Category Archives: Blog

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Utah’s Ski Season Hops To A Close

Photos Courtesy Park City Mountain Resort

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Oh Dang! The end is near. April started out strong, but our slopes were no match for an August-like sun. We had two of the best powder days of the year in the first week of the month and now it is 60 degrees. Boo hoo. And so it ends.

After Easter Sunday only two Utah resorts remain standing… so to speak.

Alta will reopen for two, three-day weekends – April 25-27 and May 2-4. Lift tickets will be $50 for adults and $25 for kids. Snowbird plans to hold out daily until May 11 and then open on weekends only until Memorial Day.

This weekend, however, rather than bemoan our sorry demise, get out and party. Closing day at Park City Mountain Resort is destined to go down in the history books as the bash of all Easter bashes. The culmination of the Resort’s 50th anniversary and the tumult of legalese begins with coffee, hot chocolate and pastries on the plaza before the 9 a.m. annual bunny sighting and kids Easter egg hunt in the Korral (for 6 and under) and the All-Mountain Egg Hunt for older peeps.

Two Golden Eggs worth two, 2014-15 season passes are stashed somewhere on the mountain. PCMR has been posting clues on Facebook and Twitter to their whereabouts since April 16. In addition to the hot eggs, thousands of others are rumored to be peppered throughout the area filled with prizes from T-shirts to alpine coaster passes. You best get up early if you have any hope of discovering an egg. In a decade of hunting I have yet to recover a single orb. One year, a very nice kid with a lapful of eggs gave me one out of pity.

The day (and season) will end with the final Miller Lite Après Concert series event: live music by Junior & Transportation in the resort plaza from 2 – 4 p.m. This band has graced the stage with such talent as John Popper, The Cult, DJ Logic, Galactic, Global Noize, Bernie Worrell, Mike Clark, Jason Miles, Danny Louis, Eric McFadden, Jerry Joseph, Wally Ingram and Dave Schools of Widespread Panic. The concert is not one to be missed.

But…

Snowbird, Alta, Brighton and Snowbasin are throwing their own egg hunts if you can’t make it to PCMR.

Snowbird’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt starts with a pancake breakfast at 7:30 a.m. in the Rendezvous Restaurant and a 9 a.m. hunt for children up to 11 years of age in Chickadee Bowl. When you finish at The Bird, head up to Alta for the 11 a.m. hunt on the Albion deck in front of Alta Java. The Easter Bunny will be there for photo opps.

Over in Big Cottonwood, dress like the Easter Bunny Sunday for a free lift ticket to Brighton. The Annual Easter Egg Hunt starts at 9 a.m. at the Explorer Lift.

Finally, Snowbasin’s Annual Hunt is open to kids up to 12. It starts at 10 a.m. on the north-east side of the Grizzly Center.
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PCMR v. Talisker- We Still Have A Lease?

Park City Mountain Resort fought the good fight yesterday as they appeared in Summit County Utah’s 3rd District Court. It was finally time for Judge Ryan Harris to hear both sides in the issue of whether PCMR renewed its lease with Talisker Land Holdings.

The judge had originally decided the lease should be construed under a strict landlord/tenant standard (i.e. you sign a lease, you have a duty to notify the landlord of your intent to renew when it expires and if you don’t, you lose your lease) but PCMR had made a motion for summary judgment for reconsideration. In other words they want to court to overturn that initial ruling so that they can go to trial where presumably a jury of peers would decide whether PCMR had an implied lease renewal.

You see, once you filter out all the legal mumbo jumbo and puffery, yesterday’s hearing boiled down to two arguments. 1- could PCMR reasonably believe that they had constructively renewed the lease even if they didn’t send over written notification by the lease deadline and 2- are there additional interests involved in this lease that would suffer undue harm if they had to vacate?

At dispute is a longstanding lease that PCMR had with United Park City Mines to allegedly pay $155,000 a year to run a ski resort on its land. There was an option to renew clause that would extend the lease (for the same terms) through 2051 and all PCMR had to do was notify them in writing by April 30, 2011. UPCM transferred its land rights to Talisker in 2003 making Talisker the new landlord and the recipient of the letter of intent.

The renewal deadline came and went without written notice but it took Talisker nine months to speak up. The following year Talisker announced it was leasing Canyons Resort to Vail and that as part of the multi-million dollar deal, Vail would also get to take over the PCMR property either as a landlord or land operator depending on the outcome of the case.

