Bring on the Boulder

The Boulder Mountain Tour caps off a week of cross country celebrations

The Boulder Mountain Tour caps off a week of cross country celebrations

Things are in full swing in Nordic Town USA as Sun Valley celebrates a week devoted to everything cross country. Each January, the Sun Valley Nordic Festival brings together devotees of cross country ski culture with training opportunities, parties, concerts, a film festival and food and drink specials all over town. The fun culminates this weekend with the 39th Annual Swix Boulder Mountain Tour on February 1.

The Boulder, as it’s known, brings hundreds of people to town for friendly or serious competition on a course that begins north of Ketchum at Galena Lodge and finishes fast at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters. The big event is a 32-kilometer race but there is also a Half Boulder that covers 15-kilometers.

This is a week many locals look forward to each year, but it is also an annual event on the calendar of skiers from across the country. One such cross country aficionado is Brad Laesch of Seattle. Saturday’s race will be Brad’s fifth and it’s something he looks forward to each year. During a phone interview conducted as he organized and packed his skis and gear, Brad said, “I love the atmosphere of the Boulder, it is always so much fun. The start at Galena Lodge is such a terrific, energetic location. The actual racecourse is beautiful, nestled in a little bowl area among the mountains. And I always see friends from Seattle at the starting line.”

The Boulder Mountain Tour is a one-of-a-kind race

The Boulder Mountain Tour is a one-of-a-kind race

Each year, Brad and members of his family fly Alaska Air direct into Sun Valley to get in on the fun. In past years, his wife and daughters have participated in the Half Boulder. This year, his daughter Greta, 11, is returning for her third race. When they land on Friday, Greta will warm up on the snow with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation cross country team with a friend from Boise who trains with them on weekends.

Greta, Brad, Lexie and Lily Laesch of Seattle look forward to their annual trip to Sun Valley to race in the Boulder and Half Boulder (not pictured, son Conrad)

Greta, Brad, Lexie and Lily Laesch of Seattle look forward to their annual trip to Sun Valley to race in the Boulder and Half Boulder (not pictured, son Conrad)

As for Brad, he has been training all fall and winter despite poor snow conditions around Seattle. “I’ve been doing a lot of roller skiing around our park,” he laughed. “I get weird looks but it helps me work on balance and I can do drills and intervals. It’s better than nothing!”

Brad and his family, and all the other Boulder and Sun Valley Nordic Festival attendees, also love the whole vibe of town and the Resort this week. Though there have already been coffee tastings at local roaster, the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Paralympic Biathlon Training, pre-race skiing with Muffy Ritz and other VAMPS coaches, and a spirited downtown sprint, the fun is just getting started.

Racers queue up at the starting line on Thursday evening's in-town sprints

Racers queue up at the starting line on Thursday evening's in-town sprints

Celebrate a race well run Saturday night at one of the most rocking parties of the year – Reggae in the Mountains. The party, called “the greatest show on snow,” takes over Ketchum Town Square at 5 p.m. A concert pre-party will take place at Lefty’s Bar and Grill in Ketchum at 4 p.m. This year, the concert features the nine-piece roots Bob Marley inspired band Sol Horizon from Sonoma County, California, and the nine-piece roots music inspired band Natural Roots from Salt Lake City. After the concert, the party continues in downtown Ketchum at Whiskey Jacques’ with music from Soul Medic, Jah Wave and Lions Den Unlimited Sounds. For more information, visit HERE.

Enthusiasm was high among athletes and spectators for the competitive town sprints

Enthusiasm was high among athletes and spectators for the competitive town sprint relay race

Leading up to the big race, on Friday, the Friends of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center present the Banff Mountain Film Festival and raffle. This annual fundraiser is held at Ketchum’s nexStage Theatre and offers more than $10,000 of incredible raffle prizes and four hours of amazing outdoor films. The event begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are $14 to $15. It is advisable to buy them ahead of time as they do sell out and they are available at Backwoods Mountain Sports, the Elephants Perch and Chapter One Bookstore. You need not be present to win raffle prizes.

