Slow lifts: Endangered Species?

Not so long ago, most ski lifts were slow. They provided us with a chance to catch up, regroup, think about our technique, rest our legs and even munch on a sandwich or a bar. They also gave us a chance to talk. Talk about anything: from views, to snow quality, to weather, good restaurants or cool equipment; the list could go on forever… In those days, even though chairlifts could be painfully slow, we got to the top without realizing we had spent fifteen solid minutes hanging up in the air.

We had to wait until 1981 to see the first ever, high speed detachable quad in the world, installed in the Rocky Mountains. Since then, that precious “chair-time” has been rapidly eroding; at the best American resorts, high-speed chairlift are becoming the norm. Next winter, what used to be the perfect illustration for today’s subject, the Deer Crest chairlift, will undergo a total metamorphosis and in the process, will shed its fixed grips, its slow, easy pace, for a brand new detachable design that will whisk skiers, in less than half the time taken previously, to the top of the Jordanelle Gondola. In the process, it will also get rechristened “Mountaineer Express.”

Back in February of 2010, I wrote a blog about chairlift stories, set back in a time where most chairlifts hanged to a fixed grip, moved up much more slowly and were the perfect place for telling, trading or making stories, as long as the company was receptive and the weather wasn’t extreme. Of course, things have changed a great deal with the spread of portable music players and the proliferation of smart phones. Now, a short life ride is all the time one needs for checking emails, tweeting or responding to a Facebook post. What I’m trying to say is that today, chairlifts have become more an opportunity to catch up on-line than striking a long and profound conversation. From that viewpoint, the demise of the slower lift might accompany the end of endless chat aloft. So much for long conversations or even for a quick lunch up in the air (Deer Valley restaurants are a much better culinary alternative anyway!)

And with the switch to faster ski-lifts what about our own, tired legs. I can think of many time when finally sitting down while riding up the mountain was a welcome relief! One might argue that nowadays skiers are much more fit and don’t generally look for the “rest” provided by a slow moving seat. I would add that with so many new spas available in and around Deer Valley, soothing options are today more easily available and have become so common-place that a tired pair of legs can soon be pampered and repaired into peak shape after a solid day of hard skiing.  On the flip side, one aspect no one will miss with detachable chairlifts is the “bump” in the back of our calves that could be common place if we didn’t pay attention or if the lift attendants weren’t so kind to be holding (or bumping) the chair for us.

This creature-of-comfort consideration also brings up my last argument: Today, with much faster ski-lifts, the same amount of skiing that used to take an entire day, can be compressed into half that time thanks to these express chairlifts and there’s now more time for enjoying all the extra resort activities that have sprouted in recent years. We all know that multitasking doesn’t work too well, so why not ski more intensely for fewer hours on these state-of-the-art lifts and use up the extra time for a longer and much more civilized lunch break, some early après-ski, a shopping spree, a spa session or for discovering snowmobiling or a hike in snowshoes?

So, well before the last slow chairlift is slated for demolition, Deer Valley Resort recognizes that some chairlifts should, for the time being, remain in the slow lane if you need to share very long stories or if you want to relax your legs for more than just six or eight minutes. I’m not talking about the few beginner lifts that are found on Wide West or the short connecting chairlifts that are spread all over the mountain, but bigger lifts like Mayflower or Red Cloud. They both run in parallel with a much faster chairlift and will also get you to the top, giving you much more time to catch your breath, enjoy the vistas and smell the snowflakes!

Of course, if that story has made you really nostalgic about slow chairlifts and you can’t wait until this winter to experience these slow, classic machines, now is the time to jump on any of Deer Valley’s express chairlifts when they’re running at low speed during the summer season to accommodate mountain bikers and pedestrians; that way you’ll be able to fully enjoy the ride, marvel at the scenery and trade some really good stories, but don’t delay, summer will soon be over!

Final Notes on Another Great Ski Season

Once more and just like last year, Deer Valley Resort made it to its last day with flying colors!  On closing weekend, the mountain was dressed up into an immaculate coat of white; in fact it had been snowing almost all week long, ending the winter season, just like the previous ones, on the highest possible note.

It’s quite fair to say that Mother Nature didn’t do much to help during the peak winter months, as if she were avariciously hording snow for some unknown purpose, but the Deer Valley’s snow-making crews came to the rescue and more than compensated for a lackluster snow-year and sparse precipitations.

