You on the Slopes, Only Better

A lesson with a SnowSports instructor is a great idea for everyone

Everyone can benefit from a ski or snowboard lesson, no matter your ability level

There was a time when conventional wisdom held that ski or snowboard lessons were mostly for beginners or children. But today, with constantly evolving gear, not to mention constantly evolving terrain in Sun Valley (everything on Dollar, big moguls on Baldy and Adventure Trails immediately come to mind), everyone could benefit from a lesson from the pros at the Sun Valley SnowSports School. And no matter your ability level or preferences, there is an option to fit your needs.

Prefer one-on-one attention? Book a private lesson where you will have an instructor’s undivided focus. Are you motivated by being in a group? A clinic will place you with like-minded and like-ability athletes, allowing you to learn not only from your teacher, but from all the tips being given to your peers. And lessons for children are always a great idea. They love spending time with other kids and will enjoy instruction especially tailored to them. Did I mention the Adventure Trails?

Our professional instructors train all winter to make a real difference in your skiing or riding

Our professional instructors train all winter to make a real difference in your skiing or riding

With the busy Presidents’ Week holiday upon us, now is the time to set up lessons. Still not convinced? Here are the top ten reasons to connect with the SnowSports School according to Supervisor Nick Maricich and his team:

  1. Obviously, to improve your technique. Even slight adjustments can make you a better skier or boarder, making your experience on the mountain much more satisfying.
  2. SnowSports instructors are great guides to our mountains. If you have not visited Sun Valley, spending a day with an instructor is a safe, informative way to get to know the trails.
  3. It’s a terrific family activity. Skiing as a family with a teacher, allows everyone to get some great tips while spending quality time together.
  4. Morning lessons get an early up at 8:30 a.m. If you like fresh corduroy, then this is for you.
  5. If your children take a lesson, they will most likely have the opportunity to ski all the terrain that thrills them but not you. And they will do it safely.
  6. If you ski with an instructor, you get to cut lift lines, a bonus during busy holiday weeks.
  7. Spouses really shouldn’t teach each other how to ski.
  8. Connecting with an instructor is often the starting point of a decades-long relationship. Many returning Sun Valley guests ski or board with the same teacher for years.
  9. Old bad habits can be corrected.
  10. All Sun Valley SnowSports instructors take lessons themselves. Teachers consistently participate in clinics throughout the year to work on their own technique and teaching methods. They are then ready to pass the latest information and tips onto their clients.

    A snowboard instructor preps for the season during a clinic

    A snowboard instructor preps for the season during a clinic

And here are some additional tips from our SnowSports instructors:

  • Don’t wait until the last day of your stay to book a lesson. If you take a lesson on the first day of your vacation, you can practice and institute what you’ve learned for the rest of your trip.
  • Believe your teacher when they tell you your appropriate level. They know Baldy and Dollar like the proverbial back of their hands and can accurately judge what level Sun Valley skier or boarder you are. This will ensure you get the most from your lesson.

Today, I rode the chair with Gail from the Seattle area, who had serendipitously just finished the first ski lesson of her adult life. An accomplished skier who is comfortable on all of Baldy’s terrain, Gail could not believe what a difference a few hours with an instructor had made to her technique. “Three other ladies from the Seattle area and I took a bump lesson,” she explained. “The teacher helped me see the run in a whole new way. I chose lines I never would have and had the confidence to go for it. It was a fabulous experience.” Even better, Gail flew in yesterday on Alaska Airlines. With her plane ticket receipt, she took advantage of the free two-hour lesson offered to Alaska passengers by the Sun Valley Company. “We are here a lot,” Gail said. “I can’t believe I never before followed up on the ski lesson, but I surely will from now on.”

The SnowSports team boasts great depth and breadth and supervisors are excellent at matchmaking instructors and clients. In order to do this most effectively, they suggest booking a lesson at least 24 hours ahead. Lessons go out of River Run, Warm Springs and Dollar.

The cadre of SnowSports instructors are not only consummate pros, they are also incredibly friendly and helpful. They want you to improve. They want you to have a breakthrough day. They love Sun Valley and want you to love it, too.

–RES

Instructors are excellent at both teaching kids and managing the fun -- here waiting at the start of a Nastar race

Instructors are excellent at both teaching kids and managing the fun -- here children make the most of a brief wait at the top of a Nastar course

Make ‘em Laugh

Come on in, it's comedy night at the Duchin Room!

Come on in, it's comedy night at the Duchin Room!

It is widely held that laughter is medicine for the soul. If this is the case, dozens and dozens of people in Sun Valley Saturday night got a strong dose of life affirming laughter at the Duchin Room Comedy Series. An overflow crowd packed the historic lounge at the Sun Valley Lodge, laughing out loud, clapping and cheering for the stand-up comedy of Dwight Slade.

