Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Deer Valley Experience

To begin I'd like to state for the record that I generally ride with people who snowboard. The VP at work, with whom I've ridden more than anyone else this winter, boards. So does my brother. In fact, many of my friends choose to snowboard instead of ski. In short, I have no problem sharing a resort with snowboarders. However, having said that, I'm also not one to pass up the chance to ski for free. So when Theresa offered me her last complimentary pass (for Market Research no less) of the season to use Friday I wasn't about to say no.

In fact, I was quite excited to say yes. I'd never been to Deer Valley before and had wanted to take my daughter Kate skiing all season but had yet to do it. Being a long time reader of Theresa's blog, I was already familiar with the knowledge and enthusiasm of Deer Valley ski instructors, not to mention their ability to have fun with kids and great sense of humor. After my experience on Friday I can now say from personal experience that it's all true. Kate absolutely LOVED her full day lesson. She even cried when I told her we wouldn't be able to go back on Saturday to do it again (her instructor told me that Kate was a natural and asked me a few times if she would be back the next day). That's exactly the result I'd hoped for and am now confident that I can get her a 2009/10 season pass (to a resort that is currently TBD) knowing she'll be excited to ski with me on Saturdays.

I should mention that Deer Valley has a good grasp on what their clients want/need to feel comfortable. For example, I rented Kate's skis from REI because it cost $12 vs $37 at the resort. However, the skis from REI were not pink. Neither was the helmet I wanted to rent (that luckily turned out to be too big so we didn't get it). You see, Kate was extremely concerned that people would think she was a boy on the mountain. No, I'm not making this up - she was seriously upset. So imagine my surprise (and delight!) when the helmet I rented at Deer Valley was pink. I also noticed that the rental skis for girls were pink too. It seems like a small, insignificant thing but to Kate (and, as a result, to me too) it made a huge difference. Having that pink helmet put her mind at ease that she wouldn't be mistaken for a boy be recognized as a girl. Small details like this are what defines Deer Valley.

Following the mid-afternoon hot chocolate break, Kate was the first student to the lift:

She'd alternate between riding the lift solo (I was a bit nervous watching her do it but she said it was fun!) and with her instructor:

On the way down:

Doing the "pizza":

While Kate was in her lesson I spent the day exploring the resort with Mark and his wife Rachel. I was surprised how many people (and not just adults - there were more kids on the mountain than I've seen all season at Brighton) were skiing on a Friday in April. Everybody I rode the lift with was from out of town (Mark and Rachel excepted of course) and all were friendly & happy. A guy from southern California gave me directions and a husband and wide from Chicago told me about their kids who were in ski school too. An older gentleman from Germany was exploring the mountain for the first time like me, commenting that in Europe most ski resorts are located above the tree line and that Deer Valley was very beautiful.

The turkey panini with mixed green salad, homemade potato chips and Martinelis sparkling apple juice I had for lunch at the Empire Lodge were tasty and the table bussing was quick and friendly.

A nice perk was the complimentary ski equipment storage, which came in handy when Mark gave me a loaf of chocolate sourdough bread Rachel had made as they were leaving. At the time I was planning to head over to the beginner lift to watch the last 45 minutes of Kate's class so asked the folks at the window if I could check in the bread. I was met with a few laughs and jokes but they accepted it and even returned it untouched an hour later!

All in all a great day on the slopes capped off by a Blueberry Izze (for me) and a raspberry mousse cup (for Kate) at the Whole Foods Market on the way out of Park City.


KanyonKris said...

You should work for Zagat.

Glad you and Kate had a good time.

Anonymous said...

Mark, You can get a pass from me anytime!

Forrest said...

End the hate guys, its like going to a golf club that doesnt allow Latinos or Blacks. To think I gave your child a snowboard and he cant even go with you there?

UtRider said...

Forrest - Both you and my son are free to visit Deer Valley. The only caveat is that you can't ride a snowboard. Did you know that had I worn jeans I wouldn't have been allowed to ski either?

