Skiing with Family and Friends

Happy New Year! Yes, I’m a bit late, but between the holidays, family, working AND a child’s broken tib/fib it’s hard to catch a breath! So it’s time to catch up.

First, my family (both brothers and their families) joined us for the Christmas holidays. There were nine of us living and skiing together. It’s so much fun to ski with them. This is how we started skiing and along the way wives, husbands, nieces and nephews have joined us. The banter between my brothers and I still hasn’t changed. They really think they can beat me, although, I’m not sure they ever did. In fact, the only person around here who has that bragging right is Deer Valley’s own Ski School Instructor, Andi Wieser. He took my time down by .11 after 16 years of pacesetting on the Nastar course. WOW! That’s a long time.

One of the best parts about skiing with the family is watching my nieces get ready and keep up with the group. This is their main ski trip of the year and I have to say, they hold their own. I can’t imagine the fear factor of skiing here in the Wasatch Mountains when they are from New Jersey.  I have nephews that set a quick pace for their cousins. They did a great job, and I think you can see the fun factor in the picture below.

Family Pic
I’ve also been working with my ski sponsor, Blizzard/Tecnica and skiing on my new 2014 skis!  The company needed some photos of the ski tops sheets for upcoming shows and catalogs. (You can see them in an earlier post before the season started.) They ski magnificently and the graphics are sweet looking, don’t you think? It was fun to meet up with the Blizzard/Tecnica group and ski last week. I was able to show them a bit of Deer Valley and spoil them at Royal Street Café for lunch. To tell you the truth, I felt a bit uncomfortable skiing with this crowd of ‘A Teamers’, Marcus Caston, Claire Abbé, Adam Cole, photographer Frank Shine and Joe Dunn, Sports Marketing Director. I think I held my own, but the ages of these skiers really made me feel like their Mom. It would have been fun to ski with my Mom.

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OK- just a quick update on my son, Lucas, who I mentioned at the beginning of the post. He’ll be OK, but got his first taste of being an athlete. His goals for the season have needed to change, but he’ll be back ready and stronger for next season.

And in other news…the new snow has brought great skiing! Take a peek at the video by JF Lanvers below. I think we were all hoping for more snow, but any new snow is good snow! Stay warm and enjoy the slopes. Sundance is in town so you know what that means? We’re in for a snowstorm!  It’s a sure thing- ‘just as hosting a Downhill, it’s guaranteed to snow.  That’s the saying in the ski racing world.

Be safe and see you on the slopes!

Ski Season Two: Hardcore Opening Weekend

On opening Saturday, I asked a friend of mine if he was coming back on Sunday too, and he answered, “You are going tomorrow? You are hardcore. ”

Hardcore?  In my mind, hardcore means tearing down the mountain at break neck speed and taking Bode Miller style Giant Slalom turns.  That’s hard core, not me skiing on groomers opening weekend at Deer Valley.

But you know … Just maybe… I might actually…be.

Opening day was amazing as the ski gods were with us when sky decided to dump buckets of snow on the mountains. So taking JF Lanvers advice, I decided to start slow by doing a few easy runs to get my ski legs back and remember what I learned from my lessons last year. My husband met me for lunch at Silver Lake Lodge and we enjoyed the Celebrity Skifest from the warmth and comfort of the lodge while eating pizza and a heaping bowls of steaming pasta.  This seemed like the perfect opening day to me.

Sunday morning after Mass, I quickly ate breakfast and changed into my ski pants (though I did see several people who were obviously going directly to the slopes the moment the service let out – their ski attire gave them away.) The storm seemed heavier on Sunday and by the time I got there, the lines were short. I was able to get right on the lifts every time — no waiting at all.

Since I lacked a face mask, my chin and cheeks were getting pretty cold though the rest of me was warm.  On the lift, I could pull my scarf and jacket up like a mummy to keep my face warm.   But on the runs, the snow stung me hard as I skied down the hill. I could care less and was loving being out there.

Deciding whether or not to take that extra run, I stopped and took stock of myself. My fur lined hood was covered in snow, my bangs were mangled and tendrils of hair were frozen to my scarf.  My face was burning from the fresh snow and wind on the lift, and so were my quads from those first runs.  I wondered for a minute if I was crazy.  Only the crazy people are out now.  This was not a day for fair weather skiers.

Then I thought, you know…I just might be…. hardcore!  No helicopters were involved, no back country or avalanche precautions were necessary, but for me… getting out there, pushing myself on the groomers, staying out even when the snow was dumping down and stinging my face and when most folks were in the comfort of the lodge (or home by the fire,) there I was taking one more run.

Some people might think my experience was relatively mild but for me …my second season opening weekend, I guess I would have to say it was hardcore.

What about you? What makes you a hardcore skier?

