Deer Valley Celebrity SkiFest: My Favorite “White Carpet” Event

With the Sundance Film Festival in town, you’d think there’s only one “see and be scene” event in Park City. Well, Deer Valley faithful know that the best celebrity event of the season happens….on the mountain.

Sure, there are red carpets rolling out all over town. But Opening Day at Deer Valley—features a white carpet, for Celebrity SkiFest.

Of course, wardrobe concerns take center stage when you’re prepping for the White Carpet. And it’s as much about “who” you wear, as “what,” so I’ll give you the rundown.

 Base layers by Patagonia

Socks by Smartwool

Full-sole stick on foot warmers by Grabbers

Hand Warmers by Grabbers

Shiny black ski pants by Obermayer

Shiny gold cheetah-print ski jacket, fully vented, also by Obermayer

Shearling hat, by Uggs

Boots by Sorel (I made not turns that day—I was saving those for my family’s first ski day of the year, the following week.)

And yes, the event was chock-full of VIPs, including some of my favorite green-jacketed types. To wit, the always hilarious guys from the Ski Check at Empire. On the White Carpet, they’re the greeters, welcoming the guests to the VIP tent. Rick, Johnny and Hal are consummate hosts—if you’ve ever checked your skis before lunch at Empire, or visited the Rossignol Demo Center there, you know what I’m talking about. And, I got them to take their first “selfie” with me.

Empire Guys

Inside, I caught up with old and new friends. Like my friends and former Good Housekeeping colleagues, Sara and Courtney, and my pal Summer Sanders, who was covering the race for CBS Sports.

Rob Morrow was there with his family, including wife Debbon Ayer, and daughter Tu. You may remember Tu from a few years ago—she was a little kid with impeccable taste in ski pants. I know this because we were wearing the same pair of Marker ski pants in brown plaid. I was, thus, outed for my shopping in the kids’ department. Debbon greeted me with a warm hello, as well. Tu, charming and funny as always (and now, rather grown-up), remembered our moment, and I thanked her for letting me feel young, hip and awesome that day. She was decked out in a floral pant this year. “Let me take a photo?” I asked, “So I know what to look for when I shop for new pants!”

Tu Morrow Pants

The Morrow clan were also excellent sports about my uncontrollable urge to photobomb. After the evidence was recorded, Rob handed me his phone so I could text the photo to myself, and, in turn, share it with you, dear reader:

Photo bomb

“Remembah” Rachel Dratch From that Wicked Saturday Night Live sketch with Sully? Yup! She’s also the author of the hilarious, smart memoir, Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle. We shared some fun “New England” moments, and then she dished up her top three experiences on the racecourse: “One, I didn’t fall. Two, I only did one practice run, but the race went better than the practice run. And three? Lunch at the end of the race.”

Rachel Dratch

Turns out, Rachel is a Deer Valley regular. “I used to come out with a group of friends, every year, during the Sundance Film Festival, and it was our little girls’ weekend tradition to ski at Deer Valley.” That’s the trick: full hotels, empty slopes, and the best week of skiing all season. I couldn’t agree more.

Cheryl Hines

Funny, when I interviewed actress Virginia Madsen for SELF magazine, some time ago, she and I never talked about skiing—but it turns out that she didn’t learn until fairly recently. “I love being here,” she told me. “This is where I learned how to ski—about 13 years ago.”

Virginia was not exactly thrilled with losing her race, but she offered some good insights into what makes a successful race—and, really, a successful ski day.

“In these conditions, I was just off my game, there was a white-out up at the top, and it really takes a lot to ski in this light and this snow. The visibility took me down,” she said. “But the thing about skiing is it’s all mental. Women are thinkers, we multitask 24/7, but skiing is almost like meditating, like yoga. You have to get out of your head and stop thinking. It becomes very peaceful and zen-like. When we think we are going to fall, in life, we pull back. But, on the mountain, you go with gravity, like you are going to fly. From skiing, I learned to stop judging myself. “

As one would expect, when you interview Dr. Oz, you’re going to learn a thing or two.

Rule number one: Never ask anyone what their meditation mantra is. I know this, now, because when I asked Dr. Oz to share his, he and his smart, engaging wife, Lisa, were quick to say, “You’re not supposed to tell anyone your mantra—it’s private.” Somehow, they managed to not make me feel silly for having asked, in the first place.

