Last year during my Max 4 lessons, my instructor gave me some poignant advice. While trying to keep up with the two guys in my group, I fell. He counseled, “Nancy, skiing is an individual sport; always ski at your own pace. We will wait for you at the bottom.” Since then, I have not had a problem skiing alone. I often grab my equipment and ski for a couple of hours by myself.
The truth is, you are never alone at Deer Valley. The skiers are very warm and friendly. After my New Year’s ski day with my neighbor, I decided to go up by myself to practice what he’d taught me. It was going to be an “intermediate” day for me and my plan was to warm up on a couple of green runs and then hit the blue runs on Flagstaff Mountain. At the bottom of Blue Bell, my day took an unexpected turn for the better.
Standing in the single line waiting for the chair, the lift operator asked, “Do you know Ron?” I smiled though no one could see the smile since I was covered completely with a scarf, face mask and helmet. He went on to tease that Ron always buys you a latte if you ride the lift with him. I mentioned I would hold him to it as Ron and his son, Paul, visiting from Chicago, and I took our places on the chair lift.
With the latte as an icebreaker, we chatted it up. When they found I was skiing alone, they invited me to ski with them. Turns out, Ron was someone I wanted to meet anyway since he is a ski technician in the Rossignol Demo Ski Yurt near Empire Canyon Lodge. You can try before you buy so you know what you like when you are ready to make a purchase. “Sure I’ll ski a few runs with you guys,” was my answer.
So off I went to all the intermediate runs on Flagstaff with my new buds. I followed them all over the mountain – cutting through the trees between the runs. We took a break at Silver Lake Lodge, where a latte was placed in front of me. There plans were hatched. You see, I had never been to the top of Bald Mountain (in winter) at 9400 ft., since I was too nervous to go by myself.
It became their mission to take me. So we got on the Sterling Express chair lift and headed up. They warned me that Bird’s Eye was a little steep at the top but wasn’t any more challenging than the runs we had just done on Flagstaff. The views were amazing at the top of the mountain and the guys watched me traverse the top of the run with super slow methodical (but safe) turns until it evened out. At the bottom of the hill, I embarrassed myself and ran into the ropes while queuing up at Homestake chair lift. They teased me saying, I was supposed to be fast at the top and slow at the bottom of the hill, not the opposite!
My new friends skied all the way to Snow Park with me to “walk me home” and as we said goodbye, they said, “It’s good that you were slow since it’s Paul’s first day out and you helped him to pace himself.” They were being kind, of course, but their gesture was appreciated.
Speed is relative, you know. Little did these guys know that this was the absolute fastest ski day ever for me. Fast or slow, the truth is you never truly ski alone at Deer Valley.