Killington Resort, VT: Tree skiing with extreme skier Dan Egan

By Marlene Greer

Premier extreme skier Dan Egan holds all-terrain ski camps at Killington Resort a couple times each season. Don’t know the name? He’s the star – along with his brother John – of a dozen Warren Miller films that turned extreme skiing into a lucrative industry.

He was just a boy then, ripping up everything he could find, Dan Eganwhen Miller discovered him. These days, Egan produces his own sports films, covers world-wide skiing events (including the Sochi Olympics), and teaches ski clinics all over the world.

Today he’s at Killington explaining his teaching techniques before taking a group of skiers and riders to discover the joys of tree skiing at the Vermont resort.

His camps, he said, are about “total body skiing.”

“I can get you skiing better fast,” he explained. “I look at the alignment of your body over your feet and give you a set of drills and skills, and the only difference between beginning and advanced is the pitch we do (the drills and skills) on.”

At Killington, he said, skiers and riders can go boundary to boundary in the woods. But you need to know where those woods come out before heading in, he cautions.

In his tree skiing camp, Egan aspires to change the way his students see the hill. One skier, after a day of following Egan through the woods, said of the experience: “I was definitely out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing.”

Egan’s best tree skiing tips: “Better to kick them then kiss them.” And, “keep your feet below your head.”

Sound advice.

 

Killington Resort, VT: Skiers enjoy the view from the top

IMG_2912Story and Photo by Marlene Greer

The anticipated late winter storm which was expected to drop several inches of snow today at Killington, Vermont, instead veered further east, with the edges only skirting the state. The resort received maybe an inch of snow in the early morning.

This, of course, is on top of two feet of snowfall in the last two weeks and a foot the two weeks before that. Snowmaking at Killington stopped more than a month ago, said Michael Joseph, communications manager for the resort.

Though the snow came late to Killington, it’s now “full on winter – wall to wall,” Joseph said, indicating all runs and lifts at the resort are open.

It seems skiers on the east coast are accustomed to skiing on man-made snow and are finding the real snow a treat. Dave, a 69-year-old self-described Vermont farm boy and lifelong skier, called conditions at Killington this year, “the best it gets.” At least on the east coast, anyway, he added.

With the storm bypassing Killington and the state of Vermont, it turned out to be a second glorious day of skiing, with some clouds and sun, temperatures in the 20s and – most importantly – beautiful packed powder.

Killington is quite large, covering four mountains with 212 trails spread across 1,977 acres. Today we journeyed to the resort’s highest peak – Killington Peak – at 4,241 feet. I know it doesn’t sound like much to us west coast skiers accustomed to 10,000- and 11,000-foot peaks, but here it’s spectacular. Standing at the edge of the mountain, you can see 360 degrees. Skiers can take in the panoramic view of the Green, White and Adirondack mountains. A friendly skier and Vermont native pointed out Mount Washington, New Hampshire, in the distance and the nearby ski resorts of Okemo, Stratton and Pico.

And you don’t have to be an expert skier to reach the top. All levels of ski terrain come off the peak. Now that’s a treat.

 

Killington Resort, VT: Best ski conditions of the season

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Story and Photo by Marlene Greer

When I woke up this morning at Killington Grand Hotel in Vermont, outside it was 1 degree below zero. The unseasonably cold weather gripping the nation for most of this winter has not yet released its grip on the northeast. Another storm is headed this way on Tuesday with a chance of yet more snow.

Fortunately by the time I hit the slopes at Killington Resort in the afternoon,  it warmed up nicely and was beautiful and sunny if a bit windy at times.

And the ski conditions were not at all what I expected.

This is the first time I’ve skied anywhere in the East Coast, and I couldn’t have picked a better place. Killington was at its peak.

“Today is the best skiing of the season,” said Mike, a Killington mountain host stationed at the top of a chairlift where we stopped to get some advice on the best way to ski back to where we started earlier in the day.

