Deer Valley starts season with celebrity
In 1981, Deer Valley Resort opened five lifts. Thirty-two years later, the resort will welcome skiers to ride 21 lifts on two mountains. Also, for the first time, skiers who purchase a season pass will receive three passes for Park City Mountain Resort, Alta and Snowbird.
Emily Summers, Deer Valley Resorts, communications manager, said on Dec. 7, they will open with a kick-off event: the annual Celebrity SkiFest, headlined this year by country music star, Miranda Lambert. The invitational ski race will involve Olympic ski legends and stars from television and film.
"The race on Saturday is a big celebrity race where teams go head-to-head, kind of bracket-style," Summers said. "It’s televised on NBC on Sunday, the public can come and watch and it’s a fundraiser for the Waterkeeper Alliance."
The Waterkeeper Alliance is "an advocate for regional, national and international energy policies that encourage greater use of renewable energy resources over inherently dirty fossil fuels."
According to Coleen Reardon, director of marketing at Deer Valley Resort, they are readying the mountain with new ultra-low energy efficient SnowLogic tower snowmaking guns, 4 EPA-approved Ski-Doo mountain snowmobiles and three new Prinoth snowcats, including one Beast Groomer.
Summers said snowmaking technology is always changing and improving, so they continue to invest in it every year.
"Regardless of the winter, we lay down a lot of the snow," Reardon said. "It’s insurance for those areas that are high traffic, and in case it were to warm up, we never open a run with less than 24 inches of snow."
The $4.5 million investment in new snowmaking technology is not only for opening day but for the 2014 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January. Summers said there is a huge emphasis on snowmaking in the venue for the event, because the World Cup will be held a month earlier this year.
Deer Valley will kick off the World Cup with a celebration on Main Street Wednesday evening. Two mogul events will be held Thursday and Saturday, and the aerial competition – an Olympic-qualifying event – will be on Friday.
Summers said Deer Valley will host the U.S. Aerial team naming ceremony toward the end of January. A final date has yet to be determined. Once the team is named, she said regular skiers will be able to watch the U.S. Aerial team train on the White Owl jump before they head to Sochi, Russia in February.
"We have a local organizing committee (LOC) that has been meeting regularly since this summer, and it involves everyone from food and beverage to our events department to mountain operations," Reardon said. "The planning of the World Cup is a huge undertaking for the mountain, so we as soon as we are done with this year’s, we will begin planning the next one."
Specials for locals
Summers said locals can purchase discounted passes in quantities of five or 10 coupons at deerlocals.com, which outlines all of the local pass programs. If customers are already in the Deer Locals program, they can renew whenever they want, she said. However, if customers are new to the program, they must purchase by Nov. 30 in order to receive the discount.
For those purchasing day passes, Summers recommends buying them a day in advance. They limit the number of day passes sold to 7,500 each day, despite the 2,000 acres of terrain and uphill lift capacity for 50,000 skiers. She said the number of day passes sold is based on seating at the lodges, which depends on whether the weather is nice and decks are open.
Passes can be purchased at outlets including the Deer Valley Signature Store on Main Street or online. Reardon said in addition to purchasing passes and making lodging reservations online, visitors can now book rental ski equipment.
"We carry entirely Rossignol equipment," Summers said. "They replenish the fleet every year, so all of the equipment is state-of-the-art."
There is also a Rossignol Experience Center located in the Empire Yurt by Empire Canyon Lodge where visitors can try out demo ski equipment for two hours and return it to the yurt, she said.
Once skiers get rental equipment and get out on the mountain, Reardon said they can try out the new green-level beginner run on Little Baldy called "Gnat’s Eye."
Riders can then track their run on the new mobile app, which will launch in December. It will track runs skied, vertical feet skied, allow for sharing on social media and will allow parents to set boundaries and parameters to track where their children are skiing on the mountain.
Deer Valley’s Digital Winter Guide is also available for download online or from the iTunes app store. It contains promotional videos, virtual mountain tours and recipes from restaurants at the resort among other features. It can be downloaded to both computers and iPhones.
Ski programs and clinics
The guide also outlines all of the ski school programs available at the resort. A new program called "Steeps and Stashes" has been added this year, which was developed to guide strong intermediate, advanced and expert skiers through lesser known off-trail terrain.
Reardon said Deer Valley’s ski school has also implemented "the gold standard of instruction," which means only four students per instructor. They have implemented that every year with adult groups, but this year is the first year they will do the same for children’s classes.
"It is a big commitment on the company’s part," Reardon said. "It means more instructors, and hopefully it will transcend into a much better experience for our skiers."
In addition to the usual ski clinics available is Ski Utah’s annual "Learn to Ski" program on Saturday, Jan. 24, for locals and first-time skiers. The first 55 registrants with a Utah driver’s license who have never skied before over the age of 13 can register for a lift ticket, ski rental equipment and lesson all for $39.
When skiers come off the mountain, they can enjoy Empire Canyon Lodge’s newly renovated kitchen, which has doubled in size. That is where Fireside Dining is located. Summers said they can also enjoy fine dining at Seafood Buffet, Mariposa and Royal Street Café, which all offer very different dining experiences.
The mountain will be open from 9 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. every day until closing day on April 13 of next year with no night skiing.
Until then, Reardon said visitors and locals can continue to enjoy the holiday traditions at Deer Valley Resort such as Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve and the Torchlight Parade on Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. at the Snow Park Lodge.
For more information or to purchase passes or lift tickets, visit http://www.deervalley.com or call 435-649-1000.
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