(Photo by Daniel Diyanni)

All along, I never held great expectations about natural snowfalls and, as a result, was never disappointed. Instead, I skied more than my share and I could only rejoice when a number of providential blizzards transformed the mountain. These abundant precipitations first came in the later part of January, lasted for days around mid-February, and then in a more routine, spring-like fashion, during March and early April.

(Photo by Ryan Turner)

Of course, the credit for what ended up being another great season, rested more on the snow-maker shoulders and the groomers fine-combing expertise, than on the skies natural bounty, and for once, the snow-making insurance-policy protection came into full force and delivered the goods!

(Photo by Ryan Turner)

This said, the season was packed with wonderful days of skiing, powder snow, both untouched and meticulously manicured, and at times it was hard to believe that it was a dryer-than-usual winter. When January came around, tree skiing was again a possibility and the opportunities for powder “face-shots” were much more frequent than I would have imagined.

It’s too bad that these sensations are so hard to share, because if they could be telegraphed in more vivid terms, many folks who ended up staying on the sidelines might have made the effort to come out and experience these great ski days for themselves. I, for one, discovered new runs, new path in the trees and by the time the resort closed down this past Sunday , I still could not get enough good skiing!

Of course, I’ve always been a late bloomer as far as skiing goes. I never get really excited too early in the season. My passion for the sport needs to build up and as April comes along, I’m still eager and ready, but nature thinks otherwise… The morale of the story is that, whether we live next to Deer Valley Resort, in the Salt Lake Valley, Los Angeles or New York, we should never assume that “conditions are bad.” The ski reality that Deer Valley creates always exceeds our best imagination!

(Photo by Gus Steadman)

As our delayed winter may linger for a few more weeks, there still might be a few turns in store for me under the form of alpine ski touring, as soon the skies clear and the snow return to “corn” quality. Mountain biking is still a good distance away, and frankly, before thinking too much about the upcoming summer and its endless array of activities, I need to take a long mental vacation from this past winter!

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.

Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge: Not Your Typical Dining Experience

My image of fireside dining used to be a cozy table for two warmed by a gas lit fireplace, a tasty meal, and a glass of red wine – sounds wonderful but pretty typical.  Fireside dining at the Empire Lodge is definitely not typical.  When my husband and I walked in, we knew we were in store for something special.  A roaring wood burning fire in the huge stone fireplace greeted us.  The fireplace housed three pots of steaming chocolate and a pan of berry cobbler!  I immediately made a note to self – save room for dessert.

Fireside dining at Empire Lodge is distinct in that you are certainly warmed by the fire but the food is also. Inside the fireplaces, you’ll see wrought iron stands holding melting cheeses, steaming stews and potatoes, and racks of lamb.  The atmosphere of warmth with the aroma of the wood fires and the juices dripping relaxes everyone immediately.

We were seated by the fireplace with two huge blocks of cheese melting onto individual plates.  My husband had the view of the snow and mountain with the tall dark pine trees paired with aspen trees.  Every twenty minutes or so, a horse drawn sleigh slowly passed by and I’d turn to watch the sight.  I chose to sit so I could watch not just the fire and those mesmerizing blocks of cheese melting, but also the other guests and their reaction to this unusual sight.

To me, the guests seemed to fall into two distinct categories:  eager or curious.  The eager folks took the direct approach.  They stepped right up snapping photos and proceeded directly to the middle of the fireplace and didn’t even wait for the attendant to hand them a plate.  They grabbed one straight out and the host placed the hot melted cheese plate on top (using tongs!) They took the same approach with the accoutrement table.  They topped the melted cheese with potatoes, meats and mustards with wild abandon appearing that they wanted to try absolutely everything. (I fell into this camp.)

The curious guests seemed like they were almost thinking, “For me?” They approached from the side allowing the host to serve them.  They stood back and took in the accoutrement table first scanning the options and delicacies before making their choices.  I observed many pairing up different meats, mustards and chutneys selectively as if they were choosing wine pairings with courses.  This group was probably thinking to themselves, “I better pace myself so I am going to make the perfect combination.” (My husband fell into this camp.)

I don’t know which I enjoyed more – my meal or observing others enjoying the experience.  The duck, the veal and mushroom stew, roasted potatoes and the roast lamb with apple basil jelly were amazing but both my husband and I kept that dessert table in the back of our minds as we took our time and enjoyed the meal, wine and relaxation.