PCMR’s attorneys argued that when a landlord grants an option to extend the lease he can’t go out and look for a more favorable tenant as soon as the original lease is up. The judge questioned that if it was so important that the property remain in PCMR’s hands until 2051, why not just put it in the lease? Why even create the option to extend if you could write one, 80-year lease? PCMR explained that because there is a risk of failure or decreased revenue in the ski industry they wanted some flexibility that would allow them to terminate the lease.

Harris asked, “If Vail is willing to come in and pay more why does it matter (to have to keep the original tenant)?” To which attorney Mark Sullivan said, “The property is tied up so a new tenant can’t just set up shop and make use of the property.” PCMR owns the base facilities, parking structures and lower lifts so that even if Vail assumes the lease they won’t have access to the resort from Park City’s base area. “A landlord can’t replace the tenant with someone who can’t come in and operate the property in the way it was intended to be used,” Sullivan explained. Underneath this argument is the assumption that the city only approved PCMR’s master development plan because it intended for PCMR alone to run the show from base to peak. And PCMR contends that Talisker agreed to be bound by this master plan agreement.

“Talsiker agreed that the leased premises would continue to run relevant to the 1998 development agreement. They committed to PCMR,” said Sullivan. He described how PCMR relied on Talisker’s previous discussions of a long-continued relationship to sink more than $100 million in improvements on the land since 1998. “They would talk about how much they looked forward to working with us and joked about how old they were going to be in 2051. There was a common understanding that the lease would continue. What Vail hopes to obtain is a windfall where everyone has operated on the assumption that the lease would not expire till 2051,” he said.

Talisker’s attorney Howard Shapiro simply stood, looked at PCMR’s table then said to Harris, “They only had to provide 60 days’ notice and they failed to do that. All Supreme Court cases make clear that that is not to be excused. They have negligently slaughtered the golden goose that has been laying eggs for decades.” He also refuted PCMR’s suggestion that to invalidate the lease would cause undue hardship on creditors and the city. “There is no harm to anyone else if you give Vail the business. The land in question would continue to support a vibrant ski area.”

Shapiro continued, “You can’t ignore the reality of the leases,” he said. “Even extended they expire in 2051 not in perpetuity. This day was bound to come but due to their negligence it’s here today. The Court must resist the temptation to ignore legal principles.”

Judge Harris told the court that he gives himself 60 days to rule on these matters but because of the complexity it might be a little longer. The next chapter in the Park City saga is next Tuesday, April 8, 2014. PCMR will argue that Talisker had no right to enter into talks with Vail without notifying them first and making the same offer to them.

PCMR said in court yesterday that they would like to settle and that they have made “plenty of offers” but that Vail and Talisker are unresponsive. There’s still time for the parties to work it out but it probably won’t happen before the judge decides on these issues. It might have to be the prospect of a jury trial that forces someone to bend.

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Park City Honors Champions

We are now the “City of Champions” and in honor of our Olympic celebrity, Park City, Utah, is having a parade.

This weekend’s homecoming applauds the more than 20 Olympians and Paralympians who live, train and coach in this historic little town.

Hometown medalists Joss Christensen (2014 Freeskiing gold medalist), Steve Holcomb (2014 Bobsled 2x bronze medalist), Ted Ligety (2014 Alpine Skiing gold medalist), and Sage Kotsenburg (2014 Snowboard gold medalist) will wave to the crowd on Main Street, April 5, from 1-5 p.m.

Stein Eriksen, 1952 Alpine Olympic gold medalist and long-time Park City resident, will be the Grand Marshal for the event.

The parade leads to the Town Lift Plaza for a meet and greet, live music, food, drinks and fireworks show.

photo courtesy Park City Mountain Resort

The celebration continues Saturday, April 6, over at Park City Mountain Resort where Ted Ligety learned to race.

1:00 p.m. – Parade of flags down lower PayDay run
1:15 p.m. – Ted Ligety introduced on stage, participates in live Q&A with guests
1:30 p.m. – Remarks from former world champion Stein Eriksen , US Ski & Snowboard Association President Bill Marolt and Park City Mayor Dana Williams
1:45 p.m. – Remarks from Ted Ligety
2:00-3:00 p.m. – Meet and greet with Ted Ligety at PayDay plaza
3:00 p.m. – Live music featuring Bryon Friedman on PayDay Deck at Legacy Lodge

Park City-based Olympians closed out the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games with three gold medals, two silver and three bronze medals. If Park City competed as its own country they would have finished 14th in the world medal standings between South Korea and Sweden.