He told me that he coached Cheryl Hines at the top of the racecourse. “I was giving Cheryl some tips on how to stay calm in the face of adversity,” he explained. “I gave her earphones to listen to so she could meditate to them. It took her a while to figure out there was no music, because they weren’t connected to anything. It broke the ice, anyway.”

Rule Number Two: Don’t pigeon-hole people. Just because he’s a world-class surgeon with a hot, daily talk show, and a new magazine, “Dr. Oz: The Good Life,” (hitting newsstands on Feb 4), doesn’t mean he couldn’t also have a career as a comedian.

Still, he seemed to be all business when he started telling me about his favorite eateries at Deer Valley—“I love it all–from fine dining at Stein Eriksen Lodge, to the great food you can find at the cafes all over the mountain—it’s all delicious.”

Dr. Oz had to cut our chat, short, since he was set to race again in a few minutes—but I caught up with him, and with Lisa, at a party that evening (at which neither of us were wearing ski boots!):

Dr. Oz Wife

 

My Favorite Things: Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley

Julie Andrews and Carrie Underwood may have enjoyed raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and brown paper packages tied up with string when they reflected on their favorite things. For me, though these don’t rhyme, I love the mountains, I am addicted to skiing, and am crazy about sushi. Since the combination can be found at Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley, this restaurant is officially one of my favorite things.

My husband Jay and I pulled up to the resort to the complimentary valet parking, walked through the lobby and we made our way to Yama Sushi. The restaurant is nestled along the windows over looking ski runs and the expansive deck with a roaring outdoor fire pit.

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I have to admit we started with a sesame wings appetizer with chili and peanuts because we just couldn’t resist them – we decided it isn’t a “first date” item to order.  Since we’ve been married for 19 years, we were safe!  We weren’t worried about getting any sauce on our chins.  Besides, we were kindly provided with a warm towel for quick clean up, so we started our sushi night in wing heaven.

Our server Brittany was full of good advice and since we love trying new things, we decided to try the local favorite “Wasatch Roll” with Montage Mountain Ale battered shrimp, spicy tuna, salmon, cucumber, avocado, chipotle aioli, and tobiko.  After trying, the lemony Yama Roll with spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, yuzu-shisito pepper “pesto” suzuki, lemon and micro shiso, my husband now has a new favorite roll!

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Since I am normally more of a wine lover than a sake aficionado, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try the sake flight.  As a sake novice, in the past I had only tried warm sake. To keep up with my quest to try something new every single week of my life, I decided to try three different cold sakes.   I won’t tell you which was my favorite. You’ll just have to check them out for yourself and maybe you’ll find that Yama Sushi becomes one of your favorite things, too.

A0002494with vignette

For a sample menu, click here.

More information on Yama Sushi, click here.

 

 

 

Ski Season Number Three

I measure time differently since moving to Park City and skiing at Deer Valley.  Like many parents, I used to measure time in terms of the ages of my children and events in their lives.  Reflecting back, my frame of reference usually went something like this,  “when Brian was eight” or “when we drove Saxon to college.”  Since moving to Park City and my children – now referred to as “adult children” – having graduated from college, established their careers and family lives, I have adopted a new way to measure time. I measure it by ski seasons.

Ski Area

When people ask me how long I’ve lived in Park City, I answer simply, “This is my third season.” Everyone knows what I am talking about – the beautiful winters here.  In my case, I also think about my progress in learning to ski.  Season #1 – the Hockey Stop was a big turning point for me.  Learning to stop on a dime gave me more confidence and allowed me to go on stepper runs.  Season #2 – the high point for me was the Women’s Weekend.  Three days in a row with the same instructor and group of women was a great way to improve my skiing. That weekend of fun and instruction landed me solidly as an intermediate skier – blue runs, baby!

Starting season #3 at Deer Valley, I noted that I am already skiing runs that I struggled with in the middle of last season.  On the mental game of skiing, I caught myself thinking, “You are doing pretty good, Nancy” and immediately gave myself a gut check.  I have found the moment I think I am doing well, something happens.  Maybe it’s because I stop paying attention and suddenly falter.  I was reminded over and over again that pride cometh before the fall during Season #2.

