Winter is the time to hibernate or learn something new. I chose the latter this winter as I tackled skiing head on after years of falling down on my snowboard. I’d tried skiing on the East Coast at Liberty Mountain Resort and Seven Springs Mountain Resort earlier this season. It gave me a healthy respect for the icy conditions so many pro skiers learned in. Those conditions are exactly why skiers say if you can ski the east coast you can ski anywhere. I was aching for some fresh powder though. There was a conference in Salt Lake City in February. Who was I to say no to arriving a few days early, sans kids, to enjoy a weekend at the ski resorts in Park City Utah, which had been dumped on with snow for weeks?
Best idea ever!
Two days in Park City and I was finally figuring out how to make parallel, instead of wedge, turns. It took that time in PA to get me to that point, but that west coast snow made all the difference. I gained confidence through great instructors, hit harder greens than I ever thought I would have the courage to try, and I never cried once.
Want to know when I cried on the slopes?
So, how did this amazing ski Utah experience occur? Well, it all started with Park City, two mountain resorts, and a hot tub that soon knew my name as I soaked my aching, happy legs at the end of each day.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARK CITY, UT
NewPark Resort: The NewPark Resort is not at the base of Park City Mountain Resort or Deer Valley Resort. It is actually about a 15-minute drive away. The hotel is located in Newpark Town Center, a large shopping area with plenty of stores to satisfy any girls getaway shopping needs or family stock ups before you hit the slopes. The large suites can house a group of friends or a family of four comfortably. Each suite has a hot tub on the balcony, full kitchen, soaker tub, walk-in shower, and enough closet space to hide all of your ski gear.
Check the best rates and availability at NewPark Resort now!
Dining options in Newpark Town Center include a Whole Foods and several smaller restaurants. If you want the true Park City dining experience people rave about though, you need to head to Main Street in Park City.
WHERE TO EAT IN PARK CITY, UT
As always, I can’t help asking the locals where to eat in Park City, just like any other trip I go on. This time I grilled my ski instructors to find out where they loved to eat. I got to try a few, but being on the slopes all day, meant I wasn’t in town as much as I would have liked to do some food research.
- Riverhorse Provisions, 221 Main St., Park City, UT 84060.
- Eating Establishment, 317 Main St, Park City, UT 84060.
- Tupelo, 508 Main St, Park City, UT 84060.
- Wasatch Brew Pub, 250 Main St, Park City, UT 84060.
- The Mustang, 890 Main St #5115, Park City, UT 84060.
- High West Distillery and Saloon, 703 Park Ave, Park City, UT 84060.
- Divanza’s, 690 Park Ave, Park City, UT 84060.
- Riverhorse on Main, 540 Main St, Park City, UT 84060.
- Silver Star Café, 1825 Three Kings Dr, Park City, UT 84060.
- Sammy’s Bistro, 1890 Bonanza Dr, Park City, UT 84060.
- Bread and Bagel, 1784 W Ute Blvd, Park City, UT 84098.
WHERE TO SKI IN PARK CITY, UTAH
Now, the real reason you came to Park City isn’t to sit around in your hotel. No, you want to ski, and that is exactly what I did.
I don’t travel solo as often as you might think. Normally I’m with my family, or I meet up with friends to explore a new destination. It was an intimidating idea to ski solo, but there was no need. In fact, I found that if I had friends along, I probably wouldn’t see them most of the day anyway. That is until we met up for a little après ski. My friends would either surpass me on the mountain or have no interest in skiing and sit in the lodge reading a book all day.
PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT
Park City Mountain Resort is owned and operated by Vail Resorts, which also owns nearby Canyons Village, making it one of the largest ski areas in the county. It is a great home base for groups with both skiers and snowboarders. It features greens, blues, double blues (who knew that was a thing!?), blacks and double blacks. There is also one of the best half pipes in the country here as well as a killer terrain park. Most important, there is a stellar ski school for newbies like me.
