No Regrets

As Spring Break approached last week, I started to wonder if we should have planned a trip–an exotic getaway or quick Moab weekend. Then, I remembered:

One great advantage of living in Park City is the Spring Break Staycation. The chance to hang around town with few obligations. The chance to try a couple of Spring Break Camps.

By mid-week, there was the promise of snow. Today, the ski report delivered. My kids lounged around the house until 9:30 this morning, until I cajoled them into ski boots. They were dubious: the rainy weather at our house didn’t look promising. The payoff for their minor “risk” was quick: just as we turned into Deer Valley Drive, the rain turned to snow…snow-globe-worthy flakes.

In minutes, we were making fresh tracks (really! At 10am!) and my guys volunteered  that they had two regrets:

Seth: “It’s too bad Dad had to work, he would have had fun!”

Lance: “I’m sorry I gave you a hard time about skiing, Mom. That wasn’t nice & this is really fun!”

As for me? No regrets!
How about you?

Check out Deer Valley’s webcams.

Playdate on the Snow

There are things my friends who don’t live in Utah will never understand. Like how some parents willingly sign waivers for their children to learn to ski jump. Maybe you caught the viral video of a local fourth-grader who overcame her fears to conquer the K40 jump at Utah Olympic Park. She’s the daughter of a friend of mine, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with her courage. Fact is, she did it as part of a program that is designed for kids to try all the sports that the amazing facilities in Park City have to offer.

And, quite frankly, maybe the fact that these kids have resorts like Deer Valley to use as a playground is part of what puts them in the mindset to try the harder stuff.

To wit: my kids have skied since they were preschoolers. The equipment is as familiar to them as their street clothes. And, in fact, they often schedule playdates that occur on the slopes.

On a recent Wednesday, my friend Heather and I rallied our four year-olds (who required zero convincing) for a playdate at Deer Valley. We lucked into a great strategy, taking each other’s child as our ski partner. They each listened much better to the other parent when it came to pointers about technique.

And these three-foot wonders took on every obstacle Wide West had to offer, plus Success and then…the bottom of Little Kate.

If you read my Birthday post, you’ll recall that Seth was eager to tackle Little Kate that day. “Let’s do it!” He’d said to me.

I’d held back—not because he didn’t have the chops for a blue, but because I worried that another skier, crossing Rosebud from the top of Little Kate, might not see him making his turns.

Intellectually, I knew that he’d be even more excited to do it when I finally acquiesced. But emotionally, I felt badly for holding him back in that moment.

Of course, my fears were unbidden. We stuck to skier’s left, and the kids took the trail with aplomb. I’m not ready to sign off on the ski jumps, yet, but if he asks me in a few years, I may just have to say yes.

Leap Year Birthday Boy

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

Name: Jack Rubenstein, parents: Robert and Katia Rubenstein

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

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

Years skiing: 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you like bumps or groomers?
Bumps

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

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

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

Birthday Ski Day

I have a long-held birthday tradition of skiing the day away. Last year, I spent it with my new, wonderful friends who were my partners in crime at the Women’s Weekend ski clinic at Deer Valley.

This year, it fell on a Monday, and I was determined to play hooky from work and go ski. I put out a note on Facebook and a few text messages, and found some willing friends. Then, a voice piped up from the next room: “Mommy, I’ll go skiing with you, today!” I quickly recanted my nascent plans with friends to capitalize on some quality mommy-son time. Oh, I was so glad I did.

I was thrilled to see how quickly he sprung into action, assembling his gear, hunting high and low for Swedish Fish (priorities!) and buckling his own boots! [Seth Boots]

He insisted on being slope-ready before getting in the car. So, yes, dear reader, he rode to the mountain wearing his helmet and goggles. He was delighted by the tram-ride from the parking lot, and excited to introduce me to everyone he encountered. “This is Mommy!” he said, proudly. “It’s her birthday!”

