Sundance Hangover


Locals can score a pass granting them unlimited movies for 10 days

By Skimum Paula

Contrary to what most people think, Salt Lake City is one big party the last week of January. Each year, tens of thousands come here from all over the world to attend the Outdoor Retailers Show, the state’s largest convention that showcases the newest and hottest fashions, gadgets and gear for the recreation industry, and they also come to a little old film fest called Sundance. Oh, yes, while the paparazzi flood Main Street in Park City, the theatres of Salt Lake, Ogden and Sundance are filled with film buffs on the ultimate celluloid (now digital) buzz.


Paula compared Whiplash to open heart surgery — painful, terrifying but never felt more alive


Expect to see this one in everyone’s Best Of lists

So, what Utahns give up in wine selection, we make up for in other adrenaline-filled endeavors – skiing and Sundance, for example. Not only can locals take a few ski runs and then head to work, but we can get tickets for movies everyone will be talking about throughout the year and into next year’s Oscar season. Whiplash? [sigh] Saw it at last year’s Fest. See what I posted on my Instagram account about it. Maybe I should be a Hollywood mogul! LOL Yes, Sundance is a highly addictive pleasure that many partake in but few recognize the dangers of.


Jason Segel delivered outstanding dramatic performance in The End of the Tour and stayed around to discuss it with appreciative Salt Lake audience.


Fake Bono!

There are many locals, including Skimums that indulge in Sundance in one form or another. Some are “Social Sundancers,” taking in a few movies and calling it quits. Others are “Sundance Stalkers.” You’ve seen them on the streets, iPhones in hand. These otherwise normal-looking people can have a wonderful time seeing movies alongside their favorite actors, directors and A-listers until they inevitably get sucked into and crushed by the “Fake Bono” experience. These folks usually recover, have a bellyaching laugh and move on with few after effects.

Many of us, however, have noticed this year a new phenomenon – the Sundance Hangover. It afflicts mostly local women who, not being on vacation, try to fit in a dozen or more movies into their already-packed schedule of work, school, and family… Oh, and there was some new snow! So, add skiing to that.


Skimums Stephanie and Julie strike a pose at one of the many Sundance venues in Salt Lake City

Yes, I too succumbed. After skiing all day last Sunday, this Skimum raced down the mountain, picked up my teen from the tutor, dashed home, showered, fed the dog, threw take out at the kids, jumped into the car and headed to two different Salt Lake theatres to see a 6 o’clock movie and a 9:30pm documentary. I should mention that I had already consumed 4 movies since Friday night.

This did not end well …

The next morning, I did the slow roll out of bed and, eyes closed, made a desperate search for Advil and coffee. Two pills and two cups later, I managed to make the kids breakfast, make one of 2 sack lunches (oops!), get my 10-year-old dressed and to school in time for pajama day. Needing more sleep, I abandoned the laundry and snuck back into bed. [iPhone rings] “Mom, it isn’t pajama day. [sniffle]” Oh, $#1^!   [iPhone rings again] Son needs backpack and money and papers signed. Other child never calls about forgotten lunch.

Needless to say, things hit bottom before 10am. I think there was even an intervention by a family member at one point. More tears, more expletives. I put aside my movie plans for that evening.


Maybe tomorrow night… After all, we live here.

I have recovered, as have the other Skimums that tried and failed to “do it all.” Because, you see, what I’ve learned over the years is – While you can have it all, there’s a lot of it I don’t want or need to make me happy, fulfilled, satisfied. I know what I like and what others seem to like about me, and I try to stay within those parameters instead of trying to do everything and getting very little satisfaction or benefit. No, I’m not going to abstain from Sundance entirely. I’m just getting pickier each year about what and how many I see. I try to see the ones I think won’t make it to the big screen, like Whiplash, and wait for the rest to hit HBO or Netflix. I don’t need to be the first to see it. After all, there is so much more to see in beautiful Salt Lake City and beyond.

Don’t Hate Me Because I Live Here

Don’t Hate Me Because I Live Here

By SkiMum Paula

While visiting friends and neighbors in Texas, I realized that I had to watch what I say.  Oh, I didn’t risk offending anyone; I risked ticking them off!

When I announced I was moving to Utah a couple years ago, my pals gave me a sympathetic glance while quieting asking, “Is there any chance it will fall through?”  While I believed with all my heart that they said this because they would really, really miss me; I was left with the distinct impression that some just couldn’t imagine choosing to leave the South with its ever-present humidity, hurricanes and mosquitoes for … Utah.

Silver Creek

Steve Schafer Photography

So, when I came back with stories of skiing while the kids are at school and hiking the mountain outside my door and enjoying world-class mountain biking nearby and rappelling for date night (yes, it was a Groupon) and stargazing at Sundance, their expressions changed and they immediately proclaimed, “But you still can’t get a drink there!”