Demo days at the beautiful Sun Valley Nordic Center is a great way to wind down the Sun Valley Nordic Festival week

Demo days at the beautiful Sun Valley Nordic Center is a great way to wind down the Sun Valley Nordic Festival week

On Sunday, wind down the weekend at the Sun Valley Nordic Center. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you are invited to join the best local and national reps who will bring out the latest equipment to demo. A special discounted daily pass costing $10 will get you onto the snow in whatever new boots or skis you wish to try. The Clubhouse at the Sun Valley Nordic Center will offer a special lunch during this event. Sit down and treat yourself to a wonderful meal. You’ve earned it! This demo day is always a fun event.

Sun Valley loves its Nordic roots and culture. The SVSEF was recently named one of very few Olympic and Paralympic training sites for cross country skiing in the nation and we boast miles and miles and miles of scenic and spectacular trails running in every direction. This is truly Nordic Nirvana. Come join us and experience it for yourself!

–RES

2nd Annual Winter Festival Presented by the Sun Valley Opera – February 19th-22nd

Join The Sun Valley Opera for the 2nd Annual Winter Festival. Please visit www.sunvalleyopera.com for more information.

 

2014 Fly Fishing Film Tour @ The Opera House, Wednesday, February 19 at 7:00pm

Annual Valentine’s Dinner Dance – The Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room. Friday, February 7th at 6:30pm

Remodeling Sale at Signatures and Gifts Store – January 31st-February 2nd

Come down to the Sun Valley Signatures and Gifts Store in the Sun Valley Village for our remodeling sale!! You’ll receive amazing savings throughout the entire store. On Friday, take advantage of 30% off storewide, on Saturday, 40% off and to top it all off 50% on Sunday. The only excluded gifts are greeting cards and notions.

Hot Jazz in Cold Midwinter

After an active winter’s day on the slopes, there is no better way to unwind than to the sounds of live jazz music. Add in the comfortable and inviting environs of the Duchin Lounge at the Sun Valley Lodge, a handcrafted cocktail or glass of fine wine and some of the best bar food around, and you have the recipe for a perfect night.

Come on in for some hot jazz at the Duchin Lounge

Come on in for some hot jazz at the Duchin Lounge

Throughout the winter, the Duchin Room comes alive almost nightly with a variety of jazz artists performing in a variety of styles. Sunday evening, an enthusiastic crowd found a seat, settled in and let the dynamic and transformative piano music of the incomparable Alan Pennay, accompanied by an amazing bass guitar, wash over them. Pennay played to the attentive, appreciative group from 6 to 9 p.m. Pennay first came to Sun Valley in 1972 from Australia, to ski and play piano. His standards with a twist have earned him a loyal following.

Alan Pennay's standards with twist have earned him a loyal following

Alan Pennay's standards with twist have earned him a loyal following

After a busy weekend, I joined the crowd, settling in to my favorite seat at the Duchin Lounge. The high leather banquettes in the back are a great place to find some privacy and peace to enjoy the music. Our wonderful server, Virginia, served up tasty treats – Kobe beef sliders and homemade hummus and pita. At the bar, Bobby mixed tasty cocktails with a smile. The room was filled with both locals enjoying the last gasp of the weekend before returning to work and visitors taking advantage of yet another great facet of a Sun Valley vacation.

Live music continues this week with crowd favorite Paul Tillotson and his trio performing on the 28th and 29th from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. followed by the one-and-only Joe Fos Trio playing until closing. Please check HERE for a full schedule of entertainment at the Sun Valley Resort.

Let bartender Bobby create a special cocktail for you, or perhaps just pour a fine glass of wine

Let bartender Bobby create a special cocktail for you, or perhaps just pour a fine glass of wine

The Ram Bar at the Sun Valley Inn also offers live music to accompany your evening. On January 30, enjoy the sounds of Brooks Hartell from 5 – 8 p.m.