Then, he launched into Cruise Director mode (wonder where he gets that from?), instructing me on the itinerary for the day. “Mama, we are gonna do Excess (oh, how I don’t ever want him to outgrow that particular nickname for Success run!) and then we are gonna ski to Candyland and then two runs on Wide West, one with the Race Course and then we can stop for lunch.”

Aye, aye captain. He delighted in leading me down the hill, creating hide-and-seek games that centered on hiding behind the “Slow” signs that Ski Patrol posts on the green runs. We talked lots about pizza and French fry turns—so much so that we ate pizza and fries for lunch in Snow Park Restaurant. Then he led the surrounding tables in serenading me with Happy Birthday. And then, it was back to the hill.

This time, he insisted we ski Last Chance—and he crushed it. He made up Jedi Force Field games to play all the way down (he’s a diehard Star Wars fan) and then, after we did the first part of Rosebud,  tried to convince me he could ski the bottom of Little Kate. Now, dear reader, there is nothing cooler than seeing your kid eyeball a ski run, contemplate it for a moment and look over his shoulder at you to say, “Let’s do it!” But Nervous Mommy won that battle. I know he could have skied it, but I worried about the fact that people would not expect a four year old making slow, deliberate turns as they whizzed down the run. “Next time!” I assured him. Of course, as we finished Rosebud, he spied some bigger kids taking a shortcut, and followed suit, arms raised, letting out a WHOOOOOOOOOO as he bombed down the hill. He then cut over to Wide West, did a few more CandyLand turns and discovered, at the bottom of the SunKid Conveyor Lift, a couch made of snow. He could not resist that, either.

When the day was done, he played at the bottom of Wide West, running around in his ski boots, using my poles to “hike” and “shovel,” and generally soaking up (in equal parts) sunshine and attention. As we arrived at the Tram stop turnaround under Snow Park, we were greeted by his favorite ski teacher, Greg, who had spent a well-earned day off skiing with a friend. Seth insisted they ride the tram with us (their car was parked in a walkable spot, but they couldn’t refuse)…and he boasted to them about all the runs he took me on. When I mentioned the Little Kate debate, Greg nodded, grinned and said, “Bari Nan, he’s ready.” Ok, but am I?

If you live in Utah, you should be Skiing!

Did you know January is National Learn to Ski & Snowboard month? Do you know what this means? A lot of good deals! There are 32 states that participate across the country in this program. Here at Deer Valley, from January 17-31 we are offering a Learn to ski package: 25% off lodging, adult rentals and two Max 4 lessons. Why not come visit Utah during this time and take advantage of the great deals offered during learn to ski month. On January 28 we are also offering a day for Utah locals. If you’re a never ever or spent some time away from the sport, come visit Deer Valley. For $39, the program includes a ticket, rental equipment and a lesson! Reservations can be made by calling 888-754-8477 or 435-645-6648 and mention “Ski Utah Learn to Ski Program.”

I think this is such a great program for the sport of skiing. Do you realize we live in a state with the best skiing terrain and The Greatest Snow on Earth ® and ONLY 20-25% of Utahans ski? Come up to the mountains and get into the clean, fresh air. Take advantage of these programs and you’ll be hooked. It’s always a good idea to take a lesson especially if you’re a never ever skier instead of adventuring out with a friend. You’ll be taken care of, reassured and protected. It’s normal to be a bit fearful but you’ll be in good company with our professional instructors. (Take a look at Katie’s progress here). If you’re not skiing you’re missing the best part of living here in Utah. I can understand its cold or looks extreme but remember the technology of ski clothing is so more sophisticated and the pictures/videos you see in ads and movies aren’t where the Instructors will take you, I promise.

If you’re a social person grab some friends and take a group lesson. If you’re shy, take a private lesson with no pressure from other skiers. I suggest picking a nice day to be introduced/re-introduce to the sport. Reward yourself! Take a few runs, grab a cookie and rest. Make it fun. Start slow and build your confidence. Taking advantage of these programs will allow you to enjoy your day instead of feeling you must stay outside all day to get your “money’s worth.”

