Celebrity Ski Fest

Whoever wins the actual ski race during Celebrity Ski Fest is, of course, the title holder. And it’s pretty easy to argue that the real winner of the day is the Waterkeepers Alliance, which works to protect waterways across the country.

But I decided there were a few award-winners that may have been overlooked.

Cutest Hat Wearers:


Meet Hannah, 1

Her sister Elise, age 3

These Los Angeles natives were enjoying lunch in the VIP tent in extremely cute (and warm looking) winter hats. Hannah’s Paul Frank Monkey, and Sophie’s Oscar the Grouch brought a smile to everyone who met the girls—including my friends Josh, Debbie and me.

But a cute hat is only as cute as the child wearing it—and these girls are title holders.

“Hannah’s not skiing,” said her mom, Maureen. “She hasn’t quite mastered walking.” Which, of course, struck my ear as a total non-sequitor. Don’t you teach your kids to walk by skiing? I’m kidding, Maureen! No one recommends rushing the process.

Favorite Long-Lost College Friend

Neal, whom I love to torture with the fact of how awesome my life in Utah is—we reconnected at SkiFest last year (he’s a TV executive in New York…his life ain’t too shabby, for the record).

Favorite fly-by skier.

Neal introduced me to a NY friend, Scott, who owns a second home in Deer Valley, and who uses business trips to LA as a vehicle for more skiing. He rattled off his  typical one-nighter ski trip schedule thusly: “I land here after my meetings and I’m at No Name Saloon by 9pm, on the first chair at 9am, and back at the airport at 7pm to fly home.”  Way to be dedicated to the Pow!

 

While at Ski Fest, I had the chance to chat with actor Scott Wolf (he and I have met a number of times, usually in the context of his work as a Hollywood actor, and my work as an entertainment journalist), but we never talk shop for long. Our bond is over the fact that we’re Park City locals—and parents.

On this day, though, Scott told me how lucky he felt to be able to participate in a fun event for a great cause in his backyard. “Everyone else here had to fly in from all over to be here,” he said. “But I didn’t drive more than 10 minutes.” Still, as he spoke to me about why he supports Waterkeepers, I got the distinct impression he would have traveled to be here, both for the fun of the competition and to support the work of Waterkeepers Alliance, which was founded by Robert Kennedy, Jr. to TK.

I ran into a bit of a buzz saw in Dylan [Bruno] on race day, but being out here to support Waterkeepers is something I’m always proud to be a part of,” he said. “And I have a son, so the importance of our water and our air and our food is completely heightened for me.”—I got the distinct impression that he certainly would have traveled to be here.

Quickly, the chatter turned to whether his young son will ski this season.

“He’s just now 2 ½, and he’s already so strong, that he’s already hucking front flips off our couch! I think he’ll love it ,,” said the proud papa. “His legs are super-strong, he’s got these stocky little legs like his dad, so yeah, he’ll get on this year, but I’ll just follow our friends’ advice and do warm days and short bouts.”

I shared the virtue of the SunKid conveyor lifts on Wide West, of course—and my secret weapon: Swedish fish. “My kid will, like, speak Portugese for a Swedish fish,” said Scott. “So skiing should be easy!”

We’ll check back with you, Scott!

Skied out?

Who’d have thought it possible, but I skied the season into submission a full month before the last chair stopped at Deer Valley.

The first sign was when my binding broke on my much-loved Atomic racing skis. Fortunately, it happened on the day I was playing around on Wide West with Little Guy and Florida Keys Girl—who was using Wide West as the ersatz waiting room for her knee surgery scheduled for the following month. I showed her how to use the terrain features to create skill drills for herself, and Little Guy entertained us both by imploring us to take “one more run on Devils Backbone!”

It was one of those magical mornings. Mel, Ski Dad, Big Guy and Florida Keys Guy took laps on Solid Muldoon, and Jamie, my new favorite lift attendant, kept telling Little Guy to have fun skiing with his “big sister.” I maintain an overinflated sense of my own youth, and Jamie was definitely aiding and abetting.