There is no better cure for the midwinter blues than some red-hot jazz. Spend a few hours at the historic, cozy and comfortable Duchin Lounge and let yourself be transported by the live music. It’s like a little mini-vacation within a vacation or just the regular workweek.

Who needs a sit-down dinner when you can enjoy delicious sliders while listening to fantastic jazz?

Who needs a sit-down dinner when you can enjoy delicious sliders while listening to fantastic jazz?

For more great live music, be sure to spend some quality après ski hours at the Warm Springs and River Run lodges. Until 5 or 5:30 p.m. on weekend afternoons, extend the day by kicking back with friends, a beer and some great tunes.

Enjoy!

–RES

Bonus picture of Sunday night's unbelievable sunset over Baldy

Bonus picture of Sunday night's unbelievable sunset over Baldy

Play It Safe

There is nothing more exhilarating, more exciting than carving some turns or catching some air on skis or a snowboard in Sun Valley. Add a glorious January sun, bright blue skies, terrific conditions and wide-open top-to-bottom shots and you get the picture — we are in a sweet spot of the winter season. But along with all the fun, comes responsibility and in support of National Safety Month sponsored by the National Ski Areas Association, Sun Valley Ski Patrol again offers a variety of programs designed to help guests stay safe and play safe.

January is safety awareness month on the slopes in Sun Valley

January is safety awareness month on the slopes in Sun Valley

All guests are invited to participate in activities that range from avalanche awareness courses, to snow sports equipment safety checks and events designed just for children. For instance, kids are invited to grab a “Kids Safety Awareness Map” at Dollar Mountain, River Run or the Warm Springs’ ticket windows until January 26. The maps familiarize young skiers and riders with important safety points around the mountains. Completed maps should be returned to the window in exchange for a surprise.

This is a month Sun Valley Ski Patrol looks forward to every year. “The safety of our skiing and riding guests and employees is our first priority,” said Mike Lloyd, Director of Sun Valley Ski Patrol. “We view Safety Month as an opportunity to meet and greet our skiing and riding guests and talk about safety on the slopes. The activities we have planned will offer tips that we hope will help keep people safe when on the mountain.”

Guests meet some integral members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol -- our avalanche dogs -- at the top of the gondola

Guests meet some integral members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol -- our avalanche dogs -- at the top of the gondola

In addition to on-slope safety tips, Ski Patrol will also be out and about in town visiting area schools with avalanche dogs. In addition, patrolers, snowmakers, SnowSports School instructors and members of Guest Services will hold public events to help educate and inform. This week, members of the Snowsports School will also offer Chair Aware tips and buttons to youngsters, helping them understand chair lift safety.

Upper River Run will be the practice ground for beacon clinics on January 22 and 24 at 10 a.m. Grab your beacon and meet at Ski Patrol Headquarters atop Baldy to learn or refresh this vital skill.

But wait, there’s more! The Trucker Sno-Cat will be on display all week at Dollar and the ever-popular Safety Maze is in place on Baldy’s crest.

Come explore the Safety Maze atop Baldy

Come explore the Safety Maze atop Baldy

First and foremost to Patrol’s education component is also “knowing the code.” The National Ski Patrol Responsibility Code is a mountain user’s reference that everyone, from seasoned skiers to absolute beginners, should be familiar with. In case you missed the oversize posters detailing the Code on the Christmas and Challenger chairlifts and at the base of the mountains, here they are:

  • Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or object.
  • People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  • You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  • Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  • Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Jake reminds you to play it safe and have fun

Jake reminds you to play it safe and have fun

Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports is offering discounted equipment inspection and tunes throughout the month of January. Stop in at the base of River Run to have your bindings tested and certified, get skis and snowboards tuned, have your helmet inspected for a proper fit and make sure your boots aren’t too worn down by walking on pavement. All help ensure the safest day possible on the slopes.

And remember that Ski Patrol is there to help. Our Patrol members are some of the most qualified, helpful and friendly people around. They are EMTs, Paramedics; explosives and ropes experts. They love their job and they know our mountains front, back and crosswise. Be sure to say hello to one this week and thank them for all they do. Also give a shout out to Guest Services, the people at the ticket windows and all mountain employees. They are all doing their very best to make sure you are having the time of your life, and staying safe.