Baby steps before big steps. Athletic stance and a fun attitude is all you need to start. Have fun and see you on the slopes.

 

Wide West Mania!

I’ve said it before—skiing gets the grumpies out.

There is no question we headed out to the mountain in snippy moods.

In spite of the promise of my shiny new boots, I was a little grumpy myself—for no apparent reason.

We took so long to get out of the house (add that to the reasons we were grumpy), that by the time we got to the mountain, it was lunch time. Baked Potato soup did a great job setting me straight, let me tell you!

Soon, I was back in Jans getting my boots fitted to my ski bindings. Boot Dude would not let me slide into the boots without parking them on the boot heaters for 5 minutes. Then, a quick review lesson in how to put them on. Apparently peeling them open from the collar, stuffing in the foot and then stomping down, hard, is NOT the preferred method. Nope…one should pull apart the leaves of the boot at the ankle, and the foot will slip into place, no problem. Yes, a quick kick-down on the heel is permitted. I’m now ruined forever for cold boots. I’m even considering splurging on a heated boot bag. Hear me out—Boot Dude said you can toss in boots, helmet and gloves, plug it in and it will dry and warm the whole lot. You can even plug it into the AC adapter in the car. Which is perfect for my ski days without the family—I really, truly prefer to boot up at the car, for reasons I can’t even explain.

Let me just say, the boots did not disappoint. The purple color made me smile (and ski better, I’m sure of it.) And the ski day, overall, was a huge success. Sunshine and sweet smiles of accomplishment from my kids go a long way to erasing a foul mood.

We tried out every obstacle on the hill—from the race course to Candyland, to a bumps area and even the new SunKid conveyor lifts. What a hoot! Plus, as the day wound to its end, Bucky made a surprise appearance. Apparently, he’s camera shy, so I couldn’t grab a photo at the top of the flower-pinwheel racecourse he and his pals had set up. My kids were thrilled to earn a prize just for agreeing to run the whirling “gates”—bubbles!

And the day ended in smiles!

 

Upping the Ante on Bribes

By now, dear reader, you know that I am never on the mountain without a stash of bribery candy in my pockets. So I’m thrilled to report that Deer Valley has given me some new ammo in this department. Quincy’s–a kids’ self-service frozen yogurt bar, complete with exciting (and classic!) toppings like gummy bears and crushed Oreo cookies, is located in the Next Gen boutique across the hall from the lower level locker room and bag check.  

I had hinted to my kids of its existence on a recent ski day—and as soon as we finished our runs, my kids asked, “Did we earn some frozen yogurt?” They loved choosing their flavors and toppings—Don’t tell our orthodontist, but even Big Guy, who had acquired braces earlier in the week, partook of the sweets. He’s a chocoholic, so the fudge sauce suited him just fine. “Mom, don’t worry,” he assured me, as I broke the news to him that gummy and crunchy toppings were not on his menu. “Fudge sauce definitely counts as a topping in my book.” Yes, Dr. Maxfield, we brushed copiously upon our return home!

The yogurt café sits behind a knee wall within NextGen. Naturally, I took the opportunity to browse for items in my size—petite types get away with shopping in the kids’ store and, yes, in the kids’ sizes, too. I was impressed with the variety of style and price points. Meanwhile, our style-conscious Little Guy took the opportunity to peruse the merchandise from his yogurt-eating perch.

“Look!” he demanded. “Look. At. That. JACKET! It’s super-cool. I want it.”

Ski Dad and I had to admit, it was super-cool. Brown pleather bomber jacket with tons of Top Gun-style patches and a faux-fur lining. I could almost hear Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards shouting, “I feel the need, the need…for…SPEED!” Which could not be more appropriate for the type of “bombing” down the hill that Little Guy had displayed just half an hour earlier. Quickly, he lost interest in his yogurt and demanded that he be allowed to try it on.

