Skin It 2 Win It

‘Skin it 2 Win It’ is a ski and snowboard race on Dollar Mountain. Participants skin 563 feet up Forbidden Fruit ski run and then ski or snowboard down Otto’s Run trying to complete as many laps as possible in three hours.

Categories include men, women, and coed teams of one, two and four person teams. Each lap takes approximately 15 minutes.

Coffee, energy drinks, food and music are provided for racers to enjoy between laps. This fundraiser benefits the Sawtooth Nationals Forest Avalanche Center. A donation of $25 per person requested. 10:00 am to 1:00 pm with awards to follow.

Facebook: Skin it 2 win it team race

Come in from the cold

Baby, it’s cold outside. Even the most stalwart and hearty skiers among us have eyed the mountain these past few days with some trepidation. When temps on the Valley floor are in double-digit minuses and we are in the midst of a cold snap (that will thankfully end by week’s end), indoor activities look pretty inviting.

Shopping is a great way to spend your time off the slopes

Shopping at Brass Ranch is an option in the Lift Ticket Exchange Program

If you are on vacation in Sun Valley right now, and took advantage of a multi-day pass (good thinking – best bang for your buck), you may hesitate when considering taking a day off from mountain, no matter the weather.

To the rescue? Sun Valley’s Lift Ticket Exchange Program that allows you to exchange your ticket if you change your mind. If you wish to take a break from the slopes and hold a multi-day (three or more days) ticket, you may exchange one day for other appealing activities.

Have you had your eye on a new ski parka or accessory at either the Brass Ranch or Pete Lane’s in the Sun Valley Village? Perhaps now is the perfect time to buy a new, cozy layering piece. Maybe there is a beautiful Sun Valley memento calling your name at the Sun Valley Signature Gift Shop. With this exchange program, you can receive $40 off your purchase at any of these fine stores.

Or does nothing sound better than a massage after a few days of aggressive shredding? With this program, you can close the door on the outside world and enjoy a relaxing and regenerative half-hour massage at the Sun Valley Salon & Day Spa located in the Lodge. For this, plan as far ahead as you can and make a reservation. It is a popular option.

Chef Adam Findlay offers a tasting menu in the Lift Ticket Exchange Program

Chef Findlay's food at the LDR is a perfect indulgence

Or take the whole day off and focus on dinner. Your exchanged lift ticket gets you a seat at the table for Chef Adam Findlay’s Four Course Tasting menu at the elegant Lodge Dining Room. Chef Findlay’s finely crafted and imaginative offerings rely heavily on locally-sourced, seasonal fare and everything he prepares is divinely delicious. This option, available every evening of the winter season except Sundays, and between February 16 – 24, will be a treat for your taste buds. (Alcohol and gratuity are not included).

The exchange programs invites you to try cross country for a day at the beautiful Sun Valley Club

Go ahead! Try cross-country skiing for a day at the lovely Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center

If you are not concerned with the cold and would like to try a different outdoor activity, your lift ticket may also be exchanged for a turn on the ice at Sun Valley’s storied outdoor rink (rentals included), combined with $20 off of lunch at Gretchen’s Restaurant in the Lodge. If working a different set of muscles appeals to you, then try a day of classic or skate cross-country skiing at the luxurious Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center. A trail pass and complete equipment rental is included. And for the truly adventurous among us, your unused lift ticket will also provide $40 off the day rate for a trip with Sun Valley Heli-Skiing. The snow in the backcountry is among the best it’s been in years. This choice may be booked by calling 208.622.3108.

Don't worry, great skiing will still be there after your day away

Don't worry, great skiing will still be there when you return to the hill

The great news is that the snow on Baldy and Dollar is also superlative and worth braving the cold for. If you layer up and head to the hill weather-ready, the skiing is really, really good. The other good news is you’d like a day off, you can enjoy something else great Sun Valley has to offer, guilt-free.

The Lift Ticket Exchange Program is available from now until March 31 with some blackout dates. Please take your lift ticket to the Sun Valley Village Recreation Center or to the ticket window at the River Run Day Lodge prior to participating in other activities.