When we did make it to the dessert fireplace, I noticed the other diners had changed camps.  Well, it is probably better said that they joined camps – everyone was eager.  There was no apprehension or hesitation at this accoutrement table.  I heard someone say, “This is great. They have the largest plates for dessert.”

Everyone filled their plates with combinations of strawberries, bananas, pineapples, cookies, dried fruit, and nuts then chose their personal cup of steaming hot fondue.   Of course, my husband and I both chose all three—dark chocolate, caramel, and white chocolate with Grand Marnier!  Our favorites ended up being: dark chocolate for pineapple and bananas, caramel with the sugar cookies and white chocolate with the strawberries.  With the ski lodge, the horse drawn sleigh, the roaring wood fires, hearty flavorful stews and meats and the playful desserts – can’t think of a more extraordinary dinner no matter what camp you fall in.

It’s My Deer Valley with Stephen Harty

We couldn’t wait to sneak down to the bakery and catch up with Silver Lake and Empire Pastry Chef, Stephen Harty. The man behind some of the wonderful desserts at the resort shares with us “His Deer Valley.”

When did you come to Deer Valley?

I started as a seasonal baker in the Snow Park Lodge in the 1995/1996 season (17 years and counting). I was a production baker working three 6 a.m. shifts, so I could get out skiing for two hours after my shift, and two 8am shifts. I had a young family so I had Tuesdays and Thursdays off to be Daddy daycare/preschool.

What does a perfect ski day mean to you?

Big POW and still snowing! I love those days when it just keeps on coming. I’ll admit I am a “crack of ten o’clock” skier so all day dumps suit me. The storms from the south that bring the biggest snow to the Sultan side of the resort are my favorite.

Where is your favorite place to eat at Deer Valley?

The Natural Buffet during lunch at all three lodges offer such a variety of unique salads, creative sides, as well as house made dressings and of course homemade breads, you can’t beat the great tastes. You do have to be creative in the way you stack your plate to get the value as well as the flavors.

What do you enjoy about baking?

The great thing about baking at Deer Valley Resort is that we do such a wide range; from artisan breads and baguettes, bulk production of cookie dough (huge amounts) and carrot cakes, small production of high end plated desserts (with all their sauces and garnishes), elaborate wedding cakes, and chocolate. I truly enjoy the variety. I enjoy the creativity and the science of baking, especially at the varying altitudes. I enjoy working with new flavors and products to keep Deer Valley baked goods at the fore front of trends. I enjoy mastering the classic recipes so we can put our own twist on them. And I really enjoy all the taste testing!

Your must have treat at Deer Valley?

17 years and 1000’s of batches of cookies and I still love the cookie dough! Plus all the chocolate that we serve.

What run is a must for every ski day?

Anything off-piste off the Sultan lift and Ontario bowl (I have some “secret stashes” in there that are good for days after a storm).

Who is your favorite person to ski with?

I have been riding chairlifts with my beautiful bride, Sandy, for 25 years. We celebrate together on our first ride up each year and I look forward to continuing for 25 more.

Can you share a recipe with us?

French Silk Pie
Yield: 1 Pies

5 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
8 oz Butter,Room Temperature
8 oz Brown Sugar
1 1/2 t  Vanilla
1 c  Pasteurized Eggs
1    10″ Brisee Shells,Pre-baked
-
Whipped cream,AS Needed
Chocolate Shavings,AS Needed
1.  Pre-bake 10″ brisee shells.  Let cool completely.
2.  Melt unsweetened chocolate over a double boiler.  Set aside.
3.  Cream butter until very soft.
4.  Add brown sugar and beat until very soft and fluffy.  Stopping to
occasionally scrape.
5.  Add vanilla extract.
6.  Add melted chocolate and mix until combined, scrapping occasionally.

7.  Add eggs VERY SLOWLY, about 1/4 cup at a time, incorporating well
after each addition.  Stopping to scrape occasionally.
8.  It will take awhile to add all of the eggs if you do it correctly.
**If you add the eggs too fast-the batter will be grainy and not light
and fluffy**
9.  When all the eggs are added divide into crusts.  Using an offset
spatula, spread to smooth out top.
10.Wrap and Chill.
11.  To Serve:  Finsh top with whipped cream pipped in a shell pattern
using medium star tip. and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

Skiing the X-Files is just like Stand-Up Comedy

I’ve been fantasizing about skiing the X-Files since JF Lanvers posted a series of blogs (with video!) about this mysterious tree run in Empire Canyon. I knew it would be fun, if I could work up the nerve—I didn’t realize that skiing it would mark a major milestone in my life. Of course, it goes without saying the big-deal milestones of my life—marriage, motherhood—are beyond comparison. And I’m reasonably certain that I’ll be hard-pressed to compare even my best day on the slopes to those moments. (However, in the unlikely event that I am invited to compete in the Winter Olympic Games—Senior or otherwise—I reserve the right to revise that.). Still, it was something I’d long-fantasized about, and hoped I’d do someday.