Other skiers agreed.

“This is our fourth trip this year, and this is the best skiing we’ve had,” said Evelyn, a teacher from Massachusetts skiing Killington with her husband.

Sometimes we West Coast skiers can be a bit of a ski snob when it comes to East Coast skiing. “It’s always icy.” “It’s hard snow.” “All you do is chatter down the hill.” “They’re all small hills.” I’ve heard it all.

But Killington has surprised me. It’s none of the above – at least for today.

 

Deer Valley Ski Resort plans major mountain addition in Park City, Utah

 

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, is growing. President and General Manager Bob Wheaton announced recently the resort’s plan to add 1,000 acres of ski terrain with five or six new lifts.

The new ski area will be located on the resort’s east side below the Sultan Express and Mayflower lift on Bald Mountain. With this addition, Deer Valley will offer more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. A new lodge, dining area and possibly lodging will be built in the new base area.

Deer Valley has wanted to expand for some time, Wheaton said. On peak days the resort’s dining areas struggle to handle all the skiers. The expansion, he said, will alleviate much of the dining congestion and offer skiers another access point to the resort.

The anticipated start date for the project is 2017. The project is expected to be complete in five years and cost an estimated $50 million.

Also on the horizon is a new gondola from historic downtown Park City to Deer Valley. Another major ski resort, Park City resort already operates the Town Lift from one end of Main Street. Deer Valley wants its own gondola.

The gondola will run from Main Street to Deer Valley’s mid-mountain Silver Lake Lodge area at 8,100 feet. The ride should take 15 minutes.

A decision has not yet been made whether the gondola will be free or if there will be a small fee. The gondola project will begin within two years and cost $10 to $12 million, Wheaton said.

All of this is great news for skiers and visitors to Park City. With a town gondola to Deer Valley Resort and a town lift to Park City Resort, skiers can skip the public buses and go direct from downtown to two of the area’s ski resorts.

Big and easy, that’s Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It’s easy to get to Deer Valley. It’s a 45-minute ride from the Salt Lake City Airport, and many transportation companies offer service from the airport to Deer Valley for a reasonable price.

There are many lodging opportunities at Deer Valley — all are on the expensive side. My stepdaughter and I stayed in a one-bedroom unit at The Lodges, a luxurious complex with a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, near Snow Park Lodge, Deer Valley’s main base lodge.

A free shuttle runs all day from The Lodges to Deer Valley and takes less than five minutes. Another plus at The Lodges is the free, on-call car service to anywhere we wanted to go in the town of Park City.

Skiers can also stay in Park City and take the free local public buses to Deer Valley that run all day and pick up at several locations.

On our second day of skiing at Deer Valley, the snowfall was heavy and wet, the kind of ski day that leaves your jacket and gloves soaked.

But that didn’t keep us from discovering and enjoying more of the resort’s beautiful blues and blue-greens, Deer Valley’s in-between groomers that challenge beginners and give intermediate skiers an easy final run at the end of the day.

Beautiful and easy. That’s Deer Valley.

A Killington ski adventure

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By Marlene Greer

Sometimes we west coasters can be ski snobs. We have so many great SoCal and Western US ski resorts to choose from we don’t bother with what’s on the other side of the country. Well, we’ve put aside our bias and are trying – for the first time – skiing in Vermont. Join us in our adventure on the right coast as we explore historic Killington and Pico ski resorts.

Families and friends make Deer Valley a tradition

Skiers crowd liftlines at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Skiers crowd liftlines at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Deer Valley is a skiers-only resort — one of the few left in the country. And Deer Valley plans to keep it that way.

“We survey our guests and (no snowboarders) is among the top reasons why people come to Deer Valley,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager. He says the resort is doing well financially with only skiers, and he doesn’t see the policy changing.

No snowboarders made our skiing experience more relaxed. And quiet. Deer Valley is excellent casual skiing at its best.