Anyway, we played around on the magic carpet, in Candy Land, in the Race Course, and yes, Devil’s Backbone, until Ski Dad and Big Guy appeared at the bottom of the run, hoping to join us. Granted, there was clearly a bit of kerfuffle going on regarding neck gaiters and fogging goggles, but it seemed on its way to resolution. I skied down to them, noting that my left knee was feeling pretty sore, and that the mellow day had been a smart move all the way around. Little did I know, it was probably my saving grace.

At this point, father and son had clicked out of their skis for a moment—and Little Guy, not wanting to feel the odd-man-out ,followed suit. This precipitated me having to click out of mine in order to kneel down and refit Little Guy into his bindings. And I won’t lie, I definitely got exasperated out loud at the unnecessary hang-up. (Little Guy, of course, takes a lot of pride in his mastery of the mechanics of the equipment, but I was in no mood to appreciate it.) As it turns out, I would be digging into some humble pie that afternoon—Little Guy did me a favor. For as I went to click back into my skis, I noticed the heel cup of one binding was twisted at an alarming angle. Ski Dad picked it up to inspect, making some taps and bumps against it with the heel of his gloved hand, only to dislodge (to all of our horror) some pieces of the binding.

I’ll never know what would have happened if I’d been cruising Solid Muldoon at speed—but I can’t imagine anything good.

Dutifully, I trekked into Jans, where the bindings were pronounced dead—and irreplaceable. A bummer—but I’d been ready to demo new skis anyway, so no harm, no foul.

And I would have begun the demo process the following weekend, except that I made the sorry mistake of mentioning the wonky knee to my doctor at a routine checkup. And she benched me.

So, I’m rehabbing the knee—trying to avoid surgery—and daydreaming about the adventures to come next season. In no particular order, here are the things I’d been saving up for the end of the season, which, for one reason or another, will have to wait until next winter.

1. More St. Germain Cocktails
2. A visit to Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge
3. Enrolling in a Mahre Ski Camp
4. Demos of new skis to get myself out of racing skis and into all-mountain models that will float on powder, carve in the groomers, and handle everything in-between.
5. Attending Ski Schule at Sunset Cabin, the Friday afternoon service led by Rabbi Josh Aaronson of Temple Har Shalom.

Still, I am excited for summer—concerts at the Snow Park Amphitheater figure prominently in my plans, as do hiking, and perhaps even becoming an emboldened Mountain Biker on the lush green slopes of Deer Valley. And, yes, long, sun-soaked lunches on the deck at Royal Street Café. The wait for another St. Germain Cocktail may not be that long, after all.

Vacation Dining

I can’t help it—when my friends are on vacation at Deer Valley, so am I. And thus, all reason eluded me when approaching the menu at Mariposa when our friends were in town.

You know you’re in caloric trouble when the amuse is a strawberry served in what can only be described as balsamic deliciousness. It was as rich as duck fat, without the caloric guilt. And that was, perhaps, the last nod we made toward caloric guilt.

Knowing full well none of us had room for three courses, we ordered them anyway.

Ski Dad has declared that Burrata (that wonderful, creamy-centered handmade mozzarella) at the Mariposa is the best he’s tasted. So, of course, we had some.
A bowl of the special soup didn’t disappoint, either. Nor did my Ahi appetizer. Or Ski Dad’s Ravignocchi.

As I pondered the entrees, I mentioned that the Seared Bison Tenderloin looked tasty. A remark was made that it was a low-fat, and thus sensible choice. “Yes, but the same thing cannot be said for the foie gras that comes on top…” We roared with laughter. Clearly, the caloric guilt had been embraced.

Overheard at our booth toward meal’s end? “I think I might move to the next booth to take a nap.” AND: “Yes, I’d love the rest of my veal wrapped to go—I think I’ll have it for breakfast.” The group determined that since it’s technically a Deer Valley Breakfast, and this is vacation, veal leftovers would be allowed at the morning meal.