Because I love my friends, I just smiled and nodded and decided to talk about soccer instead.

How To Be A Snow Goddess

How To Be A Snow Goddess

(Or No More Herky Jerky Down the Hill)

By SkiMum Paula

Legs together, standing tall, cruising down some crazy-steep black diamond at lightning fast speed.  Dream on, girlfriend!

Now, wa-wa-wait just a minute.  Why can’t I ski like a Swiss snow goddess? Because you started with pizza and French fries, that’s why.

On another outing with Snowbird Mountain School Instructor Emilia, several Skimums stated longingly that they wanted to “ski like that”.  Emilia had just cruised ahead of us to the bottom of a gully off of Lupine Loop.  Although she is petite, she skied tall with her legs together and her body square and pointed downhill.  She also made it down fast with few turns making it look like a graceful ballet instead of the Elaine Dance.  [For the young and culturally uniformed, this is a classic Seinfeld reference used to describe Elaine’s dancing style (set to Shining Star performed by Earth, Wind and Fire), which George called, “a full bodied dry heave set to music” in The Little Kicks episode.]

Because moaning travels downhill quickly at high altitudes, Emilia took pity and shared with us the secrets of skiing like a Swiss snow goddess.

Here it is – Don’t carve.  Well, not in the traditional sense.  Not in the sense that was first explained to us when we first stepped onto skis 10, 20, ok, 30 and I’m not going any higher years ago.  You don’t ski pizza or French fries anymore, and you and your equipment have evolved from that first carving lesson, too.  By the way, what is it with skiing and food references?  Chocolate chips, mashed potatoes, death cookies, noodles, butter the snow.  Carving is what we’re all told to aspire to but, like most things, we often take it too far.  To make a clean arc, you want to get on the edge of the ski.  However, if you go beyond that (and, if you’re being honest, you sometimes do especially on a steep) then you are slowing yourself down, as evidenced by the rooster tail of snow produced by friction which, BY DEFINITION, means an opposing force is slowing your butt down.  The other pickle you can find yourself in is when you carve and then sideslip to skim altitude, the skiers’ walk of shame.

Emilia retaught us how to carve by deconstructing our turns and suggesting we flatten the skis half way through for a brief second, as in, when they are pointing downward!  Because physics works, this produced forward momentum and acceleration.  This also meant less braking in our turns and less sideslipping. While this may seem ridiculously simple and, actually, downright simplistic, like many of the visual cues she’s given us, it worked.

Many Skimums have realized that even when we know the mechanics, the mind can wreak havoc on our skiing.  We get so worried about our ability to turn and control our speed – things we truly know how to do and are all but guaranteed with modern equipment – that we try to fight the forces of nature (including, gravity, of all things) instead of using them to overcome those things we fear most.  By reminding ourselves to flatten after initiating our turns, we’re able to allow bodies and skis to take care of themselves.  By focusing on that one little thing, we engaged and centered both legs for a split second causing our bodies to stand tall and square and our skis to stay together and point down the hill.  We looked better and felt great.

Cue the music. I feel like dancing!

Date Night… In The Morning… Wearing Ski Boots

By SkiMum Paula

I mentioned to some friends last night that my hubby gave me exactly what I wanted for Christmakah, the multi-cultural holiday we celebrate (for what seems like the entire month of December) that makes my children spoiled rotten and my in-laws very happy.  I asked for Date Night coupons to be redeemed once a month for the following year.  Being a good guy (and recognizing the not-so-subtle hint), he stepped up and offered two per month.

If this sounds bizarre, then I’ll just assume you’re unmarried or newly married and don’t have children.  Just play along and tuck this away for future reference.

With hectic lives, little ones underfoot and, even worse, teenagers at the wheel, it gets harder and harder to carve out time for ourselves and nearly impossible to do so with our spouses.  Add finding a babysitter, bribing a sibling or, if necessary, flying in a granny, it’s a wonder that we ever get out with our mates at all.

Like Charlie with his Golden Ticket, I eagerly presented my coupon to ski with my sweetie at The Bird.  He was going to be there anyway for a meeting and said he had a few hours before he had to be back at the office.  So, after taking the kids to school (more like slowing down in the carpool lane and nudging them out), I bolted up the canyon and met him at the Plaza, where we took the tram to the top and skied down again and again as the sun burned off the morning clouds on the front and back sides.  There was an unexpected dusting of new snow and, being midweek, no crowds.  What a day!  What a date!

[Singing]  If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it; want to change the world… there’s nothing to it.  –Willy Wonka

And we talked.  Riding the lifts together in the center of the seat, we talked about the mountain, where we wanted to ski next, how I was skiing so well this season (thank you, Skimums), whether to stop at Mid Gad for hot chocolate, how we should come back in August to hike among the wildflowers.  What’s absent from this list?  All the stuff that consumes conversations down the mountain.  Good stuff, but stuff that, for a few hours could wait.