Now, even though I have skied three days in my life, I still tell every instructor that I am a very basic beginner. I find that this lowers expectations and makes them listen to my fears and take it slow with me. Sure I know how to get my skis on, and get on and off the lift. I don’t want anyone assuming I like to go fast and plow down a double blue anytime soon though!
PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT LESSONS
My instructor, Gregg Vagstad, was quickly onto my game, but he respected the fact that I wanted to learn how to control my speed more than anything else. I have an insane fear of uncontrolled speeds that can trigger panic attacks when I least expect it. I’d rather not cry on another mountain. Gregg didn’t want that either.
We took our time. Going up the smallest lift and just seeing where I was at on the slopes. As I went down, Gregg took mental notes as I showed off my “skills.” Then we started doing drills. He wanted me to control my speed, and to do that, I needed to get out of my comfort zone in the wedge and start working on parallels.
By the end of the day I was seeing a few parallel turns, but I wasn’t comfortable, and that’s not just because my legs were turning to Jello after seven hours on the slopes and almost every green run at the resort. I’d figured out how to control my speed, but I would need more time to really get comfortable in my parallels.
Enter a morning at Deer Valley Resort.
DEER VALLEY RESORT
Deer Valley Resort is NOT owned or operated by Vail Resorts. You will need separate lift tickets and passes. Your EPIC pass will not work here. There is also no snowboarding allowed on these slopes. Honestly, this was a bit of a relief. No snowboarders meant no one was trying crazy stuff as I attempted NOT to fall down a mountain.
I adore snowboarders. What they can do is amazing, hard, hurts, and looks super cool. I just don’t want one running me over like I have seen one too many times on the slopes in the past. I’m a danger enough to myself and other skiers.
Deer Valley Resort features two competitive ski jump/mogul areas where international competitions are held. The resort also features multiple winding greens, blues, double blues, blacks and double blacks for all skill levels. There is a large ski school practice area, mainly used for very new skiers and the children’s ski program.
DEER VALLEY RESORT LESSONS
My instructor for the morning, Mark Shepard, had been skiing for decades before he got me as a student. In fact, his brother had taught a workshop that Gregg had been in, which is how I learned to do certain moves to get my non-dominant ski straight when trying to go parallel.
The ski community is small. The guys and gals who teach in Utah make that community even smaller. And for some reason, whenever I get a private lesson, I’m paired up with a man who was skiing before I was born. They make the best teachers and have more patience than anyone you will ever meet!
Mark saw the progress I had made the day before, but had a few alternate ways to get me going parallel. We hit what would become my favorite green run, Ontario, several times so I would know what to expect, where my speed would need to be controlled and when to just let go so I’d make it over a flat spot. I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. Mark loved this one “steep” spot (hey, it looked like a straight vertical to me from the top!) that made me take quick short turns that forced me into parallel more than any section of that mountain.
You know what? I soon loved those short, quick turns. My body knew what parallel felt like in those small spaces. I felt in control. From there I was able to make wider parallel turns, because I finally knew what it felt like. Mark and I worked for about four hours on my parallels, and by the end of our morning together I was there. My fear was completely gone. I was having FUN, something I never thought I would achieve in a snow sport.
Thinking of going to California?
Check out these CA Ski resorts
PARK CITY SKI WEEKEND
A weekend in Park City, Utah didn’t make a pro skier out of me. What it did do was give me the confidence and skills I needed to become a ski fan. My husband snowboards. Our oldest son skis and just started to snowboard. My youngest just started ski school. I didn’t want to be left behind.
I joke with friends that I want to be good enough at skiing to keep up with my kids for at least a year. There are no misconceptions that I will be able to keep up with my boys forever. My kids bounce when they fall and will try crazy stuff, especially when they are teens. This is one family sport we are all learning together right now.
Park City got me to a place that I’m comfortable. Now I have to head back to the East Coast slopes to see how I do on ice with my new parallel skills.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Many thanks to Park City Utah for hosting me for three nights at Newpark Resort and providing ski lessons throughout my stay at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t, you will be the first to know.