Snow on Tree by G~C

Fortunately, as a blogger, I can read about past seasons allowing me to savor my experiences and re-live the events right here.  But not everyone is a writer or keeps a journal.  It’s not hard to mark your seasons here in Park City or experiences on vacation at Deer Valley.

Here are four easy ways:

1.  Pinterest Boards.  You can make a Pinterest Board and name it based on your current season. I’ll call mine Season #3 Park City, Utah.  Use your own photos or search Deer Valley Resort, Ski Utah and Park City, Utah for lots of material. Pinterest2

2.  Facebook Albums and Timelines.  On Facebook, you can make a special photo album or simply post on your timeline and then come back and review.  My photo album on my personal Facebook Page, just says “Park City” so I need to split it up into seasons.

Facebook

3. Scrapbook or Photo Album.  Scrapbookers can make an album of their winter season and keep it on the coffee table to enjoy. Or make an electronic version for your family to enjoy wherever they live!

4. Instagram. Creating an Instagram is fast and easy. Create a profile for yourself and use hashtags to categorize your pictures. You can see in the picture below that Deer Valley Resort uses #SkiTheDifference. This is a great way to connect with other ski enthusiasts and see pictures from around the world.

InstaSS

Now with a plethora of social media, journaling, and photo sites, reflecting on your past seasons shouldn’t be challenging.  You just need to do it!

What was your favorite ski season and how are you going to remember this one?

 

 

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

FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Returns to Deer Valley



WC Crowd_1756The world’s best aerial and mogul skiers return to Utah this winter to compete in Deer Valley’s 2014 FIS Visa Freestyle International World Cup. Held January 8 – 11, 2014, the World Cup features two disciplines: moguls and aerials. This marks the 15th year of international and elite competitions hosted at Deer Valley, including the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, two World Championships and 12 World Cups making the resort an esteemed venue for the freestyle community.

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“We couldn’t be more excited to have the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup return to Deer Valley for another year,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager for Deer Valley Resort. “Champion and White Owl ski runs prove to be the perfect venue for these world-class skiers, as well as for the thousands of spectators that turn out for this favorite annual event.”

Expected to compete in the 2014 World Cup are two Deer Valley-sponsored athletes and ambassadors, Bryon and Brad Wilson. With longtime roots in Park City, this brotherly duo, both of whom are members of the US Freestyle Ski Team, have accomplished a lot in their short tenure as Ski Team athletes. Bryon won the bronze medal at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. and Brad has climbed his way up the World Cup rankings. Together, the two are looking forward to furthering their success on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort.

Eric Schramm Photography 2013

“It’s an honor to support the Wilson brothers on their path to World Cup and Olympic gold,” said Wheaton. “Bryon and Brad are extremely talented athletes and great ambassadors for freestyle skiing. It means a great deal that they have chosen to represent Deer Valley and consider us their home training mountain.”

The World Cup celebration will kick off with a free concert featuring Big Head Todd and the Monsters on lower Main Street in historic Park City on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, from 7 – 9 p.m., with a fireworks show immediately following.

_MG_8727All competitions will be held at night under the lights at Deer Valley. Men’s and women’s mogul events are scheduled on the Champion ski run on Thursday, January 9, and Saturday, January 11. Men’s and women’s aerial events will be held on the White Owl ski run on Friday, January 10. Finals for all disciplines will take place in the evening, with a fireworks display concluding each night. Each discipline will also be filmed and televised on NBC and NBC Sports Network airing Saturday, January 25, 2014.

 

All events during the 2014 World Cup are spectator-friendly and free to the public. A complete schedule of events can be found on the Deer Valley Website here.

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Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of the Deer Valley social media platforms. Use the hashtag #DeerValleyWC to share your videos, pictures and comments with other fans. Get excited about this years event by checking out the recap from last year here.

 

 

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.

Heidi Voelker’s First Run of the Season.


Congratulations to our friendly neighbors celebrating their 50th year ski season, Park City Mountain Resort. Opening day was a great success and snow conditions were great. The excitement of locals and kids could be felt in the lift lines and all over the mountain! It was a wonderful way to start the season and ring in their 50th year. Bravo.

