I am a skier in a ski town. I count the days until the mountain opens and then I count my days on the hill. When the opportunity arose to watch some of the best ski movies of the year at Sun Valley’s The Gathering film festival, I cleared my calendar, grabbed my kids and prepared for a two-hour mental vacation to some of the freshest powder and most spectacular winter scenery imaginable.
The Gathering, a weekend-long celebration of mountain lifestyle attracted a wide cross-section of people, with the common denominator of simply loving to play in the snow. When I arrived Saturday evening, the crowd gathered outside the Opera House broke down as follows: 40 percent middle and high school students (identifiable by their ubiquitous flat-brimmed caps emblazoned with trendy logos), 30 percent families (identifiable by parents and kids sitting together, enjoying the barbecue put on by Sun Valley) and 30 percent 20-somethings (identifiable by the PBR beers in their hands – there was a special, two for $5). Many of my fabulous 25-year-old babysitters were in the latter group, also identifiable by their continuous subtle scan of the crowd in search of pros and filmmakers.
The group was unified, however, in its enthusiasm for the event. I heard the same comments again and again. People appreciated that the festival was geared toward locals, that it appealed to both skiers and snowboarders, that kids wanted to come and that is was so affordable.
Inside the theater, as the first of the night’s feature films rolled, The Gathering’s appeal to the younger generation became even more apparent. On the big screen, a snowboarding film by Burton featured in-your-face footage of athletes sliding anything but a regular run. Rails, buildings, downed branches and tunnels all served as terrain.
When the festival’s main attraction, “Sunny,” started the audience ballooned and its composition shifted. Suddenly, the crowd was comprised of about 80 percent middle and high school boys. With this influx, came noise, enthusiasm, a smattering of bad language and whole lot of energy. Everyone was swept up in the epic feats of the athletes on the screen and mentally inserted themselves into those scenes. The brainchild of Josh Berman and Level 1 Productions, “Sunny” was cutting edge enough to please a 16-year-old boy – and his father.
Only about seven weeks remain until the arm of the detachable quads attach and whisk me up the mountain. I can’t wait. My kids can’t wait. Neither can the hundreds of others who attended The Gathering. The countdown has officially begun.
The summer of 2012 was one of the most fun and fulfilling I’ve spent in Sun Valley during my nine years living in this great state of Idaho. And if you don’t believe me just look back over the 40 or so posts I wrote on this blog in the last three months! But sadly, it was to be my last Sun Valley summer. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Sun family are moving on. Family and careers are taking us to another great state, South Carolina, where we will be making our home in the equally historic city of Charleston.
While this is the end of the Sun Valley story for myself and my young family, I will continue to drop in on The Valley Sun blog from time to time, posting on my favorite topic: the history of Sun Valley Resort. (Do please let me know in the comments below if there’s any particular slice of Sun Valley history you’d like to know more about).
Meanwhile, I am putting the reins of The Valley Sun in the more-than-capable hands of Robin Sias. An excellent journalist and local freelance writer, Robin is a mother of three and a Sun Valley resident for close to three decades. I’m sure her family will enjoy showing you the ins and outs, ups and downs and general joys of being in Sun Valley as much as mine have done these past few months.
Many thanks for spending the summer with me and my family, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And personally, I’m excited to see what Robin and her brood get up to this winter, so be sure to stay tuned… .
Jennifer Tuohy (aka Mrs. Sun)