Day One: Skiing Utah in 7 Days

written by: Matthew D. LaPlante

Park City

Ski instructor Heather Fielding-Owen had dropped into McConkey’s Bowl thousands of times before, but her face lit up as the tips of her skis hung over the cornice. “Ready to for this?” she asked, and, before I could answer, she was gone. Whooping and hollering.

It had been a day since the last storm, but Park City was still flush with powder and, in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival, it was remarkably empty. We followed ‘Conk with plenty of other powder runs, storybook glades and groomers that took us right into the heart of the city.

And, by noon, we could officially call it. It had already been a good day. That’s the standard we’d set: A good day. Much as we could have stayed all day, all week, all season, we didn’t need to.

We could move on.

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Deer Valley

Three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker is a woman so synonymous with “Ski Utah” that they put her picture on our license plates. On our frickin’ license plates.

I’m not much of a two-planker. But I took up skiing so that I could complete this 14-resort-in-7-day adventure at The Deer and Alta, neither of which permit boarders on their slopes.

“My goal today,” I told Voekler, “is to not fall in front of you.”

“Oh, that’s not going to be a problem,” she said. “Because you’ll always be behind me.”

Sick burn, but, for a few seconds at least, I was matching turns with her.

And then, it’s like the lady’s got afterburners on her skis.

We got plenty more laps, and found no shortage of powder pockets as the sky turned from blue to grey and the wind picked up. Ski patrol was putting up a rope when we got to the top of Lady Morgan Bowl, but Heidi escorted us through.

The last run was yet another exercise in humility. Even JJ, a former high school ski racer, was battling just to stay within eyeshot of Heidi. “She made going down double blacks look like she was cutting through butter,” he said. “I was just trying not to bite it.”

It was snowing by the time we left the Deer Valley parking lot, and dumping by the time we hit the highway. And it wouldn’t stop. Not for days.

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Read about each day here: The Challenge | Day One | Day Two | Day Three  | Day Four | Day Five | Day Six | Day Seven

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