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You would think the night before opening day in my house would be a bit like hanging your stockings up on the mantle waiting for St. Nick. Not so much this year. There were no ski boots, ski pants or gloves by the door. Partially my fault for not getting them out of the winter storage, but of course I thought I could quickly do it the next morning in no time.  I’ve only been doing this 40 plus years. I assumed I could whip it together.

What I didn’t anticipate was that I had to whip it together for four people with the kid’s continuous negativity. The morning routine was all but routine. It started first thing in the morning with sighs of,

“Are we skiing today?”

“I don’t want white goggles.”

“I‘m not wearing my new warm-ups, they are too big.”

“I don’t like my new coat.”

“We need hand warmers.”

By this point my blood pressure was maxed out. I needed to get to the slopes. I instructed everyone into the car as nicely as I could, especially after I loaded four sets of skis and poles to the car.

We arrived to Park City Mountain Resort and took our first chairlift ride of the season. I pushed off, buckled my boots and made my first run. There’s something to be said once you let go and get the adrenaline going. I went back to my zen spot. For the rest of the day my blood pressure went back to normal, and I was able to enjoy watching everyone ski. I didn’t care if someone’s coat was too small or the color of goggles.

I did take time to remind the group that they were still behind me skiing. It was just my way of saying, “the morning departure wasn’t as I planned, but I’m still Mom and nothing has changed with skis on my feet.”

Now it is time to look forward to Deer Valley’s opening on Saturday, December 7th. My lesson has been learned. I will be more organized on Saturday. I have no choice, but to get everyone out of the door on time because it’s the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest. I have to try and defend year after year racing the guys (Phil and Steve Mahre and Tommy Moe).

Also on Saturday, Stefan has tryouts for DEVO. Tim and Lucas will be at a lacrosse tournament with his 212 Park City team. We will need to rest up the night before, as I get to host Nicole Miller. Yes, the one and only Nicole Miller, my favorite designer. She and I might be able to exchange tips on skiing and fashion. How did this come about? My mom always told me ”if you can read and ask questions you can do anything”. My friend owns a store in Salt Lake City named JOLI and carries Nicole Miller. I knew Nicole was coming to the event so I simply asked her to come early to meet JOLI clientele and Nicole Miller agreed. I guess my mom was right.

Again, congratulations to Park City Mountain Resort. Thanks for making our first day of the season first–rate.

Now with only one day until Deer Valley opens, what are you doing to get ready for the ski season? Let me know your tips and tricks for getting ready for ski season in the comments below. Let’s hope for big snow, many ski days, and lots of smiling faces. I’ll see you on the slopes.

Deer Valley Weight Loss Program- How to Slim Down Without Even Trying

A friend of mine spent an entire month participating in a live-in healthy weight loss program last summer. The group met with a nutritionist every day and had healthy balanced meals prepared for them on-site. A trainer worked them out six days a week, five to six hours a day both indoors and out.

I was very proud of him that he made a lifetime commitment to his health (and lost a few pounds,) however, the clinic just didn’t seem like much fun especially for an entire month.  I thought to myself, instead of booking a month at a boring weight loss clinic, why not put together your own weight loss skiing plan for a month at Deer Valley ski resort?  Let’s face it, skiing is a blast and burns a boatload of calories.

025 Mountain Scenic_Deer Valley ResortPersonally, I didn’t lose any weight this ski season.  When I stepped on the scale, the needle never budged.  But everyone kept asking me if I lost weight. I didn’t but what I lost this ski season was inches — two pant sizes to be exact. Even my feet have shrunk, (which is kind of creepy by the way) and I am buying shoes a half size smaller.  Seriously, who cares what the scale says!

Nancy PostThe weird thing is I haven’t done anything differently … except for skiing. I still am addicted to pretzels and wheat thins. I drink wine, eat pizza, cookies and chocolate — all in moderation. No deprivation diets in my house!  Even so, my pants hang on me and my suits need altering.  My body composition has changed with fat being replaced by muscle which is not reflected in the scale.  The only explanation I have for this phenomenon is skiing.

