Lessons for a Memorable Mother Daughter Ski Day

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Getting away from the daily grind and escaping to the silence and solitude of snow capped mountains is something this mom dreams of. Where piles of laundry are replaced by a blanket of fresh falling snow. Where my snug fitting helmet drowns out the constant river of minutia that continually babbles from my 10 year old daughter. To simply have a little “me” time.

So what the heck was I thinking, inviting all of these people with me??

It’s not what I was thinking, it’s what I knew: The more the merrier! This day on the slopes was meant to be shared, and I was going to have a blast with moms who have become friends and their sweet gals, too.

When it came time for my daughter to have her second round of ski lessons to help her become the pro she sees in her mind (see her first time here), I knew from experience she’d do best with her gaggle of gal pals.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Each year, Ski Utah offers a Ski Passport program that gives 5th graders the opportunity to ski at each of Utah’s 15 resorts three times during the ski season for a one-time processing fee of just $45. 6th graders can sign up too, receiving one pass to each of the 15 ski resorts.

Ali and her friends each had their Ski Passports in hand so it was a no-brainer we should have them all come up together.

But then I had an epiphany! Let’s make this a mom and daughter date and invite the moms along for the ride. Why should the kids be the only ones to have all the fun?

I’d skied with each of the girls together but this was a first with the moms. There are a few rules of thumb I followed in gathering this larger group together and I must say, it made the day a total success.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Invite Skiers of the Same Level

A group that skis together has fun together. Making sure each of the young girls were all at the same level of skiing was paramount to turning the day into a fun day instead of a purely teaching day. And that went for the moms too.

Two of us moms grew up skiing and had skied together before so that was a no-brainer. Two moms had taken up the sport just a few years before. One mom just switched over from snowboarding to skiing, she realized it was no fun to have to rescue your fallen daughter on skis while on a snowboard.

Not to worry, moguls and bumps for the two more experienced in the group have given way to long cruisers on Deer Valley’s perfectly groomed runs. We were more than happy to spend the day working on our turns with the rest of the crew.

For the girls, they had all been skiing together before and loved having their freedom of riding the lifts on their own. And us moms were more than happy to let them.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Take It Easy

With five moms who are used to being in charge, five girls who were beyond chatty with excitement and two cars with plenty of gear to keep straight, the decision was made early in the game to take it easy and don’t rush the morning. We put the girls all in one car with one mom driver so they could crank up the tunes and chit chat away while the other moms piled into the other car for a more leisure ride of discussing school politics, hair dye and the latest episode of Scandal.

Once we arrived at Deer Valley, we consciously didn’t rush. Nor did we have to. Everyone from the shuttle driver to the ticket agents and the lift operators made it simple for us to ease into our snow day.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Independence Day

Being together as moms and daughters doesn’t mean we had to be glued in pairs like animals on Noah’s Ark. Instead, the moms were happy to let our gals head up on the first chair on their own and leave us in their snow dust as we followed a few chairs behind.

As luck would have it and being the extra observant mothers that we are, one of us spied a single blue ski pole half buried in the snow under the chair. “I hope that isn’t ours,” said one mom, as the other mom immediately replied, “Oh no, it is. I bet it’s Katie’s.” “Yep,” we all agreed in unison. “If it’s anyone’s, it’s Katie’s.”

Long story short, we spent our first two laps on Silver Link ski run searching for the easiest route to gather Katie’s pole. But good moms (and daughters) that we are, there was no blaming, there was no sulking, it just became an adventure for us all to map out and go on together. Finally, we put in a call to Deer Valley Ski Patrol to retrieve it for us.

Saved!

Deer Valley Natural Buffet Snow Park Lodge

Ladies Who Lunch

With a few runs under our belts the girls were already asking for lunch. What? After operation pole retrieval It seemed like we’d just gotten there. But why fight it? Sure, let’s get some food in those bellies, because we all know a hungry kid is a grumpy kid. And truth be known, I knew what was in store so I was more than happy to belly up.

We headed back down to Snow Park Lodge for a feast. When Katie’s mom jokingly told her she’d packed her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich she almost fell off her of chair. As the most adventurous eater of the junior group, this was her favorite part of the day.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

There was no shortage of variety for all of us to load our trays. As a fan of the Natural Buffet salad bar, I was pushing it like a used car salesman. Where else on a ski hill can you get a daily variety of ultra fresh salads to accent your baby greens? Italian Wheatberries and Tomato Salad, Rainbow Pasta and Shrimp Salad or Sczechan Eggplant Salad with baby kale, fried tofu and sugar snap peas! Not to mention steamed artichokes with saffron aioli and Deer Valley’s own housemade cheeses and an assortment of olives that made a meal in themselves.