Slade, a comedian of international repute and a frequent visitor to the Sun Valley area, went right at local culture. Nothing was off-limits, from the strictly enforced 25 mph speed limit through Bellevue on the way to Sun Valley that drives him nuts, to the locals need to one-up each another when it comes to athletic pursuits. He delivered a hilariously funny account of a “typical” morning at a local coffee shop. To paraphrase, Slade explained, even if you closed down the bars on Main Street the night before, all you need to do the following day to redeem yourself is pull on some Spandex, wipe a little “sweat” onto your forehead and loudly explain the epic 50k loop you just completed. Whether or not you actually did it is totally beside the point.

Dwight Slade had the large audience cheering

Funny man Dwight Slade had the large crowd roaring

The headliner earned a five-star review from Scotland’s Minister of Culture at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has performed in Afghanistan for US troops and at many comedy festivals. His credits also include a Tonight Show feature and a Hi-Def Comedy Special.  But what really resonated with the audience of well over a hundred Saturday night, were his ties to the Valley.

Stefan Davis, another very funny man, warmed up the crowd before Slade took the stage, gathering a standing room only crowd. His conversational and self-effacing style won everyone over immediately.

The comedy series will continue for the next two weekends and runs from approximately 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. There is no cover charge. If past weeks are any indication, be sure to arrive early to secure your seat, order a specialty cocktail and even some food. Then sit back and prepare to laugh the night away.

Have a cocktail and relax

Have a cocktail and relax. The comedy is really good

Next up is Patrick Keane, who boasts multiple appearances on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and appearances on Comedy Central. He will light up the Duchin Room on February 15 and 16 along with Leif Skyving.  On February 22 and 23, don’t miss the antics of Claude Stuart who has appeared on the Tonight Show and Last Comic Standing. Opening for Claude is Gary Cannon.

Come on out. It’s free. It’s really, really funny. And it feels good to laugh.

–RES

 

 

 

Rental 101

Everything is going perfectly. You have arrived in Sun Valley and are looking forward to a holiday week of amazing skiing or snowboarding. You checked into the Resort, unpacked your ski clothes and plan to be at the mountain bright and early to take advantage of bluebird skies, bright sunshine and terrific conditions. Now, all you need is some gear.

Step one: fill out the necessary online forms at Pete Lane's

Step one: fill out the necessary online forms at Pete Lane's

To help ensure you get onto the mountain as quickly as possible, here is a primer for renting equipment at the base of River Run. If you follow these basic steps, perfect turns and pristine slopes will be yours in record time.

Rentals and demos on the River Run side of Baldy are available at Pete Lane’s on the plaza. Pete Lane’s is in the same building as the Brass Ranch, toward the back (very convenient if shopping for beautiful ski clothes is also on the agenda).

At Pete Lane’s, locate one of the computer terminals against the back wall and go ahead and fill out the requested information.

The friendly and well-trained staff is here to help

The friendly and well-trained staff is here to help

Next, walk a few steps across the room to where Demo skis are displayed. There, friendly staff members will help you decide what kind of package you require, discuss different equipment options, current snow conditions and your ability level in order to get you on exactly the right set-up. Pete Lane’s offers a wide range of equipment, perfect for a true beginner or expert shredder; appropriate for a day on Sun Valley’s fabled groomed runs or a dip into the powder. At this counter, you may also buy lift tickets.

The always-critical boot fitting comes next. Again, the experts at Pete Lane’s will make sure you get a boot that is sized correctly and that is comfortable, because, as we all know, there is nothing sure to sour a day on the mountain more quickly than aching feet.

Step 3: Making sure the boot fits

Step 3: Making sure the boot fits

Last stop is the back room where your skis or snowboard await. Boots on your feet, skis and poles or snowboard in hand, the lift and gondola beckon, right outside the door.

And don’t forget, if you rent equipment from Pete Lane’s or if you are a Resort guest, there is complimentary ski storage at the base of River Run. Drop your equipment off before heading in to the River Run Lodge from an après ski beer and entertainment. It will be waiting for you the next morning.

Almost there. Grab your skis or your board and you're out the door!

Almost there. Grab your skis or your board and you're out the door!

Equipment rental is also available at Dollar Mountain and at the base of Warm Springs. The process is the same: computer first, forms next, boots, skis or snowboards and off you go. Don’t hesitate to ask a staff member if you have any questions – they are all knowledgeable and helpful.

Have a fantastic Presidents’ Day holiday or ski week and be sure to let us know how you liked the gear!

–RES

This amazing view awaits!

This amazing view awaits!