Call 208.622.2135 or 208.622.6136 for more information and take a break! You deserve it.


Absolute Beginners

Buckle up, it's time to snowboard

Buckle up, it's time to learn to snowboard

Part of me, a small part, but a part none-the-less, has always wanted to try snowboarding. Or, in truth, to try it again. A few decades ago, when the sport was new, I rented a board and went glibly up Quarter Dollar with my brother. On my first run, I was upright, oriented downhill and felt pretty confident when I caught my back edge and knocked the wind out of myself. No more snowboarding.

So it’s always been in the back of my mind to give it another go – this time with some instruction and a mature sense of self-preservation. Holding me back were fear and finances. So when I got wind of Sun Valley’s new deal-of-the-century, called SunStart, it was time to head over to Dollar, meet my fabulous instructor, Liz Wallace, and try it again.

SunStart offers beginner skiers or snowboarders full gear rental, a Dollar lift ticket and two hours of group instruction for $39. No, that is not a misprint. $39 all-in. You can try skiing if you’re a snowboarder, snowboarding if you’re a skier. If you’re 13-years or older and have always wanted to try an alpine sport, now is your chance.

My morning started at the Dollar SnowSports desk where I checked in for my lesson. Reservations for SunStart should be made 24 hours in advance whenever possible to ensure proper staffing. Lessons begin at 10:30 a.m., and you are advised to arrive at Dollar about 30 minutes earlier (probably a bit more on weekends) to fill out your paperwork and get your equipment.

Snowboarding boots -- reason alone to try the sport

Snowboarding boots -- reason alone to try the sport

Next stop was down the hall to Pete Lane’s to gear up. Like any regular renters, SunStarters first fill out a form on the store’s computers. Unlike a regular rental, however, when you take your slip to the desk to get fitted, your equipment is already paid for. That always feels good. Then a nice young man brings you boots and helps you slip into them – Cinderella style. After about one minute of wearing snowboard boots, I can honestly say, they are as comfortable as everyone says – big and warm. That should be enough to get skiers with boot issues to at least try snowboarding. I brought my own helmet and goggles and wished I had brought a roll of bubble wrap in which to encase myself when my Burton beginner board was delivered and it was go-time.

Admittedly, I was pretty nervous. I tried to put my inauspicious start to snowboarding 20 years ago out of my mind and concentrate on Liz’s gentle reintroduction to the sport. Her wide smile and infectious enthusiasm soon had me believing that snowboarding really was fun and was something I could do. As both a ski and snowboard instructor (one of the few), Liz is very credible when she says, “don’t worry.”

We began the two-hour lesson with baby steps: here is how you buckle your front foot in the binding, how you stand on the board, how you walk with it on your foot. Check, check, check. We then hiked a few feet up the bottom of Dollar and learned the always-useful equivalent of side-slipping. Check again. Next, it was on to the Magic Carpet. A few “successes” in staying upright on my board led Liz to believe we were ready for Quarter Dollar.

Quarter Dollar has never looked so steep

I didn't recall Quarter Dollar ever looking so steep

Now, one of the parts of snowboarding that worried me most, was getting off a chairlift. I have seen too many boarders wipe out before they have even started a run to assume this skill is easy to master. It turns out, it’s also not as hard as I imagined. My step-by-step coaching probably didn’t hurt, either.

By the end of my lesson, my scorecard read as follows: Three out of three successful chairlift rides. One run down the steeper side of Quarter Dollar, mostly side-slipped and “garlanded” (basically turns only to one side). Two runs down the gentler side of Quarter Dollar where I actually linked a few turns. Fifteen – my approximate number of falls (none painful).  Pretty high — my new found appreciation for snowboarding (and snowboarders).

If you are in a rut, or have always been curious about skiing or snowboarding, you couldn’t pick a more convenient and affordable time than now to get onto the snow. SunStart, offered as a part of National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, runs through January and can be reserved by calling the SnowSports School at (208) 622-2289.  The last day to reserve your SunStart lesson is January 28.

Get out there and try something new. No excuses!

Thanks to Liz and the great team at Dollar for making this one positive experience.


