A Ski Novice Discovers Utah – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

A Ski Novice Discovers Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Okay, take a deep breath, remember what the instructor said, and one, two, three and off I go! As I glide down the hill, I remember to zigzag horizontally across the slope to control my speed, with each turn helping me slow down. Going left then right requires that I shift my weight from one leg to the other. To turn right, I take all the weight off my right foot and ski and vice versa. Then, to turn down the hill, I take all of the weight off my downhill ski. I’m doing it; this is the first run of my life!

I'm skiing, I'm skiing!!!
I’m skiing, I’m skiing!!!
Oh-oh, I’m picking up speed now. Can’t stop! The instructor said to use the snow plow technique to stop – invert my skis, press the tips of the skis closer together while putting weight on the insoles of my feet. I’m trying but it’s not working. Speed is increasing. The lodge is coming into view. Must stop! Okay, last resort! I drop and land on my butt! Fortunately, the snow is soft and powdery. I lay there staring up at a clear blue sky and thinking, “I survived my first run!” The instructor shows up concerned and asks if I’m okay. I reassure her that I’m fine and that I’m ready to try it again! Falling is part of the fun and it’ll happen, so take it in stride, get right back up, and keep trying.

All the resorts have ski schools with first-rate certified instructors. My instructor helped me gain the confidence I needed as a first time skier to enjoy the experience. On a gently inclined slope I learned how to put on and take off my skis, and then practiced how to glide, turn and stop safely. Once the instructor felt I was steady on my skis, I graduated to the chairlift, which took me up to one of the beginner’s green runs. I can’t overemphasize the importance of taking skiing lessons to ensure your safety and to make your ski trip a pleasurable experience! Call the ski school ahead of time to reserve lessons.

Utah is a skier’s paradise; all the ski resorts are only 45-60 minutes away from the Salt Lake City International Airport. From the airport I went straight to Ski N’ See to pick up my ski rentals. The friendly and knowledgeable staff helped me find the correct boots and skis for my beginner’s needs. Then I was off to Park City, the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Park City
Park City is home to three ski resorts located within five miles of each other: The Canyons Resort, Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort. So, you can stay anywhere and ski at a different resort everyday. Park City is also known for its great après ski and nightlife, with over 100 restaurants from casual fare to exquisite dining, bars and nightclubs, shops, galleries, and spas with free bus service to and from the three resorts. At Grappa Italian Café located on Main Street you can savor their house specialty osso bucco, braised veal shank in a rich veal stock fortified with red wine and herbs. For a lighter fare, try the wild mushroom ravioli. For dessert, indulge in some tiramisu and glazed chocolate tartufo; you’ll easily burn off the calories while skiing all day!

Park City – Deer Valley Resort
I stayed at The Lodges at Deer Valley, a luxurious condominium hotel. It offers spacious units with beautiful furnishings, daily breakfast, and shuttles to take you skiing or into town. The heated pool and Jacuzzi are the perfect complement to a day of skiing.

My first day of skiing was at Deer Valley Resort. Its reputation for high quality customer service and great restaurants gave it the honor of being voted the #1 Ski Resort in North America by SKI Magazine in 2001. Comprised of four mountains, Deer Valley offers 9 runs and 6 bowls, giving skiers 1750 skiable acres. The instructor took me to the Little Stick Trail, a wide and gentle beginner’s trail, where I enjoyed swooshing down the mountain on a crisp clear sunny day.

Deer Valley Resort is also about outstanding food, from a simple burger to a fine dining experience. In the mornings, the Snow Lodge offers a large breakfast buffet. You can pick from Eggs Benedict, made-to-order omelets, hash browns, bacon and ham, waffles, and hot and cold cereal. While on the slopes, you can stop for lunch at The Deer Valley’s Royal Street Café sitting atop Bald Eagle Mountain. I recommend their chicken mandarin salad. In the evenings it’s back to the Snow Lodge for their famous seafood buffet featuring Ophelia crab, house-smoked salmon and seared ahi tuna.

The Group Enjoying the View at the Canyons
The Group Enjoying the View at the Canyons
Park City – The Canyons Resort
The next day I skied at The Canyons Resort, the fifth largest ski and snowboard resort in the US. The Canyons is made up of 8 mountains, covers 3500 acres and has 146 trails and 7 natural half pipes so there is plenty of room for skiers and snowboarders alike. The Village is located at an altitude of 6800 feet and is accessible only via the Cabriolet, an open air gondola which transports you into the majestic beauty of the alpine slopes. At the Village you’ll find the Grand Summit Resort Hotel and a multitude of shops, restaurants and an outdoor amphitheater.

Fuel up for the morning with breakfast at The Cabin, located in The Canyons’ Grand Summit Hotel. For lunch, jump on the Golden Eagle or Short Cut chairlifts to the Lookout Cabin perched at 9,000 feet. The Lookout Cabin offers an eclectic menu; try the smoked turkey and brie sandwich with fried sweet potatoes � yummy.

Alta Ski – Alta Lodge
After an exhilarating day of skiing at The Canyons, I was off to the town of Alta located 8600 feet atop Little Cottonwood Canyon. Alta became a ski town in 1939 and has preserved the charm of the past. It is a wonderful place to come and ski and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many visitors return year after year such as Ruth, a devoted Alta skier who first skied at Alta in 1942 and has been coming back ever since with her family.

Getting Aboard the Gondola to Hit the Slopes
Getting Aboard the Gondola to Hit the Slopes
The Alta Ski Resort, famous for its powder snow, is all about skiing. No snowboarders are allowed on Alta’s 2200 acres of spectacular skiable terrain. Alta is a great place for beginners. From the Albion Basin, skiers get on board Sunnyside, a chairlift just for beginners. It slows down to allow skiers to get on and off easily without tripping over their skis. For a quick lunch, pop into Atla’a Alf cafeteria style restaurant at the base of the Cecret and Sugarloaf lifts. Enjoy a scenic view and tasty food, pick your favorite grilled sandwich or have some chicken fajitas.

Warmly greeted by the friendly staff at the Alta Lodge, I immediately felt at home. I agree with Skiing Magazine: Alta Lodge is the quintessential Alta accommodation. The Lodge was beautifully decorated throughout for the holidays with fresh pine and eucalyptus arrangements that perfumed the air with a wonderful scent. The rooms are unpretentious and comfortable with breathtaking mountain views. Holding true to yesteryear, there are no televisions in the rooms. People meet by the fireplace in the Sitzmark Club Bar to exchange skiing adventure stories. The food at the Alta Lodge Restaurant is a fine culinary experience, from homemade breads and desserts, to Portobello mushroom ravioli with a walnut basil sauce or grilled swordfish with mango red chili sauce. For a true ski lodge with a no frills experience, stay at the Alta Lodge and enjoy the outdoors.

Now you may be wondering, “What do I need to bring along on a ski trip?” Warm clothes: Snow jacket and pants, hat, gloves, and ski socks. And don’t forget the sunscreen and sunglasses to protect you from the rays of the sun that beam off the white glistening snow. I was comfortable and stayed warm and dry in my Obermeyer ski outfit, and the Panoptyx sunglasses/sky goggles protected my eyes while Protech’s sunscreen protected me from the sun.

To start planning your own ski get away, go to Ski Utah’s website. There you’ll find information and hot deals for ski resorts, lodging, ski packages, special events and an up to date snow report. Southwest Airlines offers daily flights to Salt Lake City, checkout their website for affordable fares and book your flight online, quick and easy. So now that you’re all set, go and have fun as you discover the beauty of Utah slopes.