–RES

Safety is fun this week in Sun Valley

Safety is fun this week in Sun Valley

 

Come Skate Away

On a brilliantly sunny Thursday afternoon, approximately 40 students from Ketchum’s Hemingway Elementary School clamored off the yellow school bus and into the Skate House at Sun Valley’s one-of-a-kind outdoor rink. There, they traded boots for skates and helmets and spent the next 60 minutes learning basic figure skating or hockey skills or simply enjoyed taking laps around the large rink with friends.

Local schoolchildren enjoy free skating and some lessons each winter on Sun Valley's iconic outdoor rink

Local schoolchildren enjoy free skating and some lessons each winter on Sun Valley's iconic outdoor rink

These children are a part of a four-week program that brings students from the nearby public school to Sun Valley to skate for free on Thursday afternoons. Sun Valley Company generously donates ice time, skates and helmets. The Sun Valley Figure Skating Club arranges to have a few of their amazing pros on the ice during the session to offer tips, lessons and inspiration. The local Sun Valley Suns hockey team always has a few players on skates, volunteering their time to work with students interested in hockey.

Sun Valley provides free ice time, skates, helmet and some lessons for young aspiring skaters

Sun Valley provides free ice time, skates, helmet and some lessons for young aspiring skaters

“It’s a great way for the kids to get on the ice,” said Sun Valley pro and former Olympian Judy Blumberg.  “It’s good for the kids, it’s good for the Resort, it’s a win-win.”  She added, while helping a young girl untie her skates, “This program gets kids to the rink who may never have gotten here otherwise.”

Hemingway teacher Caitlin Olson agreed. “For the kids who ski every weekend or are involved in different sports or activities, this is a terrific introduction to skating.” She adds, pointing to the rink, “This amazing facility is so close to school and they have a great time when they get here.”

Olympian and Sun Valley pro Judy Blumberg gives her own daughter, and all the skaters, a lot of great pointers

Olympian and Sun Valley pro Judy Blumberg gives her own daughter, and all the skaters, a lot of great pointers

Skating is one of the athletic programs offered to local students through Sun Valley, programs that also include downhill skiing on Baldy or Dollar or cross country skiing. There is never any cost to the student. Sun Valley offers these skiing programs to Blaine County elementary school throughout the Wood River Valley and they are something students always look forward to.  

The opportunity to lace up skates was added to this longstanding program three years ago when the Sun Valley Skating Club was looking for outreach opportunities to introduce more children to this lifelong sport. The fundraiser Battle of the Blades allowed the club to financially help make this a reality. With the tremendous support and input from Sun Valley Resort about 20 skaters showed up that first year.

Physical education class was never this fun when I was in school

Physical education was never this fun when I was in school

The doubling of interest among the children is a testament to just how much fun they are having on the ice and if smiles count as a measure of success, the first day of skating during the 2014 season was a huge success.

Pro Natalia Zaitseva works with an aspiring figure skater

Pro Natalia Zaitseva works with an aspiring figure skater

Who knows if the next Linda Fratianne, Nancy Kerrigan, Gracie Gold or Evan Lysacek took his or her first tentative strokes on the ice this week. Who knows if one of these young skaters will develop an interest in figure skating or hockey that will carry them through high school. What really matters is that they enjoyed a beautiful afternoon filled with exercise, fresh air and laughter all around.

–RES

 

Baldy Beacon Clinics – Christmas Ridge at 10am

For National Safety Week, come join us at the Baldy Beacon Park on Christmas Ridge for a free beacon clinic. Wednesday and Friday at 10am.

Janss 2014 Pro-Am Classic – April 3rd, 4th, & 5th

Coming April 3rd – 5th, the Janss 2014 Pro-Am Classic in Sun Valley. Be sure to catch all the giant slalom racing that will benefit the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.