For more information, please contact the Youth Sports Alliance at events@ysapc.org, 435.214.0792, or visit ysaparkcity.org.

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Spring Deals in Utah

Spring break season in Utah is here. The slushy slopes are spilling with
happy smiles and goggle tans. Take advantage of some recently added
discounts to make those grins even bigger.

If you purchase Canyons tickets through Axis Freeride you’re not only
getting a slick deal but supporting a worthy cause. The non-profit youth
organization provides kids a solid and safe foundation in terrain park
riding. Buy adult lift tickets for $60 through Axis. That’s $26 off the
online price and $47 off the window price. The ticket is good through the
last day of the season. Just email mary@axisfreeride.com to
get tickets. They take cash, check or credit cards and it’s tax deductible.
BTW, Canyons’ ticket prices drop to $59 on April 7 but they’re not tax
deductible.

If you’re interested in test-driving the Axis program and you have girls,
check out the Freeskiing All Girls Camp at Park City Mountain Resort. The
2-day program is a fun-filled learning environment catering to girls 9 and
up. Coaches will focus on terrain park and all-mountain skiing but no
previous terrain park skills are needed. The camp runs March 29 and 30, from
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $125 (lift tickets not included).
435-655-5366, or email mary@axisfreeride.com

Other Spring Savings-
This one’s a tease: Park City Mountain Resort will announce a deal next week
and it promises to be news worthy so keep an eye on their website.
Brighton isn’t exactly slashing for spring but they are slashing for
‘taxing’. April 15, they’re offering Tax Day relief with half off
tickets…so that’s a $34 ski day. And on April 11, college students get
half off with their student ID.

Don’t forget about Alta’s Boarding Pass Program: Fly into Salt Lake City and
ski at Alta or Snowbird the same day for half price. You have to register
online before you leave to convert your airline boarding pass into a
half-price Alta/Snowbird lift ticket. The offer is valid within 24 hours of
arrival, Monday through Friday, so if you get in at 9 p.m. you can ski the
next day for half off!

Keep checking Groupon and Living Social in Utah for deals. Right now Alta’s
offering a $59.99 lift ticket

http://www.groupon.com/deals/alta-ski-area?utm_campaign=UserReferral&utm_me

dium=email&utm_source=uu that’s good for the rest of the season. Use it
this weekend for the Snowflake Festival. Tomorrow (Saturday) is One-Piece
Ski Outfit Day. Don’t miss the free ski demo day April 11. Alta Ski Area, Alta Ski Shop and Powder House Ski, Shoe, Bike – Utah are teaming up with as many ski manufacturers as possible for “testing”. All you’ll need are your boots and a credit card (in lieu of a deposit) to ski as many skis as you can from 10
a.m. to 3 p.m.

Spring is the perfect time to get the little ones out skiing. Kids 6 and
under ski FREE at Eagle Point, Park City Mountain Resort, Powder Mountain,
Snowbasin, Snowbird, and Solitude. At Brighton, the deal extends to kids
under 8! Canyons, however, got stingy this year and lowered the limit at 5
years old.

Finally, Costco in Salt Lake City has several lift ticket packages that will
save you BIG bucks. You can’t order them online, however, so ask a friend to
pick them up for you or get yourself a rental car for a quick roadtrip.
PCMR: 5 tix for $350; Sundance: 2 tix for $87; Canyons: 2 tix for $150;
Snowbird: 2 tix for $145.

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Deer Valley Aims For The World(s)

Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, is making a bid for the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Championships. The posh resort hosted the Championships in 2003 and 2011, and, if they get the 2019 event, they’ll earn the bragging right of being the venue of choice every eight years.

“I think it’d be huge,” Deer Valley president and general manager Bob Wheaton told the Park Record newspaper. “So far we’ve done World Cups every year, the 2002 Olympics, the 2003 and 2011 World Championships – the support is town-wide. It’s the atmosphere that everybody in town brings to the event.”

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In the meantime, DV will walk the talk this March 28-30, 2014, by hosting the 2014 U.S. Freestyle Championships, again. Actually, the Championship moguls and dual moguls were at DV in 2008. Aerials took place at the Utah Olympic Park and the superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort. This year’s event was supposed to be at Heavenly Resort for the second year in a row but the dearth of snow in the Tahoe region prompted the move to Utah.