Yellow Jackets

The Yellow Jackets are here to help

The Yellow Jackets strive to make your day on Baldy the best one ever

If your ski day on Baldy begins on the River Run side of the hill, chances are, the first person you will meet will be a member of Sun Valley’s Guest Services – better known as the Yellow Jackets. This corps of 45 is on site, every day, all over the mountain, with the goal of providing 100 percent guest satisfaction. From the moment you park, to the time you are finished with après ski, they are there to help make your experience in Sun Valley the very best it can be.

“We are basically the goodwill ambassadors for the Resort,” explained Guest Services Supervisor Linda Bowling. “We are all people people. There is nothing we enjoy more than welcoming our guests to the mountain and helping to make sure the day is as great as it should be.” To that end, Yellow Jackets take care of everything from keeping the traffic moving at pick-up and drop-off, to providing wagons to help carry gear from the River Run parking lot to the lifts, to answering any questions about conditions and weather, recommending runs, and much more.

Guest Services wants you to love Baldy as much as they do

Guest Services wants you to love Baldy as much as they do

On the mountain, guest services can be found in every day lodge and on many trails. They are available to help in any way. “If we see a guest consulting a trail map, we approach them and ask if they need assistance or a suggestion,” Linda said. “Let’s say someone is at the top of Flying Squirrel and wants to head over to Seattle Ridge. Instead of explaining the route to them, we will often ski them over. It’s a great opportunity to show off the mountain, get to know a guest and reach out in a meaningful way.”

“It’s a pretty intuitive job,” agreed Yellow Jacket Alec Barfield. “We are the eyes and ears on the hill. We really enjoy being the first and last people our guests see. We are available to help in any way we can. We even help Ski Patrol when we are needed to assist at accidents or call in possible problems. We’re everywhere!”

Linda said that’s exactly the point. “We are the frontline at the mountain. It’s our goal that a guest feels like he or she has made a connection in Sun Valley. We not only help on Baldy, though. Based on what our guests tell us, we might recommend cross-country at the Sun Valley Nordic Center, visiting Galena Lodge, a Gallery Walk. We let people know about our great restaurants, cultural events, family activities, just about everything.”

Guided ski tours are also part of what is offered by Guest Services. Each day at 11 a.m. the incomparable Allan Patzer, Director of Skiing, leads tours on Baldy that both acquaint guests with the hill and provide a great historical perspective on Sun Valley. Allan is encyclopedic in his knowledge and colorful in his delivery. Interested parties are invited to meet at the Mountain Room View at River Run Lodge daily to enjoy this two-hour adventure that is appropriate for those of intermediate ability and up.

“Guest Services is such a fun job,” Linda said. “We get to welcome people to our little corner of paradise and share everything we love about Sun Valley and the Wood River Valley. It’s nice to go to work every day.”

–RES

Local legend Allan Patzer leads daily tours of the mountain

Local legend Allan Patzer leads daily tours of the mountain

Gail Dwyer's smile says it all -- we are glad you are here

Gail Dwyer's smile says it all -- we are glad you are here

What may we help you with?

What may we help you with?

Day of Rest

The day after the Boulder Mountain Tour offered the best equipment to Demo at Sun Valley

On Sunday, the Sun Valley Nordic Festival wrapped up with a great Demo Day at the Resort's beautiful cross-country trails

The Sun Valley Nordic Festival drew to a festive close Sunday following a hugely successful week of races, demos, parties, concerts and events. The 38th annual Boulder Mountain Tour drew more than 900 people to a beautiful course north of Ketchum on Saturday where the competition was fierce for the serious racers and pretty mellow for recreational skiers. For everyone, the 32-kilometer course ran fast under a bright blue Idaho sky.

The Laesch family at the BMT, minus their 7-year-old son who enjoyed the day on Dollar

The Laesch family (minus 7-year-old Conrad who opted for a ski lesson on Dollar) at the Boulder Mountain Tour

The Laesch family of Seattle returned to Sun Valley this weekend for the fifth time, drawn by the terrific Nordic skiing and friendly atmosphere. “This year, the girls (ages 10 and 12) and I did the Half Boulder and [my husband] Brad once again did the full Boulder,” explained mom, Lexie. “It was a spectacular day and we all got a lot out of the race. It’s a great experience — from the people from all over the country you meet on the shuttle bus to the race, to the cheers you get crossing the finish line.” Brad, a competitive racer, concurred. “It’s the one race of the year I try not to miss. The people are terrific and the skiing is as nice as it gets. We always look forward to it.”

But for many racers, the Laesch family included, Sunday, was a relative day of rest after the big race, an opportunity to recover, to compare notes and to simply celebrate another beautiful day in NordicTown USA. Approximately 400 avid cross-country enthusiasts spent much of their ‘recovery’ day skiing the perfectly groomed trails at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center. There, beside the Sun Valley Club, local retailers set up shop for a very well attended Demo Day. I overheard one merchant relay that before 8 a.m., he had 20 people lined up waiting to try the latest and greatest gear.

