude to the book and the movie covering the phenomenon and that is the source of the expression.

What I want to talk about is what happened this past Monday, late afternoon, when the skies suddenly became dark and snow began to fall like it would never stop. It kept on storming into the evening and the following morning, we woke up to a picture-perfect weather and to over 10 inches of fluffy new snow.

Now, this is what I call a “perfect storm,” when the precipitation arrives after a full workday for some, or a fun-filled vacation afternoon, when the heavy snowfall doesn’t impede traffic too much or create unnecessary stress on skiers and other mountain folks that have to work their way around it.

That’s right: Regular night snowstorm followed by bluebird skies and super light powder in the morning; that’s the only circumstance in my book that deserves to be called a perfect storm, and we have many of those in Deer Valley: A timely, convenient and generous precipitation that supplies days of fun for mountain lovers!

Sundance Wrap Up

There are a number of reasons that I love the Sundance Film Festival. First, there are the films—I saw a couple of documentaries that knocked my socks off this year: Rebirth and Hot Coffee. But in many ways, the festival holds personal appeal. I get to spend time with colleagues with whom my contact is limited to phone, email and Facebook messages. Not the least of these are my friends at Self Magazine, where I worked as Entertainment Editor before I moved to Park City.

These women, who edit a healthy lifestyle magazine for women, practice what they preach, pushing the envelope on their comfort zone in the name of staying healthy and active.  To wit: a few years ago, the magazine’s executive editor and managing editor decided to take lessons at Deer Valley—in part because their kids had taken up the sport. They loved it. At the same time, other of our colleagues met me for first chair in what would become a tradition of a Self Sundance Ski Day.

And, so, the morning after I attended their lovely dinner event, “Honoring Women who Make Women Look Good on Film,” I met my friend Lauren, the magazine’s publicity director (we also, by some coincidence, went to college together) for a handful of turns and some Snow Park lunch. The previous evening, I’d sat with a documentary filmmaker and explained how, in part, working at Self had inspired me to leave New York for a new life here—what better way to capitalize on all that information I’d learned writing about healthy habits than to move to a place that thrives on them?

In truth, I pulled a locals move, and met Lauren at Silver Lake at the crack of noon. By then, she’d already taken a tour with a Mountain Host, and had that glint in her eye I’ve come to love. “It was great—we took one run on every part of the mountain,” she noted. “But they didn’t want to ski as fast as I did…” I cracked up—Lauren’s unofficial skier nickname is Speedy. So, we zoomed along the groomers (safely, in control, making full use of our edges, thank you very much), and then looked for little pockets of crud and moguls to test out our off-piste legs. On the chairlift, she told me about her 5 year-old daughter’s first weekend of ski lessons, and we compared notes on parenting beginning skiers.

 

After a while, I took her over to Hidden Treasure, explaining ahead of time that I like to use the flat area to skate for a thighs and glutes workout. Lauren looked for a powder stash on the side, and found herself grounded for a minute. “That will teach me!” And we had a good laugh before heading to Homestake so we could cruise Homeward Bound—a must see for any DV visitor.

 

I look forward to Sundance for just these moments—sharing my new life with old friends. We happened to luck into a bluebird day—which made us giggle excessively over the fact that we once did our traditional ski day in blizzard conditions, and our legs could barely keep up with the fresh pow.

Over lunch, I confessed to having a slight case of nerves at the prospect of my upcoming 3-day Women’s Ski Clinic (three full days! Yikes!) – And tried to entice her to plan her Sundance travel to include the weekend next year. Here’s hoping!

My Favorites Part 2 – Ski Runs

It’s hard to talk about my favorite spots on the mountain because there are so many. It comes down to the specific day’s conditions. Each area has its advantages depending on if it is sunny, snowing, flat light or powder! I usually assess the weather and whoever I am skiing with and then I decide my skiing route from there.

If it is a bluebird day and the new snow has been skied out (hard to find lately considering we have so much snow) Bald Mountain is the spot, hands down. I usually start out on Nabob and then ski all the groomers. These runs are the best for strong steep intermediates. After Nabob I usually go to Keno, then Legal Tender, Wizard, Tycoon and Reward (if it is groomed). When all these runs are groomed it is the closest thing to the feeling of being in a world cup race. I call this “Ego Snow”.

When I ski Bald Eagle Mountain, I love to ski Big Stick. This run is a classic GS trail. Starts off rolling, drops into a great steep section then at the bottom you better hold on because you’re going to have tired legs when you hit the compression. Another fun run is Solid Muldoon. This follows the Carpenter Express lift line so you must be ready to show off your best skiing. A must do is Success to Last Chance. This route will take you past some of the private homes of Bald Eagle.  Many of these homes are elaborately decorated and have earned nicknames such as “the bear house”, the “raccoon roost” and the “tree house”.  

