There’s Always Something New at the Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival 2014 was my third in a row so I knew there to expect surprises. Obviously the films are the draw, but the experience at Sundance is always different, too. Three new and/or innovative things in particular caught my attention. In technology, the new E-Wait List was the buzz on the street. People were jumping all over themselves to show me how it worked when I asked.  The Air BNB Haus was another place everyone said I “had to go” and the round pavilion that seemed to pop up out of nowhere showing “The Source” by David Aiken was a “don’t miss.”

Technology – the E-Wait List

You certainly can’t completely avoid waiting in line to see a movie. Besides it’s part of the experience to chat it up with people in line but the E-Wait List site cut down on unnecessary wasted time.  Basically, all you had to do was sign up and then sign in to the Sundance E-Wait List. Then you simply checked the website – which looked and felt like an app – as to the upcoming movies to grab your numbered spot on the list – two hours before the movie.

The downside I heard was that people signed up for movies capturing coveted wait list spots but didn’t cancel when they ended up not attending. But if you did make it in, you showed up to the venue a half hour before and cued up in line based on your number – very civilized!  You didn’t have to leave your friends behind either. Because you linked up with them, you were “in-line” together. To top it off, the real question you wanted to know was answered for you right there on the screen, “What’s the likelihood of me getting in?”  Pretty good? or not!

Capture

Connections:

After getting my cup of coffee and hanging out at the Air BNB Haus for a while, I tweeted “very chill.”  This little spot, well I guess not so little since they took over an entire building, felt like you were visiting your best friend’s place. It was a nice respite from hustle and bustle of Main Street during Sundance – a great spot to relax between movies. You could connect with other people there or find a spot to relax with friends.

There were comfy chairs for reading:

Book

Complimentary tea and coffee for everyone:

Tea

Free Wifi:

Long Table

And a creativity corner where children and adults created some artwork:

Art

 

Innovation – The Source at New Frontier

I was thinking, “Was that building there before?”  A 2,000 sq.ft. round pavilion seemed to appear out of nowhere by the Gateway Center and housed the New Frontier Exhibit, “The Source.”  Filmmaker Doug Aiken interviewed “groundbreaking pioneers in various disciplines who are shaping modern culture” about the source of their inspiration as well as the journey to the finished creation.  These interviews were shown in this round pavilion with six viewing rooms.

The StructureFilms

Watching interviews with architects, musicians, photographers and other disciplines, was inspiring!  I walked away with a greater appreciation for artists who are ahead of their time. Enjoying Sundance experience #3 only made me want to come back for more next year.

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

 

Shades of Deer Valley

Yes, you can get everything at Deer Valley. Even goggles in bulk!

The must-have item for some guests during the Sundance Film Festival were the Smith IO and IO/S frameless goggle. I know this, because I had a group of clients in town who just had to have 15 pair. They had three days of skiing at Deer Valley (plus, one night dining at Mariposa) on the agenda—and the goggles were a crucial element.

Trouble is, no one store in town had the right combination of sizes and colors to make it work. While standing in one store, where they had a handful of pairs to sell us, I called Shades of Deer Valley. The incredibly friendly and helpful Charne took my call and scoured inventory to make sure we had access to every pair in stock. My pal Jill (with whom I don’t ski nearly frequently enough, but whom I adore immensely), who happened to be working in the store that day, took photos of the goggles with her iPhone, and sent them to me—client approval a must.

And, most importantly, Jill and Charne greeted us with big smiles, waving off my “apologies” for wiping out their stock. Never fear, they assured me, the next shipment was a day away. Which is a good thing, because my birthday is next week and I really want a pair of those goggles.

World Cup FEVER

I’ve got World Cup Fever. I’ll tell you that right now. Sundance has not even ended yet, and I’m already counting the minutes until the 2012 VISA Freestyle International. The party starts February 1 with a concert on Main Street, featuring Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I’m especially psyched because this year is the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and the concert will also include a special anniversary celebration. If, like me, you were a volunteer during the games—or just an avid spectator, dressed head-to-toe in Roots garb, wear your 2002 gear to the party on Main Street; prizes will be awarded for creative Olympic spirit.

I will be there in my official SLOC blue vest, blue jacket and black Olympic fleece. My kids were born after the Games, so I am eager to share some of that excitement with them. Sure, they’ve seen photos of Mommy and Daddy volunteering, and heard the stories, but having them see some of the Olympic stuff in action will be really fun.

And, yes, I’m letting them stay up late to attend the concert…and some of the events on the snow later in the week. There’s nothing like watching a freestyle event under the lights, cheering for the “home team.” And so much the better when the home team lives and trains in our town! So—are you coming? What are you looking forward to attending during the World Cup competitions? Any suggestions for ways I can stand out in the crowd in my Olympic garb?