Even so, two of the moms simply couldn’t resist Deer Valley’s famous Turkey Chili. And, really, why should they? It’s the best.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Grilled cheese, more turkey chili, and for our wonder-eater Katie, the special Ruben Cheese Burger rounded out our tastings.

Of course treating the girls to whatever dessert they wanted (carrot cake for my girl!) gave each of us moms a reason to ask for a bite (or five) as we discussed who was on what diet and how it was going. No blame here, we were working up an appetite.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Ditch the Kids

As every mom will tell you, we love our babes. But how great is it to put them into the capable hands of someone else so we could be on our own for a little faster paced afternoon?

Enter Letitia Lussier, a Deer Valley ski instructor since 1981, she knew exactly what motivated these girls and was ready to teach them a lesson or two that they wouldn’t usually hear—or listen to—from their dear old moms.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

After assessing their abilities, Letitia took the girls down Silver Link and then over to Quincy Express and Silver Strike Express chairlifts, where they happily skied blue ski runs and discovered hidden trails through the trees. As moms will do, we followed along for a run or two and then headed off on our own girls day adventure.

It had begun to snow harder at this point, making for a fluffed layer of Utah’s famous light powder on the expertly groomed runs. We couldn’t have asked for more.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

The moms made our way over to Empire Express and skied longer and faster than we had with our mini-me’s, giving our thighs and form the workout they both needed.

Or, something like that.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Snow Park to meet up with our gals and start the trek back home.

Why oh why did it have to end?

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

Take a Selfie

After finding our girlie group and thanking Letitia for an amazing day on both spectrums of the age range, we brought the cars up and readied ourselves for the ride home.

But first, of course, we posed for a selfie.

In this day and age you simply can’t escape getting a group photo (or 19) to document the day. And why would you?

Because these memories are what mom and daughter dates are made for.

Lessons for a Great Mother/Daughter Ski Day at Deer Valley Resort

What We Learned

Lily
Favorite part of the lesson: I really liked our ski instructor. “She told me to lean forward more and it just helped a lot.”

Favorite thing about Deer Valley: “My favorite part about skiing at Deer Valley was hanging out with all of my friends and their moms. The runs were really groomed. Yeah, it was awesome.”

Favorite lunch: “Cheeseburger and a chocolate chip cookie”

Sara
Favorite part of the lesson: “I liked learning how to ski the trees. She took us on more inclines and more steep hills, too. She helped us learn how to balance and keep more on our turns by bouncing and staying on one foot and on the balls of our feet with our knees and shoulders past our toes.

Favorite thing about Deer Valley: “The thing about Deer Valley is that the runs are really groomed and it just makes it a lot easier.”

Favorite lunch: “Grilled cheese and a chocolate croissant.”

Ali
Favorite part of the lesson: “My favorite thing was going through the trees like when we went into Bucky’s Front Yard and the other trails. That was the most challenging part of it. She taught us to stay far apart from everybody and that we can’t go close to each other, and for everybody to go at their own speed. And she told me to not lean back on my skis.”

Favorite part of Deer Valley: “I like the runs by Quincy Express chairlift the best. And riding the lift with my friends. And lunch. And it snowed!”

Favorite lunch: Turkey chili and carrot cake

Katie
Favorite part of the lesson: “The best thing I learned today was to balance on your skis more. The instructor first had us pick up our outside leg and then she had us stop and just pick up the other leg and then only have the tip of the ski on the ground and everything else up when we’re turning.”

Favorite part of Deer Valley: “They have a lot of area to ski and the bathrooms are super nice.”

Favorite lunch: “I got a special Ruben with cheese on it and chocolate chip cookie.”

Grace
Favorite part of the lesson: “I learned that you have to keep your body forward and that you have to ski aggressive!”

Favorite part of Deer Valley: “Probably going down Success ski run with my mom and the hills and how it’s so beautiful with beautiful trees in the mountains, and probably the food. I have so many things.”

Favorite lunch: I had the famous Turkey Chili with some bread and apple cider and a huge cookie. It was so good.”

For a list of kid’s trails, download the Kids Adventure Map here.

To sign up for Youth Ski School, visit here.

For a list of on-mountain dining options, visit here.

Heidi Larsen is the creator of foodiecrush.com, the blog and online magazine featuring family friendly recipes and inspiring photography. She also photographs Deer Valley Resort’s food and fine dining when not enjoying quality time on the ski hill with her husband and 10 year old daughter. See more of what she’s crushing on at Facebook and Instagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

skiing

 

on-hill

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

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

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

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

trees

 

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

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

Granddaughter’s Ski Lesson

The best ski lesson for your child or grandchild is one where you give them a kiss on the cheek and leave them to the instructor. The problem is you are just as excited about the lesson as they are! You want to be up close and personal to observe and take photos to memorialize the event.

