Ever ski with an Olympian? Try it with this Deer Valley program

Fit City skied with three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker, who slowed her pace.


Pam LeBlanc skied with three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker.

Voelker kindly slowed her speed and explored the mountain at a comfortable pace.

Most of us will never make it to the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean we can’t rub shoulders with elite athletes.

Thanks to the Ski With a Champion program at Deer Valley Resort in Utah, any competent skier can spend time skiing with an Olympian. During my recent visit, I arranged to spend the day with Heidi Voelker, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team.

Yes, I was intimidated. But in the last few years, I’ve ridden bikes with Lance Armstrong and swum with Olympians including Aaron Peirsol and Tommy Hannan. I’ve tried (with no luck) to keep up with pro triathletes including Rip Esselstyn and Desiree Ficker, and gotten lapped at a bike race by ultra-cyclist Andrew Willis.

Could I keep up with Voelker? Of course not — if she was trying. But she understood my limitations (I’m a Texan, after all) and kept a snappy but reasonable pace as we explored Deer Valley Resort, where she serves as Ambassador of Skiing.

Voelker started skiing when she was 2. I started in my 30s. She earned a silver medal at the World Junior Slalom in 1987. I was busy writing for the Plano Star Courier that year. She competed in 1988, 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. I watched them on television.

Still, she slowed to a comfortable pace to accommodate me. The nice thing about skiing with someone who knows a mountain is that they can find the good snow and the good pitches and avoid big crowds. We did all that.

And after three or four hours of steady skiing, we headed to a nearby restaurant for a piping hot pot of cheese fondue.

Voelker is one of a stable of athletes available as ski guides through the Ski With a Champion program. Other participating athletes are Shannon Bahrke, Trace Worthington, Jillian Vogtli, Kaylin Richardson, Chris Waddell and Kris “Fuzz” Feddersen.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Travel

After the wildfires, raising a toast

Chris Morano settled into the pillow-strewn bench in the lobby of the Sandman, surprisingly relaxed after all he has been through. Behind him, singed shrubs appeared through the hotel window. Near the swimming pool, a concrete wall bore the black eye of a fireball. On the coffee table, by his knees, sat the most recent issue of Sonoma Magazine, which...
Great castles of the United States

Think only Europe has the lock on castles, coats-of-arm and other royal trappings? Pish-posh — the United States has its castles, too. And visitors may tour the grounds, enjoy a sumptuous repast and, in some cases, overnight in guest rooms that will make you feel like royalty.  — The Kentucky Castle, Versailles, KY   Kentucky...
Tallahassee a great outdoors launching point

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — North Florida is rife with options for outdoor enthusiasts and Tallahassee is a great place for your adventure base camp.  Whether it’s diving into the state’s deepest freshwater spring, checking out the state’s tallest waterfall or trekking through the state’s only guided cave system, there are...
Starting an intimidating world tour in the Big Easy

On my first trip to New Orleans, eight years ago, I bought a new pair of sneakers. By the end of a week I had danced in the streets so much I’d worn holes through the bottoms of each of them, straight through to my socks. That, more than Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest or oak trees or gumbo, is my indelible image of the city: The only place in the world...
Tips and tricks from a veteran British flyer

British writer Tilly Bagshawe is the New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen novels. Her first, "Adored," was a Jackie Collins-style blockbusting bodice-ripper, and she's also written multiple officially sanctioned novels in the style of Sidney Sheldon. Her latest book is the first in a murder mystery series set in her beloved...
More Stories