Opening Day at Deer Valley

by Paul Maraschiello

Photos by Paul Maraschiello & Katreena Johnson


An e-mail from one of my favorite airlines announcing cheap airfares to Salt Lake City prompted me to check around and see who had scheduled an interesting event in Utah in early December. I had never skied in Utah this early, so I didn't know what to expect. Deer Valley was having their Celebrity Skifest and I like movie stars, so I decided to cover the event for the Ski Bum News.

The gods were nice enough to arrange a heave snowstorm for my visit (I guess praying to Thor pays off). The roads in Salt Lake City were very snowy but as I progressed toward Park City, the Highway Department did a good job and the drive was easier than I had anticipated.

The Park City Chamber of Commerce was kind enough to arrange accommodations for me at a condo in the NewPark development. The place is located near where you get off Rt. 80 in Kimberly Junction, just a few miles from the heart of Park City. I've stayed there before and I knew that the accommodations would be quite nice. My condo had a garage, hot tub, TV in every bedroom and a TV and VCR in the livingroom. The condo sleeps 7-8 people and was nicely furnished. There were cooking facilities and everything you would need for a comfortable stay. If you are interested in staying at a condo where you can do your own cooking, I can recommend staying at the Newpark Resort. Give them a call at (877) 649-3600.

After a good night's sleep, I headed to Deer Valley. I didn't know that it was opening day but I found that the top-notch services that this resort was known for were as good as ever. There were some really helpful people in the rental shop and they fixed me up with a great pair of skis that were ideal for the conditions that weekend.

When I got on the hill, it was still snowing. The snow had been coming down hard all night and they had over a foot of snow on the ground. There weren't a lot of people on the slopes, so the skiing tended to be pretty good. Visibility was so poor on the top of the mountain that I found I could ski the bumps by brail. Visibility got better as I went down the mountain and at the Celebrity Skifest venue visibility was not a problem.

The Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest included giant slalom races on both Saturday and Sunday, on Deer Valley's Birdseye run. The competition will be televised by CBS on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007, at 5 p.m. EST following NFL Football. The Pro-Am race was held Saturday with the final race taking place on Sunday.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of eating with Tommy Moe's dad, Tommy Sr. and really enjoyed his company. The food was excellent and there were a few Hollywood types, TV stars and ski celebrities enjoying the racing and Deer Valley hospitality. I skied all day and had fun describing Deer Valley as "the best five-star restaurant with skiing in America," to anyone who would listen to my comedic banter. The food at Deer Valley is great and they have one of the best salad bar around. The skiing is great too. There are green trails that are manicured that will flatter the ego of beginners, blue trails to challenge the intermediate and double black diamond trails that will humble expert egos. Whatever you want, Deer Valley has it, and lots of it. This is a BIG ski area with miles and miles and miles of excellent trails and slopes.

I spent the majority of the day skiing Birdseye where the race course was located. It was covered with powder and Western moguls. I had a blast.

The next day, I was joined by an assistant. We did a little free-skiing in the morning and I got to play ski instructor. Katreena told me that she liked to ski greens and easy blues. It was her first day on skis for the season, so I gave her a few pointers.

The sun had come out and it was a pretty nice day. Deer Valley had done a good job grooming the slopes and we got in a lot of vertical before we had to cover the race.

The race was interesting. It was made up of teams of skiers comprised of Olympians and celebrities. The pros raced against each other and those of lesser ability competed against each other. I saw one guy win who had never been on skis before this weekend. He was able to get down the hill in a snowplow and the person he was racing against fell.

There were heated contests between the really good skiers and the winner was decided when Phil Mahre edged out Tommy Moe for the team win. Here he is showing his best side to the camera. He and his team beamed in the Winners Circle. The Kennedy clan was represented, as well and TV and movie celebrities. Not all of the stars that were there skied but they all had a good time raising money for this charity event. The event will be broadcasted by CBS Sports.

I had a chance to chat with Tommy Moe and found out that our mutual friend Ernie Forst has moved on from Jackson Hole and is now residing in California. Ernie was one of my roommates in the old days, when I was a ski bum at Killington. He had been a Pro on the Freestyle circuit in those days but a series of injuries had finally caught up with him and he has finally given up extreme skiing.

This weekend fundraising event raised money for the environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance, an international coalition of citizen advocates who patrol and protect their local waterbodies, fighting for clean water and strong communities.

The public was invited to watch both races, which both took place on the Birdseye ski run located mid-mountain at Silver Lake. Some of the best-known legends of U. S. skiing competed in this year's event, including Steve Mahre, Tommy Moe and Deer Valley's own Ambassador of Skiing Heidi Voelker. Celebrities included: Buzz Aldrin, Carlos Bernard, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Susie Essman, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Chris Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Maxwell Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, Sheila Kennedy and Patrick Warburton.

Because of my flight schedule, I was forced to stay an additional day and skied on Monday. It turned out to be the best day of the three for skiing. The sun came out, the grooming crew had manicured the slopes and I spent the day going up and down and up and down as fast as I could. It was definitely a giant slalom day and I really enjoyed smokin the mountain.

By 1:30 my legs were giving out and I decided to head to the airport. It was a long flight home but I had a really great time at Deer Valley and look forward to visiting this superb ski area SOON.

If you are interested in skiing at one of the nicest ski areas in America, visit Deer Valley. There are many nice places to stay in Park City that range from the fanciest ski lodges on the mountain to reasonably priced accommodations. If you want to save a little money, get a small group of people together and rent a condo. You can cook your meals in the condo and save your money for beer.

Speaking of beer, Utah doesn't have any bars, they are all private clubs and anyone over 21 can join (the fee is $5). I've been a member of the No Name Saloon for years and had a pleasant evening munching a buffalo burger and drinking a brew at this local hang-out on Main St. in Park City. I think Park City is one of the best ski towns in America. Most of the action happens on Main St. where there are shops, restaurants and bars (oops, private clubs) to meet the needs of every skier. In addition, there are three world-class ski areas in town and another six withing an hour. I think when hard-core skiers die, they must go to a place much like Park City.