I arrive at the bottom of the mountain last weekend in a hot pink one piece, ski boots and leather chaps … only to find that I am a tad underdressed. It is the 15th Annual Janss Pro-Am Classic on Baldy and the costumes and props are over the top.
The first person I see is Langely McNeal dressed as a Twister board game and moving in a sea of red, yellow, green and blue dots. Langely is standing next to her teammate, who is decked out in striped thigh-highs beneath a colorful minidress (bare-legged on a ski hill, as far as I can tell) and a blue wig with a lollipop hat, in what I can only imagine as the Candyland game.
Their team theme is "Vintage Games"–to match the "Vintage" theme for this years 2012 Stifel Nicolaus Weisel Janss Pro-Am. Langely is joined by the rest of her teammates, which include Monopoly, Barrel of Monkeys, Mr. Potatohead and Operation. Brilliant. They end up sweeping the costume contest award at the end of the weekend, followed in close second by the 10th Mountain Division, and the Gender Benders, with Honeymooners and Tinseltown as Honorable Mentions (be sure to check out the photo galleries below).
The Janss Pro-Am is probably one of the most spirited and lively annual fundraisers in the Valley. It features three nights of hosted parties and revelry sandwiched between two days of dual Giant Slalom racing on lower Warm Springs–in costume and with an announcer to heckle you (if you take yourself too seriously)–all to benefit the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) and its training programs for youth skiers, boarders and Nordic athletes.
(Click here to read the full recap or to check out more photos from this year’s Janss Pro Am.)
The 2011 "Cougars" team pose with their fellas for a team photo, including: Karen Holzman, Jane Renolds, Bedford Nabors, Kim Taylor, Samantha Busby and Langley McNeal.
It may look like it … but it’s not all fun and games, parties, costumes and hilarity at the Stifel Nicolaus Weisel Janss Pro-Am events and giant slalom races on Baldy’s Lower Warm Springs this Friday and Saturday. In fact, the Janss Pro-Am is one of the most important fundraisers for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), a valley organization which provides year-round ski and snowboard training and competition opportunities for athletes from the Wood River Valley and beyond.
And they do a good job of it too! Over the past 45 years, the SVSEF has helped launch many athletes onto the world stage. Past alumni include Christin Cooper, Picabo Street, Reggie and Zach Crist, Lynsey Dyer, Morgan Arritola, Jake Adicoff, Tanner Farrow, Kaitlyn Farrington and Langely McNeal, among many others.
And the program keeps growing with the likes of current SVSEF Snowboarder Chase Josey, who recently claimed the top American male spot in the halfpipe at the World Junior Championships in Spain, or SVSEF Gold Team member Shane Cordeau who took Bronze with a podium finish at the U.S. National Freestyle Championships at Stratton Mountain, Vermont, or Tai Barrymore was recently named to the U.S. Freestyle Pro Halfpipe Team.
And while the development, grooming, nurturing and elevation of all that raw talent is certainly the focus of the SVSEF, some of the serious business of those achievements will be temporarily put on the back burner by each of the thirty-two teams of six (which include one pro racer from the ranks of Olympic, World Cup and Pro Tour athletes, and one junior pro SVSEF athlete, combined with four "citizen" skiers/riders of all ski levels) for the next two days in favor of everybody having a good time and letting their how down in celebration of skiing and riding.
Each team dresses in costume in honor of the race theme and in the spirit of the event’s namesake–former owner of Sun Valley Resort, Olympian, SVSEF supporter, and ski and costume party enthusiast: Bill Janss.
The costumes are always creative, entertaining, and wide open to interpretation of the "Vintage" theme, with many details being acquired only after serious consultation with the staff of the Ketchum Sun Valley Ski & Heritage Museum to ensure authenticity. The race format is a dual slalom that is entertaining for both racers and spectators (for a sneak peek, check out the photo gallery from last year)–and you may even see a few wine bottles racing down the slopes, right alongside a team of Austrian ski instructors or 80′s one pieces.
It makes for great spectating!! So look out for the costumed racers of the Janss Pro-Am this Friday and Saturday–you’re likely to see somebody you know.
