Deer Valley Resort employees say Freestyle success depends on volunteers |

Deer Valley Resort employees say Freestyle success depends on volunteers

A volunteer of the Visa FIS Freestyle World Cup Aerials event scoops loose snow onto the aerials course during a break in competitors Friday evening, January 12, 2018. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst |

This year marked two decades of freestyle events at Deer Valley Resort. Marilyn Stinson, senior tour and travel/international manager, has been there since the beginning, checking in volunteers and helping run events. Over the years, Deer Valley has earned a place as a mainstay of FIS events, and there are certain aspects of the resort that make it a good host: It’s close to the airport, it has top-notch grooming and snowmaking equipment and FIS events blend well with the resort’s goals and philosophy. But if you ask Stinson what turns it from a convenient and capable location into a freestyle mecca, she’ll tell you it’s the people. They proved to be the pivotal once again as Deer Valley hosted FIS moguls and aerials World Cup events last week.

“The thing is, most of the volunteers have been with us since 1998 – the very first (freestyle event) we had,” Stinson said. “We’ve lost a few, now we’re getting their kids volunteering, so we are getting second generations.”

Stinson said families come year after year to fill volunteer roles – from tending the courses to managing crowds, helping with directions, feeding staff and officials, and, yes, checking in other volunteers.

It all boils down to two perks: a gateway to access something historic and a free coat. It’s a chance to be part of an athlete’s history before they take off – to be standing slope-side as a local skier carves their way into the history books.

“Then that person can say, ‘My gosh, I know that person, I was next to that person,’” Stinson said.

She said there is also a sense of pride in helping a national-team athlete compete safely, and the enthusiasm that volunteers bring to the course rubs off on the athletes, which is one of the reasons the resort has established itself as a choice venue on the World Cup circuit.

Emily Summers, senior communications manager at Deer Valley Resort, said the high percentage of returning volunteers means both the volunteers and the athletes are comfortable in their roles.

“The athletes can say, ‘It’s the same person at the start gate, it’s the same person when I’m checking in.’ I think there’s a huge amount of dedication there,” she said. “We hear it from athletes all over that it’s their favorite stop on the circuit.”

From the likes of Ashley Caldwell and Brad Wilson (who got his start skiing Deer Valley) to up-and-comers like Casey Andringa, who doesn’t train in Park City, Deer Valley represents a haven in a sometimes chaotic competitive landscape.

So what’s the most coveted volunteer job?

“No, I can’t say that,” Stinson said. “People on the moguls course think their position is coveted. People on the aerial hill doing a lot of chopping and they think it’s the best thing ever.”

Before the first moguls racers had even slipped into their boots, Stinson was already planning for the next event.

“Now our biggest thing we are working on is World Championships for next year,” she said. “We are working with U.S. Ski and Snowboard, but we have three venues that we are going to need volunteers for.”

Fortunately, she already knows who to expect.

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