All smiles with Liz, who will literally hold your hand and teach you to snowboard

All smiles with Liz, who will literally hold your hand while teaching you to snowboard



Orage Masters!

The Orage Masters is Back

The Anti Comp Returns For Its 8th Year; Event To Be Held At Sun Valley, Idaho



(Montreal, Quebec – January 4, 2013) – Orage and Sun Valley Resort have joined forces with Freeskier Magazine, Go Pro, Retallack Lodge and a number of other partners for the return of what is arguably skiing’s funnest event of the season. “When we launched the Orage Masters event a decade ago we did it out of necessity, the comp scene needed something new. This time around we’re just doing it for the sake of throwing a killer event at a killer resort”, commented Mike Nick, Orage Marketing Director. “We launched the Masters back in 2003 because we (Orage) wanted to put our own spin on the event circuit with a slope event that looked more like a party than a contest. With the Sochi Olympics on everyone’s mind these days, rightfully so, we figured there’s no better time than now to lighten things up a bit with the return of skiing’s one and only “Anti Comp.”

Brian Callahan, Sun Valley’s Terrain Park Manager – “When Freeskier (Magazine) mentioned that the Orage masters was looking for a new home, Sun Valley jumped at the opportunity. We’d seen what they’ve (Orage) done over the years and the idea of hosting an event with a ten year history and so many stoked athletes and fans seemed like a no brainer; I made it my personal goal to make it happen”.

Scheduled to take place April 5-7, 2013 the 8th installment of the Orage Masters, a ski event better known as one part slopestyle, one part on hill tailgate party, one part costume party will take place at Sun Valley, Idaho featuring 40 of todays top ski athletes. With its team vs team format, The Orage Masters will feature 8 teams of 4 athletes each representing today’s top film crews. “In the past we’ve hosted hard good teams but this year we’re changing it up a bit to profile film crews the likes of Level 1, Inspired Media, Stept productions, The Traveling Circus and more, commented Nick. (full team listings to be announced at a later date)

The Orage Masters 8 is proud to name Go Pro, Freeskier Magazine, Sun Valley and Retallack Lodge as partners. Please visit for more info.

Find Your Inner Diva

Day one of DIVAS

Day one of DIVAS -- the terrific coaching team motivates the group

The standard definition of the word di·va  [dee-vuh, -vah] is: Italian, literally, goddess, feminine of the divine, god. The term has evolved in modern times to describe famous female opera singers (no idea why) and then devolved to a term for a woman that must have her way exactly, or no way at all.

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

But there is another definition of DIVAS, specific to Sun Valley: Idahoan, “Die Incredible Vimin Alpine Shredders.” And for 90 local women skiers, this is the only definition that matters. Sun Valley’s DIVAS are skiers of intermediate ability and above who take part in an eight-week clinic, skiing one day a week with a rotating cadre of some of the mountain’s best coaches. It’s women teaching women and it’s such a big success, that in its third year, DIVAS has a wait list. According to Snowsports Supervisor Nick Maricich, the DIVAS program is the top women’s clinic in the country and is being emulated by many other resorts. Yay us!

What makes the program so popular? The answer is as diverse as the skiers. In a pre-season questionnaire sent out by DIVAS co-founder and Sun Valley skiing royalty, Danielle Crist Carruth, each woman was asked what she hoped to get out of the clinic. Possibilities ranged from improving bump technique, to improving confidence; from skiing with the girls and making new friends, to getting away from the kids for three hours. I just appreciated being asked what I wanted for a change and chose D: all of the above.

This Monday morning, on day one, I joined 29 other shredders at the base of the Warm Spring Lodge. In my second year of the program, I was excited to be there. My inaugural year as a DIVA was not only a huge boon to my ability to carve pretty round turns, I also met some great people and laughed – a lot. This year, with the goal of finally conquering moguls and pulverizing powder, I took my turn skiing down in front of a slew of coaches, praying I didn’t fall or disqualify myself from the group that also wanted to ski varied terrain.

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

I was placed with five fun women  who shared similar goals. The always positive, extremely helpful and very entertaining DIVAS co-founder Nicky Elsbree was my coach du jour. Each week is themed and the focus on Monday was balance – apropos for women at the beginning of a New Year. For the next two-and-a-half hours, Nicky helped us work on our balance from every angle.