Since I had so much fun this ski season, I skied whenever I possibly could even when it was five degrees or snowing. Once I was there, I stayed out until I absolutely had to come in — my inner child wanted to continue playing in the snow!  This practice helped me lose inches without even noticing and could work easily for everyone.  Anyone wanting to lose their “muffin top” could put together a do-it-yourself weight loss plan and call it the “playing in the snow” program.

014 Deer Valley Resort Birdseye ViewAccording to Livestrong, downhill skiing with moderate effort for a 150 pound person burns about 400 calories per hour.  Taking into account the downtime riding the lift, you could easily ski three full hours in a day even with frequent breaks and burn about 1,200 calories a day. You only need a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat.  So with a ski program, you could lose inches without severely limiting calories.

Here are some ideas on how to put it together:

Ski three days on and take a rest day the fourth day – repeat for an entire month.

Try cross country classic or skate skiing to mix it up and burn even more calories.

Improve your skills and book some Max-4 lessons.

Incorporate a specialty clinic like the women’s ski weekend where you ski three days in a row with the same group and same instructor.

Eat healthy lunches like the “natural salad bar” or “turkey chili” at Silver Lake Lodge or Snow Park.Natural Buffet

Pile your plate high with good healthy delicious food at the Seafood Buffet or Fireside Dining.

If you want to eat the cherry pie, ski an extra half hour that day and indulge with a small portion.Cherry Pie

On your rest day, go to the spa at Montage, Stein Eriksen Lodge or St. Regis and get a massage, sit in the sauna, and/or steam room to relax, revitalize tired muscles and pamper yourself.

Now that’s my kind of a weight loss program!  You learn a new sport or improve your skills. When you are having fun, of course, you are going to get out there earlier and stay longer.  Getting slim by playing in the snow worked for me.  Do you think it might work for you?

Leaving My Son in the Dust

Nancy and RickSons have a special bond with their mothers. Well, at least when they are little since when most kids enter high school they are embarrassed to be seen with their parents.  I remember begging my mother to park down the street when she picked me up from school so I didn’t have to be seen getting in the car with….gasp…my mother.  She refused, of course.  I dreaded the time when my kids didn’t want to be seen with me.

It didn’t happen in high school with my youngest son, Rick (now 23).  He seemed to actually like having me around. In fact, he would even dangle his arm over my shoulder at…gasp….the mall! I thought we had bypassed the “my mom is embarrassing” stage until he came home from college saying things like “You aren’t going to wear THAT, are you?”  I guess certain things are unavoidable in life.

We came full circle recently when he came to visit. He is now a college graduate and a contributing member of society. He is also a snowboarder but wanted to switch it up and ski with me at Deer Valley.  His last memory of me skiing was not a good one – it was well over a year ago when we first moved here and before all my lessons!  He even took embarrassing photos of me traversing back and forth across the run and falling since my technique was so poor. He and his brothers ditched me after one run.  Who could blame them?

Nancy Rick JayThis time was different.  He was on skis instead of his board and I had been practicing, taking lessons and attending clinics. He started off on the Wide West run using the “magic carpet” people mover to get his “ski legs” since it had been 12 years since he had been on skis. Once he had the basics down, we headed up the Carpenter Express chairlift to Success.

I planned on taking the Rosebud cut off since it would be a bit easier for him for his first run.  He didn’t see me and stayed on Success where the bottom is a tad steeper.  I caught up with him and as anticipated, he had some initial challenges and stopped halfway down.

This was my opportunity – one that rarely comes and I wasn’t going to lose it. You see, Rick is a good athlete, and I knew he would quickly pass me up.  I wanted to show off my hard work and newly found mad ski skills.  So I did what any self respecting mom would do — I executed a controlled sideways slide then an abrupt hockey stop spraying him in the process.

With a straight face, I said, “Let’s face it, I am better than you.”

Then I took off.

Nancy and Rick SPWe had a great laugh as he told the story to family and friends at Snow Park Lodge.  Rick and I skied the rest of the afternoon with my friend Michelle and in no time, he was skiing beautiful turns, enjoying himself and waving at me as he passed me by. His wave, however, was one of respect.

It takes hard work and determination to learn to ski especially when you start after age 50. To be able to spend the day skiing with my son and have him dangle his arm over my shoulder again is a wonderful feeling and definitely worth the effort.

Thank you, Deer Valley.

