Adhering to the general philosophy that it’s a lot more fun to play it safe and be smart than it is to wind up in the Emergency Room, each winter the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) celebrates "Ski Safety Week."
Sun Valley is once again taking part in the national party to promote safe and responsible skiing and boarding. And the great news–besides the fact that ski patrollers are giving out coupons for free cocoa!–is that these annual reminders are working.
According to Mike Lloyd, Sun Valley’s Ski Patrol Director, Baldy is one of the safest ski areas in the country, boasting a mere 1.7% accident rate (per thousand skiers); almost a full point below the national average.
"We definitely see a positive impact from this program," Lloyd says.
To help keep Baldy and Dollar Mountains safe, fun places to shred, here are some of the highlights from this year’s National Ski Safety Week (January 14-22).
Know the Code!
It’s the responsibility of every skier and snowboarder to know and adhere to the Responsibility Code. It’s what you agree to when you buy a ski pass at just about every resort on the globe. In case you need a refresher, or a member of the Ski Patrol asks you (every day this week they’re giving out 100 coupons for free hot cocoa to kids who know the Code), here’s a refresher:
1. Always stay in control.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
7. Know how to use the lifts safely.
Lids on Kids
Since wearing a "Brain Bucket" is no-brainer when you’re skiing or snowboarding, Sun Valley is supporting the Lids of Kids. The program reminds shredders of a few basic guidelines:
-Wearing a helmet when participating in snow sports is a smart idea. Besides the overwhelming safety benefits of wearing a helmet, they tend to be warmer than simply wearing a hat.
-One size does not fit all. Make sure to follow some fitting guidelines before hitting the hill in headgear.
-Heads Up, Set an Example: Skiing and riding in a responsible and safe manner isn’t just important for your own sake. It’s sets a good example for kids of all ages (and sometimes it’s the adults who need to be reminded how to follow the Responsibility Code the most).
Besides plastering both Baldy and Dollar Mountains with posters promoting the Responsibility Code, Sun Valley is also holding a Kid’s Poster Contest. Entries can be picked up at Dollar Mountains’ Children’s Center. Good luck and be safe!
If we are really honest with ourselves…we have to admit that for many Mountain Diva’s form comes before function. You know the drill and you’ve seen them on the hill (perhaps even secretly admiring them from afar). It’s the perfectly pulled together Diva with the color-coordinated outfit and somehow matching accessories. The fact that she has the latest in ski technology and can shred the mountain like a pro just adds to the awe factor.
But, when it comes to helmets, every Diva (especially mountain mamas) knows the mantra: SAFETY FIRST.
Why safety first? Well, we need to set a good example for our kids, as well as our sisters and peers. And since we are often the ones purchasing helmets for our kids, it is even more important that we know the essentials–and the DOs and DON’Ts of proper helmet fitting.
The good news is that helmet design has come a long way since the classic Bell downhill ski helmets first hit the slopes. They are now lightweight, aerodynamic and well padded (some even have extra soft ear flap choices). They also come in lots of shapes and sizes (to fit every head shape) and are offered in a dazzling array of colors, designs and finishes (Mountain Divas rejoice…you can still feel like you are choosing form over function, even if it is safety first)!!
To help you make the right choice, hear are a few tips on getting the perfect fit, followed by a quick rundown on some of the more popular helmets you’ll see on the slopes this winter:
Getting The Right Fit
1. Measure Your Head. Ski helmets are generally sized based upon your head circumference (usually measured in centimeters). Even the ones that use a Small, Medium, Large scale are based on head circumference, so measure your head and compare to the manufacturer’s size chart. Measure one inch above the eyebrows all the way around. Measure kids’ head circumference in the same manner. (Jump to the end of this blog for a conversion chart of centimeters to inches.)
2. Try On Several Brands. Be sure you try BEFORE you buy. Remember that ski and boarder helmets, just like heads, come in lots of different shapes and sizes, and there is one that will be the best fit for your head. The wrong shape will feel too tight (and may even pinch or have “hot spots” in certain areas) or will be too loose at the top or on the sides. Keep trying. Just like Godilocks, there will be one that will fit “just right.”
3. Check the Fit. This is really important for fitting kids helmets. A helmet should fit securely, but not so tight you have pain. “The helmet should feel snug around the crown and shouldn’t move around too much,” says Greg Bearce, supervisor at Pete Lane’s Warm Springs. If it feels like a good fit, try the following test: gently hold the helmet in place and try to turn your head from side to side, then up and down. The helmet should feel snug and should have very little room for movement (less than an inch), and should not obscure your vision.
4. Bring Your Goggles. Be sure to bring your goggles to make sure they fit your helmet. Otherwise, you may find yourself at the top of the mountain on a powder day without proper visibility, because your goggles are too big or too small to fit your helmet.
5. Ski Helmets for Children. Whatever you do, don’t buy a helmet that is too big or it will be useless. This is especially important when buying for kids or trying to recycle helmets for younger siblings. Resist the temptation to buy a helmet for a child to “grow into” because the fit will be wrong and the helmet won’t be able do its job of absorbing the impact and preventing concussions.