Being a DIVA is an exercise in balance in itself. Most of the 90 women up there every Monday, Tuesday or Friday are balancing multiple commitments, from jobs to children to spouses and volunteer gigs. The three hours we carve out each week for ourselves, carries over to everything else. As one of my fellow DIVAS said on the lift, the valley spread out beneath us, if we don’t get out here and enjoy where we live, we may as well live anywhere. Amen. Skiing with DIVAS forces you to focus, to quiet the never-ending mental “to do” list, to be present.

Nicky Elsbree works on a DIVAS' balance

Nicky Elsbree demonstrates balance

For those interested in adult specialty ski programs, Sun Valley has something for everyone. DIVAS also offers a beginner clinic called DIVAS 101 and the Snowsports School runs popular programs including Mountain Masters, Masters Race, Ski Club and the new men-only program, ARCS.

If you’re here for the winter, or most of it, these clinics are probably the best way to get excellent instruction at a great value, while meeting new friends and enjoying the mountain lifestyle.

Please call the Sun Valley Snowsports School at (888) 490-5950 or email and find your inner diva.


Boutonnieres Annual Valentine’s Ball

 Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room

The Boutonnieres & Sun Valley Resort cordially invite you to attend the

Annual Valentine’s Ball

Friday, February 8, 2013

6:30pm to 7:30pm No Host Reception

7:30pm to 10:00pm Dinner & Dancing

With Music by DJ Lenny

$75 per person. Tax and gratuity included.

Guest limit of 100.

Reservations: 208 622 2800


Frank and Anita Meyer

Neil Ryan & Phebe Thorne

Attire: Sun Valley Formal or Black Tie

Ski Patrol 101

Here are my impressions of the new Ski Patrol 101 program, in no particular order.

  • In December, it is still midnight dark at 7 a.m. at the base of River Run.
  • If you are lucky enough to be drawn to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience, be sure you’ve had at least one cup of coffee upon arrival (if you’re a grown-up). You are expected to be awake, alert and ready to work.
  • Sun Valley’s Ski Patrol has the most breathtaking office anywhere in the world.
  • I had no idea how much went into getting the mountain safe and open in the morning, even when it hasn’t snowed.
  • The Patrol is made up of some of the funniest, kindest people in the Valley.
  • Hopping on the back of a snowmobile behind Mike Davis, zooming to meet a “hot” helicopter landing drill, made my morning.
  • I will never be hired as a Ski Patrol member but it was fun to play one for a few hours.

    How Ski Patrol greets the day

    How Ski Patrol greets the day

Enter to win this once-in-a-lifetime experience

Enter to win this once-in-a-lifetime experience

For those of you who haven’t heard about Ski Patrol 101, here are the basics. Every week, a lucky winner (plus a friend) will be chosen at random to work as a patroller on a Saturday morning. You enter by submitting your information on an iPad kiosk at either the River Run Lodge or in the Recreation Office in the Sun Valley Village. If your name is drawn, Ski Patrol will phone you with the good news and meet you at the base of the hill on your assigned day. You will attend the morning meeting and be put to work at any of the dozens of tasks completed by Ski Patrol each morning between 7:30 a.m. and the mountain’s open at 9. Patrol will ask what you are interested in helping with, which could be as simple as riding a snow machine to the Bowls to make sure the cat track is in good shape, to more advanced prep requiring more advanced skiing ability. It truly is appropriate for anyone who is comfortable on Baldy.

Here is what the basics don’t tell you. Sunrise on Baldy from the vantage of the Ski Patrol Hut is perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping you will ever experience. The quality of the light is a hot orange/pink and flows over the top of the mountain like the tide coming in. Hopping on the Christmas Lift in near darkness, then skiing off at the top as the sky turns from grey to purple to gold is something I will never forget.

Assessing the day ahead at morning meeting

Assessing the day ahead at morning meeting

After participating in the morning meeting that covers everything from snow conditions, weather conditions, grooming and skier numbers, I was off with my personal Patrolman, David Schames to “help.” When asked what I would like to do, I glibly replied “drill” and “drop gates” without really knowing what that involves.

