Sundancing on a Powder Day

By Paula Colman Jan 16, 2024
Grab your skis and let's go Sundancing!
Sundancing on a Powder Day

Sundance means several things in Utah. It instantly conjures stunning scenery, gut-busting dialog and hummable music from a movie shot here over 50 years ago. The State’s splendors inspired the film’s leading man to settle here and create Sundance Mountain Resort for skiers, snowboarders and outdoor enthusiasts. He then spread his arms open to the world, inviting them to Utah every January to watch rough, rugged and fiercely independent films at the Sundance Film Festival. So, while Sundance, by any definition, is firmly rooted in Utah, ‘Sundancing’ is just one of many pursuits found in its canyons, slopes, Main Streets and arthouse theaters. Grab a partner and start humming along.


Snowflakes Keep Falling on My Head

Although the media are full of rants and grams of long lines and packed ski slopes during the winter holidays, Utah’s 15 ski resorts — even Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort and Sundance Mountain Resort— are largely empty during the last week of January, the run of the Sundance Film Festival. Indeed, mobs of cinephiles ascend to Park City’s Historic Main Street, snatching up lodgings and prime restaurant reservations, but they don’t ski. Park City’s and Provo’s slopes are empty, tables at on-mountain lunch spots are available, and, best of all, the snow amounts are typically favorable to skiers and snowboarders chasing powder



On a Bicycle (or Snowboard) Built for Joy

One of the biggest draws of the Sundance Film Festival is…being awed, the feeling of not knowing anything about the film you’re about to see (you typically get a one-paragraph description and no review or spoiler), being fully absorbed in visual and auditory capsule and walking out moments or hours later just wanting to share the experience with another. 

It’s a lot like skiing. Sliding off the McConkey's Lift at Park City Mountain, you turn right, brace your bindings against your shoulder and begin bootpacking up the ridgeline. As your breath first begins to catch, you pause to look beyond your snow-encrusted boot buckles over, into and down the untracked powder filled Jupiter Bowl. Umbrellaed by the convex sky, you enter a world devoid of the everyday pings and other cacophonous disturbances, point your tips down and, without a plan or expectation, allow yourself to be swept away.

Whether you experienced one epic face shot or a seemingly endless strand of s-turns, all you want to do on the lift is talk about that amazing run.

For a few moments, soaring down a slope or sitting motionless in a theater seat, you experience what athletes crave, flow, artists aspire to, insight, or what children discover, joy.


Sundancing, an Award-Winning Double Feature

If you plan to ski during the Sundance Film Festival, you can and should double your fun by indulging in Fest activities, as well. You can literally ski, watch a midday movie, ski again, and do even more. This is Sundancing!

Stio[/service] ski gear will look great), but because most queues are all or partially outdoors, dress warm and bring snacks. Seating is first-come, first-serve, and fans line up as much as an hour before show time.]

Passes and packages go on sale prior to the Festival. Single film tickets for screenings throughout Park City, Salt Lake City and the Sundance Mountain Resort are available for purchase before and throughout the Fest but sell out quickly. Same-day, e-waitlist tickets are also available. 

If you’re too exhausted after a big ski (or après ski) day, you can opt for an online screening pass viewable from the comfort of your condo or hotel. If you just want some swag to look cool or bring home to the kids, check out the Festival Stores for clothing, including its ‘40 Years of Independents’ hoodie.

In addition to attending film premieres, you can listen to great music. After the Kleig lights dim, bands and DJs keep the crowds moving (and warm) at local venues. You can, also, find engaging talks and panel discussions from filmmakers, casts and other luminaries in “lounges, chalets and clubhouses” set up around Park City.

Sundance means many things, but they all tell a story, one that is scripted to have a happy ending and bring joy. So, if you want to ski Utah with crowds on the slopes and lots of energy and activity off, give Sundancing a try this January…or next.