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Deer Valley Redeux

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#1 Gary Dranow

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 11:12 PM

Well this is a bit of sad if not bizarre story.

If you can envision Rod Sterling doing one of his intros for the Twilight Zone then do it here.

Setting the stage

I feel to really give a venue a fair review I must ski there at least two separate days and optimally more.

I had so much fun the first day I went, this last Sunday, April Fool's Day, that I elected to go back this last Tuesday - Just To Race NASTAR.

We showed up at 9:30, pulled into the $20 per day underground parking and like good guests purchased our $77 per day lift tickets (even though a third or more of the mountain is now closed). So let's see, we start the day at $174 dollars, to run NASTAR and for me to feel good about my ragging 4 thumbs up review. Trust me, I don't throw around raging 4 thumbs up review easily. I believe this is where the April Fool's thing comes into play,,, anyway,,,,

This time, Tuesday, April 3rd, I show up with two pairs of skis, my 184 Rossi WC (cheater skis) and my R11 Mutix 175's (probably my most favorite ski in my quiver, another post, another time). I'm in my race suit but with a suitable Descent racing shell with freakin' MODERN SKI RACING all over the back (ahem, the plot thickens, keep thinking Rod Sterling here),

I was up the night before, Monday, April 2nd, doing full-blown race prep on the two sets of skis I intended to test. I deburred then polished my edges with the typical 12 stone process and then got deep into my waxing mindset (du-DU-du-du du-DU-du-du, this the Twilight Zone theme music because who the hell does a race prep and then even thinks about waxing for NASTAR, I mean C’MON, Dranow!! This is going to play real good for those folks out there that love to hate me – HEY, I’m an easy target - as this is a long parens utilization is, I digress) and go deep into my Holmenkol chest of goodies (sorry Dr.D, this was a Holmenkol day for me, I had to go with what I new best, du-DU-du-du du-DU-du-du).

Based on some kind of logic that I would have to go look at my “wax log” to determine (I won’t do that to you guys) I used GW25 crayoned under 1/1 Alpha/Moly Additiv on my 9X’s. For the R11’s I went with 1/1 Alpha/SI33 Silicon Additiv then Hybrid Yellow. Both skis were sat over night and at 6:30 AM they got the Dranow Brush Routine (remember, Rod Sterling!). That is Brass, then Nylon then HorseHair Roto (well really SpeedBrush) and then Nylon and Horse Hair hand brush.

I was satisfied when I could see myself in all four bases of my race tools for the day. I packed my “ditty bag” with the appropriate overlays and speedblocks, square brushes, brake retention devices (rubber bands) and packed the car.

So back to the slope and to catch you up – we had laid out $154 for tickets and I sauntered up to the registration window right at 10:00, precisely when the course opened. I paid my $20 for my 4 (yes four) runs and told the registrar that I had already signed all the forms and disclaimers of death and dismemberment previously and started to move towards the Green Course for my first run.

I was stopped dead in my tracks with these words;

“If you hit our gates we will ask you to leave”

This is a VERBATIM QUOTE. I am not kidding you in the least.

Okay, I’m thinking (Du-DU-du-du) did I just hear what I thought I heard.

Now to give you all some context. It was 50 something on Monday, and this was Tuesday morning at 10 AM. It got down to a chilly 28 degrees Monday night and Tuesday Morning. It was still a nippy 40 or so (and for what has been going on up here that IS downright NIPPY) and the snow was as hard polished as a parquet floor. The wrenches, which the course setters clearly used to screw in the turning gates of the double paneled NASTAR course were glistening in the sun right behind the registrar as he repeated, mind you, before I said a word;

“If you hit our gates we will ask you to leave”

“Excuse me” I said, “What do you mean hit your gates”

Now this is where this really gets weird. He repeats the same words but this time adds, “This is our POLICY”.

Oooooookaaaaayyyy. I’m in my race suit with my appropriate black Descente Race Shelll with MSR.COM on the back and thinking, stay cool Dranow, stay cool.

“Can you explain what you mean my hitting the gates. As you can probably tell I’m a bit of an experienced racer and will probably brush the gates as I go by and THIS IS A NASTAR VENUE” I asked and said,


Ooooookaaaaayyyyy I think to myself. This is strange.

I explain. “Look, I’m just here to run the NASTAR course and get the best Handicap I can, I’m not going to knock your course down” he interrupts like one of those West World Ul Brenners, IF YOU HIT OUR GATES WE WILL MAKE YOU LEAVE.

