The Deer Valley way...from small classes to the food!

By Mountain Mama Jan 20, 2012
I am often asked "where is the best place to take lessons?". There is no right answer because we all look for something different. In starting our weekly lessons at Deer Valley, the Bambi class is small, the food is awesome and Mommy time is superb!

A ski school is a ski school, right?  Wrong!  All ski schools are a little different in their own way.  Some have small classes, some have larger classes, some are more aggressive than others...but they all have the same message:  Teach children to ski in a safe and fun environment!

So, this week and for the next several weeks, we travelled to Deer Valley.  I shouldn't say travelled, like we're going on a road trip; but with kids anything more than 10 miles requires food, potty breaks and entertainment.  I love Deer Valley.  If you want to feel a little pampered and enjoy nice lodges to sit in, sip coffee and read a book, DV is your place.  Then, hit the slopes!

The kids are both signed up for a multi-week program which will bring us to Deer Valley every Sunday for 6 weeks.  As I've mentioned many times, if you can go consecutive weeks or even days with the same instructor, it is well worth it.  A great instructor is key.  If you have a recommendation on someone, use it.  If your child does well with a male/female...let ski school know.  Anything to make the day enjoyable for them.

I'll start with Brennan since he's 4. He's a Bambi.  What does that mean?  Well, it means a small class!!  It is a 2 to 1 ratio which is great at this age when the kids are just learning to ski.  The instructor can really give the kids great attention and they are always together riding a lift.  It is a 1/2 day program.  When we registered, they asked if Bren wanted to be in an AM or PM class.  I thought PM works best, then he can relax a little in the morning.  He goes into the Bambi room and hangs out with other 4 year olds, does crafts and is well cared for. Pre register your kids.  You can do it online, fill out all your paperwork and be organized when you arrive.  Emily was a Bambi once, so we know all about this!  Can't believe it's been 2 years!  So, back to Bren.  I bring all his equipment and gear into the Bambi room and sign him in.  Away he goes as Tracy explains to me he'll be going out for his lesson around 12:15 or so after lunch.  They have a board in the room with all the kids names and assignments with instructors!  Tracy tells me right now he's assigned to Brett.  OK, I'll check back.

Over to Emily in the reindeer room (which is adjacent to the Bambis so I don't need to run all over).  This is for 5-6 year olds and they ski all day. A good choice for Em since she's obsessed with Rudolph!!  Everyone is geared up, assigned to an instructor and in groups of 4 or 5.  Emily is assigned to Seth and when you sign the kids up, there is a little question about their ability.  Again...don't will be caught!  I chat with Seth a moment and he explains that they bring all the kids outside to the conveyer (magic carpet) to test their stopping, skiing... See, can't lie here.  A supervisor watches each group and they aren't allowed to move on until the instructor feels everyone is on the same page and the group is paired properly.  Of course it isn't an exact science, but these instructors know how to spot a child whom isn't moving very well and you told them they are an "intermediate" skier.  Which leads me to the conveyers... Deer Valley has done an awesome job in upgrading this area this year!  There are 3 now!  They are at the base of Snow Park Lodge.  Check out the trail map.  There is a green, yellow and blue area.  Each goes a little higher on the mountain and has a little "steeper" terrain.  Each is longer and designed to get the kids up in a gradual transition up the mountain until they are ready for the "big" Snowflake chairlift.  Brilliant!  You don't have the long lines of the beginner groups waiting for one magic carpet area, there are 3!!  Also, it is a very short walk from the door to the first one-the green- for the kids.  After all, walking in ski boots carrying big skis leads to lots of complaints.  I watch as Seth gets Em's group quickly through the area and they are on their surprise here. 

Now, lets talk food!  No chicken nuggets and mac n'cheese here.  I peak at Bren and he's on his second helping of meatballs.  Yep, he knows good food when he sees it!  There is a rotating menu of chicken, turkey and potatoes, spagetti and meatballs, pasta dishes....hello!  My cold sandwich from home isn't so exciting.  Deer Valley knows how to feed these kids.  Last week they had turkey, mashed potatoes, corn and salad.  Yep, I'm signing up for the bambi program next!  Em is also back in eating and Seth tells me they have been up quite a few lifts and will be doing a hot chocolate break about 1:15 at mid-mountain, so I'll catch her then.  Bren, he's gearing up to go out with Brett.  Get this...alone!  Brett quickly discovers bren is a "high level beginner" and moving along quickly.  After the first day, he's done Candyland (check out video),

it is an obstacle course set up on the Wide West run at DV which is a wonderful wide run for kids to learn on and gone up Carpenter lift and done Success run!  Yea Bren!  Bren certainly has the right instructor assigned to him as he responds well to guys and Brett is definitely a "guys guy."  Couldn't be more excited for Bren.  At the end of the day he said "I love this place".  After saying hi to Ruby (see photos), I catch one last run with Bren.  Brett says, "we're doing another run, I promised Bren we'd do some jumps"!

I skied a run with Emily and am quickly impressed with Seth.  He has the kids only doing parallel turns and is running little drills to make them keep their skis together. 

A hard task with 5 kids, but he's got them in line. 

Notice the white color vests they have on.  All classes are assigned a different color.  It lets the instructor keep the kids together.  Around trees, going backwards, forwards and straight it!  By lesson #2, Em was on the blue runs.  Seth is the first instructor who has said Emily should bring her poles.  She's a little nervous getting on/off the lift with them, but Seth is going to work on this.  At the end of each lesson, the kids have a report card of their progress that day, what lifts and runs they did and what they worked on so I can keep track.

Will be fun to see the progress the next 4 weeks especially since the snow has arrived in Utah!  Check Ski' n See for rental deals.  And for a great coloring book, my kids love the one at Deer Valley.  Oh and when we left, Emily said "did you see the talking deer?"  I searched high and low in the stores and all's in the reindeer room!