First-Timer's Guide to Ski School and More
By Nick and Laura Como
First days – at school, a job, or even a ski trip – blend excitement and a bit of anxiety. Where to go, how to get there, and what to wear, provide plenty of questions inquiring minds want to know.
DEER VALLEY SKI SCHOOL – MEETING PLACES AND LESSON TYPES
With all things Deer Valley, each detail has been thought through with the guest at the center, and the Deer Valley Ski School is a prime example. Small class sizes are a standard, with children’s lessons comprising no more than six students, and the eponymous adult lessons with a max of four guests. Drop-off times and locations, as well as selecting the best lesson, may feel like a lot at first glance but can be broken down rather simply.
There are different meeting places for various lesson types and there is a rhyme to the reason. The rule of thumb for when and where to meet the instructor is simply based on age.
Children 6 and under meet indoors at Snow Park Lodge with drop-off starting at 8:30 a.m., The drop-off room names match the lesson names (also based on age); Fawn, Bambi, and Reindeer. These lessons mix indoor and outdoor time and include a cubby for use during the day.
Adventure Club, ages 7 through 12, meet outside on the snow at Snow Park Lodge at 9:45 a.m., close to the base of the Wide West ski run. Early drop-off is available indoors from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. for those in this age group who arrive before the lesson starts
Teen Escape, ages 13 through 17, meet outside at Snow Park at 9:45 a.m. at the bottom of the Wide West ski run. Plan to arrive by 9:45 a.m. so instructors can organize groups to be on the snow when the lesson starts at 10 a.m.
Adult Max 4 group lessons are the first lessons to meet outside at Snow Park at 8:45 a.m. at the bottom of the Wide West ski run. Plan to arrive by 8:45 a.m. so instructors can organize groups to be on the snow when the lesson starts at 9 a.m.. Plan on meeting at 12:45 p.m. for afternoon lessons starting at 1 p.m.
Private lessons are tailored to each guest, including a variety of meeting places around the resort.
A FEW MORE SKI TIPS
Learning Area tickets are available (all ages, single-day) and valid on Snowflake, Silver Lake Express, Viking, Judge and all conveyor lifts only. For skiing on Wide West, Trainer and conveyor lift areas. Please note when purchasing online, select the “All Ages” option.
Keep your email confirmation handy. This email, as well as the Deer Valley website, contain important day-of information that will make arrival as smooth as possible, such as the aforementioned meeting places and times as well as the type of lesson you reserved
Make reservations well in advance. Peak periods (the December holidays, Presidents’ Week, March spring break weeks, etc.) can book out before the resort even opens for the season. It’s not unheard of to book lessons before flights and accommodations. Joining a waitlist for these popular periods is also an option, and the time to do so is right away
Arrive early. There’s no sense in rushing around in ski boots at the last minute. Start the day off relaxed by dropping children off, making sure they have the proper clothing and restroom breaks, and having time to do the same yourself before the lifts spin
Deer Valley’s team is all about creating a top-notch experience. The Skier Services staff who assist in making reservations can help craft the right lesson experience for families and groups, and instructors are more than happy to share their terrain plans for the day.
GROUP, PRIVATE, FAMILIES, FRIENDS AND COUPLES
Roughly 25% of ski school attendees are putting on skis for the first time, and lesson options from children through adults are offered with this in mind. When deciding between group and private lessons, the first question to ask is, “What is each guest going to get out of the experience?”
Children often get the most out of a lesson around their peers, and away from parental expectations. Ski school groups consist of just one or two years in age range for this very reason, and are an excellent way for kids to get the hang of a new sport while making new friends. Teen group lessons are built in the same fashion, albeit with a wider range of ages. A private lesson can be a good fit for multiple families, with several kids of similar ages and abilities progressing at the same pace.
Adults will also enjoy a private lesson when sharing the same goals and having similar ability levels. Couples and friends looking to improve their skiing, while learning the mountain, are a great fit for a private lesson experience.