So off we went down Ridge and Blue Grouse (did I mention you get first tracks as part of this endeavor, too?) to the cat track below. There, a bunch of very competent patrollers waited patiently while I inexpertly drilled post holes into the snow and tried to help set up boundary fences. Then it was off to drop gates – something that sounds easier than I found it to be. We skied down the very edge of Christmas Bowl, opening chutes that lead into the Bowls. The terrain was kind of steep and lumpy in there (and I truly had not had enough coffee) and “dropping” a gate is not a passive drop at all. You tug hard at a bungee-type rope, trying to get the right angle so it snaps open, before neatly coiling it on a post. I was not brilliant at it.

Watching the sunrise with Dave Schames and Jack Sibbach

Watching the sunrise with Dave Schames and Jack Sibbach

I was excellent at my last task, however. That morning, Patrol was working with Sun Valley Heli-Ski on a “hot” drill, landing a copter behind Lookout Restaurant, loading it with Patrol and flying off to a mock emergency on some other peak. Excitement was high as the radio announced the imminent arrival of the helicopter. The Hut cleared out, as people jumped on snowmobiles or picked up ropes behind them to be pulled up the hill. I jumped onto the seat, held on to Mike Davis and was very thankful no one had suggested I tried to “ski” behind the machine. We roared up to Lookout just as the helicopter landed and it was amazing to watch the drill begin. We are all in very capable hands whenever we are on that mountain.

Ski Patrol, with Heli-Ski, prepping for any emergency

Ski Patrol, with Heli-Ski, prepping for any emergency

Whether or not you really “help” during your time at the hill, is somewhat irrelevant to Ski Patrol 101 (thank goodness). What the experience did for me is demystify some of what the Patrol does and make me truly appreciate the job and the people who do it. The Hut is open to visitors at any time and the sign outside that reads “welcome” is telling the truth. Stop by and say hi.

Becoming a Ski Patroller for the morning was exciting, humbling and just plain fun. Thanks to David, Jack Sibbach and the rest of the crew for being so gracious and patient and letting me have a glimpse of what goes on behind-the-scenes on the mountain I love so well.


This Pipe is Super

It's game on on Sunday when the superpipe opens

The 22-foot superpipe opens on Sunday. Game on!

The headline? Sun Valley’s new highly-anticipated Olympic-size 22-foot (deep) superpipe will open for business on Sunday, January 6. Taking shape on Dollar’s Old Bowl, this will be one of only three 22-foot pipes currently open in America. One more reason to be sure to include Sun Valley in your winter vacation plans.

The Zaugg “Pipe Monster”, the largest pipe groomer in existence, is busy at work, prepping the extreme feature. According to the Zaugg website, the machine was designed by aeronautical engineers to work much in the same way as an airplane wing. It is lightweight, flexible and able to withstand high stress — traits that might also be useful to those brave enough to jump in.  The combination of this monstrous machine and the know-how of Sun Valley’s Terrain Park experts, is creating a pipe that allows tricks people once thought impossible — like jumps 20 feet above the deck.  Epic.

Practice makes perfect in the Progression Park

Practice makes perfect in the Progression Park

According to Sun Valley’s Brian Callahan, guru of all things Terrain Park, now is the perfect time to get comfortable on the ever-evolving and growing jumps, rails, jibs, pipe and other features specifically built for Dollar. “The Progression Park is open and is a great place to get comfortable,” he said. For people like me who don’t know what a Progression Park is, as Brian explains it, it is a an “extra small terrain park with features appropriate to beginners. It’s the perfect place to learn how to unweight your skis or your board, to get air and really enjoy using all the surfaces.”

For those already comfortable catching air, the medium parks are also up and running on Dollar. These jumps and rails are X-Games and Slopestyle caliber, according to Brian, and offer endless possibilities for fun.

Little shredders at the top of the cross course in a season past

Past seasons on the cross course proved a huge hit with the kids. This year will be no different, just better and better.