That’s how my friends TJ and Lin felt when they set up a ski lessons for their granddaughter (and my little friend) Stella, age 3. The grandparents felt like it was important for the little one to have a positive experience right from the start. They called in Deer Valley ski instructor, Mark Shepard to teach her on her first day. Mark has a keen ability to really hone in on what a skier needs to make marked improvements. He helped TJ (a lifelong skier) make drastic improvements on the bumps and Stella’s Mom and Dad take on the blues. So why not make it three generations.

Mark was open to splitting a private lesson. The first hour, a private lesson just for little Stella and the rest of the morning went to their daughter and son-in-law (both beginner skiers.)  He started little Stella’s lesson in the lodge practicing “pizza and french fry” on aluminum pie pans (no skis yet – just with boots) until she got the concept down cold. The grandparents were quickly forgotten as Mark got right down to Stella’s eye level. Though TJ and Lin wanted to stick around, they knew better.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

They also had a secret weapon – a serious telephoto lens! TJ is a wildlife photographer — an expert at quietly watching from a long distance and snapping amazing photos. He put those skills to the test for Stella’s lesson.

Here is what he observed (while in stealth mode) from way over on the other side of the run:

Mark carrying little Stella to the hill.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Practicing now with skis on.

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

A typical three-year-old, Stella points out an airplane in the sky during the lesson. Mark simply lies on his back to enjoy the delight of the plane with her.

In about an hour, Stella is skiing!

Ski Lesson 3

Photo Credit: TJ Lenahan

The moral of the story is you can have the best of both worlds. Your child or grandchild can enjoy their lesson and you can have photos to remember the event. All you have to do is walk softly and carry a big telephoto lens.
For more information on ski lessons at Deer Valley Ski Resort, click here

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.

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!

I Love a Parade

… But I love the Torchlight Parade at Deer Valley, most of all.

Torchlight

It’s a known fact: It is flat-out impossible to be in a bad mood at Deer Valley Resort’s annual Torchlight Parade. This pre-New Year tradition involves a veritable river of complimentary cocoa, Deer Valley’s signature cookies, and an overwhelmingly fun sense of community. Mascots! Seafood Buffet staff taking in the view from the dining room windows! Chefs slipping out of the heat of the kitchen in their short-sleeves! And, of course, guests enjoying the company of family, friends and strangers. (As always, there are no strangers at Deer Valley, just fellow skiers, and lovers of all things DV.) The Deer Valley Synchonized Ski Team is, for lack of a better word, electrifying.

Seafood Buffet

Lesser-known fact: If your children are, on ordinary days, embarrassed by your public singing and dancing (And, really, in my case, who can blame them?), such tom-foolery is expected, if not encouraged, at the parade. So, cloaked in the magic of the festivities, I sang and danced with impunity. Then, the magic began—the Synchronized Ski Team, draped in LED lights, skied in formation down Big Stick to Wide West ski run. At one point, their giant S-turns created the illusion of skiing in circles.Big Stick

I loved watching my kids enjoy the show in their own ways—Lance simply sitting and watching (I could tell he was excited to be there because he couldn’t actually sit on the patio chair. I started to scold him for having his feet on the seat, and then stopped myself. He kept sort of popping up to get a better view, then squatting back down.) Seth’s not-so-hidden talent (which comes out a lot at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings, actually), is an innate gift for hip hop dancing. (He does not get it from me; but he has two grandmothers who are terrific dancers, so it’s something of a recessive gene, perhaps.) He demonstrated this skill on the patio wall while singing along with the music, keeping his eyes glued on the parade.

Seth

As the synchro team created its magic, I got swept up in the beauty of it all. Honestly, with all the hype and excitement around me, I didn’t expect to find myself feeling contemplative—but I did. There was something about this night that felt like a gift. I saw before me all the magic of skiing in a new light—appreciating the beauty, the grace, the fun, and the hope that skiing brings along for the ride. Hope that the next run will be better than the last, that more snow will fall overnight, that we can continue to share this sport with the people we love. I’m not much of a resolution-maker, but I sure enjoyed pinning my hopes for a wonderful season on the performance we enjoyed at the parade. I’d love to see your “Skiing New Year Hopes” in the comments. Until then, Happy New Year!

Wide West

Learning to Ski at 65: Day One Season Two

There is a reason the words “older” and “wiser” often go together. Not all of us gain wisdom as we age but I have to say my husband, Jay did. He is very wise when it comes to learning to ski. This is his second ski season after turning 65 and the first day of the season, he did something very smart and signed up for a ski lesson.

Learning to ski Photo

Last season was essentially, his first time on skis and he ended up really enjoying skiing green runs with confidence.  With eight months off between seasons, he decided to start this year with a lesson from a Deer Valley ski instructor. What he didn’t want to do was make the classic skier mistake, have a family member (like me) or a friend convince him to go down a run he has no business on.  Who needs to be frustrated?