Groups of friends with varied ability levels are wise to split into individual private, or group lessons, tailored to their goals and ability. This gives everyone the opportunity to ski, and learn, their best. With a ratio of four adult students per instructor, group classes maintain an intimate feel.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
What do you wear skiing? The old adage skiers follow when dressing for the day is to wear layers. Temperature can be easily regulated when adding or removing a thin layer or two versus the wild swing in degrees of an item like a down puffy coat (useful only on the coldest of days) offers. At Deer Valley, skiers are never more than a lift ride and/or a short run from the comfort of a lodge. Taking a break, even before getting tired, will maximize time out on the snow.
Utilizing the lockers or basket check at Snow Park Lodge makes it easy to stash a layer or grab a fresh set of gloves or goggles during a day on the mountain. Gloves, like jackets, come in different levels of warmth that they offer. It’s nice to have a second pair should one get snowy or damp. Goggle lenses also vary for use in bright sun, low-light or snowy conditions. The weather can change multiple times throughout the day, and options in eyewear go a long way in enjoying the skiing experience.
One item to never, ever layer: socks. One thin pair of socks is all that is needed as the thick boot liner provides all the warmth. Multiple socks cause feet to sweat, then get cold. It is imperative that the only thing in the boot itself is a foot with one thin (sounding like a broken record, yet?) sock. Keeping ski pants, cuffs, gaiters, long johns, and everything else out of the boot is key, as to avoid blisters once they inevitably bunch up and create friction points.
Whether it’s the first time in a long time, or the first time since last season, making sure gear is in good working order is critical to a safe day on the slopes. Trying on jackets, pants, and boots to make sure they still fit is a fun ritual to usher in ski season. Plenty of skiers walk around in their living rooms in ski boots to get their feet “in shape” before a ski trip. Getting foot muscles ready for inflexible, heavy plastic boots in advance avoids cramping and swelling once it’s time to make turns.
Taking a look at ski bases and edges and deciding whether or not they need to be prepped will make that first day back on snow more enjoyable as well. If the bases look dry, and the edges feel more burred than smooth, a tune is a good idea.
Equipment rentals can make a lot of sense and to rent skis in Park City is easy. There’s no need to purchase, store or tune gear while enjoying current technology each season. Services like Ski Butlers bring gear directly to your door or renting from Deer Valley’s on-mountain ski rental shops offer the advantage of adjusting boot fit throughout the day and the convenience of going directly to the equipment dispatch.
Deer Valley is as well known for gourmet food as it is for groomed runs. Reserving a table for holidays and popular spring weekends is a smart idea to plan along with ski school and equipment rentals.
Fireside Dining, The Mariposa, and the newest dining option, Cast & Cut, require reservations. Walk-ins are welcome at The Brass Tag, though it is strongly recommended to make a reservation.
When it comes to lunch, there are two words every Deer Valley skier must know: Turkey Chili. It is no superlative to say “world-famous” when it comes to the revered bowl of black beans, corn, red pepper, and–of course–turkey. This tried and true dish never gets old, but for an interesting spin try it smothered over a plate of french fries.
GETTING HERE AND AROUND
Parking is a hot topic across Park City. The automobile is a convenient transportation tool right up until it’s time to find a place to park, which can be a challenge on popular days. There are several large transit lots within and on the outskirts of town, which make it incredibly easy to park your own wheels and either grab a free bus ride or carpool. Carpoolers are even rewarded with reserved parking closest to the lifts. A big advantage for buses: they use dedicated lanes on the highway, zipping right by cars queuing up along the access roads, hoping there will be spots left when they arrive. Most lodging in Park City offers convenient transportation to the lifts as well. New this year, the Deer Valley Mobile App has a Snow Park Parking Lot Availability Meter to let you know the parking availability and to help you plan accordingly. Get the app today for both the App Store for IOS and Google Play Store for Android.
When it comes to the actual skiing, Deer Valley is expansive. There is much to explore at over 2,000 acres, with 21 chairlifts, 103 ski runs, and six bowls. However, the layout of the runs and lifts makes it easy to get from one side of the resort to the other. Skiers can get pretty much anywhere on the mountain in two (at most, three) high-speed lift rides, making the skiing feel very accessible. Mountain Hosts are posted at the top of many lifts, and offer free guided tours throughout the day, based on ability levels. These tours are a great way to meet other skiers of similar ability and discover suitable terrain.