The Spin

A few weeks ago, we had a series of storms that dumped epic powder. And my dear friends Florida Keys Girl and Florida Keys Guy were in town. Florida Keys Guy and I make excellent ski buddies. We once managed to pound out 22 runs before lunch. Of course, we had lunch at 2:30, but we still count it among our most impressive ski days ever.

This conversation came up as we were riding a lift into questionable visibility and heavy crosswinds. “Some days, days like this, I am ok with taking one run and calling it good,” I ventured, testing his mettle. I didn’t say that I only do that on days I’m skiing solo. I desperately wanted to make the most of the fresh stuff with my pal.”So…”

“No,” said Florida Keys Guy. “Remember, I have to fit all of my skiing for the year into five days, so it’s game on.” That was the very sentiment that made me return to New York after my first (and only) Park City vacation for just long enough to pack up and make a life-altering U-Turn back here.

Big Guy was on the hill with us that day. You’ll see here, it was one of those days we left not a single spec of skin uncovered.

I was sporting my Nan[ook] of the North look, to be sure.

Big Guy took a big spill on the bottom of Blue Bell—the powder and crud and bumps were deep enough to overwhelm his slight four-foot-tall, 45 lb frame. So he and I cut the morning short, and left Florida Keys Guy to slam in a few more runs before we were to meet Florida Keys Girl for lunch.

Florida Keys girl had out-skied her bum knee, and sensing Big Guy’s desire to quit for the day, and knowing Florida Keys Guy and I would happily slam out more runs, she declared that she and Big Guy would find a quiet corner of the lodge and some cookies and enjoy the afternoon from the warm, dry confines of Snow Park’s upstairs lounge.

After lunch, Florida Keys Guy and I headed for the lift, and we were even more stunned by the wind and mediocre visibility.

“This is great,” I said, as we prepared for another lap on our favorite lower-mountain circuit (Solid Muldoon to Dew Drop to Little Kate). “Fresh snow and one of my favorite ski buddies!”

“You really have a positive attitude about everything, don’t you?” he said, as if he had not known me for twenty years, and thus known this about me for 19 years and 364 days. “Your own son doesn’t want to ski in this, and you think it’s awesome…”

Well, yeah.
I do.

Toasting Season’s End

On my last ski day of the season, I raised a glass (shocking, I know) with dear friends and Ski Dad (we’d spent the morning showing off our dueling mad-skill-sets for the first time since we had completed our respective three-day clincs), feeling quite satisfied. Not only because I’d tackled endless crazy terrain all morning with my favorite people, but because, whee!, I’d discovered a new favorite libation at Royal Street Café. I’d like to think that every patron who sits down at RSC at 11:30 gets the same question from the servers: “Would you like to put in a cocktail order now, so that it’s ready for you at noon when we can serve it,” but I suspect that Rebecca, our fabulous server that day, has been reading my blog entries.

I, of course, insisted that my friends have the Blueberry Mojito, but determined that I was under professional obligation (to you, dear reader) to test a new beverage—The RSC St. Germain Elderflower Cocktail. It is the winner of  the 2010 Park Cit Cocktail Contest and it’s a winner in my book, too.

The very prospect of a new drink prompted me to look at the menu in a new light, and indeed order something new—the RSC Fish and Chips. Made with Steelhead Trout, the team at RSC takes this pub standard to a new level.

Our server, Rebecca, (did I mention that she’s awesome?) insisted that we have dessert—and so, the mini ice cream sandwiches were ordered, and devoured.
As I licked the last of the decadent fudge dipping sauce off my spoon, I worried that I might have après lunch legs awaiting me for the afternoon. Turns out, that St. Germain cocktail offered a certain salvo for that particular ailment. I was, it turned out, refreshed and recharged.

We found some lovely powder (yep, there was still fresh stuff) and more than one “Woo hoo,” was heard from our crew.