In fact, skiing the X-Files was exactly—EXACTLY—as much fun as one of the most treasured moments in my professional career: The night I opened for Caroline Rhea at Caroline’s Comedy Club in New York City.

The back-story is that I was the assigning editor on a story that Caroline Rhea, one of the funniest people in America, did for a magazine where I worked. We spent a lot of hours together—and in that time, she decided I was funny, that the silly stories I told her about my life and my family were actual “bits,” and that the world needed to hear the comedy of Bari Nan Cohen. Oy vey. I balked for a half-second and then realized I had access to a unique opportunity.

So she helped me hone this material and, there I was—legs shaking with adrenaline and with a view from the stage of that freaky digital countdown clock that only the talent can see. 2:59, 2:58…breathe.

I was reminded of this experience on the last day of this year’s Women’s Weekend Specialty Clinic, which found me, by 10 a.m., hiking across the ridge above Daly Chutes, like I owned the place. (For the record, it’s wider than I thought, and has one of the most breathtaking 360 degree views I’ve ever seen—and not a clock in sight.) The hike made me grateful that I’d (mostly) kept up with my running habit this winter—I was only a little winded as we crested the highest point of the ridge. And, yes, I had a stellar mentor in my instructor Letitia, who’d sized up my skills and determined that X-Files needed ‘em.

Thus, we glided over to the entrance to X-Files. And as we found turn after turn, I was nearly overcome with emotion. (“Don’t cry—your goggles will fog,” I told myself.)  It’s beautiful and peaceful there. And eminently skiable—the trees aren’t nearly as tightly packed as they look from the “outside.”

As I completed turn after turn, I found myself drawing on all the preparation I’d unwittingly done for this moment, pulling a variety of tools from the skill sets Letitia and the other teachers had drilled into me over the course of three days. Side-slips turned into swooshes of snow pushed out of the way, wedge Christies became parallel turns. Just as the days leading up to my comedy debut were spent under Caroline Rhea’s careful tutelage on projection and timing, so that on performance night, I’d be good to go.

I can’t say with any certainty that either performance was “pretty” from a technical standpoint. I can, however, confirm, that both hold places of honor in the category I like to call, The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had Standing Up. And no, I’m not working blue right now.

But what I can tell you is this: In both instances, I didn’t really care how it looked. I was having so much fun, how it looked, well, it just didn’t matter. In both instances I had a great support system. In the club, I’d planted some key friends and colleagues in the audience. In the trees, I had Letitia, my pal Stacey and two other women who were just rockin’ ski companions. We cheered each other on, the same way my friends had laughed at my jokes louder than anyone else in the club.

The skills I brought into the X-Files—timing, correcting my form errors to prevent falling—even looking past the trees (for, if you look at the tree, you will most certainly ski into it) and reaching down the hill to make the turn—had their roots in those rehearsals with Caroline. You need to think fast when you’re onstage, you need to revise your bits to fit the audience, and you need to have good timing, you need all those things to be able to improvise. You need to look beyond the clock and read the audience. Caroline Rhea may not think of herself as a ski instructor, but I’m telling you, I would have had a lesser foundation for absorbing the lessons I’ve had on the hill, without the comedy coaching.

And, while the bragging rights to both things are cool, it’s not really (much) about that. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing you have the tools to do something.

I’d like to say I didn’t continue past my one night in comedy because life got in the way. That could be true. But comedy requires singular focus, driving passion, and the ability to travel the country for low-paying gigs rife with hecklers in the hope you can eke out a living—and the very faint hope you’ll get famous doing it. As it happens, the night I did standup occurred during my last weeks in New York—my heart was already in Park City, we’d just closed on the house; Jeff was checking on things, scheduling the water softener installation; service on the furnace, making sure the lawn sprinklers were set properly, meeting the neighbors. And maybe if I hadn’t planned the move, I might have taken some improv and stand-up classes in the city, and given it a go on open mic night.

