Diary Of A Never-Skier: Ski’s The Limit

After a brief warm-up on the bunny hills, I am set free during my third and final ski lesson at Alta Ski School. My instructor, Natalie, leads me to Alta’s new Sunnyside lift for the first, but not the last, time. The recently opened lift delivers skiers—whom I can now count myself among(!)—to Alta’s beginner slopes and will replace its ancestor, Albion lift. One glance at Albion’s scant, double-seater chairs (with not but a vertical bar between them) makes me grateful for Sunnyside’s spacious, cushioned benches and protective lap bar. 

(This is the fourth entry in the diary of a never-skier. Here are entries one and two and three.) 

The process of lining up and sliding through the turnstile fills me with the same giddiness and sensation of boarding a ride at Disneyland. Once on the lift and in the air, I start to get a sense of the enormity of Alta Ski Area and its runs. We also spy the most adorable ginger porcupine in a tree by the lift, and I take this to be a good omen. (Alta has binders containing facts about the local wildlife, hung in trees, throughout the beginner slopes for young skiers who want to learn more about the flora and fauna that they might spot while skiing.) 

When tackling the beginner runs (I’m told those are typically the green ones on the map), we start on Dipsy Doodle and then move to Crooked Mile (not once, but three times), which I learn is actually a mile long—a fact that my extremely fatigued legs can attest to. Skiing engages muscles in specific ways I have not previously experienced in my yoga or martial arts classes. While the occasionally steep sections can be a bit daunting, it’s the other skiers, soaring by effortlessly, who intimidate me the most. But, as the greenest skier on the slope, I like to think they’re probably just as scared of me as I am of them. 

At the end of it all, I’m happy to report I did not crash into anyone and I made it back to my car in one piece. Natalie was probably grateful for that as well, especially since, when I was tired, slowing down and slipping toward the end of my lesson, I informed her not to worry because “I’ll make it down this mountain one way or another!” Bless her for putting up with me for three weeks in a row. Pro tip: If you decide you want to learn to ski and go the same route I did (ski lessons, I mean), you’re encouraged to tip your ski instructor at the end of the lesson. I’m told 10-15% of the cost of the lesson is an appropriate tip. 

And that was it. I’m a skier now. For real. I want to keep doing it. Natalie recommended sticking to the Dipsy-Doodles and Crooked-Miles for my next few return visits, as well as closing out on the same run I used to warm up, and I will, but I’m also excited to join the wider world of skiing and its adjacent culture and events as well. Such as…

Aprés All Day

After my ski lessons, I was briefly introduced to the world of aprés ski at Alta Lodge, which is an institution in itself, where the Grilled Cheese is something of a classic and pairing it with a glass from their stellar wine list is the kind of juxtaposition I live for. Other options at Alta include Rustler Lodge, where the dining area is famous for its community tables—single diners and couples can request to be paired with other guests and make new friends over dinner. And, apparently, there is a bit of a rowdy après ski scene at the Alta Peruvian

Park City Life editor Tony Gill has compiled his favorite aprés-ski spots, and Salt Lake magazine has everything you need to know about winter in the Wasatch (including where to aprés) whether your basecamp is Salt Lake City, Park City or Ogden

Big Ski and Mountain Events

Now that I can get by on a pair of skis, there is a whole world of activities and events and experiences that I can access for the first time. Ski Utah tracks events at local resorts, like Brews and Tunes at Deer Valley, and loads of groups swarm the Wasatch for ski-centric events every season. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll see me on the slopes during Park City Queer Ski, Feb. 21-25, 2023, at the Saturday Pride Ride. Or at the 13th annual Elevation Utah in Park City for Gay Ski Week Feb. 24-26. If you want to join in, Canyons Village at Park City is at the center of the fun with a number of events that week: 

  • Disco Pizza: “A playful spin on the classic red sauce pizza joint, Disco Pizza is a mountainside go-to spot with signature and staple house-made pizzas, pasta and handmade milkshakes. On Friday, February 24, enjoy a specialty late-night ’70s/’80s disco-themed pizza party with DJ sets by DJ Liam, $4 slices of pizza and $4 cold beers.”
  • The Pool House Champagne Terrace: “Surround yourself with iconic panoramic mountain views at The Pool House, in partnership with Moët & Chandon, featuring curated bites and lively music. On Friday, February 24, enjoy sips and sets by DJ Bentley from 3-6 pm. On Saturday, February 25, in partnership with Apres House Co., cheers to an epic après ski party featuring sets by DJ Lux from 3-7 pm.”
  • Tea Dance at Canyons Village Base: “On February 24, Mike Akerman is leading an Umbrella Bar takeover with fire pits, a food truck and DJ Aaron Clark (Honcho) spinning italo vibes in the sun.”

I’m learning that there are so many ways to enjoy skiing. Did you guys know that skijoring was a thing? (I’m not sure if it’s pronounced “ski-joring” with a hard J or with a soft J, like “ski-yoring.” Hell, maybe it’s a short I and a hard J like “skidgering.”) Anyway, it involves strapping yourself into some skis and getting drawn by a horse. I could do that now. It’s happening up at Bear Lake right now. The 2023 Skijoring the Bear is Feb. 20 and the only barrier to entry I can see is a $100 entry fee. 

For other never-skiers like me, check out my prior diary entry for deals and discounts for beginners. I am open to any tips if you’re already a seasoned skier. What did you wish you had known your first few times out? How scary is it to see brand-new skiers on the hill? How do you keep your legs from getting so tired? Send your wise nuggets of ski knowledge to us @slmag on all the socials (Facebook|Instagram|Twitter) or email magazine@saltlakemagazine.com. Stay tuned for updates and further entries on saltlakemagazine.com.

Christie Porter
Christie Porterhttps://christieporter.com/
Christie Porter is the managing editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade, writing about everything under the sun, but she really loves writing about nerdy things and the weird stuff. She recently published her first comic book short this year.

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