|From ski utah|
Holy cow, it’s so easy to beat up on poor Utah. People snicker about Mormons with dozens of children in tow. They giggle about not having any fun … at least when other Mormons are watching. They wet themselves laughing about the unfailingly cheery young men pedaling bikes everywhere from Tucson to Timbuktu.
But really, if you want awesome skiing and a cosmopolitan vibe, you are going to have a hard time beating Park City, which is just 40 minutes from the airport in Salt Lake. You’ll find a wealth of awesome ski resorts, great food, excellent post-ski activities and killer scenery all within about 20 minutes of each other. And you don’t even have to rent a car: You can grab a shuttle from the airport, and Park City has an extensive (and free) public transit system. This city is still riding the high from hosting the 2002 Olympic Winter Games … that Park City won restored a smidgen of my faith in the selection committee, because I believe this city deserved it.
What won’t you find? If you’re a beer snob, you’ll suffer. Utah law caps the alcohol by weight at 3.2 percent. And that, my friends, is the end of the taste. It’s a small price to pay, though, for awesome, convenient skiing.
Here are five things that make Park City rock, in no particular order.
1. The Canyons Ski Resort – Sorry, wanna-be X-Games dudes with funny hair, piercings and MP3 players jacked directly into your brains: No snowboarders allowed! But that’s not all that makes this great: Fast lifts, beautiful trails and lots of places for intermediate stooges like me to enjoy really put it to the top of my list. The views are intense, and it’s pretty much the first in the line of several resorts. You can grab an excellent lunch, but be sure to get in early if you want the rather pricey but highly regarded skiers’ buffet. Some of the runs are extremely long, and even run in short tunnels under roads leading to pricey ski villas. Cool!
2. Utah Olympic Park – I have always loved the winter Olympics, especially the early 80s-vintage voice over talking about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as a ski jumper crashes out-of-control through a mass of barriers. Here, you can see exactly what a ski jumper sees while looking down one of those jumps – and let me tell you, I practically needed a diaper just looking down that jump. I can’t even fathom volitionally sliding down it. You can also check out the bobsled/luge track and a fun museum at the visitors center. If you time your visit right, you can also check out amateur bobsled action. We struck up a conversation with one such minor-league sledder … I wish I’d been taking notes, because it was a great look into what goes into making it to the Big Time.
|From ski utah|
3. The Best Use of a Golf Course EVER! – I won’t mince words. I hate golf. Not so much the game itself, but the culture around it, that it takes up gobs of space and that you can actually be a top-level golf pro and smoke cigars while playing! But when it snows, the golf courses near The Canyons become cross country ski havens. This was my first time doing XC skiing … and let me tell you, it was AWESOME. It works you like a dog. I had my jacket off and was shushing along in naught but an Under Armor shirt within a few hundred yards. After putting in near 35 miles of downhill the previous day according to my GPS, putting in 10 XC miles was hard! The good side? I got to eat everything in sight sans guilt!
|From ski utah|
4. An international vibe – Everywhere I went, I was hearing a Brazilian or Australian accent. It seems Brazil has an exchange program that send young people to Utah to work during the winter (that’ll keep ’em on the straight and narrow – no Samba carnival lewdness here!). Australia, on the other hand, largely exports middle-aged, gin-blossomed dudes eager to mack on young women. Well, I ran into a few young Aussies here, to be fair … not exactly the Stereotypical Australian Blokes I mentioned in my Australia travelogue, but still fun nonetheless. (The acronym SAB, by the way, seems to be gaining traction.) Lots of people from the UK, too. So it’s not the insular, innocent mountain town you may have expected from Utah.
5. Unintentionally Lewd Toy Displays – Well, apparently the crew at the J.W. Allen & Sons toy store is, um, up on the latest way to catch attention for the little sleds they sell. Apparently, you put your bum on the plastic, grab the handle and cruise down the slopes. Well, I just have to wonder if they also sell a model that takes batteries, if you know what I’m sayin’. I’m sure these items were at the head of their best-sellers list! Sometimes, it’s the little things that give flavor to a place … but this casts the area’s conservative nature in a new light, and makes me what happens here when nobody else is watching.
|From ski utah|