Mahre Training Clinic Part 2

Warning: I’m about to deploy every possible cliché about powder skiing.

Before I do, I’ll defend myself: Clichés are clichés because they are the truth.

And so, gentle reader, I Must. Speak. The. Truth.

Sunday was EPIC.

There were face shots.

It was POW-erful good skiing.

And Ep-ic.

I shredded that POW.

I shredded, hard, man.

I whooped and hollered my way all over the mountain. I skied. Oh, man, did I ski.

(Photo by Ryan Voight)

It was extra-fun because I was able to translate a whole arsenal of newly-acquired mad skillz…into the best powder turns I’ve ever made in my life. Did it help that I had Steve Mahre skiing behind me, turn for turn, calling directions into my ear?

Um, yes.

“Plant your pole, Nan.”

“Make a longer turn, Nan.”

“Be taller! Be TALLER!”

“Stay loose!”

“Good! Like THAT!!”

(Wait, really, did he just tell me I’m doing it right? Did STEVE MAHRE just PRAISE my skiing?! Um, yes. Well, that felt good.)

Yes, the powder day dawned on morning three of my long-awaited 3-day stint at the Mahre Training Center at Deer Valley Resort.

Last year, when Ski Dad completed the Mahre Training Center clinic, he told me that for the first time in over 20 years of skiing, he finally felt like he’d learned how to do it. Well, I can say, safely, that after more than 35 years on the hill, I, too, finally locked it in.  You’ll read more about what makes the camp special—and what it meant to my skiing—in the coming days, and likely in the coming months. It was that impactful for me.

For now, I’ll just let us all revel in the joy, the pure bliss that is an epic powder day. And I’ll maybe gloat a little about how good it felt to finally be one of “those” skiers, gliding through the soft stuff feeling (mostly) balanced and smooth. And the praise from Steve Mahre. Which didn’t hurt a bit.

Also, I have to tell you that at the end of the day, I found myself making matched powder turns next to my Mahre team’s coach, Craig.

“Oh my gosh, Craig! We’re those skiers!”

He shouted back to me: “Yeah, we are!”

A Note from Our President on President’s Day

To celebrate President’s Day and the height of the winter, we met up with Deer Valley Resort President, Bob Wheaton to get an update on this ski season.

What a year it has been! We’ve continued to invest each season in the resort’s snowmaking system, and this season the system was certainly put to the test! The team we have at the resort in every aspect of our operations is second to none and this becomes increasingly evident when Mother Nature sends us a curve ball. Prior to the welcomed storm cycle, I have certainly been enjoying the Deer Valley corduroy this year, while curving lines on Stein’s Way and Magnet.

I hope many were able to get out and experience our VISA Freestyle International World Cup event the first week of February. We added another evening event with moguls on Thursday. It is always a thrill to see the events under the lights. The event means a lot of extra work for staff but we are thrilled to host such an amazing group of athletes from around the world. Our partnerships with FIS (International Ski Federation) and with the US Ski Team are great for the resort.

The President’s Day holiday means March and spring skiing are right around the corner. In the Wasatch spring also brings its share of powder days. Whether its spring corn or fluff  I am looking forward to being on the mountain and enjoying the amazing efforts of the Deer Valley Team.

Hope to see you out there!

Bob Wheaton shares one of his favorite powder stashes:

Good to Great with 15 inches of New Snow!

This weekend saw our second “major” snow storm of the year, so after clearing my driveway and dressing for the weather, I went out to Deer Valley to assess the results.

The snow kept on pounding the mountain all afternoon and as the hills were shrouded in a mystical cloud cover, I chose to stay in the forested areas of the resort and skied an unprecedented ten “Centennial Trees” runs, non-stop and during each and every one of them, I literally let myself go, bouncing from turn to turn as if I were a ball bouncing down some stairways, in that fluffy, out-of-this-world and so forgiving soft matter…

It felt as if I had received some magic powers and as if gravity as we know it had suddenly lost its sting. There was no stump too high, no drop too steep for me not to embrace in total confidence. I suddenly felt as if I had become invincible and had received a license to “cheat…”  Yet, after the first couple of runs, I started to feel hot; that’s right, with all the powder I had to work much harder than usual.

At each turn, the abundant snow on all sides of my skis, my boots and my legs had to be moved around and was pushing back. At the same time, I had too be twice as concentrated as I watched like a hawk for hidden obstacles, sudden drops and of course, huge trees!   That day, 15 inches of new snow were measured and I rediscovered that unmistakable and special sensation of feeling deep powder hugging my lower legs.

What were imposing moguls 24 hours prior had been neutralized and didn’t amount to much anymore, the few twigs still emerging were now dwarfed and far less intimidating, the forbidding stumps were now totally covered and turned into fat snowmen and the rare rocks had magically sunk to the bottom.