Two-time Olympians Ashley Caldwell (aerials) and Pat Deneen (moguls), and 2014 Olympian Bradley Wilson (moguls) are expected to be among those vying for the U.S. title in the final freestyle event of the season.

Deer Valley will make the bid for the World Championships when the FIS (International Ski Federation) meets in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of May.

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Jackson Hole Trip Report

Jackson Hole delivered. It took a couple of days but it delivered. As a major swell rocked the Rockies and Utah began to go from hardpack to divinely soft, we popped into my Honda for our annual pilgrimage to one of my favorite resorts in the world. The snow is usually better than in Utah and we hoped that the new storm cycle could finally bring on a Jackson powder experience. Even the milk toast cop who pulled us over in Evanston, Wyo., to write us up for speeding couldn’t dampen our excitement. “Where ya headed?” he asked. “Jackson Hole,” we answered as I handed him my insurance and registration. “I love Jackson Hole. It’s one of my favorite places. Drive safe now,” he said as he handed back a speeding ticket. Niiice. It was Sunday night and no one was on the road. He could have written us a warning in his zeal to bond over our mutual Jackson love, right?

We motored on. Even with the light snow and slick roads we made it to Fireside Resort in about 4.5 hours. The stable of reclaimed wood portable cabins is located just 4 miles from Teton Village. The individual one-bedroom units offered a touch of rustic luxury amid the gently falling snow. I was in a Jackson Hole portrait!

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We had everything we needed from a medium-firm king bed to the s’mores kit left for us in the kitchenette.

In the summertime, there’s an RV campground in back and the entire place is booked solid. Fireside was an ideal spot to set up ‘glamp’ so to speak. We crashed hard in anticipation of our first Jackson ski day, We woke to 1” of new. What?!

Lucky for us that one inch was on top of two inches, three inches, an inch, etc. It’s been snowing consistently in Wyoming for the past month and you can tell the difference. The wind, too, has smoothed out potential mogul fields. Needless to say it was a fluffy playground that starts with the long but fast-moving tram line and ends with beers at the Alpenhof. It snowed for three days straight. Although our clothes were drenched it never felt heavy and wet under foot. Just creamy. ‘Like butta’ my guide Karin would say. Ryan took off and hiked Headwall for three laps into the Casper Bowl area while we danced in the trees off Cheyenne Woods and South Colter Ridge. Why hike when everything was sweet inbounds? Even the Hobacks were more inspired than grueling. I almost made it top to bottom without stopping but the burn kicked in. Maybe next year.

We planned to do Headwall the next day but the winds kicked up shutting down Sublette Chair and forcing us to ski between the Bridger Gondola and Thunder Chair. No matter. The day went swiftly from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ever ski Tower 3 without ski poles in a blizzard? Try it sometime, just to mix things up. The steeps lesson for the day was moving your hips and torso down the fallline without worrying about timing a pole plant. I was nervous at first but not only was it challenging, but fun. We did it again before grabbing the poles for the third round. Jackson Hole is a huge mountain filled with everything an expert skier could demand. And when you want more, ditch the poles.
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Though there is a sizeable amount of intermediate groomers, the staggering canyons and cliffs will intimidate newbies.

If you were ever considering a ski lesson (and even if you weren’t), this is the place. There are an unprecedented 16 PSIA DECLs (Division Education Clinic Leaders/ski examiners) on staff. Ski programs don’t get any better than at Jackson Hole.

One apres pitcher later and it was back to the cabin for s’mores, Olympics and showers. The dog was missing us too. By Day Three we were packed and planning to head home at 1 p.m. Four o’clock rolled around and we had just kicked off the ski boots. How could you cut out early when there was more than a foot of new snow on the ground? OMG it was seriously one of the best Jackson ski days in PCSkiGal memory. Rumors swirled of another 10-18” on the way and Ryan begged to stay another night. If only. Utah awaited. And as we drove through the storm, bodying buzzing and sticky from hard charging all day, we day-dreamed about buying one of those Fireside Wheelhaus units and leaving it right where it was just so we could have a place to come back to every year. I’ve said it (more than) once and I’ll say it again. There’s no place like Jackson Hole.

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Welcome to the Denver Ski Industries of America Snow Show!

