Danny Stern first vacationed at Deer Valley as a child, back when he knew it as “Uncle Edgar’s” resort (yes, the resort’s founder, Edgar Stern, is Danny’s great uncle). After studying politics at Occidental College and working summers at an outdoors camp for years—teaching everything from mountain biking to kayaking—the D.C.-raised, L.A.-schooled city boy took to the slopes in 2015.
Initially, he joined the ranks of ski school, enjoying the guest service aspect of instructing others while honing his own skills for two years. But after his buddy from college, Vinny Vigorita, joined ski patrol, he made the switch from green jacket to red. Now in his fourth season on ski patrol, Stern revels in the camaraderie of the job and the sheer joy of skiing—preferably under the chairlift.
He is upping his snow-safety education and poking around other aspects of the business (a summer HR position was postponed, given the pandemic). But most of all, he is fascinated by the back-of-house side of the experience.
“I’m most interested in the mountain operations side: seeing why ropes are set up in certain places, which direction a safety pad should be facing, why the trail merges on one trail and not the other trail,” he explains. “Learning all those things about really how to set up a world-class ski resort.”
The die-hard Washington Capitals fan and all-around “good guy,” according to fellow patroller Mark Chytka, is known for his fun-loving attitude. Stern says he loves riding the chairlift with guests, finding out what runs they took, what conditions they encountered, and cheerily offering run recommendations. And he always skis with a couple Deer Valley cookies in his pocket. “If you’re having a bad day or a bad run, just reach in your pocket and have a little cookie, and everything’s better,” he says.
The grandnephew of the resort’s founder may or may not end up immersed in what was the Stern family biz (now, of course, Alterra owns the resort). He’s dabbled in politics, helping on a few campaigns, and could see himself venturing into nonprofit work.
For now, he’s living the dream. Skiing every day all winter long, taking a day off only if he’s sick; racing road bikes in summer; living in city limits, just a block away from his best friend; oil painting in his spare time. And hitting the town—The Spur, for the dancing, or O’Shucks—after the lifts stop spinning.