In my mind the situation at DV isn't any different than my local grocery store refusing to sell me food if I'm not wearing a shirt or shoes. Another example would be a fine dining establishment that requires men to wear ties. Or a trail that allows you to hike but not ride a mountain bike. The rules may not make sense to everybody, but I wouldn't call them discriminatory.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Forrest, I'll be a lot less polite. Until you teach the rest of your snowboarding brethren to carve turns rather than scrape sideways down the mountain, knocking the good snow off and leaving a patch of ice in their wake, places like Alta and Deer Valley that are trying to preserve the skier experience will never allow you there.

I realize it's not your fault. But until sharing the mountain with snowboarders is without drawbacks (which will be never unless the snowboarders are required to pass a skill assessment test before purchasing a pass), Alta and Deer Valley will continue their policies of skiers only.

Bear in mind that Alta was one of the first ski areas in the nation to allow snowboarders, but you left such a lousy impression that you got yourselves banned.

Forrest said...

Mark and Ski Bike Junkie you got it all wrong. First of all it is blatant discrimination. You can ride a mono board but not a snowboard? Get real! Also I have seen skiers doing more harm to the snow than skiers. Snowboarding ruining the snow argument is dated and has been proven wrong time and time again. Also Mark you analogy of claiming that skiing is fine dining is so wrong too so it has the excuse to deny snowboarding, give me a break. I have so many instances of skiers ruining the snow at Snowbird (ever hear of the cool whip traverse) and so many out of state tourists snowplowing and standing in unsfafe areas! Look, I am not going to back down on this. Deer Valley and Alta are full of hate. I dont hate skiers at all, talk to my skier friends who also agree with me that this policy is total BS. You all ignore the crap skiers do, but point it out on snowboarders. You guys sound like a bunch of old men to me right now. END THE HATE! LET ME AND MY FAMILY RIDE! You sound like those conservatives in the fifties about civil rights and why its ok to not let a black man into your school or country club or why they can not drink from ths same fountain. Deer Valley and Alta allow snowblades, the worst snow invention ever. If you want to talk about moron skiers, then take a look here or here

It goes both ways boys. But maybe your think its ok to racially discriminate too, after all it is Utah.

UtRider said...

Sorry - I didn't mean to imply that skiing was equivalent to fine dining. My personal skiing is definitely at the Subway level! I was just trying to use restaurants that require guys to wear a tie as an example of a situation where an individual may or may not be allowed to enter based on what they chose to wear.

Forrest said...

I like you guys, no hard feelings, but I will not bite my tongue about something I really believe in. My father in law is infuriated with Alta, where he has skied all his life, since he can not go up and enjoy the day with his snowboarding grandkids. He stopped skiing Alta and bought a pass to Brighton so he could be with his family.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Forrest, I'm talking smack just to be a troll and get you riled up. My brothers all snowboard. I ride in the backcountry with splitboarders. I really don't give a rip how you get down the mountain. Even tele skiers are OK by me.

Here's the thing, though. Why do you care about Deer Valley? There are two good lines on the entire mountain, and the rest is low angle groomers. Alta I can understand to a certain degree, but even then, there are so many traverses and areas you have to skate to, that I think Snowbird has got to be a much more enjoyable mountain on a board.

I'm actually anti-Alta at the moment anyway due to their planned lift up Flagstaff. If you want to get riled up about something, that should be it, because that would close off some of the most easily accessible backcountry terrain in the state to snowboarders. Check out and get involved.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Forrest, here's one more thing: you didn't grow up around here, so you have an appreciation for just how rare the access to good skiing and snowboarding is here in Utah. Most places would be grateful to have one cottonwood canyon so close to town. We have two. Enjoy what you've got. Besides, the best terrain isn't at the resorts anyway.

StupidBike said...


I like puppies, and riding my bike at DV.

Sorry Forrest, I am a SNowboarder, nothing like you, but I understand MArketing Decisions very well, and Marketing Decisions are not Discrimination. There are far more important issues to spend our energy on. I have friends in the research eh Marketing dept at DV, the do marketing annually and it always comes back as ski only. DV is not a ski resort btw, it is an all inclusive resort for the rich and famous, 300+ ski instructors, it is private property and they can do whatever the hell they want. There is no right to go where you want.

You know what the word verification is? MilyHoe.

now that is funny, for my Brighton Brethren.

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