As he put the jacket on, he assumed a “tough guy” stance and a grin as big as they get.

Needless to say, Hanukkah came a few days early.

Opening Weekend

Most people took advantage of the bluebird (and frigid) day on Dec 3 to celebrate opening weekend at Deer Valley. My family waited for the storm.

My chat with a friend at Celebrity Ski Fest the day before, about skiing with kids on warm, sunny days is best, was ringing in my ears. So, too, was a chat with Ski Uncle, on the phone an hour earlier. “I like that you take them out in all kinds of weather—it makes them tough!”

Really, they’re both right. For the very littlest skiers, sunny, warm days are best. It takes the sting out of standing around/falling around on the snow if the sun is shining. However, on a colder day, you, the parent, don’t overheat as easily from all of the bending, lifting and overall schlepping activity that comes along for the ride. Also, if you’re sticking to the bunny hill, visibility isn’t an issue on a stormy day—and without fair-weather skiers on the hill, it’s simply less crowded. Which leads me to the best payoff of all…More fresh snow for those of us willing to “brave it.”

Sure, I wasn’t getting a lot of buy in from my Little Guy as we started layering up at home. But I made a strategically ostentatious stop in the pantry during gear-up. “What’s that??” My kids asked, as I extracted the Ziploc bag of leftover Halloween candy (really!) from the shelf. “Prizes! For the Rothchild Olympics! Who’s gonna win the race on Wide West?!” Suddenly, my too-jaded-for-the-bunny-hill Big Guy was clamoring, and my reluctant Little Guy (who, I suspected, couldn’t remember how much he loved flying down the hill the previous two years) was Ready To Ski.

Once we were booting up in Snow Park, we had a few other challenges to overcome. Ski Dad, for instance, had left his asthma inhaler at home—and miserably resigned himself to the role of Spectator in Chief. My heart broke a little—he looked crestfallen. Then, Little Guy recoiled (loudly, with dramatic screams) from the unfamiliar pain of putting on awkward, tight ski boots. Yes, I should have let him play with them at home. But I got lazy.

My friend Edo, one of Deer Valley’s experienced ski instructors, stopped by the table to offer some words of encouragement, and then whispered to me, “Usually we try four times and then we stop trying.” It turns out, the stopping is the key to success.

“Ok, you can just hang with Daddy, then,” I said, cheerfully. “More prizes for Lance!”

“No, I can put on my boots! I’m ready to ski.” Or eat candy. But who’s counting. It worked. And we were on the hill.

Not without incident. “I am terrible at skiing!!!” Wailed little guy, as he took off at the top of Wide West and promptly fell down. I definitely spend a minute or two cursing myself that we hadn’t taken the conveyor lifts for a warm-up spin. Everyone was just so excited about the chairlift ride, that I got carried away. “I am soooo bad at this!” He complained, as he fell again and again.

A few reminders about using “Superman” arms when skiing forward, and “Airplane” arms to make the turn, and he was off to conquer the race course. By run’s end, he was begging for more. He’d also made a friend in the lodge, and had a blast calling out to little Jack from the chairlift. “Go, Jack, Go!” shouted my boys.

Big Guy, of course, was a little bored on the bunny hill, but managed to be a good sport about the fact that we needed to keep it simple that day. Little Guy had skied so hard by lunch that a meltdown was nearly guaranteed if we left him with Dad in the lodge to go ski on the big hill. Not. Worth. It.

I followed my favorite “quit while I’m ahead” ski-parenting strategy , and home we went.  On the way home, candy prizes were distributed, and compliments were passed out.

“I liked your focus and determination on the hill, Seth!”

“Mom,” he said. “Falling is good learning!”

“Lance, your first run this year was better than your last run last year—because you grew, you’re stonger,” I said.

“Plus, mom, I rode my bike a lot and I think karate is helping me, too,” said Big Guy. “I’ve got much better balance.”

 

 

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!

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.