Sundance on The Slopes

 WARNING: This post involves just a teensy bit of name-dropping.

Celebrity culture being what it is, there are not that many well-kept secrets in show biz anymore. But here’s one: The best week to ski in Park City is during Sundance. For 10 days, the hotels are filled with mostly people who are not skiing.

So, I celebrated the first day of the festival by launching my new favorite day 1 tradition: Skiing with a Golden Globe Winner.

Lest you think any Golden Globe winner will do, let me set you straight. In my world, the only one that matters is my pal Melissa Leo, who picked up her award for Best Supporting Actress last Sunday night. (Let me bore you with the details: We were introduced years ago by a mutual friend, Thelma Adams, who is the author of a just-published novel, Playdate…In case you had not noticed from my previous posts, I have pretty awesome friends, famous and not-famous, but all of them very accomplished and scary-talented. Which is good, because their successes delightfully reinforce my slacker-ski-bum self-image.)

Melissa arrived in town on Wednesday, straight from the New Orleans set of Treme, the HBO series she’s acting in now. For years, as her local buddy, I’ve helped her get set up for skiing during the festival, but it’s never worked out for us to ski together. When I told her I was free to ski the following day, she whooped almost as loudly as I had in my living room when I saw on TV that her name was called as the winner.

Soon enough, I was scooping her up at her hotel and we were booting up in the locker room at Snow Park Lodge. Melissa showed off her newly acquired, brand-new 20 year-old boots—she’d schlepped them from place to place in order to ensure she’d have them handy to come to Utah for Sundance. “I had a similar pair that I tried to replace for four years,” she told me. “And I managed to find these—they’d stopped making them., but somehow, I was lucky enough to find one last pair.”

I couldn’t resist asking the most obvious question. What was it like to win a Golden Globe??

 “There’s a lot of shock,” she confessed about her winning moment, as we waited in line to get her lift ticket. “I carried it around for a few days just so I could see that it had really happened.”  I wondered aloud if the award would feel left out that it didn’t come along for the ski day…

 We hopped on Carpenter lift, and as we slid our skis toward Silver Link, the tone of the day was set. Whooping and hollering ensued. We kept grinning at each other as we took in the perfection that was the bluebird day, the corduroy that seemed to be laid out just for us. We compared notes on skiing technique, working motherhood (she has a 23 year-old son who is currently living in Germany). But, mostly, we reveled in the dumb luck that found us enjoying a blissful ski day smack in the middle of the week, just before the wave of the Sundance Film Festival would sweep us away from the hill.  We giggled as we took turns carving past each other. More hooting and hollering. Finally, as we headed toward lunch, I declared, “Decorum is overrated.” Indeed.

 We sat down to lunch at Royal Street Café, and promptly ordered a blueberry mojito—with two straws. We found just a little humor in the fact that we’d have to wait 20 minutes for the clock to strike noon before the bartender could mix the drink.  We busied ourselves with tuna tartare, edamame, the black bean soup special and the iceberg wedge. And then compared notes on our experiences growing up in Vermont.

Before long, Melissa would be in glam-mode again, red-carpet ready for her Sundance premiere, Red State. But this day was about fun, friendship and food.

PS:  The award for best excuse for bailing on a fresh powder day: Melissa Leo, doing press for Red State the morning she received her nomination for an Academy Award!

Mixing skiing, glamour and fun at the Sundance Film Festival

Some people only like skiing, some only like to watch movies, but there’s a vast universe of individuals who are into both. If given the opportunity, many might attempt to satisfy their combined craving for the silver screen and the white slopes. If you happen to be one these special creatures, Deer Valley Resort and Park City, UT are most definitely the best spot in the world to marry your two favorite hobbies.

Most ski vacations always suggest a good mix between snow activities during the day and après-ski action once the sun set, yet very few can offer the absolutely perfect blend than a stay at Deer Valley the end of January; timed while the Sundance Film Festival is underway, in Park City. That’s right; on-slope traffic is light as film-obsessed visitors use their very short mornings to emerge from endless late night parties. In fact, skiing is at its best; just enough skiers to chat with on the chairs, uncrowded restaurants, the very best instructors available for you at the ski school and plenty of early morning skiing without the need to rush and beat the crowds.

The Film Festival that runs this year between the 21st and 31st of January only requires a few extra skills including sleep and diet management. If you can avoid the post-midnight screening and the parties that follow, and if you have a definite strength of character, then you might be an ideal candidate. The big secret is to stand up early enough in the morning and take advantage of the pristine corduroy that is waiting for you and a select few on the slopes, or the overnight fresh powder “dump” that dropped, almost as a special order, while you were having fun and catching some precious hours of sleep the night before.