On Deer Crest, I would say Jordanelle ski run is my favorite. It’s a mile long with a vista you must see to believe. Usually when I have friends visiting this was their favorite run to rip down. I think it helps bring back the memory of their downhill days!

When it’s snowing with flat light, I try to ski in the trees for some depth perception. Sometimes that can’t be done depending on the group I am with. If it’s snowing and flat light the best area to ski is off the Northside Express chairlift. This is our most popular area because there is something for any member of the family or ability level.

OK…now to the big stuff! After a storm or if it’s snowing and accumulating a lot during the day I usually ski off piste all day. I love it when people say there are only groomers at Deer Valley. I have had two groups mentioned this to me and that’s the easiest way to find out that I love a challenge. Usually, after I prove them wrong, they are asking me to stop by 2 p.m.!

So, when the snow has fallen (or still falling) here are the best powder lines:

I usually rush right over to Empire.  However, if the snow safety is not yet completed I start in Mayflower and work my way to Empire.

 Let’s start at Empire – My first hit is the Lady Morgan Bowl fall line. Most of the time this is so good it requires another run. For my third run, I head to the Daly Chutes! I lap Daily Chute a couple times and then to Chutes 7-10 before hitting the X-Files (Don’t know how to find the elusive X-Files? See the previous blog post from JF Lanvers).

Challenger Chute

Once I have thoroughly covered Empire I push on to Ontario Bowl. I either hike in from Ontario ski run or take the traverse from Hidden Treasure.  Ontario Bowl always has a funny way of pulling the “YEE HAWS!!” out of me. The same as Lady Morgan Bowl, Ontario also requires a few passes. Sometimes I have found myself Ontario Bowl all day and only forced to leave when my legs say quit.

I find that most skiers follow this same route and head to Empire first after a big storm.  So by the time you get back to Bald Mountain and hit Mayflower Bowl, Triangle Trees, Sultan Trees and Sunset Trees there are still many great lines!

Then there are my favorite spots for skiing with the kids. They usually take the lead and it’s directly to Bucky’s Backyard and jump and Ruby’s Roost. They would stay here all day if I let them. These runs are off of Bandana and are very bumpy and rolly and of course, that is why they like them. Another favorite for kids is Oompa Loompa Land, this is an opened glade and makes the children feel as if they are skiing some big terrain.

Stefan Skiing Powder

The above is just my opinion in how to ski Deer Valley. I don’t really have a favorite spot because the entire mountain makes me happy! But I hope you have fun exploring my suggestion ski patterns on any given day.

See you on the slopes. More snow to come on Sunday and Monday, says the weatherman — stay tuned!

A Week in Review

Now that last week’s major storm is over and another one has just begun, I thought I would catch you up on my last week with all the powder skiing since there wasn’t much time to blog during the 70” of new snow!! It all began on Wednesday while skiing with my brother. He doesn’t get to ski much so when he is here it’s all nothing until he tells me he is done!

The weather was a bit intense as the snow continued and the visibility wasn’t great. But there were no worries because if you fell it was into A LOT of soft powder. We started in Lady Morgan bowl and did about four laps. I had my nieces and my sons who picked up powder skiing quite fast for their first time. I was most worried about my son Stefan considering the snow depth was taller than him but his determination to keep up certainly got him through. We made sure to check out the Daly Chutes. My nieces who don’t ski much both rallied and jumped in. I was so impressed with their determination to enjoy the conditions. Of course, I didn’t put them down Challenger so we skied Chute 10. After Stefan started running out of gas we made our way to Ontario Bowl before breaking for lunch at Silver Lake Restaurant. We lapped Ontario Bowl some more and it was so good everybody agreed to keep going. This was about noon time and the powder was still deep and barely tracked out.  I think Ontario Bowl is some of the best powder skiing you can get.

My brother was still ready for more after lunch so we went into Sunset Trees. When I ski with groups (even if they are my family) I stay in the back to make sure everyone makes it out or I’m there to help (in case of snow snake). Being the youngest, my brother will never tell me if he is getting tired. This is his time to eat up the skiing. But, I did finally get him to say he had enough once he double ejected and we looked for his skis for a good 15 minutes (lucky by standards).

The next day I had some clients so I decided to spread the love and sent my family to Park City Mountain Resort. Where my children did their job and toured the family around. It is a rough life for 9 and 6 year old boys to know the mountain so well and so soon.  Then the 24th I skied in the morning with a new client on Bald Mountain. This part of the mountain lived up to its usual skiing. It was a beautiful morning and it felt like we were on top of the world or in heaven (as you can see in the photo below).