The gear was out in all its colorful glory – the best in boots, skis and poles were all available to try throughout the day — all the was required was a $10 trail pass. Many skiers took advantage of the opportunity to demo next year’s models and to talk with the experts about technique, conditions and ways to improve. Others just brought the family and enjoyed a spectacular day of browsing equipment and taking a few laps around the 40-kilometers of trails Sun Valley offers.

Gear, glorious gear

Gear, glorious gear

All the best equipment was available to try at Demo Day

All the best equipment was available to try at Demo Day

Although license plates in the parking lot showed guests were visiting from Missouri, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, everyone at Demo Day seemed to know each other. Congratulations on finish times rang out among the crowd and everyone shared their tales from the week’s events.

A very unscientific poll outside the Sun Valley Club echoed those of the Laesch family. Everyone gathered agreed that the Boulder Mountain Tour is one of the must-attend races of the year. A combination of the conditions, the crowd and the truly jaw-dropping scenery make it a day marked in permanent ink on the calendar. Equal praise was given to Ketchum and Sun Valley for the vast array of events surrounding and preceding the BMT. High on everyone’s list of the week’s highlights were the very affordable skiing valley-wide, the Marley in the Mountains concert Saturday night and friendly atmosphere.

Congratulations to NordicTown USA for putting on a wonderful week and welcoming so many guests to our towns and our trails. Congratulations to all the athletes who participated in the races and events.  We hope you all come back next year and bring your friends. It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year, too.

–RES

The last day of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival was full of fun and relaxation, mountain style

The last day of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival was full of fun and relaxation, mountain style

Midweek, Sun Valley Style

This is what an after school activity looks like in Sun Valley

This is what an after school activity looks like in Sun Valley

Even when you live in a ski town, daily chores, routines and schedules can make you forget that you do. That is, until you drive past Dollar Mountain on an average winter Wednesday and snap out of ordinariness of daily life, reminded in no uncertain terms that Sun Valley was built on snow.

At 3 p.m. during a non-holiday week here in Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain is a hub of activity.  Almost very chair on Quarter Dollar is full. Snowboarders perform eye-popping tricks in our unbelievable terrain park. Skiers drop into the new 22’ super pipe like they are stepping off a curb. The parking lot is full.

Cooper, a great Little Spud, fresh from some runs

Cooper, a great Little Spud, fresh off some epic runs

This is one of the many amazing pleasures and privileges of living in Sun Valley. Snow sports are not a special activity. They are not relegated to the few weeks a year called vacation or designated for weekend warriors. Skiing and snowboarding and cross-country are woven into the day, every day. People take a few runs before work. Students take to the hills for an hour or two after school.  Snow sports are truly a lifestyle.

On this particular Wednesday, a few distinct groups comprise the bulk of users on Dollar. Sporting race suits and skiing in picture-perfect form and at astonishing speed, are a large group of young athletes from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. These U-14 competitors train gates on a giant slalom course on Dollar Face, perfecting their technique before gleefully taking on the terrain park jumps at the bottom of the run as they ski back to the lift.

At the other end of the spectrum are dozens of Little Spuds, practicing their first laps on Quarter Dollar and beyond. Little Spuds is a program offered by the Sun Valley Snowsports School that introduces children three to five years old to skiing. Sessions run when pre-school classes conclude on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The only requirement of this program is that the tots want to learn. From the broad smiles at pickup at the base of Quarter Dollar, it is evident enthusiasm and a new found love of skiing are in generous supply.

Higher Ground athletes train weekly at Dollar

Higher Ground athletes train weekly at Dollar

Also on Dollar on any given Wednesday, are Special Olympics athletes training with Ketchum’s Higher Ground program. Every week from 2 – 4 p.m., local alpine athletes hone their skills and practice their race techniques on Quarter Dollar. This weekend is a huge one for area Special Olympians and the Higher Ground organization, as they are hosting a Regional alpine and Nordic competition for the first time ever. Opening ceremonies will take place for more than 70 Nordic athletes at 10:30 a.m. at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center and at 11 a.m. for 40 additional athletes at Dollar Mountain. The public is invited and encouraged to attend the festivities.

Driving by Dollar on a midwinter’s midweek day, reminds us all to get out there and enjoy the amazing playground in our backyard.

Whether you are visiting Sun Valley for a week, spend a few months a year here, or call the Wood River Valley home, it never hurts to be reminded that the wonders and pleasures of the snow are yours for the taking.

–RES

Just another average Wednesday in paradise

Just another average winter Wednesday in paradise

Ketchum Gallery Walk

Ketchum Gallery Walk

Join us for an evening of talk and art escorted by Wendy Jaquet

Friday, February 15th

5:00pm

Meet at Sun Valley Recreation Office in the Sun Valley Village

We will take the 5:10 bus in to Ketchum;

Approx. 2 hours