Okay, I get it, don’t hit the gates. So I decide to give up getting any clarification of what he means and I’m truly worried about being asked to leave without my $194 dollars and after I’ve made a grand total of ½ run for the day.

I had several reasons for being there.

1) To check the pacesetting over more than one day
2) To get my Men’s 50-54 Platinum Number 1 ranking back that I’ve held for the last three years and lost to a fellow in Colorado who has not run the Nationals or Masters in the last 4 or 5 years
3) To test two pair of skis against each other and two wax setups and several overlays.
4) And verify that I had as much fun as I thought I did when I gave all of you a 4 thumbs up rating of this venue.

In other words, I planned on spending the whole day, running NASTAR both sessions, and having a blast.

Well let’s just forgo all the stuff that happened once I left the wand on my first run down the bulletproof course (wax didn’t matter, ahem).

Here’s the day’s results;

Deer Valley Daily NASTAR, Best Handicap, All Results 4/03/07

Please notice my first run Handicap in the Green Course (9 Something, 17.something seconds). Well I was at least two feet off each gate. You see, this guy wasn’t kidding and yes, I was nervous about making a bad example in my MSR.com shell.

Here’s where you should be seeing Rod Sterling again. How can I set a bad example by skiing the course correctly and brushing each gate as I came up under it, pushing it forward on its hinged base screwed into rock hard snow? I ask you this?

Then my second run in Yellow and I’m still 1 foot off of each gate.

I’ve been ranting on each chair ride and my wife has done her best to calm me down. Before my start of the second run she engages this guy and asks him what he means by “Hit our gates”.

My wife’s logic is impeccable and her calm demeanor wouldn’t upset a fly. She gets the exact same non-clarification I do.

“This is a Recreational Racing facility. It is our Policy. If anyone hit our gates we will make them leave. My wife asks for a manager. There is no manager available. She is told to go to the office if she feels she needs to discuss this further.

On the chair ride back up she finally calms me down and we decide that after my 4 “paid in advance” runs we’ll just go talk to the Mountain Manager and suggest that they work a bit on their communication with the “racing guests” AND suggest that consider that experienced racers understand course maintenance issue and can ski a good line, brush the gates, have a good race and NOT BLOW UP THEIR COURSE. AND, that in conditions where you couldn’t knock the gates out with a tiller, that maybe, just maybe, simply because a guy or gal shows up in a race suit, that this policy need not be stated and repeatedly administered prior to that racer going into the RACE COURSE.

Besides, course maintenance and recreational racing are two separate issues, by the way.

And as an aside, we were at the resort when we ran into a long-time coach and friend of ours (in keeping with the TV theme, the names have been changed to protect the innocent) who would slip the NASTAR course behind his kid to reset any gates that his kid knocked out. He told us about one day where one of the NASTAR employees began ranting at him for re-screwing in the gates knocked out (keep in mind that the coach friend was just trying to help maintain the course to not stop the flow of guests through the course). Before the guy could defend himself, the preeminent icon of Deer Valley (again, no need to name names!) came up and commented that the coach friend of ours "had been screwing in gates around the world" and there was no reason he couldn't do it here, too. Too bad this philosophy didn't continue on the NASTAR course when the aforementioned icon was no longer physically present!

Okay, remember #2 on my list? I’m out to get my paper lion, meaningless, yes, but nonetheless somewhat important to me, number 1 ranking back that I’ve held since time immemorial.

Due to all this I think that all I needed was something in the three’s to get my ranking back. I thought I had skied something in the three’s and was quite anxious to go have a friendly discussion with the race department director. Besides, I did hit their gates after I ran my 3 and 4 (on my four I backed off again not wanting to upset anyone and though I had already met my goal of number 2 stated above).

We left the arena. No feathers were ruffled other than ours as far as my wife and I could tell and set off to find a manager. We trekked through buildings, got wrong directions and finally found the office. No one in. We left a written note and asked to be contacted about the NASTAR venue.

Its been over 24 hours and we have since e-mailed them and sent in a comment on their “Customer Satisfaction” form on their website.

Not a call, not chirp, no response at all.

By the way, there were at least 4 Instructors, two of whom I know, who told me I must report this.

Did I say no response at all?

Well that bottom line is that I never took a 5th run and never got on the gates as I could. Here’s the Season Standings for the Men’s 50-54 Platinum National Ranking

NASTAR Men's 50-54 Platinum National Ranking

Pretty funny, HUH? 2/10ths of 1 percent. Pretty funny.