If you don’t believe you can overcome mid-day drowsiness, don’t get discouraged. You will soon find out, during the afternoons and evenings that not all movies are created equal; while you’ll find some of them to be just outstanding, a few may fail to pass muster with your discriminating taste or worse, others are downright bad in spite of the appealing synopsis that you thought you had read twice. This is in fact a blessing in disguise; when it happens, do not feel bad, don’t try to resist or even feel guilty; just take a gentle nap through the panel discussion and this will go a long way to keeping you in decent ski shape the following morning or to be fully refreshed when it’s time for your next flick!

Another way to maximize your joint skiing and festival-going experience is to improve on your “food management” skills. You would ideally plan on having a good breakfast, but reality might get in the way and force you to choose between eating something and going skiing while it’s still morning. I recommend the later, because lunches at Deer Valley Resort are so delicious and are – in my view – the only true representation of the “food pyramid.” So, use the lunch break to restore your energy and even take that extra portion to make up for the long evening ahead. It’s hard to get into restaurants on Main Street at night anyway and, beside popcorn, there isn’t a lot you can munch on for the rest of the day. Eat a healthy, hearty lunch and use it as a well-timed break, right on the slopes.  Luckily, if your lunch fails to sustain your appetite throughout the night, Deer Valley’s four evening restaurants are slightly off the beaten path for festival goers and are able to offer plenty of availability and parking during Sundance.

A unique pair of extra benefits from screening movies while skiing is that you will have some compelling stories to tell your chairlift companions and chances are that the abundant cinematographic knowledge you’ll display in the process will make them think that you’re a producer, a famous director or an up and coming actor. If this wasn’t already cool, wait until you attend the hundreds of parties you’ll find yourself invited to during the evenings. Just say a few words about your day and everyone listening will soon assume that your name is Lyndsey Vonn, Bode Miller, Heidi Voelker or even Stein Eriksen, and not necessarily in this order!

Finally don’t worry about not being on top of “Everything Festival” while you’re on the hill; there are now Sundance Film Festival smart phone apps to provide you with real-time information about movie trailers, interaction with Twitter and Facebook, plus all of your evening venues while you are enjoying a wonderful ski day in the sun! Of course, you might always add some business sideline to your ski trip by bringing along the script you’ve always thought should be made into a movie, mingle with movie moguls at night to plot investment strategies and perhaps schedule your very own casting.

As always, your Deer Valley vacation could end up being much more than just skiing!

January Events

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season starting to wrap up I am looking forward to the year a head.  January is going to be another busy month at the resort with the Freestyle World Cup, Freestyle Olympic Team Announcement and Sundance all taking place. 

Deer Valley Resort’s FIS Freestyle World Cup is coming up January 14 – 16, 2010.  Three days of competition and festivities will begin with the first of two mogul competitions taking place on Deer Valley’s Champion ski run on Thursday, January 14, 2010, beginning at 1:15 p.m. Thursday evening, there will be an evening celebration on Park City’s historic Main Street (near the Town Lift) from 7 – 9 p.m. featuring The Bravery and a fireworks display. The aerial competition will take place on Friday, January 15 under the lights on Deer Valley’s White Owl ski run, beginning at 8 p.m. The second mogul competition will take place Saturday night under the lights on Champion and will also begin at 8 p.m. As always, Deer Valley will host fireworks after its evening events on Friday and Saturday. General admission to all events is free. 

062 World Cup

  Official naming of the 2010 Freestyle Olympic Team will be announced at Deer Valley Resort Tuesday, January 26, at noon MST. Deer Valley, site of the 2002 freestyle and alpine Olympic venues, will host the announcement and send members off to Vancouver, Canada in “Deer Valley style” to represent the United States and bring home Olympic hardware. While freestyle athletes have been steadily working on qualifying for the 2010 Olympics, the selection period will close Sunday, January 24 and the official members are to be announced with several on-site for the official presentation, as well as greet and sign autographs for Deer Valley guests.

 Last but not least we have the Sundance Film Festival!  Sundance is the last two weeks of January and is a great time to hit the slopes.  This year Deer Valley is offering a package during the festival so if you have not made your reservations check out this deal…. Exceptional Value Package: Save 25% on select lodging and Deer Valley Resort lift tickets at a wide range of accommodations! Package includes lodging and daily lift tickets for each adult in your party. Offer is valid January 3 to 14, 2010; January 17 to February 9, 2010; March 22 to April 12, 2010. Children’s two-day or longer lift tickets also available for purchase at a discount. Please ask one of our Vacation Planners for details.

 So there is no excuse for us not to see you in January!