6. Don’t Wear a Beanie or Hat Under Your Helmet. “This is one of the biggest fashion misconceptions out there,” says Greg Bearce, supervisor at Pete Lanes Warm Springs. “A beanie is var far the worst thing you can wear under a helmet because it prevents the helmet from doing its job,” adds Bearce, “it just allows for too much movement, doesn’t let the helmet do what it was designed to do and can lead to the compression injuries that cause concussions.” Bearce notes that some of the really thin skull caps can work under helmets because they conform exactly to the head. But when in doubt, just avoid any thicker under layers–having the room to fit a hat or beanie probably means that the helmet is too big and is not a proper fit anyway.
Helmet Style, Accessories & Options
Now onto the more creative part of helmet buying. Once you have the proper fit, you can get down to the details of style, color and accessories. Remember that different age groups have different priorities when choosing helmets–some are attracted to aerodynamics or accessories (wireless audio system ear flaps or full cell phone and in-line components) while others (especially younger kids) are drawn to the more immediate visuals of cool colors, metallic finishes or unique designs. And if you can’t find the perfect combo, you can always consider decals or stickers to add a design of your own.
Smooth, flowing lines and elegant finishing details complement the Intrigue’s low profile Hybrid Shell construction. Combining AirEvac 2 ventilation and a soft, fleeced tricot lining beneath a refined collection of designs, the Intrigueis the ideal helmet for women of discriminating tastes. It also has the option for the Skullcandy Audio System (an added bonus for Divas who like to carry their tunes with them down the mountain). And it comes a wide range of fantastic colors, including Black Pearl, White Pearl, Shadow Green, Antique/Coral, Bronze Fallen, Petal Blue Briston, Shadow Purple Baroque, White Fallen.
Revolutionary new technology discreetly concealed behind a bevy of stylish accents, the all-new Voyage will take you on a trip you never thought possible. Using revolutionary Hybrid In-Mold technology to minimize mass and maximize ventilation, the Voyage offers up the ultimate in performance without sacrificing one ounce of style. This patented technology weighs in a little less (at 450 grams/16 ounces) than the Smith Intrigue and currently comes in White, Black, Ivory Bristol, Ultramarine Night Out, Frost Gray Stereo or Paris Pink Baroque.
Giro’s Seam is the perfect all mountain helmet. An improved Thermostat vent system, Giro’s Stack Vent, and a feather light weight will keep your temp under control, your goggles clear and your comfort level at an all time high. Finish it off with the best fit system ever made (with an adjustable wheel in the back to help dial in the perfect fit) for a snow helmet and you are ready for a full day on the mountain. Lots of Giro accessories (like stereo ear flaps and other adjustments) and a wide range of colors make this a popular and functional helmet for both kids AND adults. Available in Matte Brown, Matte White, Matte Pewter, Cyan Tiles, Matte Black, Matte Red, Black Towers, Matte Blue Sunset, Matte Grey Stripes.
POC Skull Comp – Bode or Julia
The ultimate race helmet, upgraded. The Skull Comp is now updated to version 2.0, adding a new unique safety feature. After finding that today’s race skiers repeatedly hit gates hard and risk to deform the liner, we shifted the core material to multi impact EPP. On top of the liner, we use a thin outer shell in combination with our patented Aramid membrane penetration barrier, APB. To optimize the energy absorption properties, pneumatic honeycomb pads made of polyurethane are inserted into the multi impact EPP liner. Great fit, performance and protection over and overagain!
There are two editions of the POC Skull Comp, one designed by Bode Miller and one by Julia Mancuso–both extraordinary athletes at the top of their sport. Bode Miller rides with his POC Skull Comp Pro Model helmet in green and white. There is also a Poc Skull Comp Pro – Julia that is blue and white in honor of pro racer Julia Mancuso. And, as if the extreme protection and functionality weren’t enough, the Julia edition Skull Comp comes with a kit of Swarowski Crystals to make your own Julia style tiara.
A pro race helmet with Wwarowski Crystals…Mountain Divas REJOICE!!
Finally, form plus function.
Giro Seam, Mtn Blue Sunset
Helmet Size Conversion Chart
Centimeters to Inches
52 cm = 20- inches
53 cm = 20-7/8 inches
54 cm = 21 inches
55 cm = 21 5/8 inches
56 cm = 22 inches
57 cm = 22 3/8 inches
58 cm = 22 inches
59 cm = 23 inches
60 cm = 23 5/8 inches
Fly Sun Valley Alliance and Sun Valley Resort will host a full day of skiing on January 22 at a discounted price of only $35 and an Aprs Ski Party from 3-5pm at River Run Lodge. Aprs Ski Party will include raffle with great prizes, including 4 Round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines. (Terms and conditions apply)
Advance purchase January 11-21 ONLY at participating ski shops:
PK’s Ski & Sports
Sturtevants (Ketchum & Hailey)
These shops are also offering 50% off rentals and demos on January 22
Funds raised by FSVA will help keep air service in the valley!
Each month, a full moon reigns over the sky, lighting up Sun Valley in a whole new way. To make the most of out these bright nights–including the nearly as bright waxing and waning days surrounding the full moon–here’s a rundown of some fun stuff to do in Sun Valley when the moonlight is aglow.