Vacation Cooking for Locals (and others)

Sometimes, I feel like my life couldn’t feel any more like I’m on the most excellent working vacation ever. And then I find a way to enhance that feeling. To wit: On a recent day, I had to go to the mountain to fetch my broken-beyond-repair skis from Jans—and spend a few minutes researching the skis I should demo for my next purchase. I had Little Guy with me, which is code for: The conversation sounded absurd. “So, if I want an all-mountain ski—HEY LITTLE GUY, LEAVE THAT DISPLAY ALONE PLEASE—but something that will float nicely in powder, what do you think—GET OUT FROM INSIDE THAT HANGER ROUND.” Yeah, ever-so-productive and not at all frustrating, right?

Naturally, I aborted the mission and we headed back toward town and the rest of our errands. Only, I had one more stop to make—Deer Valley Plaza. Because I realized that it was closing in on dinner time, and I had many other errands to run. Sigh. So, I did what any self-respecting vacationing Mom would do. I stopped at the new Deer Valley Grocery and Deli (for old-timers, its in the space formerly occupied by the Stew Pot) to see what I could score in the way of take-out. And score I did: My family would feast that evening on not one but two different types of ready-to-bake pot pies. Chicken and Potato Leek. And while the Chicken Pot Pie was the bigger hit, in true Deer Valley form, neither disappointed.

What a treat to be able to pick up something that was, frankly, better than homemade. (I’m only a mediocre cook, I can make great soups, but my family are not the biggest soup fans. It’s quite the conundrum.) The crust was perfect—buttery-flaky. And the fillings were seasoned flawlessly. And, I was a big culinary hero just for putting some frozen food in the oven. (And the crowd goes wild….)

I’m a great fan of loading the slow cooker in the morning for a worry-free après ski dinner, but this could be my new go-to plan. It certainly requires less forethought. And much less chopping.

Also, Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe will remain open when the resort closes! You can now enjoy a Deer Valley to-go dinner all year!

“Spring” Skiing

These last few days have been a lot of fun. A mix of sun and snow that has made taking photos a pleasure. A few extra laps with the camera at work over the last couple of days has given up some amazing photo opportunities.
Here’s some photos fromthe recent 2 days. Smiles all around here!


Spring Skiing Tips

As the weather starts to change and create spring skiing conditions, I thought I would throw out some spring skiing tips.

First and foremost, make sure you have plenty of sun block. I learned the hard way! When skiing at high altitudes, the sun is more intense especially when reflecting off the snow. It’s best to start skiing as early as possible before the sun is at its peak.
Absolutely sunglasses or goggles are just as important as the sun block. The spring sun and snow are more intense on your eyes.

Another perk to starting your day earlier is Corn Snow! As the temperatures become warmer the snow gets very soft and this can be difficult and tiring to ski. Corn Snow is what we call the conditions before the snow gets to a mashed potatoes type consistency. Corn Snow is almost as good as a powder day!

It’s not a bad idea to wax your skis too. Spring snow can be dirty and your skis will not glide as well as they should which makes unnecessary work for you. Be aware of your energy level on those warm bluebird days. Skiers tend to become tired quicker in the due to varying snow conditions.

As always, the cure to tired legs is a hot tub during après ski to get ready for the next day of sunshine!

We’ve had a few bluebird days so far, but with plenty of snow left and 7” last night, you may have a great sunny day with corn snow and the next day be out enjoying the powder again!!!

See you on the slopes.

28″ Storm- Photo Recap

What a great storm! I didn’t have many photo opportunities as we were really busy out on the mountain all weekend, but here are 3 of my favorites from the past couple days.

This is what the grooming looked like on Sunday afternoon… after 20+ inches of snow and a lot of skier traffic.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The top of Carpenter Express Chairlift on President’s Day

Monday, February 21, 2011

The first sunny view of Daly Ridgeline and Claytons Peak in the background on President’s day. It was simply stunning.

Monday, February 21, 2011