Credit: Barnaby.

By Jennifer Nielsen

As a Park City, Utah resident, I’m the first to brag about the jewels in my own backyard. This time of year, there’s no more pristine winter ski vacation than here in Park City, with powdery slopes and picturesque mountain ranges beckoning ski novices and pros.

Apart from its reputation as a ski haven, though, all eyes are on Park City today for another reason: the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, opening today and running through Jan. 30. Perfectly synced to keep celebrities, jetsetters and snow bunnies entertained, the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships kickoff at the end of the Festival on Jan. 30 with a slew of amazing Olympic-style games.

Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 20-30
This marquee Park City event brings the artistry, drama and offbeat comedy of 200 independent films to our little ski town. Stroll Main Street and you might catch a celebrity or two (ahem, Paris Hilton) walking with a bag full of swag. In between films, snap on your boots and hit the slopes – the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the open terrain.  Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons are only five miles from one another.  Be sure to book lodging early since rooms tend to sell out.

FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, Jan. 30-Feb. 2
If the 2010 Winter Games left you hungry for more acrobatic feats, stick around Park City longer to catch the 14th FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. Hosted by Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, the FIS Freestyle championships showcases truly amazing Olympic talent.   Trust me: there’s nothing more exhilarating than watching aerials, moguls, dual moguls, skier cross and ski half pipe stunts performed in person. Are they daredevils or just plain crazy? You decide.

One thing to know before you go:  although the competition starts on Jan. 30, the opening ceremony launches on Feb. 2. The event will be taped for airing on NBC on Saturday, Feb. 5 between 430 p.m. and 6 p.m. EST and Sunday, Feb. 6 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.

For a seamless Park City vacation, keep these tips in mind:

  • Attire: With temperatures averaging from 12 degrees to 33 degrees, layers are a must. Pack you gloves, mittens, a warm hat, jacket and a warm (and stylish) pair of snow boots to keep your feet dry.
  • Transportation: FREE in the town of Park City.  The city operates both festival and city buses to transport visitors from festival venues.  Park City is pedestrian friendly, too, thanks to multiple paths around town. And don’t forget to check the bus schedule before leaving the hotel.
  • Where to StayPark City hotels cover a wide range of options, from studios to one- and two-bedroom condos. Capitalize on the more affordable hotels that still offer the Sundance experience.
  • Where to Ski/Ride: Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons are literally five minutes from one another.  Deer Valley Ski resort, a skier-only resort, recently ranked No. 1 for the fourth year in a row by Skiers Magazine based on its pristine groomed runs and delicious mountain cuisine. Park City Mountain Resort’s claim to fame was as host during the snowboarding competition during the 2002 Olympics.  Finally, The Canyons Resort, fresh off a $20 million dollar renovation, became the first North American resort to install a heated bubble chair, with an additional 300 skiable acres making 4,000 acres of skiable terrain.
  • Lift tickets: On the day of your arrival, exchange your airline boarding pass and receive a same day lift ticket to any of these resorts.  For more details on the process, review the  Quick START (Ski Today and Ride Today) program.

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A market manager for the West’s ski and mountain region, Jennifer Nielsen lives in Lake Tahoe and Park City with her husband and young daughter. A fan of every season, she loves water skiing and boating in the summer, and of course,  skiing in the winter.

Tagged: Holidays & Events, Ski Resorts

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