No, it wasn’t a date in the traditional sense, but instead of sitting in a dark theatre watching a Shoot ‘Em Up, Oompa Loompas or a Chick Flick — silently and passively, we were actually engaged in the activity and, more importantly, one another.  Hmmm, we could be on to something.  I’ll have to redeem a lot more coupons to test my theory.  Thankfully, the season at Snowbird is long.

But Charlie, don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted? … He lived happily ever after.  –Willy Wonka

I think it was originally called The Spahhhhhh

By SkiMum Paulamums_Spahhhh

Have you ever had a day, week or month (any longer and I can recommend a great therapist) where you just couldn’t catch your breath?  Where you find yourself doing, doing, doing?  Where your turn and find your shoulders wrapped around your ears?

Not good.  Not right.  Try to ski like that.  Try to be nice to your friends, husbands or kids like that.

Maybe it was record days of cold, snow, yucky air, runny noses, flu bugs (projectile vomiting? Really?), science fair projects (or, as my kid calls it, “science un-fair”), volunteer commitments, or the dreaded laundry, which, honestly, is piled so high right now I could sell lift tickets.  “I just want to sit on a warm beach with a fruity drink in my hand!” I whined to my Skimums.

After emailing Snowbird one of my musings on a day in the life of Skimums, the folks there suggested I hit the Cliff Spa and write about that.  Whether they believed that I would write an informative and amusing bit about the spa high in the sky or “that girl needs a break,” their timing was beyond perfect.  So, I grabbed my SkiMum gal pal, Bettina, who had a gift certificate her hubby (hint, hint), and hit the Spa.

Some pictures do, in fact, say a thousand words –

Like most spas, The Cliff Spa asks you to arrive early so you can relax and take advantage of the amenities.  Bettina was running late and wasn’t sure how to get there (for those that know her, stop laughing), so, I threw on a robe, chucked my gear in two lockers (I never pack light) and plopped into a comfy leather chair in the Solarium, a long, skinny room flanked by a wall of windows overlooking Chip’s Face.  The sun was just coming over the Peak.  This was starting to look and feel really nice.  Honestly, the only thing I could complain about was that there weren’t enough magazines to allow me to just sit there, unbothered, in the sunshine all day long.

Bettina arrived, and we grabbed some herb tea and cold water (hydration is key at a spa), and opened the door to the steam room.  Whoosh, eucalyptus filled my nostrils. An aromatic steam room.  Very nice.

Before long, Judy, came to take me to a “treatment room” for my Cliff Custom Massage.  Also facing the mountain, the room was filled with warmth as the sun was now streaming in and onto the table.  “Do you want the curtain open or closed?  Some people like it completely dark,” queried Judy.  “No, no, please, keep it open.  The sun feels great,” I replied.  Then Judy went to work.  I’ve had plenty of massages over the years with the therapists all telling me the same thing, “Your shoulders are full of knots and tension.  You carry all of your worries here.  It’s very common. You shouldn’t wait a year to work these out.”  God bless Judy.  One knot gone, another muscle loosened.  I don’t know how long I was in there, because, for the first time ever, I fell asleep.

Afterward, I didn’t see Bettina, who bewilderedly confessed later, that she, too, dozed during her facial.  So, I went to check out the rooftop pool and hot tub.  I’m not a swimmer, must be the short legs and intense feelings about being immersed in hot versus cold water, but I could have done laps in the hot tub as it was almost as big as the pool.  Flash back to the picture above – the hot tub was amazing.  The only thing I was missing was the pina colada.  A half-hour later …

I eventually met Bettina back in the Ladies’ Locker Room, which, in addition to showers, towels, robes and lotions, has the only sauna with a view.  If you’re even a tiny bit claustrophobic, this “dry” sauna, with a picture window looking out onto Little Cottonwood Canyon, is the place for you.   Bettina had to beg off on lunch leaving me to get dressed to meet my husband on the slopes.

A brief but notable aside… Knowing I would ski afterward, I decided to valet my car at The Cliff Lodge so I wouldn’t have to walk back and forth from my typical parking spot.  Tommy and the guys kept my car and my skis while I went to the Spa.  Afterward, they stowed my Spa gear, handed me my skis and gave me all the “inside” tips on where to ski out and ski in from there (the elevator takes you right to Chickadee and cat tracks back are right outside the entrance).  Heading up toward the doors to Chickadee, the Lodge Manager even offered to carry my skis.  I felt like I was actually on vacation.  There is no charge to valet at The Cliff Lodge, but gratuities are appreciated.


Before leaving the Lodge to ski, I stopped at the snack shop to grab a Luna Bar and another drink (I wasn’t kidding about hydration).  Plopping myself into a leather club chair in the adjacent lounge staring out the sun-filled windows, I looked at my Sobe and laughed.  A fruity drink.  It truly was a magical day.