All around me, there was a brand new ski world, and more than ever before, I took the time to appreciate every second of my descents!

Isn’t it amazing how one good storm can change the mountain?

Due to Mother Nature’s sleepiness this year I hadn’t attempted to ski any of our off-piste areas. Some of you might be saying, “Deer Valley off-piste?” But believe me; Deer Valley has a variety of skiing for all skier types.

One of my favorite stories is many years ago, before we even had Empire Canyon, Daly Chutes and Lady Morgan. A group of my guy friends were planning on skiing somewhere other than Deer Valley because we were in the middle of a big storm. I offered to ski with them at Deer Valley and show them around the powder, but they insisted we didn’t have enough.

Well the next day, they agreed to meet me. They still were full of skepticism thinking the “powder day”  was wasted. Well, I’ll put it this way, by 1 p.m. they were crying “Uncle” and needed to stop. We didn’t ski a single designated trail. Of course all in bounds, we just stuck to the all bowls and trees.

We started in Mayflower Bowl for a few runs then crossed into Perseverance Bowl. We got to the top of Sultan Express and dropped over into Ruins of Pompeii on down into the trees that lead you back to Perseverance. As we grabbed the lift again and rested, I lead them down to the top of Triangle Trees right were Tycoon and Reward split. They were having the time of their lives. Once we got in the heart of Triangle of Trees you heard the “powder day cheers” coming from all, we hit Rattler, grabbed Wasatch Express chairlift to make our way into Sunset Glades then Ontario Bowl. Even though we had been skiing over 2 hours they couldn’t get over the lines still untouched in Ontario Bowl.

After a few laps in Ontario they asked for lunch and promised they would never say that they could “out ski” Deer Valley again.

Fast forward a few years, we now have Empire Canyon with the Daly Chutes and Lady Morgan. It’s quite the work out to hit all areas I’ve mentioned on one powder day. It can be done but the legs might fumble at the end. People ask me how big Deer Valley is, I say “you can’t ski it all in a day”.

Also, I like to showcase Deer Valley’s varied terrain to dispel the myths of us being only intermediate. One run that makes me gather my thoughts before I enter is Challenger (Daly Chutes). No matter the abundance of snow Challenger is just that, challenging. It is very narrow at the entry. I’m not sure two skiers could enter at the same time. Once completed you look back up, out of breath and realize the steepness and narrowness you just navigated. Quite Exhilarating!

If you still don’t believe me, now that I have described some of our black diamond skiing; then come check it out for yourself and maybe I can help. But don’t get caught off guard either, our groomers like Tycoon, Reward, Keno, Magnet and Legal Tender keep you challenged too.  Some much to ski but so little time. See you on the slopes.

Winter Predictors

Aside from following religiously the long-term weather forecast, understanding the intricacies of El Niño and La Niña, looking up in the sky at all time or observing the flights of Canadian geese headed towards Mexico, it’s extremely hard to get a good indication as to when winter will arrive for good.

In fact, my prediction tools are much more rudimentary. When I must rake leaves and clean up the garden all weekend long, this constitutes a serious indicator that the season is about to change and that it’s time to hurry a bit. Another related sign of winter’s imminent arrival is when our living room bay window begins to let some mountain features in, as the leaves that hug the panes start to turn yellow and thin out.

These keen observations fail to tell me with any certainty about the date at which the first serious snow of the season will make it to Park City. This fixation of mine on a certain snow date is tied to a family ritual we used to have and that perked up passions, when our children were younger and still at home with us.

 

Each Fall season, we’d have a contest that would reward the family member able to predict, or get the closest to the date when winter snow would finally arrive and stay on the ground. As far as I can remember, no one ever landed the exact day, no one tied for the big prize and the winner always got sufficiently close to the date without any need for argument or further contest.

 

This will be our twenty-seventh winter in Park City and, so far, snow has never let us down. Therefore it’s not a matter of if, but just when it will fall. Besides, there’s always Deer Valley Resort’s prodigious snow making capacity as a back-up plan, but again, I absolutely don’t worry about lacking snow…

 

So this year, with only two participants, we decided to keep the friendly betting process alive. My wife said snow would come “early” November (vague enough for comfort, right? Her own definition of “early” runs from the first to the tenth of the month) while I set my prediction right on November 22nd. We’ll see when the flakes land and who will have to shovel first!

Powder Alert!

Grey skies threatened to snow all day on Thursday. Ski Patroller TJ Somers got out into Centennial Trees off Lady Morgan Express to find a little untracked snow.

With 7″ of snow last night and 2-3 feet of snow expected by Sunday, this will be buried in the fresh white stuff all over again. There will be PLENTY of fresh tracks this weekend. Gotta love Utah!

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