Looking Back at Another Ski Season

In my December blog, I was trying to see into the future and guess what the new ski season might bring.  If you read that piece, you might recall that I had no specific goal in mind. I was just going to “play it by ear” as I had done it for almost six decades. Now, peeking into the crystal ball is over. It’s time to look into the rear view mirror…

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One truth I learned this season is that each ski day – just like our fingerprints or our irises – is totally unique. People often say, half-jokingly that there’s “no bad day skiing” and while I subscribe to this truth, I can also assert that each daily ski experience teaches us something remarkable, provides us with one-of-a-kind sensation and makes us constantly view the sport under a fresh angle.

When you live near a ski paradise like Deer Valley Resort, it’s very easy to become spoiled and only go out when all the ski planets and stars are in perfect alignment. It’s so easy to become very picky and, often times, far too demanding. If we don’t keep our attitude in check, we might surprise ourselves muttering “I only do perfect blue-bird days, and today there are just too many jet trails in the sky…” then dismiss another beautiful opportunity to make some great turns. Thank heavens, I have not yet reached that level of decadence!

This said, going out skiing when you live in a ski town truly requires a certain fortitude and discipline. Plus some extra tenacity that can make a whole world of difference between a fun-filled ski season, in which one can get up to speed and enjoy the sport to its fullest, and a succession of sporadic outings where the “ski legs” never seem to appear, even on closing day.  Like many, I love powder and was rewarded earlier in April when we received some 18 inches of outstanding new snow.  I was able to re-live the soft, forgiving and all-absorbing feelings that come with a generous cushion of genuine Utah dry powder.

Unlike the way I was used to (until last year) when I could get my fix of “pow” on a near daily basis, I made do this season with looking forward to the next snowfall and was quite appreciative when there were only six inches of fresh under my skis instead of the 24 I had come to expect. At this point, I would open a technical parenthesis and say that with the new, extra wide skis, “bottomless” powder has lost its seminal meaning.  Moderns skis won’t sink, but for a few inches, no matter how far the hard bottom actually is from the surface!

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Of course, I’m not a “dyed-in-the-wool” corduroy guy either, and I remain more attracted by the rough and tumble terrain, the one that is peppered with hidden obstacles like trees, “Volkswagen bumps” and small cliffs, the one that also requires tight turns and accepts the occasional “friction” between rocks, stumps and ski bases.  I am talking about the kind of terrain that abounds on the west side of Lady Morgan, Daly Bowl and Chutes, and Son of Rattler, just to name a few famous Deer Valley spots!

Son-of-Rattler

All this to say that in a winter with less than average snow, skis used in that type of terrain generally take a beating and, to avoid it, I have overstayed the allotted time I normally use “rock skis,” and extended their short, transitional lives to almost a full season.  Of course, in March as the snow turns to spring quality, I had plenty of opportunities to try my brand new skis on Deer Valley’s legendary corduroy, but for the most part, I spent a season taming some very unruly and hard to control “rock skis”.

I do believe that adversity makes us tougher as well as better and this is precisely what this season did to me. After skiing on my sub-par skis for months on end, I had an epiphany when I tried the new boards I had set aside, on some groomed runs or tested them on the April 9, miracle dump! This means I wasted no time:  While agonizing on my old skis, I was just getting better and doing my utmost to push-back my own technical decrepitude!

Oh, yes, I almost forgot! There was another great lesson I learned this winter.  Early January as I was filming Heidi Voelker, the new snow was beautiful but had blown into the open areas, which combined with a low visibility made skiing tricky, if not treacherous. Filming a fast skier like Heidi on bumpy terrain with a helmet cam isn’t easy either as the main objective is to keep the head – hence the camera – steady, constantly aimed at the skier and of course, try my best to stay in control. Suffice to say that I took at least two spills that cost me tons of energy. I discovered that, at my age, getting back on my feet is much harder than it used to be!

In conclusion, while I didn’t quite make it to the century mark in terms of days I skied this season, I still came quite close to that number with quality and fun-filled skiing, and this is perfectly fine with me.  I had some wonderful moments, great memories, not one single bad fall and no collision either; my body is still whole. I am now ready to rest for a few months with the firm intent to do much, much better next season!

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