And if that isn’t enough, the Family Cross Course is in its final stages and will be completed on Sunday. This track lets skiers and boarders bank curves, jump and tuck to the bottom, in direct competition with up to three others. It is a kid favorite, for sure.

Just in time for the amazing Revolution Tour, coming to Sun Valley in March, a huge snowmaking effort is underway, preparing the competition boarder cross course. Be sure to come to Dollar from March 17 to March 22 to watch the best of the best compete in Halfpipe, Snowboardcross, and Slopestyle. The course used by the Revolution athletes will be open to the public, but requires completion of a training session.

In fact, safety on all terrain park features is of the utmost importance to Brian and his team. Sun Valley Snowsports has instructors specifically trained to teach in the park and pipe and will offer special camps and lessons to familiarize users with what’s available on Dollar throughout the season. Call the Snowsports School at 208.622.2289 to sign up for a lesson or clinic to ensure the safest, most enjoyable day at the park ever. Then, let her rip.

Catch some air on Dollar

Come play in Dollar's Terrain Park


Wood River High School Xmas Tree Recycling

Wood River High School Band students will be picking up Christmas Trees and taking them for recycling this Saturday, January 5th 2013. For $10 for trees up to 8 feet or $20 for trees over 8 feet, a band student will take your tree away. This is their annual fundraiser to help send band members to Anaheim, California for the Heritage Music Festival. Please call 481-0389 to be added to the list.

Tubing the Day Away

The Tubing Hill is open for fun

The Tubing Hill is open for fun!

Let’s face it, kids have limitless energy that can sometimes be challenging for parents to harness. Even after hours of shredding on Baldy, playing on the “Bald Spot” terrain at the top of the hill and tackling runs from moguls to glades and Adventure Trails, many children are still not ready for the fun to end.

And let’s face it, after hours of skiing on Baldy and trying to keep up with said kids, parents might need a bit of a break. Maybe even one of the famous Bloody Marys or a beer for après ski at River Run Lodge. A little live music and adult conversation might just hit the spot.

Every child loves to sled and tubing is even better

Every child loves to sled and tubing is even better

How to keep everyone happy? It’s the Tubing Hill to the rescue! Every afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m. and running until 5 p.m., the young and the young at heart can get a ticket, grab a special inner tube sled and delight in an hour of taking some laps down the Tubing Hill, relocated his year to Baldy. Located to skier’s left of Lower River Run and adjacent to the children’s learning area, Kinderspielplatz, the Tubing Hill is a terrific way to get a little more out of your day.

On New Year’s Eve, Matt jovially manned the base of the run, handing red and blue inner tubes to a child as young as three (accompanied by his dad), to two 17-year-old girls who announced they “loved” their ride after the first lap, to every age in between. At the top of the hill, accessed by the Magic Carpet and a gentle uphill walk, Mark helped launch the sledders down the curving slope, giving an extra spin or a little more speed when asked. Two local sisters, who hadn’t skied that day, had come over to the hill simply to enjoy tubing. They were happily doing laps, sometimes sharing a tube (it goes faster that way), or driving their own.

Ready, set, go!

Ready, set, go!

Everyone loves to sled but the adults among us may not always love the hassle of driving to the right spot and repeatedly lugging children up steep hills. At the Tubing Hill, the Magic Carpet does the work and there is no need to drive anywhere. Brilliant!

Across the plaza, I am guessing the parents of some of those happy children, were enjoying Happy Hour at the bustling Lodge. The last “run” of the day for many vacationers and locals alike is Mahogany Ridge, the long, polished bar at River Run. Serving cocktails, beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee and hot chocolate drinks, it is a very popular gathering place and a great spot at which to compare notes, brag about runs and talk about just how amazing the skiing in Sun Valley is right now. And did I mention the legendary Bloody Marys?

Mahogany Ridge is the place for apres ski

Mahogany Ridge is the place for apres ski

It’s all happening at the base of River Run. Happy, shrieking children sliding and spinning down the Tubing Hill; parents joining them for a few runs or gathering with friends at the Lodge to unwind and extend the day a bit longer.

Go check it out and slide into a happy New Year!


Tired, at last!

Tired, at last