Jill, skiing at Deer Valley with a friend and her friend’s daughter Lauren, described it a little differently. “It’s lazy skiing,” said Jill, a vivacious 50-something lifelong skier. “Nice runs, not crowded, no snowboarders, not too difficult. I’m old. I’ve got bad knees. I want nice, easy skiing.”

This was the trio’s third trip to Deer Valley in three years. The two friends from Texas, whose husbands don’t ski, have been skiing together for many years. Lauren joined them three years ago for their annual ladies-only ski trip, and Deer Valley is their go-to destination.

“It started with six of us friends,” Jill said. “Now only the two of us are going, with Lauren. We’ve been to Deer Valley many times. It’s our favorite mountain.”
It’s also the favorite of Amy and Bill from Austin, Texas. The couple returned to Deer Valley for the second year with their two young children, 7-year-old Ben and Caroline, 9.

The parents felt the resort was ideal for their family. Ben’s favorite trail is Ontario, a long green groomer running from the top of Flagstaff Mountain.
“We’ve been doing that all day,” Amy said with a sigh.

The parents also like the kids ski school program.
“They have fun with other kids, and Bill and I can go ski,” Amy said. “They could probably ski with us now, but we like the ski school. It’s expensive, but if you are spending this much to ski here, what’s a few hundred more?”

Deer Valley lift tickets are on the high side — $108 a day for adults, $68 for
children. The resort offers a nice discount for seniors 65 and older at $77 a day.

Making a mother-daughter trip to Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It was snowing for the first time in three weeks when my stepdaughter and I arrived at Deer Valley Resort in early February: Six inches of soft powder over groomed hardpack and just under freezing. Ideal conditions.

We were standing midmountain looking at the trail map trying to decide where to head to for some easy intermediate terrain. We had tried Bald Mountain earlier and found it too chopped up. It also has a 9,400-foot summit, so we were looking for something a bit easier on our first day on skis this season.
A mountain host gave us some great advice.

“Head to Flagstaff Mountain. There are some beauuuutiful blues off the back side,” the friendly Aussie said with the enthusiasm of a skier on a powder day. Everything was an exclamation!

“Take Hawkeye first. It’s excellent! Groomed with a nice pitch,” he advised. “Then try Sidewinder; it’s a bit steeper, but still nice. They are all just beautiful runs!”

This was our first trip to Deer Valley, and we found many “beautiful blues” in the next two days of skiing. We particularly liked Little Baldy Peak. The runs were groomed, nearly deserted (even on a Saturday) and there were no lift lines. We felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Deer Valley, one of the three major ski resorts in Park City, Utah, covers five mountain peaks and 2,026 acres. All levels of terrain can be accessed on all peaks with the exception of the resort’s highest — Empire Peak at 9,500 feet — which offers intermediate and expert terrain only.

Most of the lifts have high-speed quads, giving skiers more time on the slopes. The resort is surrounded by private property, so you’ll see large homes on the side of many runs.

Look for the Raccoon House and the Bear House off Last Chance Trail. Both have whimsical critters of all sizes hanging from the roof, sitting on the deck, peeking in windows and hiding in trees.

Park City adventure: Deer Valley offers elegant ski experience

By Richard Irwin

Deer Valley ski resort is elegance personified. You get that message when you find a new Cadillac sitting outside the lodge.

As if the beautiful log lodge wasn’t enough. And old chairlifts served as porch swings on the verandah.

I found it hard to hit the slopes, when I checked out the plush interior with its club setting. The leather chairs and stone fireplaces reminded me more of a plush country club, than a typical ski resort.

But that’s just the impression that Deer Valley is trying to make. It caters to the well-heeled such as an Orange County couple who were married here 17 years ago, and had returned for Valentine’s Day.

Even the “cafeteria” looked amazing, with a live carving station and natural food bar.