Well, I made it. I walked into the lobby for the first day of the 2014 SIA Snow Show and felt the weight lifting. I was in the home stretch. Two weeks of Sundance and Outdoor Retailer take their toll. Fortunately, the atmosphere is decidedly different this year. The energy is up, the vibe fun and the products enticing. Perhaps the Show has finally found its groove since leaving Las Vegas in 2010. When you spend 37 years in Vegas any change is bound to cause groans. Retailers and manufacturers of snowsports gear must finally accept Denver as a reality. The scene is beginning to grow on me too. And at least I no longer have to walk miles through the Mandalay Bay to get my first day’s latte from the Obermeyer booth.

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The acceptance is spreading internally as well. The discord between the snowboarding end and the alpine end has tamed. Before, you could cross an imaginary boundary and enter a world of chaos and noise; where trash littered the disposable carpet and beats droned so loudly you had to shout your introductions. Dare I say, snowboarding companies themselves have aged and become more civilized?

Snowboard clothing continues to skew towards youthful tastes but even the new US Olympic Freeride Team outfits by Burton reflect more maturity, soul and groundedness. It’s as if they’re not afraid to be subtle.

Where you’ll see boldness in both disciplines is in color choice. “POP” is the buzzword for 2015.

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A color-wheel of greens, oranges, pinks, yellows and blues return us to the playfulness of the 90s. If you own a black, red or navy jacket, put it away for a couple of seasons.

The stretch pant, too, is making a comeback. You can’t deny the flattering silhouette on a shapely chica. It’s always been there. But the pant itself wasn’t functional. It’s taken this long to create a stretchy bottom that is also warm, waterproof and windproof. Even teens are begging to go retro.

Using a mix of fabrics and textures have replaced prints as the next fashion trend in outerwear. Down and wool; poly and wool, poly and down.

Hats have morphed from chunky earthtone knits to zany, brilliant statements of vibrant attitude.

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But just in case you’re not ready to walk on your wild side, Chaos’ Luxe line (designed and made in America) is retro in a classic urban way, where city folk can appreciate thin, no-nonsense beanies for a chilly walk to the office.

We’ve had three weak ski seasons in a row now but if there’s a takeaway from this Snow Show it’s that there’s always room for optimism and for turning that frown upside down.

Tomorrow, we’ll check out what’s coming in hardgoods for 2015.

(photos by Ryan Freitas)

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And the winners are…

That’s a Wrap. Sundance Winners Announce

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival has officially closed out with the final night awards and party. The 10-day indie film celebration was relatively tame outside of the insane crowds over the first three days. This was good news for true movie buffs as available seats could be found for most of the buzz worthy films after Monday.

Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally were on hand to host the Feature Film Awards Ceremony at the Park City Municipal Recreation Center tonight.

Here goes. Now, just because a movie won an award does not mean you’ll get a chance to see it in theaters. Look for these titles down the road on NetFlix, HBO, Hulu, YouTube and any number of distribution channels.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary

Rich Hill / U.S.A. (Directors: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos)

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic

Whiplash / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Damien Chazelle)

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary

Return to Homs / Syria, Germany (Director: Talal Derki)

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic

To Kill a Man / Chile, France (Director and screenwriter: Alejandro Fernández Almendras)

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary

Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett)

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic

Whiplash / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Damien Chazelle)

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary

The Green Prince / Germany, Israel, United Kingdom (Director: Nadav Schirman )

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic

Difret / Ethiopia (Director and screenwriter: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari)

The Audience Award: Best of NEXT

Imperial Dreams / U.S.A. (Director: Malik Vitthal, Screenwriters: Malik Vitthal, Ismet Prcic) — A 21-year-old released from prison, returns to his old stomping grounds in Watts, Los Angeles.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic

Fishing Without Nets / U.S.A., Somalia, Kenya (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey, David Burkman) — A story of pirates in Somalia told from the perspective of a struggling, young Somali fisherman.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic
Sophie Hyde for 52 Tuesdays / Australia— Sixteen-year-old Billie’s faces her mother’s choice for gender transition, and their time together becomes limited to Tuesdays.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic

Craig Johnson & Mark Heyman for The Skeleton Twins / U.S.A. – Estranged twins realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship.

The Screenwriting Award: World Cinema Dramatic

Eskil Vogt for Blind / Norway, Netherlands

The Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary

Rachel Beth Anderson, Ross Kauffman for E-TEAM / U.S.A. – Follows the lives of four intrepid human rights workers.

The Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic

Christopher Blauvelt for Low Down / U.S.A. —Amy-Jo Albany’s heart-wrenching journey to adulthood while being raised by her father, bebop pianist Joe Albany, as he teeters between incarceration and addiction in the 1970s.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score –

The Octopus Project for Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter / U.S.A. – A lonely Japanese woman embarks on an impulsive quest to search for her lost mythical fortune.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent – Justin Simien for Dear White People / U.S.A.

The Short Film Audience Award, Presented by YouTube, based on web traffic for 15 short films that screened at the Festival ( www.youtube.com/sff) -:
Chapel Perilous / U.S.A.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival screened 121 feature-length films from 37 countries and 54 first-time filmmakers, including 35 in competition. These films were selected from 12,218 submissions (72 more than for 2013), including 4,057 feature-length films and 8,161 short films. Of the feature film submissions, 2,014 were from the U.S. and 2,043 were international. 100 feature films at the Festival were world premieres.

Video of the ceremony in its entirety is available at www.sundance.org/live.

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It was a lovely spring day in the middle of winter as the Outdoor Retailer Show kicked off its annual five-day convention yesterday at Utah’s Solitude Resort. Blue skies and 40-degree temperatures is the next best thing to freshies but you could tell that the manufacturers were conflicted.

Everyone enjoyed the mild weather as they ran laps on the Eagle Express lift, demoing new backcountry skis and boots (front country gear is showcased in Denver at the SIA Show next week) but the day was bittersweet. You want storms and powder to sell winter gear. No one is more unhappy about the dearth of snowfall in the west this year than retail buyers who might be stuck with expensive product if things don’t pick up. They also might be less willing to place new orders.
Gerbings featured a new heated glove but it was so bluebird you skied gloveless. Guests at the demo day were more worried about getting feet wet than slipping on ice but, good news for YakTrax, runners still surrounded their table to learn more about the running-specific ice cleats. Jambu is featuring a unique retractable cleat system in some of their winter shoes but at a $200+ pricetag it may be a tough sell.

Nearly 22 thousand people have arrived to celebrate winter outdoors and take in the gear and clothing that will hit the market next October but after three bad snow seasons it will be interesting to see how it affects retail buying. Manufacturers will pitch new and updated products to buyers and media in the halls of the Salt Palace Convention center through Saturday.
The winter market is one of the largest conventions in Utah (only the summer version is bigger) and brings in more than $20 million for the state. The money’s important but people wouldn’t attend if it wasn’t one heck of a good time- even in Utah. One thing this weak season has done is make the backcountry more appealing. Desperate powderhounds are heading out in droves says Tyson Bradley of Utah Mountain Guides. Everyone’s signing up for classes and tours hoping to find something better than what’s inbounds.

For 2014/15, expect lighter skis with carbon, and more boots with a ski/walk mode. The challenge is in the binding system. Marker still leads the way for traditional alpine skiers who would prefer to use one hardshell boot for everything but models like the Baron are still heavy beasts for touring. Dynafit spent the day outfitting ‘testers’ with the stiff but lightweight carbon Denali ski and their Beast binding. Trouble is, you have to wear their boots to fit the pins in the system so for resort skiers it doesn’t make sense to have a whole separate setup.
In the end, a bluebird day is a bluebird day and you can’t complain about that. The sun softened the snow and backcountry mountain lovers (for whom this show is traditionally focused) are psyched to head indoors to see what’s in store- literally.

Today’s indoor portion kicks off with a keynote breakfast by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, former CEO of REI, where she’ll discuss engaging Americans in the outdoors. The rest of the week is filled with seminars, events and parties.

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Park City Gets a Facelift

Is it bad that I’m not missing skiing right now? After my EPIC and I mean EPIC day of pow at Alta on Monday I put away the skis and got ready for Sundance. It’s like the circus came to town and with zero fresh and 50 degree weather, skiers and non-skiers alike have a decent excuse to take in the sights and sounds of a newly ‘converted’ Park City Main Street. More than two decades ago, Sundance organizers and Park City collaborated to move the Sundance Film Festival to the historic resort as a way to bring business to town during a traditionally slow time of year. Then came the World Cup Freestyle at Deer Valley Resort and MLK weekend and now January is insane in this tiny town. Driving’s a hassle, parking non-existent unless you like extortion with your entry pass, the restaurants are booked and your favorite dining galleries are “lounges” and “suites”. Yet, still, there’s plenty of room to ski. But I can do that any old day.

