One of the great things about being at Deer Valley during World Cup Week is that you get to observe preparation for the venue from the ground up, watch the athletes train, and gain a real appreciation for all the work that goes into putting on this incredible event. When you’re a Park City local, and a Deer Valley skier, you often test positive for a chronic condition: Olympic Fever. People in other towns around the globe are immune to this.
They don’t wait in line at Snow Park Lodge behind the once-and-future Olympic Freestyle champions. They don’t support athletes’ careers by hiring them—as babysitters, as baristas—and cheering for them at every turn. For most of the world “Olympic,” isn’t a word that pops into every conversation—for us, it’s just the air we breathe.
In our world it’s absolutely normal to hear USSA chief, Tom Kelly, urge locals in an interview on KPCW to “go up to Deer Valley, spend the day skiing, stay for dinner and watch the competition.” It’s a “normal-this-week” after-school activity to zip up to Deer Valley to watch the training and the competition as the week’s events heat up. Thursday of World Cup week finds me rushing the kids through the after school routine, hustling them into layers, sticking adhesive sole-warmers to their feet, and loading them into the car, all so that we can get to the competition site as quickly as possible. Of course my kids are just as excited as I am to visit the VIP tent, mingle with the athletes, and practice their butt-sliding skills at the base of the course as they get to watch the competitors’ incredible athletic feats.
The fact that our town plays host to the FIS World Cup Freestyle Championships each January means that on this weekend the entire social scene in town revolves around the competition. “Are you going to the concert on Main Street, Wednesday?” is an oft-overheard query as friends greet each other in line at Starbucks, at school pick-up, or at the gym. Weeks before the competitions I start getting calls from friends—“Are we going? Which night?”
And then, gloriously, it is time for date night. Friday, when my kids are tired from the action the night before and relieved to be able to chill out in front of a movie, the grownups head to the hill. The previous weekend may have found us at the Symphony, or the Eccles Center, a movie theater, or a nice meal at Mariposa. But this week our culture is skiing and our wardrobe is warm and functional versus styled and fashionable. Our music is dispensed via giant amps on scaffolding and the polite applause is replaced with hollering, cheering and, yes, cowbells.
The best part is that you don’t have to be an actual local to enjoy the experience like a local. The sense of community and pride, as the crowd applauds the grace of every well-landed trick, absorbs the shock of every fall, admires the grace of every athlete, is palpable and thrilling. Whether you’re a local or a guest in town, bundle up, come on out and make some noise. And when you see me there, flag me down and tell me what you’re loving most about the experience. Or just tell me below, in the comments. See you on the hill!