Even though the Salt Lake Valley has yet to see an inch of snow, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers are already gearing up to hit the slopes.
Locally, three organized winter-oriented events are currently in the planning stages: Utah Gay Ski Week, the Queer Utah Aquatic Club’s annual Ski n’ Swim Weekend and Ski OUT Utah’s winter-long skiing, downhill snowboarding and snowshoe hikes. Here is some information on each to help you start planning for some fun in the snow.
Utah Gay Ski Week
Held Jan. 7—11, the ninth annual Utah Gay and Lesbian Ski Weekend is not locally produced, but produced by someone who has been hitting Park City’s hill and other Utah ski resorts since 1999.
“Utah provides the best snow for skiing and snowboarding,” said John Harriet, a West Hollywood, Calif. resident who works for Community Visions, a group that sponsors gay and lesbian social and sporting events. The so-called “greatest snow on Earth” and the enthusiasm several of Harriet’s friends had for the state’s slopes led Harriet to organize the weekend.
“[We thought] it would be more fun to ski with lots of other gay guys,” he said.
Harriet and other organizers ultimately picked Park City to host the event, thanks to its proximity to the mountains, larger resorts and “the ease of people getting together in the smaller town.”
“A SLC gay ski week was tried by another group about five years ago or so, and it lasted for two seasons before it folded. Being in Salt Lake City, there were more parties and bar events, but the skiing became secondary,” explained Harriet.
The Utah Gay and Lesbian Ski Week lasts for five days and includes skiing and snowboarding at Park City and skiing at Deer Valley (which does not allow snowboarders). During the week attendees also meet for hospitality parties and dinners which are included in a group cost in addition to lift prices. Lunches are not covered, however. A host condo is also picked each year to house the central hospitality room.
While Utah Gay and Lesbian Ski Week is a for-profit venture, costs are kept close to the discounted rates offered by the resorts so that as many people as possible can participate. And although the event lasts five days, skiers can purchase three day or even two day “weekend” packages. Skiers can also buy tickets for individual days, dinners or parties (none of which, however, include airfare for out-of-towners).
Last year, Utah’s ski group Ski OUT Utah hosted a Saturday night party at Kristauf’s Martini Bar in Park City during the week, inviting locals to meet and mix with skiers from out of town. Ski OUT Utah organizers have said the group will be more involved at this year’s event, too.
For more information contact [email protected] or (877) 429-6368 or visit gayskiing.org.
Ski OUT Utah
Before last year’s ski season, a group of men in the Lambda Hiking group decided to start a Utah ski club so they would have something fun and outdoorsy to do during the winter. The all-volunteer group is accessible to everyone, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight and charges no membership fees.
“Sixty people signed up for the first year, with about forty people participating,” said Dana Clark, Ski OUT Utah’s publicist. “We are looking to get more women involved this year and we want to be open and affirming to the community.”
Every weekend starting in January through the end of March, Ski OUT Utah has a group event planned, including downhill skiing or snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoe hikes, and hosted potluck dinners or bar parties. Although the skiing level for the group’s members is set at intermediate to excellent, beginners are always welcome. In fact, if enough new skiers and snowboarders join the group, the several ski and snowboard instructors who belong to the group may be able to take new beginners out for some lessons.
Discounts tickets to ski locations can be purchased through Ski OUT Utah’s Web site (skioututah.com). Each event will have a group leader and a pre-arranged location at the slopes for people together.
To help members get to know each other better, Ski OUT Utah has planned several potluck dinners for this fall. Members can also socialize after a day on the slopes at after parties and meals at members’ homes or participating businesses.
“The main purpose is to have fun and meet people and the group will be very democratic” said Clark. “If a person wants to get out and enjoy winter, you can snowshoe. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.” A list of where snowshoes can be rented or bought will soon be added to the Web site.
The first day of skiing and snowboarding will take place Jan. 4, 2009 at the Pay Day Lift in Park City, with lunch planned at 1:30 p.m. at Summit House. An after party potluck is being planned after the day of skiing and snowboarding in Park City.
Ski OUT Utah’s tentative winter schedule is as follows.
January 4 Ski & Board, Park City, Payday Lift Lunch 1:30 p.m., Summit House
January 11 Snowshoe Donut Falls, Big Cottonwood Bring a pack-lunch & water
January 18 Ski & Board, Solitude, Moonbeam Chair Lunch 1:30 p.m., Sunshine Grill
January 25 X-Country Ski, Mountain Dell Rec, Parleys Bring a pack-lunch & water
February 1 Ski only, Deer Valley, Snowpark Tckt Booth Lunch 1: 30 p.m., Snowshoe Tommy’s
February 8 Snowshoe Desolation Trail, Mill Creek Bring a pack-lunch & water
February 13-15 QUAC Ski n’ Swim Weekend quacquac.org
February 22 X-Country Ski, Mountain Dell Rec, Parleys Bring a pack-lunch & water
March 1 Ski & Board, Canyons, Flight of Canyons Lunch 1:30 p.m., Sun Lodge
March 8 Snowshoe Little Cottonwood Canyon Trail Bring a pack-lunch & water
March 15 Ski & Board, Snowbird Aerial Tram Lunch 1: 30 p.m., MidGad
March 22 X-Country Ski, Mountain Dell Rec, Parleys Bring a pack-lunch & water
For more information visit Ski OUT Utah at skioututah.com, myspace.com/skioututah or groups.yahoo.com/group/skioututah.
QUAC Ski n’ Swim
Each year QUAC, the local gay and lesbian swim club, hosts a weekend swim meet and ski day for local and invited gay and lesbian swim clubs. In the past, attendees have come from Toronto, Seattle, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Phoenix and several cities in Illinois. Locally, most of the swimmers are members of QUAC or Utah Masters, a competitive club for aging swimmers of both sexes.
“QUAC has been organizing this event for the last six years and last year we had between thirty and fifty out-of-state attendees,” said Milan Jendrisek, who currently shares co-chair duties with fellow QUAC Web master and former swimmer Sean Hammon.
This year’s Ski n’ Swim will take place Feb. 13—15, with any profits going towards QUAC scholarships, which will enable members to attend the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 2009 or the Gay Games 2010 in Koln, Germany.
Participating in the events for the 2009 Ski n’ Swim will require registration at QUAC’s Web site, quacquac.org. Event costs will be listed in mid-November and will include skiing, swimming and attending breakfasts and lunches. Because of the need to raise money for scholarships, the only event open to the public at no cost will be the Feb. 15 swim meet at the University of Utah.
Ski activities on Feb. 14 will include a breakfast and lunch in Park City, along with skiing and snowboarding at Park City ski hill. Jendrisek also said QUAC hopes to have water polo and diving events at this year’s weekend.
“We are still finalizing many of the locations and events for 2009 Ski n’ Swim,“ Hammon said, “And we hope to have the website up in a couple of weeks.”
Other activities will include are an opening night social on Feb. 13, a dessert social in Salt Lake City on Valentine’s Day, and a closing social on Feb. 15. Usually all such events are held at QUAC members’ homes.
For more information visit quacquac.org/skinswim or ski-n-swim.org.