We skied above the clouds most of the morning. We ripped up Stein’s Way, Nabob and Tycoon. In the afternoon I skied with my family again and we decided to have the family race at the NASTAR course which included my 2 brothers, my 2 sons and myself . The outcome can usually be guessed, but this year my brothers won. Yes, Craig won fair and square because Eric and I missed some gates and got disqualified! I haven’t lived this down and I don’t think I will until I can redeem myself when he returns late January. However, I can’t forget to mention that Craig did get in trouble for hitting the gates. We left the mountain after a great day of skiing to go home and wait for Santa and so Craig could clout.

I’m amazed at how great the skiing remains days after the storm. Our grooming is impeccable and the bowls and trees are still soft and not bumped out. Yesterday and today I had clients and I brought them into places they wanted to go and new places that hadn’t been to.  There are still some good lines in Centennial Trees and X-Files! Rumor has it, that storm hitting today and tomorrow will be bigger than the last. Stay tuned, because if so I will be in Mayflower Bowl. I haven’t skied Mayflower all year because there’s just too many other areas to get to!

NASTAR and Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow.

Two weeks into the season and it feels like an entire year. I have raced twice and skied powder almost daily. We are in the middle of a storm system that has brought us over 2 feet and there is still more to come! I skied Lady Morgan Bowl and the chutes with my 6 year old I can’t image what it must feel like for him in that much snow. Don’t worry, I didn’t force him, he actually demanded to follow the group and be part of every powder selection.

I went to Colorado to get my NASTAR handicap against A.J. Kitt last week. I’ve been trying to paceset the course here at Deer Valley but haven’t been able to yet because of too much snow, bummer! It was great fun to see how many people love NASTAR and be able to interact with them. I kept them entertained telling stories of the good old days.

Come by and race our NASTAR course. I’ll have it handicapped as soon as the snow stops!  Until then, see you in the powder!!!!

Weekend in Photos

 Were you able to enjoy the 8″+ of powder on Saturday?  Or the the sunny afternoon on Sunday?

If not,  here are some photos of the conditions at Deer Valley over the weekend:

Flagstaff Mountain at Deer Valley- December 11, 2010

View of Empire from the top of Flagstaff - December 12, 2010

Happy Skiing!

The Equipment Quandary

It all started in September; I have been wracking my brain ever since trying to figure out which ski I should get for this snow season. Now, I seem to be running out of time as I still have not figured out which set of boards I should pick. I’m not talking about any specific brand or model; I’m simply wondering about which ski design might best fill my needs for the winter of 2010-2011 and the seasons beyond.

I used to be an early adopter, but have long left that trait to younger and much more adventurous folks. I will only adopt a radically new concept if I have heard and read enough good reviews about it and if the product in question does offer a significant step forward over its predecessors. So here I am, ready to flip a coin between a pair of wide skis with traditional camber and the new, so-called “tip and tail rocker” and also – I need to flip another coin – one of these “full rockers.” Now, I am torn, laminated, exhausted by this camber discussion. Oh boy, do I miss the time when the argument was limited to a sidecut, an underfoot width or whether a ski should have a cap construction or look like a vintage 1970 design!

My problem, I know it, is that I’m one of many skiers that still delude themselves in believing there’s a ski that can do it all; you know, the jack of all trades and master of none. That’s right, I’d like a ski that behaves superbly on groomers, can surprise me positively in 10 inches of new snow and is guaranteed to impress my buddies when we’re flying over bottomless powder. This is enough to paralyze any skier and freeze him in place until the snow melts, spring returns and I don’t want that. Of course, my budget as well as the only space left in the ski rack inside my garage just allows for one single new pair of boards for this winter. I need some form of catalyst or act of God to force me to moving forward, making a choice, doing something…

One of the challenges is also my set of beliefs. Being an “old dog,” I still think that the longer the skis the smoother the experience, more like riding in a Lincoln Continental versus driving a Mini Cooper. This is another limiting element, because while I still can live with a traditional ski up to 186 cm in length, a “rocker” ski would define a much longer board that wouldn’t fit inside my streamlined, cool looking Thule ski box. As unbelievable as this may sounds, the size of my ski box is probably what will settle the battle, make me forgo my craving for innovation and instead force me to carry-on a few more seasons with tradition. I didn’t even have to lose my sanity, my temper or my camber over this. Yeah, I’ll go with a traditional wide ski and 90 mm width underfoot. I’ll console myself by keeping looking forward to some brand new and revolutionary gear some other ski season…