And I wasn’t even asked to leave after all that and I did hit their gates,,,

So I must downgrade my review of the Deer Valley NASTAR

The arena, course setting and basic operations stays at a whopping 4 Happy Faces.

biggrin.gif  biggrin.gif  biggrin.gif  biggrin.gif

Customer relations and communications and staff understanding what a NASTAR race arena is a disappointing sad faces

sad.gif  sad.gif  sad.gif

This leaves them at a net one Happy Face


Not Great after such a promsing first day After Action Report (AAR).

I hope they improve on this as they should be a whopping 4 thumbs up, but that’s if they let their NASTAR customers race. You can’t tell someone you are having a NASTAR race and you can’t ski the course to the best of your ability, within reason. Experienced racers will almost always ski a course within reason.


Parking $20
Lift Tickets for 1/2 the Mountain $154
4 NASTAR Runs $20

Missing the year end Number 1 Overall Standing by 2/10ths of one percent when you could easily have gone a half second faster if you had HIT their gates?


By the way, I wrote this with my tongue firmly planting in my cheek so if anyone wants to make comments about taking NASTAR too seriously,,,,,,, Nevermind, I can't stop the madness anyway.

But I can start my own racing forum

"Developing Faster Racers is MY Passion"


NASTAR Race Record / MASTERS Race Record

#2 sherman

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 02:33 PM

Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable, you can not hit the gates or you are asked to leave, I would have cleaned them out on my last run just to see what happened. Ask Warren, he knows I can clean gates!!!!!!!   Rob

#3 Dr. Liz

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 07:46 PM

I think Bob Harwood has all the appropriate responses.  Where were you when we needed you?  (really, check the link - well worth the click!)


#4 RonS

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 08:40 AM

So Gary, what's the punch line?  This is a joke....... isn't it? whistling.gif

#5 Gary Dranow

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 08:55 AM

QUOTE(RonS @ Apr 12 2007, 09:40 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So Gary, what's the punch line?  This is a joke....... isn't it? whistling.gif

Actually Ron, we're still waiting on the punchline.  We got a call from the Mountain Manager, Mr. E, we'll call him to protect the names of the innocent.  He stated in his voice message to Liz that they wanted to make this right and get us back up there.

I guess the punch line is that the area is closed for the season and I never got back my number 1 ranking  teehee.gif

"Developing Faster Racers is MY Passion"


NASTAR Race Record / MASTERS Race Record

#6 Gary Dranow

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 06:33 PM

Soon I will make my first visit to Deer Valley for my "Venue Review".

As you remember last year, we weren't allowed to "Touch the gates or you will be asked to leave".  This policy literally cost me my first place standing for the first year in the Men's 50-54  rolleyes.gif  angry.gif

Hopefully they've re-thought that RIDICULOUS policy for a NASTAR RACING VENUE - it was an OUTRAGE that I paid $84 or whatever dollars, and was harassed as soon as I showed up at the course because I had a race suit on.  

Anyway, Park City's first review is done and things are looking good there already. HC's settling down into the realm of REALITY.  We'll keep our eagle eye on the proceedings at PCMR.

Now something is amiss at Deer Valley.  Tougher hill than PCMR and except for a couple of powder days, way lower HC's.  Today Heidi, a certified 3 in race suit and a 5 dressed gets a wacky 16 HC and a 2 HC goes out to another racer.  There shouldn't be any 2's going out to anybody over 20 USSA Points or FIS points, C'mon kids, AJ KIT isn't a 2 for crying out loud, he's a freakin' 3 (well really a 3.8).

Yeah, yeah, we all like to get our egos stroked as if we can race with the likes of Daron Rhalves and Bode Miller but let's get real.  Hell, I pulled an 8 at the Nationals when I won my class and took 3rd in the ROC.  But that was once in four tries.  The rest have been in the teens.  And we've got 2 and 3 running all around Utah?  If they've got FIS/USSA points, cool, otherwise, PLEASE!

Let's keep it real this year, huh?  Fortunately the lowest score is thrown out so there's still time to save this season, at least here in Utah.

Even stranger the pacesetters are running not against each other but against themselves for results in the race  huh.gif

Come on HQ, get on this before I get over there wink.gif

I will be very incognito, maybe even under an assumed name as I may already be a marked man for my original post last year about the "No touchy the gates" post - I mean "YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS?".

"Developing Faster Racers is MY Passion"


NASTAR Race Record / MASTERS Race Record