Departing from the Sun Valley Club & Nordic Center and offering spectacular views of Sun Valley and the surrounding mountains, these cross country ski tours and moonlight dinners beginning at 6 pm. For more information about the skiing or the dinners, please call 208.622.2135.
Full Moon Dinners Galena Lodge
Take a moonlit ride up to Galena Lodge nor of Ketchum for a fabulous and unforgettable five-course meal. The dinners do not include any group excursions on the snow, but visitors are welcome to go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing under the moonlight before or after dinner. Reservations are required, so give them a call (208.726.4010) to assure your seat and hear the menu for the month.
For a magical and memorable moonlit dinner for the whole family, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin. Sleigh rides begin December 17, and run three times a night, Tuesdays through Saturdays, throughout the season. Bundle up, grab a hot toddy from the bar at the Inn and enjoy the ride. Due to the wild popularity of the sleigh ride dinners, reservations are required. PLease call 208.622.2135.
Snowshoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Sledding, Ice Skating and Snowmobiling
If scheduling a full moon outing ahead of time is too much work, don’t be afraid to find a moonlit adventure of your own. There are plenty of reasons why USA Today named Sun Valley one of the Top 10 ski resorts in the world for non-alpine skiers.
The Wood River Trail System offers 30 miles of free, groomed trails for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Snowmobiliers can ride the 500 miles of groomed trails north of Ketchum, or head over Galena Summit to ride some of the 170 miles of trails in the Smiley Creek/Stanley area, or head a little southeast to the 200 miles of trails near Fairfield.
You could skate on the same surface Olympian champions like Sasha Cohen and Brian Boitano do at Sun Valley Lodge’s ice rink. Rentals are available and skating is open until 8 p.m. nightly. There are also "natural" rinks at Atkinson Park in Ketchum or Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey.
Rubber meets the snow in three 600-ft. lanes at Dollar Mountain’s Snow Tubing Park. Fun for the whole family, the tubing park is open daily. For more details, check here
Or, you could simply find a well-lit spot just outside your own neighborhood to go snowshoeing or sledding. If you do go on a trip of your own, please make sure you take all the proper safety precautions and always be sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be returning.
Two-time Olympian and four-time National Champion, Jonna Mendes knows a thing or two about skiing. Skiing since she was three and a member of the Heavenly Ski Foundation‘s Alpine Team since she was eight-years-old, Jonna worked hard to balance skiing and academics throughout her youth and her career, learning the values of time management, hard work and sacrifice.
Now, as the Recruiting Director for the new Sun Valley Ski Academy (SVSA), which provides housing, academics and winter sports opportunities in conjunction with the Community School and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), she gets to help young athletes achieve their dreams in a balance, supportive atmosphere in a community where skiing is life. Jonna talked with Lift Line about growing up in a ski town and some of the positive things happening in the Sun Valley ski community.
"Time management. That was singly the most important thing I learned from skiing," she says. "Balancing elite-level skiing, maintaining good grades and traveling, it is hard not to see how important ski racing can be to kids. Beyond that it was about confidence and travel. All have been things that carried straight through to college and into my professional life."
"My parents wanted me out of their hair," Jonna jokes about her introduction to skiing. "Learning to ski, like so many other kids raised in a ski town, is a form of daycare. I first learned to ski when I was three and as soon as I could, at the age of eight, I joined the Development Team of the Heavenly Ski Foundation. Now, my 17-month-old already walks around the house with his skis on. There are so many life skills to be learned on the mountain, so I do really hope he skis competitively."
"It’s amazing it didn’t happen sooner," she says of the new ski academy. "So many incredible skiers have come out of and through Sun Valley, it’s amazing there wasn’t already a ski academy. Now that the buzz is just beginning, I can only imagine the places the SVSA will go. Sun Valley has the skiing and the community. The SVSEF has the world class athletics and the Community School has the stellar academics."
"The Cross-Country and the Alpine programs here are so strong.," Jonna syas. "Everything from the training to the competition opportunities, it is amazing."
"The other day I watched the freestyle kids stay in the park for 4 and half hours straight. The coaches had to make them take a break. The freestyle program is becoming a bigger and bigger reason that kids want to come here," she says. "The new facilities that SVCo has created are a big draw for snowboarders and freestyle skiers.
"The biggest benefit of the SVSA is that there are NO COMPROMISES," Jonna proudly states. "If they came to the SVSA, young athletes wouldn’t have to sacrifice one thing to make another work. Instead, it is just about if you will apply yourself academically and in your training, you’ll succeed. There is no rushing through the school week, getting in a car, driving to the mountain, rushing back. It is all at their fingertips. And they have the support that the need to take advantage of everything the SVSA, the SVSEF, the Community School and the town has to offer."
I may have been on the US Ski Team, competed on the World Cup and raced in the Olympics but before that I was just like the SVSEF kids, a rug rat on the mountain giggling and laughing," Jonna recalls. "All of my achievements have been because of people who supported me, the coaches, the scholarships I received, the teachers…It is important to understand what a difference it made in my life and what a difference it can make in the life of all the athletes at the SVSA."