Instead, I followed my heart and my skis to Utah—and learned to ski the trees. Decently. I’m not stopping ‘til I’m awesome at it. And then, who knows?

So, if you were one of the hundred or so people in the world who got to witness my comedy debut, all I can say is: Come ski with me sometime. I’m a better skier than I am a comic. And if you weren’t—maybe I’ll dig up the video of my time on stage and show it to you.

Deer Valley Tops the “Bucket List”

Climb a volcano. Get the other guy elected. Perfect your chili recipe. Learn to play the oboe. Visit New Zealand. What do all these activities have in common?  They are written on someone’s “bucket list.” In case you don’t know, a bucket list is a list of things you’d like to experience before you die or “kick the bucket.” (Check out bucketlist.org) This list is much different than a list of New Year’s resolutions which are simply meant to be broken – a bucket list is put together with a fair amount of contemplation and meant to be both fun and meaningful.

Sometimes plans, even bucket list plans, are meant to be changed. Ron and El DeSimoni from Kinnelon, New Jersey wrote a bucket list a few years ago to ski a different resort “out west” each year.  They’d skied in Vermont their whole lives and once they got a taste of the snow out west, they wanted more. They skied in California, then Colorado and Montana – every year brought with it a new adventure.  Well that WAS their plan until they came to Deer Valley last year, then they ditched their plan and came back.

That is when I met them.  Though they were veteran skiers, they decided to take a refresher lesson to work on turn control and were paired up with me for a Max Four lesson.  From them I learned more about my home resort than I learned anywhere else – I discovered I had stumbled onto a gem. I wanted to know why they weren’t headed off to a different resort next year.  Why change the bucket list? Here is what I found out:

What is so special about Deer Valley to you?

“The mountain is beautiful and there is lots of terrain here.  We like to explore the whole mountain and not stay in one place.  At Deer Valley, the runs are well taken care of – all skiable.

The mountain hosts are helpful.  One of them suggested the Lady Morgan lift – “there is a wonderful green run there, Pearl, and the views are amazing.”  We headed out there and loved every minute of it.”

What was your favorite run?

“I’d have to say the blue runs on Flagstaff Mountain – Hawkeye and Little Boulder.  They are challenging enough for us as well as nice and wide.  All the runs on Flagstaff are great for us.”

Biggest surprise on the slopes?

“The parking lot was full but there were no lift lines.  You never even noticed it on the mountain either – we always felt comfortable (even though it was a busy weekend.)

We also never felt lost.  A mountain guide was always there to guide us.  They acted like they really wanted us back. It’s great having that service. The whole experience was wonderful.”

Biggest surprise off the slopes?

“They really bent over backwards where we stayed to make it wonderful. I can’t say enough about the Silver Baron Lodge.  They gave us a fabulous room – no problem.  Shuttle service – no problem. They did everything for us. We were well taken care of.”

Guess what?  They are booking at Deer Valley for a third straight year. Hope to see you on the mountain next year Ron and El!

Katie learns just how much fun spring skiing can be on Day #3

So truth be told, I love to complain. If it were a sport in the Olympics, I would hands down take the gold, silver and bronze. So although I’ve said that I hated skiing before and I’m starting to like it now, doesn’t mean that I didn’t have my fair share of complaints during this whole experience. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t cold, and that falling didn’t hurt, or even that it was an easy experience that I fell in love with instantly. But I will tell you that it was something that I have zero regrets doing and that I may not be a diehard skier now, but through this experience I have grown to be more patient, more confident, and willing to put effort into it even though I’m not that great. It’s easy to love something that you are good at, but much more difficult to find fun in something that you’ve sworn to loathe.

After my first and second lesson, I was pleased with my progress and thankful for the chance to learn a new skill, but I really had zero intentions of ever going again (this is where my excellent complaining skills came into play). And then I was informed that I got one more lesson! I was excited, but also really nervous because I was probably going to have to really ski, like actual runs, with actual potential to eat it hard core. So while heading up the canyon I told myself that it was fun and I loved it and I would live. Cue complaining, again.