It’s not like friends and family don’t mean well. It’s just that we forget what it’s like to be a beginner. I block it from my conscious memory! Seriously, when you look at a relatively narrow run with a few steep spots, it seems fine to you since you know how to do a parallel turn.  That same run looks very different to someone without the skills to do it. It’s like taking me to a chute. As an intermediate, I don’t have the skills of an advanced skier so runs looks impossible to me while may look fun to you.

Leanring to Ski Photo 2

Friends and family aren’t good teachers either. There is a big difference between doing and teaching. Ski instructors, just like classroom teachers, are people who are passionate about helping other people learn. It’s not for everyone. I remember teaching my oldest son to read when he was five years old. It was excruciating for me read the phonetic spelling. I spent many a night sounding out every word like:

ka — ah– ttt  —  Cat

It took an hour to read a paragraph. Thank goodness his younger brother was listening and I never had to do those remedial phonics lessons with him. I’d never have made it as a first grade teacher.

Most of us would never make it as ski instructors either, but instructors like Mark Schindler have a passion for teaching. With a refresher course on the basics: turning, how to control your speed, shifting your weight and getting on and off the lift, they practiced all morning.  Jay felt completely comfortable.

Learning to ski Photo 3 Mark ended the lesson with some words of wisdom:

Go at your own pace.
Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you don’t feel comfortable doing.
Have a good experience.
Most of all have fun.

Fun, he had. The next day, Jay went all over the mountain with his friend, Harry. They started with five runs on Ontario, and then ventured to a green run Jay had never tried – Bandana. They did a couple of runs and ended with Success — taking the whole run and not the easier Rosebud cut off at the end.  Jay had a fantastic start to his season since he made a very wise decision to take a Max-4 lesson at Deer Valley his first morning out.

For more information on ski lessons at Deer Valley, click here.

Learning to Ski at 65 – Call in the Professionals

photo (31)While I certainly don’t agree with it, I can understand why many people wouldn’t venture to learn to ski after age 65. The older you get, the more you realize that life (and your body) is fragile.  It doesn’t help that everyone loves to tell skiing horror stories, either.  You might ski a hundred times and have an amazing day after day but do you share those stories? Of course not.

Everyone tells the story of their most dramatic day that either involved extreme fear, pain or a combination of both. For example, my brother told me the story of when he skied in college as a novice with his buddies in California, his friends took him in the trees instead of staying on groomed runs. He fell flat on his face with his skis sticking straight down and he couldn’t get back up! His toe nails turned black and eventually fell off since his boots were too tight.  Unfortunately, this happened to be my first introduction to skiing, and I was left with a less than favorable impression.

Another favorite storytelling subject is “falling” which involves ledges, trees and collisions with other skiers.  Then there is the story of a friendship ending day when someone is taken to a black diamond mogul run, chute or bowl that is way too advanced for them.  The friend ditches them and leaves them to somehow slide or trek down alone, scared and angry.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?  Doesn’t really make you want to grab your gear and head to the lift.   Why would you put yourself through this at 65? Well if you read this previous blog, you’d know why my husband is doing it. He wants to ski next season with our three year old granddaughter. He also wants to do it right so he can enjoy himself and minimize his chances of injury. At 65, he also certainly can’t afford to waste time learning things the wrong way and then having to relearn them.  He wants to do it right.

We called in the professionals.  We booked a couple one-on-one private lessons with one of Deer Valley’s professional ski instructors.  Since Mary Lou Mignot helped me bump up to a solid intermediate skier at the Women’s Ski Clinic Weekend, we asked for her to put together a Beginner Boot Camp for Jay.

It worked!

photo (30)Mary Lou got Jay from surface lifts on Wide West to the Carpenter Express chairlift in a matter of a few hours but more than that, he got a solid foundation in balance and control that will stick with him forever.  The lesson began with helping Jay get a feel for the skis and enjoying the slide. He then learned to take the wedge to more of a parallel turn and control his speed.

By the second lesson, he was very comfortable on the lifts and enjoying runs following Mary Lou’s ‘S’ shaped turns and having her follow him observing and providing tips to improve. He even kept his cool when some pint sized skiers went flying out of the trees within a couple feet of him. They didn’t faze him one bit and he passed his first test for skiing with grandchildren.

There were no dramatic stories of run-ins with trees, crashes, or cliffs.  He did catch the bug, however. You may know it well.  It’s the bug that changes your whole perspective on life;  the one that makes you excited when it snows on April 1st,  where you count the number of ski days left in the season and you no longer talk of events in years but in terms of “ski seasons”.  You know what I am talking about.

photo (32)It makes all the difference in the world to start your ski experience off well. Especially as you get older, you don’t take anything for granted … especially a ski season at Deer Valley.