Solitude’s DEVO Team Wraps up a GREAT Year!

You have probably heard me mention once or twice about Solitude’s Development Team on this blog and let me tell you it is a wonderful program. The Development Team also known as DEVO is headed up by Head Coach, Jeff Handwerk and his crew of experienced coaches who each gave their time and talents to create an enjoyable 2010/11 season for the 30 or so lucky kids who got to spend their Saturdays ripping at Solitude!

The youngest members of DEVO are all smiles with their favorite Coach, Gerrard!

Because the DEVO Team limits the number of participants each year, it fosters an intimate learning and specialized training experience for children ages 6-13.  Although, the emphasis is on correct technique, stance and race development, Solitude’s coaches make sure the kids do not get burned out with plenty of off trail skiing and the chance to discover Solitude’s many secrets and epic terrain found beyond the race course.

Cutting some pow in Headwall.

Solitude’s DEVO Team prides themselves on a competent level of instruction and talent but, the small time, laid back feel that makes Solitude so great also permeates through the DEVO Team and its staff. You won’t find a lot of attitude or egotistical personalities but, what you will find are happy, enthusiastic kids who love to spend their Saturdays on the hill with their coaches rather than in front of a television set. However, just because Solitude does not have a large, super competitive race team, they definitely produce their fair share of competitive racers who can hold their own along side the more predominant, bigger race programs. Solitude also gives their youth the experience, discipline and skills to continue on in racing…if they so choose.

Having a little fun with the DEVO Team at the top of the Bump Race.

The DEVO Team was a wonderful choice for my boys, Noah and Isaac, who like to ski off trail but, who needed the extra time spent working on the little things that will ultimately make them that much better. I looked at several programs before settling on this one and was fortunate to be able to get my boys in before the Team filled up. Early on, there were plenty of Saturdays where one or all of us weren’t really psyched about waking up and heading up the canyon but, by the middle of the season DEVO became our routine and I was glad that we made sure our boys were able to ski every single Saturday. Did I mention that DEVO runs almost EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY OF THE ENTIRE SEASON!!!

Thanks Gerrard!

Under the direction of Solitude’s Snowsports Academy Director, Leif Grevle, Jeff Handwerk has been given the reigns to offer the most affordable and proficient development program in the state! They have made it possible for more local families to enjoy the amazing benefits that Solitude and it’s DEVO Team offers. This is truly the BEST deal in Utah and the families and children who participate are truly the BEST as well. You won’t find a more enjoyable group of kids and parents anywhere. The camaraderie and fellowship between staff, participants and parents made the whole DEVO experience that much more enjoyable and exciting.

Isaac's favorite Norwegian Ski School Director...The Loveable Leif Grevle!

I guess what I am really trying to say is THANK YOU (to everyone) for such a fun and entertaining winter season! We are already looking forward to next season!

Jeff Handwerk (top right) and 2010/11 DEVO Team (CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL PICTURE)


Buds...Noah and Shady

Two Punks...Tristan and Noah

For more information on Solitude’s Snow Sports Academy and the DEVO Team please follow this link:

Spring Skiing…It’s a love/hate kind of a thing!

The weather is playing havoc on my ski psyche right now. One minute it is snowing, then it is raining and then of course the sunshine comes out and melts everything away. I guess we are in Utah and Spring is a crazy thing here! The last week or so has been a plethora of all things skiing just three different seasons rolled into one.
Day one, I was shoveling copious amounts of snow off my driveway so, I could get myself up to Solitude while the snow was still fresh and untracked. While I just assumed everyone else was shoveling so they could get to work or school, it never crossed my mind that were all thinking the same thing. Duh! Guess everyone had the same idea as me. Was it a Tuesday or a holiday weekend? By the looks of things President’s Weekend had extended into March.

Hey Bosses! Any Cars Look Familiar?

Little Cottonwood was shut down for avi control and the cars were lined up. Even Big was a little backed up. I believe there were more business calls being made in the Summit line than there were fatty’s and bright orange powder cords (yeah, some people actually had those…hehe). Skipping out on the real world was worth it though (most of you would know)….well, as long as you made it before eleven and before the sun started working its black magic on the deep Utah snow. Whew, that was a workout! My legs were actually wasted by the time I waltzed into Noah’s second grade classroom an half hour late (classroom helper) so, I could get my little self up to Solitude to ski the goods. I guess that’s just the way life goes for a ski mom, doesn’t it?

The sun is starting to do her thing in parachute.

So much snow...Honeycomb closed for good reason!