The resort had just hosted the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January. U.S. aerial and moguls teams answered questions, while Columbia l unveiled the 2014 Olympic uniforms for the U.S., Canadian and Russian freestyle ski teams.

The rest is history, with the U.S. freestyle winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the Sochi Olympics.

While I’m not Olympic material, I thought it would be interesting to ride the same mountain that our champions had practiced on . So I forced myself back outside to catch my first run of the day.

Choices, choices: Deer Valley can lift more than 50,000 skiers an hour with its gondola and a dozen high-speed quads. Add in the other chairlifts and you get a total of 21 lifts. Heck, I wouldn’t even be able to get to every lift in one day.

With a base elevation of 6,500 feet and a summit height of 9,500, this gives skiers 3,000 vertical feet to play with. I say “skiers” because snowboarders aren’t welcome at Deer Valley.

We worked our way around the mountain, enjoying the well-groomed runs. Beautiful homes lined many of the trails, forcing us to stop every once in a while to oogle celebrities’ homes.

Bald, Flagstaff and Empire mountains all top off above 9,000 feet, so good luck if you’re coming from sea level like I was. Give yourself a day to acclimate and you should be alright.

Deer Valley averages 300 inches of the “Greatest Snow on Earth” blanketing its six mountains – Little Baldy Peak, Bald Eagle, Bald, Flagstaff, Empire and Lady Morgan.

Skiers of all abilities will enjoy a wide range of trails. We stayed on the blue trails and away from the black ones because we didn’t want to land up black and blue at the end of the day.

Mother Nature cooperated with temps in the 30s under partly cloudy skies. On  many runs, we were the only skiers in sight and we never had to wait in line at the lifts.

A friend from La Verne decided to take a ski lesson. She was impressed by the quality of instruction and shared many of the instructor’s tips with me in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, we were sad to leave, but glad we had come. Headed home, we congratulated the Orange County couple and wished them another memorable Valentine’s Day.

Park City adventure: Park City ski resort offers little bit of everything

By  Staff Writer Richard Irwin 

At Park City ski resort, we had a little bit of everything — wind, snow, fog — but we still had a great time exploring this getaway nestled up against the city with the same name.

You can actually catch a chairlift from town, which must inspire a lot of residents to call in sick on a powder day. Actually, the bosses probably plan on it.

We joined in the fun at the lovely ski plaza at the base of the mountain. It looks very new with shops, restaurants and services on the first floor and lodging on several floors above. We gathered at the golden eagle statue for a group shop before heading up.

Park City Mountain offers 3,300 acres of skiing. There’s also nine — count ‘em, nine — bowls with 750 acres. That’s a lot of territory to cover with the fine, dry Utah snow, but coverage was excellent when we arrived.

We decided to warm up on Homerun, which turns out to be the longest trail measuring 3 and a half miles. Quite the warm up.

Park City actually has 114 trails, with more than half listed as intermediate, while 31 percent are advanced.

The snow was fine as we schussed under cloudy skies. At times, a pale white sun would barely pierce the cloudy veil, lending a cold, bleak light.

Once again, it was ski down, jump on another empty chairlift and shoot back up to the top. Park City has 16 lifts, including four high-speed 6-packs and three high-speed quads.

The total uphill capacity is 31,000 skiers an hour, which should be tested this Presidents Day weekend with every hotel room booked solid.

But we beat the rush and could ski as much as we wanted. We were often alone on our section of the mountain.

A light snow started and would continue off and on for the rest of the day. Not a heavy Sierra snow, but the light, dry snow that Utah is famous for. Its flakes were just big enough to sting your face if you took off your facemask.

Shooting by a terrain park we saw several boarders trying their luck on the jumps. Park City has three parks, including Eagle superpipe and Merrill minipipe.

Caught some high winds at the summit, but it was fine once you got into the valleys. It turned out to be another great day in our Park City adventure.

Next stop: Deer Valley ski resort