Tom Kelly: A mountain tour with Emma | ParkRecord.com
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Tom Kelly: A mountain tour with Emma

Tom Kelly

Photo illustration by Tom Kelly

I’ll admit, I was nervous. I had a ski date in the morning with someone I didn’t know. I was anxious in anticipation of our ski day at Canyons.

Now, I consider myself a pretty good skier. But you always worry. Will I be able to keep up with her? Will she want to head right up to 9990 and leave me in her dust?

I texted to make sure we were all set. “Hey, Emma,” I asked. “What’s the weather looking like for Canyons tomorrow?”

“Park City received one inch of new snow in the past 24 hours,” she said. “No overnight snow expected, but crossing my fingers.”

‘Hey Emma, do you know Alexa and Siri,’ I joked. She looked at me and grinned, ‘We gather in Colorado for a ski trip every year.’”

“How will I find you? What do you look like,” I texted. “With my helmet, goggles and coat on, my hope is that I look as good as you do on the mountain.” Well, that wasn’t much to go on.

Ok, I guess we’re on. Sounds like it will probably be a groomer day. I have my routine at Canyons, having learned over time how to get to my favorite secluded spots in the morning for some buffed runs on sweet, new corduroy.

I awoke to a bluebird day, meeting Emma at the cabriolet. “Are you a skier or snowboarder,” I asked. “I was born with planks on my feet,” she replied.

We had time so I thought we grabbed some breakfast. Emma suggested a stop at Murdocks. She ordered the quiche while I had biscuits and gravy.

I tend to be pretty focused on ski mornings – Red Pine by 8:50, down to Tombstone arcing some nice high speed GS turns, then the quick shot between the homes to Peak 5. That sets you up for one of the best early morning runs on the mountain, Upper Crowning Glory to Harmony, swooping down under bridges and taking deep compressions with your knees – not a care in the world and no one around.

The hard morning corduroy felt good under my skis. We had about an hour before it got crowded. I looked back and Emma was right on my tails as we slid onto Dreamscape.

“Hey, Emma, what’s the grooming status of Alpenglow?”

“The Alpenglow blue trail is open and groomed,” she replied.

Park Record columnist Tom Kelly.
Courtesy of Tom Kelly

As we reached the top, the two of us hopped off quickly and pointed our skis down the fall line. We carved first tracks into the corduroy, arcing a right on Twilight and heading down to Dreamcatcher.

We had skied a half dozen runs and I was still trying to figure out Emma. “Hey, how old are you Emma?” She remained elusive. “The mountains keep me young at heart,” she laughed, “but I’m as old as the hills.”

I thought it was good time to head over to the Park City side. “What do you think about a run down Silver Queen, Emma?” “Nothing but corduroy,” she said, giving me a high five in emoji form.

I felt it was going fine. We skied well together. Emma was getting a bit more talkative and joking around. “What do you call a mound of cats?” she asked. I shrugged my shoulders. “A MEOWtain,” she said with a big laugh. I just smiled and shook my head. Emma kept laughing. “I am getting snow board of all these skiers,” she said with a grin.

She talked a bit more about her past, somehow diving into her marriage proposal. “I received a double black diamond years ago,” she said, “and my heart has been locked ever since.”

We skied a few more hard runs as the time kept ticking away. “Nothing works up an appetite like a day on the mountain,” she said. I asked her where she wanted to eat and she rattled off an entire list of restaurants on the mountain – almost like she was programmed. “My favorite food used to be pizza, but now it’s french fries.”

We were having a good time but there was something about her I just couldn’t pinpoint. She was kind of robotic in her mannerisms.

As we sat with a beer at the Umbrella bar, I was getting lots of strange looks. “Hey, TK, who you talking to?” said a friend.

After hours of skiing together, I was starting to figure it out.

“Hey Emma, do you know Alexa and Siri,” I joked. She looked at me and grinned, “We gather in Colorado for a ski trip every year.”

I should have figured.

In case YOU haven’t already solved it, Emma is Vail Resorts’ new digital personal assistant. Ping her at 77477 sometime. She might want to ski or ride with you, too.

Wisconsin native Tom Kelly landed in Park City in 1988 (still working on becoming an official local). A recently inducted member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, he is most known for his role as lead spokesperson for Olympic skiing and snowboarding for over 30 years until his retirement in 2018. This will be his 50th season on skis, typically logging 60 days in recent years.


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