And then I got my stuff and we were off, just to the beginners slope at first but Eddy assured me that we would hit the actual slopes today in his perky-I-love-skiing-more-then-life- sort of way that he does best. The first run down I was shaking and not loving it, and then all of the sudden it hit. I felt that I was OK and that I could survive the full lesson and then real skiing began.
We went to some of the runs where it was super sunny, and created a whole new type of snow that I was not used to. Snow that’s a little slushy is clearly my kind of snow. It makes turning a bit more difficult but helps keep your speed in check, no complaint with that. Not to mention the sun! It was so beautiful and made the resort look so much different in such a breathtaking way. We made it over to Deer Crest and Eddy could easily sense my change of mood and knew that this sort of skiing was Katie Fredrickson sort of skiing. We went down our first run which was an easy blue, and I felt good about it. Then we did the same run again, and again, and again. It got to the point where I could relax and enjoy the run, instead of focusing on what my feet were doing.

Then Eddy told me that I was ready for a harder run and that it was not much different at all. Looking at this run was very frightening. I looked at Eddy and said, “Alright crazy, what run are we really going to do?” After about five minutes of me standing there and Eddy reassuring me about a million times that I was more than capable to handle this run, we set off. Turns out, I could handle that run, and had fun all the way to the bottom. When we reached the bottom Eddy started laughing and I asked him what was so funny, assuming I looked like a spazz. His reply was, “Look at you, actually skiing and you are smiling. First time I’ve ever seen that smile!” No joke this was when I knew that I would come back and ski on my own sometime.

Eventually we met up with Deer Valley blogger JF Lanvers and he asked me how I was doing. My answer was, “fantastic, we are skiing and looking legit!” And his response is probably the greatest thing that I have ever heard. Imagine his French accent and his smiley face saying, “Well why else would we ski but to look cool?” LOVE IT! We got some good runs in, I did fall (which was so kindly edited out of JF’s video), but if you don’t fall, you’re not trying.

This experience was the only thing that would ever have made me enjoy skiing. I’ve even have plans to go within the next week. I never thought I would actually have plans to go skiing. Thanks to everyone at Deer Valley, especially Eddy, you all made me like skiing and build the skills so that I can learn to love it.

Ski lesson = Opposite Day

In my Max 4 ski lesson, I felt like George Costanza in the Seinfeld Episode, Opposite Day.  In the episode, George decides that every decision he has ever made in his life has been wrong.  Since his life is the complete opposite of everything he wanted it to be, with a little prompting from Jerry he decides to do the opposite of whatever his normal choice would have been.  Today I learned that in skiing, if my body naturally reacts one way, I should do the opposite.

The lesson started with all the adult students skiing a run under the watchful eye of our green jacketed instructors.  We were then grouped by our ability and the specific skills we needed to work on.  Two guys and I were picked by Dan and we were off to explore Flagstaff Mountain.  I jokingly asked Dan if he was going to teach us to ski backwards by the end of the day (as the instructors were demonstrating earlier as they watched us earlier) and much to my surprise, that is exactly what he did at the very beginning of the lesson.  I was starting to realize this was indeed “opposite day” as we learned about balance skiing backwards.

My ski lesson buddies and I were to hear the word “counter intuitive” all morning.  When we moved our body position the way were avoiding, we had more control. Doing this we learned to turn and control our speed making it easier to ski on the steep slopes. What amazed me was Dan seemed like he was always there giving me individualized attention even with three students.  He’d work with me, then ski ahead to catch up with one of the guys and then the other. Then he’d watch me ski down and give me some pointers.  Every lift ride was a lesson and then when we were ready, he led us to the blue runs.  By the end of the three hours, we were cruising down the blues like no tomorrow. I couldn’t believe it!

We even tackled Star Gazer which was a challenge for me.  I took a couple of tumbles on the steeper terrain because I reverted to the old habits (which I understand is typical for beginners).  Was that bad?  Of course not.  In fact, it was quite the opposite. Dan was there to pin point the cause of the fall so I was able to learn and make corrections. His guidance anchored that lesson in my mind and improved my confidence.  I also conquered some fears about falling and not being able to get up.  Who knew that it is actually easier to get up on steeper hills than on the flat?  Another counter intuitive aspect of skiing was etched in my memory.  Because of Dan’s coaching, now instead of being intimidated by the hill, I think to myself, “Oh good, it’s steep! Easier to get up if I fall.”

When I got home, I looked at the Deer Valley Trail map on my wall and traced all the runs we did with a blue marker. I was shocked to see how many blue runs we did.  I had not realized that we had done five as I stood there and took it in. As a beginner who’d stuck to green runs, it was quite surprising to see all the blue ink on my map. My first lesson was an outstanding success. Doing the opposite worked for George Costanza and today thanks to the skill of my instructor, Dan, it worked for me, too.

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.