JANSS PRO-AM EVENT DETAILS
Handicap races start today (Friday, April 6, 2012) in full costume at 10:30 AM and continue throughout the afternoon on Lower Warm Springs.
Saturday (April 7, 2012) races begin at 10:30 AM, then break for lunch and are followed by the Race Finals–the four top teams competing in a round robin format to determine the winner–after lunch.
Sun Valley Resort’s Limelight Room also hosts the Awards Celebration Dinner and Vintage Party on Saturday night, April 7, 2012.
All the money raised by the Stifel Nicolaus Weisel Janss Pro Am goes to help support the 500 youth skiers and snowboarders on the SVSEF’s teams. For more information on the Pro Am or the SVSEF, visit www.svsef.org.
Founded in 1988 by Beverly Hay DeChevrieux and sponsored by Thomas Weisel Partners, the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Fundraiser, the Janss Pro-Am is back this weekend! An all-weekend event with 22 registered teams, The Janss mixes a “Pro Racer” with four amateur racers, skiers or snowboarders. The teams then compete for racing titles and costume prizes throughout the weekend of parties and on-snow races. Rumors of costume themes from some of this year’s teams include Mardi Gras, School Spirit and White Trash Wedding. Last year’s champion team, the Community School, is back to defend their title. As is last year’s costume winner, Koth Sports. There has even been sightings of “Bad Cops” and “Indian Princesses”, so keep an eye out on the slopes this weekend for troublemakers in costumes zooming around Lower Warm Springs and around town!
2010 Janss Pro-Am events include tonight’s opening celebration Pro Party at Michel’s Christiana, Friday’s Apres-Ski party at Whiskey Jacques, and Saturday’s Award Banquet and Dinner at the Sun Valley Inn’s Limelight Room. Benefiting the SVSEF’s Nordic, Alpine, Freestyle and Snowboard teams, this weekend’s event is one of the Foundation’s biggest fundraisers of the year. Big thanks to all that participate and sponsor the fun!
Sun Valley Resort’s historical walking tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Sun Valley. But for those who can’t wait until they’re here to discover the secrets behind this historic resort, here is Part Two of the tour: Sun Valley Village. For the complete series click here.
The Ram Restaurant, part of Sun Valley Village since 1937
STOP ONE: Begin your tour of Sun Valley’s grounds at the outdoor ice rink. Installed in 1936, the rink was a main attraction for the new winter resort. Steve Hannagan, Sun Valley’s publicist, was far from convinced that starlets and socialites wanted to hurtle down a hillside, and he deemed skating far more glamorous. Today, it is one of the world’s premier outdoor ice-skating venues, attracting Olympians such as Sasha Cohen, Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek to perform in its summer ice shows. The very first ice show was held on the evening of Thursday, February 24, 1938. The Austrian ski instructors kicked off festivities by slaloming down Dollar Mountain carrying flares. This torchlight parade, as it became known, is a tradition that is now a centerpiece of Sun Valley’s Christmas celebrations. That first ice show however, was not quite of the caliber of today’s. Instead of Olympians it featured brave resort guests waltzing on the ice with flares in hand, comical musical chairs and Union Pacific staff who had been given such expert choreographic instruction as “just move around.” It proved such a hit that a repeat performance was ordered for the next week, and ice shows have continued at Sun Valley ever since.
STOP TWO: Now take a walk from the resort’s oldest entertainment venue to its newest. Keep the rink on your right and follow the path away from the Lodge toward the Sun Valley Pavilion. This impressive feat of architecture is the jewel in the crown of the six buildings Sun Valley’s most recent owner, Earl Holding, contributed to the resort during his 35 years of ownership. One of Mr. Holding’s favorite sayings was “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” and the Pavilion is overdone in the best possible way. Opened in 2008 through a partnership with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, this one-of-a-kind performing arts facility was constructed with 1,000 tons of marble from the same quarry as the stone used to build Rome’s Coliseum. In its young life it has hosted such glittering names as Garth Brooks, the San Francisco Ballet, Bill Cosby and, of course, the world famous Sun Valley Summer Symphony.