A day or two later the sun rose bright and early calling my name to head back up the canyons. This time Noah and his buddy Carter joined me for a toasty day on the slopes. As much as I love the cold and feathery powder, a little warm sunshine never hurt anybody. Solitude always attracts the chillers. You know, the guys who are always at the end of the Moonbeam lot sitting in their lawn chairs, kicking back with a brewsky or two, catching rays and maybe just maybe a run if they are lucky. When the weather is mild these guys come out in full force. If you are really in the loop, you know most of these dudes go by the nickname FOGs (funny old guys). I love em! They make me feel right at home and they have staked Solitude as their territory back probably before I even knew what skiing was! Well, somedays you just want to be a FOG (funny old girl) so, a few runs into it we decided it was time to go chill at Sunshine grill and get some burgers (in my case a veggie burger) and soak up the scenery. There are very few days in the season where you actually feel like you can shed your coat, kick up your boots and hang mid mountain to work on your tan. Friday was one of those beautiful, warm spring days that makes you just want to chill, relax and take it easy. What a gorgeous place to have lunch and the burgers weren’t too shabby either!

Noah and Carter macking the burgers at Sunshine Grill!

All those slackers who had skipped out on whatever they were supposed to be doing were non existent again (well, except for the FOGs) and Solitude was back to being Solitude. No one in sight, uhhh, except for the patrol reminding the little guys to check their speed at the slow signs. Naughty, Naughty!

Carter, Noah and Tristan reminding us all to SLOW DOWN!

The terrain park was in tip top shape and the immaculately manicured groomers were buttery soft and super carvable. Sometimes, chill days are just what the doctor ordered and they always make spring and the impending warm weather bearable.

There were still some goods left in Headwall Forest...Noah shows how to carve em up!

Carter finds a little something, something in Headwall.

And...he's 8!

However, some days, things just don’t seem to come together and Saturday was one of those days. The sun had warmed the snow up enough that off trail it had become knee popper heavy and the flat light made the rest of the mountain seem a little treacherous. Sometimes, you just know that if you keep it up you may just end up in the first aid clinic with the patrol (who would have a field day if I happened to end up in there on a toboggan). Well, the skies couldn’t get it together and either could I. After looking like a gaper in Honeycomb (see, I can admit these things…sometimes) and watching the patrol load up a few other unlucky skiers, I decided to bail. I know, I know…wussbag! At 1:30 I snaked Isaac and Noah from DEVO and headed down the canyon…in a snowstorm…then rain…then sunshine. Erghhh, spring has arrived! Spring snowstorms and sunshine I can hang with, flat light and drizzle…not so much. As long as the snow is falling or the sun is shining, spring skiing is alive and well up in the canyons and I am there. Overcast? I don’t know, I’ll probably be sitting at the computer writing about skiing instead of doing it.

Here’s To You, Friends and Family!

Skiing with friends and family is always more fun than skiing alone.

Carter Budge tearing up Honeycomb!

I won’t lie…having skied exclusively in Little Cottonwood for the past ten years or so, I was a little worried about not having anyone to ski with so, when I decided to move the fam to new territory, I admit to a little trepidation and uncertainty.

I am not one of those self motivator types who can get out and rally all day by myself. I like to have someone to talk to and laugh with and more importantly a little friendly competition never hurt anybody. I like to be pushed and I really like to push others and get them out of their comfort zone. At any rate, I was used to always running into someone at Alta or the Bird who was up for a few thigh burners. I am not entirely a new face as I did ski Solitude for a few years (back when I still had youthful knees and goggle face was still really cool) and it has been exciting to sort of rekindle the old flame.

Noah and Carter Scoping Their Lines

Solitude has grown on me these past few months and as I begin to feel comfortable with the employees and with the locals who love their mountain, I have tied myself to her passions and secrets and to the allure of Solitude’s breathtakingly peaceful slopes and the quiet power that breathes life into those who step inside her world.

Blue Skies and Groomers...Not All That Bad!

New faces have come into my ski life and it makes skiing Solitude that much more fun.
Lately, it seems there is always someone to ski with and get out and stomp around and get a little crazy with. Many times it is my own sons who are “coming into their own” and fulfilling my need for what was that?…oh yeah, a little friendly competition. No, I am not really the overbearing, worried parent but more the competitive fun type who ends up pushing rather than pulling. You could say, I make sure they know I can still rip them down the mountain (probably not for long though) but, in a positive reinforcing way…lol!

Issac Hanging with his DEVO Class

Noah and Carter Traversing Out To Milkrun

I love skiing with my boys and their friends and I love what Solitude has done for them! Noah learned how to ski at Alta but, he has stepped up his game and found his own passion for the sport at Solitude. He knows the mountain as well as I do, if not better, and loves showing me lines that he has discovered with his coaches and DEVO friends. Noah was as nervous as I was to ski Solitude this year and has finally come to love the new friends he has made and the different terrain which is challenging but conquerable.
Isaac looks forward each week to skiing with his coach, Gerrard and hanging with his favorite new buddy, Matty. Solitude has become second nature to them both and it is so fun to watch them thrive on her slopes.

Isaac's Buddy, Matty, Smiling For The Camera

Nobody likes the unknown or to feel uncomfortable but Solitude has become a part of my family this season whether she likes it or not! So, this blog is to you friends, family and ski acquaintances who have made this winter such a blast!