Park City businesses must feel the same. Many on Main Street pack up their stock, their paintings, their dishes and get out of town for the first four days of the Fest; choosing to take a huge chunk of cash to walk away and let sponsors like Chase Sapphire and YouTube take over their spaces. For most, those rentals amount to a couple of months’ rent in just four days.

J Go Gallery rents to Variety Magazine for a celebrity interview lounge the first five days of the festival. (eg. Good Stargazing Spot). “The first weekend is mostly people in the film industry seeing movies, networking and having coffee. They are not spending a lot of time shopping,” the Gallery owners told the Salt Lake Tribune. “The second weekend is more of our clients — film lovers and skiers — who spend more time shopping.” They tried not renting last year and lost money so they’re back in the game this year.

YouTube takes up residence at Root’D (596 Main St.) where the public can grab coffee, listen to live music and view film panels. They will host private parties in the evenings.

I can’t wait to swing by Udi’s this year. Last year, they treated invited guests to an amazingly tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner menu t their showcase their gluten-free products. The pop-up café takes over 501 Restaurant.

My little one love swinging into the Festival Co-op where L’Oreal does face and hair makeovers. She walked with lipstick and shampoo. The space is open to the public 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. daily at 608 Main St.

You can’t miss the giant white ‘cabin’ at the corner of lower Main. And just in case, there’s a huge HP plastered on the sign. The Sundance House presented by HP showcases interactive experiences that will allow you to explore the ways in which technology works with film. You can also get out of the cold- if it ever gets cold this week!- for free Wi-Fi, laptops, and printers use. The HP Live Lounge is the heated tent you see on the corner. It’s earblowingly loud in there when various local artists play so bring your earplugs. Open daily from 9:30 a.m.

If you like cars, the Acura Lounge is right across the street for chances to win a ride-around, gourmet movie snacks and music.

One of the hardest public spots to get into is the Sundance Channel HQ at the top of Main. Well, it’s not really public per se. It’s open to credential holders or you can go online and rsvp for a day pass. The line swings up the street and you basically count on standing there until the event ends and you’re turned away. The invite tickets go before they’re even posted. The café hosts panel discussions and private events at night but the best event is CATDANCE sponsored by Fresh Step kitty litter. The party is also an awards show for cat-related short films.

Not sure you really understand the “industry?” YouTube on Main (596) hosts screening, panels, happy hours and parties – most of which are open to anyone. Daily 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Click here to see a complete schedule of events and programming.

Ever use Airbnb to book your Park City lodging? Now’s your chance to learn about the service. The Airbnb Haus is a nice place to chill and discover rentals from treehouses to castles. Open daily at the bottom of Main in the old Blue Iguana space.

Next stop is the Canon Lounge (aka Rock and Relly’s Pub) next to Park City Live (which itself is the Park City Live Lounge). But at Canon they’ll host panel discussions, screenings and parties for filmmakers to spotlight the Canon Cinema EOS line of professional digital cameras and lenses. My Canon Rebel T4i may not qualify but I’m an actor. I can fake it.

The Utah Film Commission is hosting The Hub. For sure drop in and see what’s cooking in our fair state with regards to film production. The spot at 751 Main will have hot drinks, snacks and hands to shake. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

One of the busiest addresses last year was the MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger Bar. Who can resist free food even when it’s veggie burgers? To be fair, they have veggie sliders, veggie chili and chik’n buffalo wings and vegan options as well. Located in the Eating Establishment (317 Main), the Bar is open to the public through Tuesday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

The SkyLodge becomes the ZenDen for exclusive morning yoga workouts (7 a.m! Ouch.) bodywork appointments and private parties co-sponsored by the Awareness Festival and Lulelemon. It’s an eco-friendly retreat for VIPs from the usual crazy scene at Sundance.

Another retreat for VIPs, the EcoHideaway, is the not so much of a gifting place as it is a spot to take in live music. This year’s lounge is back on Main after relocating to Stein Eriksen Lodge for a few years. Expect over 40 musical performances over the three days they’re there. Park City’s Whole Foods gets involved. Last year, I collected some sweet lotions and eye cream. The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge will do mini-facials, Utah’s Minky Couture will gift their adorable, uber-soft blankets and scarves; looks like they’re doing OC Hair and Makeup too. Other sponsors touted are LAMO Footwear, Fur Frenzy, OC HAIR and MAKEUP, Bula (yay for a ski connection!), and Under Canvas Glamping Trips to Yellowstone, Moab Desert, and Montana).