STOP THREE: Walk from the Pavilion around the Lodge and towards the Sun Valley Village. You will pass three cottages. The first is The Harriman Cottage. Built in the summer of 1937, this was Sun Valley’s original “vacation home,” and is still available to rent today. “I wanted to have a place to come and live,” Harriman said in 1983. “And I wanted to encourage people to build houses in the valley. I didn’t want any more hotels to be built. I didn’t want it to be cluttered up as [if] it was a big resort. But I wanted people to come here and live and enjoy it either as a home or as a second home of sorts. All of that was part of the original idea. It has worked out very satisfactorily.” The other two cottages were added in the fall of 1940, one for Dr. Moritz, the resident surgeon, and the other for Friedl Pfeiffer, then the new head of the ski school, although he never lived in it. These are now The President’s and Guest cottages and can also be rented.
STOP FOUR: Continue along the sidewalk to the bus circle at the entrance to the Sun Valley Village, and stop just below the flagpole. Here you’ll find The Tenth Mountain Division Rock. This memorial to The Ski Troops, as they were known, honors the many Sun Valley alumni and residents who fought in the division during WWII. The Tenth is famous for helping push the Germans from the snow covered mountains of Italy, effectively ending the war, but they lost a quarter of their number in the process. Three mountains in the valley are named for fallen Sun Valley employees who served in The Tenth: Handwerk Peak after a waiter at the Ram; Duncan Ridge for a former Lodge employee; and Bromaghin Peak for a ski instructor.
STOP FIVE: Just beyond the rock, to the left of the recreation center, is another of the resort’s links to WWII. These statues are in memory of two members of the Tenth, Austrian ski instructors Sigi Engl and Sepp Froehlich, who between them worked 72 seasons at Sun Valley. Engl initially applied in 1938, but was turned down by Harriman. By the following season however he was firmly ensconced at the resort, and worked here for more than three decades. He served as director of the ski school from 1952 to 1975. Froehlich arrived at Sun Valley the year after Engl, but the outbreak of WWII saw him, Engl and three other Austrian instructors arrested by the FBI on suspicions of harboring Nazi sympathies. Engl immediately joined the U.S. Army, but Froehlich spent nearly three months in prison before enlisting. He went on to win a Silver Star for gallantry in the Pacific.
STOP SIX: Follow the path past the bank and turn right to the Sun Valley Opera House. The 320-seat movie theater was added in the resort’s second season, and its early ties to Hollywood were strong enough to secure a much-sought-after copy of Gone With The Wind in the first few weeks of its release. (Wind producer David O’Selznick was a friend of Harriman’s and helped him publicize Sun Valley, although he disapproved of the name, he thought it should be called Ski Haven.) Today, alongside hit movies, catch a showing of Sun Valley Serenade most days. The 1940s classic features scenes shot at the resort as well as future gold medalist Gretchen Fraser skiing for star Sonja Henie.
STOP SEVEN: From the Opera House proceed around the duck pond, taking in the glass enclosed exterior of the resort’s second circular pool (identical to the one in the Lodge), and walk along the length of the Sun Valley Inn. “Realizing that one hotel doesn’t make a resort, Sun Valley this year opened another spacious hostelry, much more moderate in price,” Esquire wrote in its February 1938 article Enter the Ski-golo. The title referenced the original ski school director Hans Hauser’s stable of Austrian skier instructors. It turns out they were all “singularly adept in teaching that old world technique to our susceptible American maidens.” Originally called The Challenger Inn, after Union Pacific’s passenger trains, the Inn is the centerpiece of the Sun Valley Village. Built to resemble a Tyrolean mountain village, the hotel was based on drawings by Ernst Fegté, the German set designer of the first movie shot in Sun Valley, I Met Him in Paris starring resort regular Claudette Colbert. The hotel’s different facades were painted by American artist Walt Kuhn to enhance the illusion of a classic Austrian village street, when inside it is all one building.
STOP EIGHT: Taking the path to your left, pass the Inn and arrive in front of The Ram restaurant. A relaxed, casual setting for socializing after skiing, The Ram had a strong Austrian theme, right down to the long-stemmed wine-pourers called Weinhebers, imported from Vienna by Count Schaffgotsch. It was also a favorite of the celebrity guests. If you were here in 1938 you might spot Ginger Rogers tap dancing away to The Ram Trio’s cheery tunes (possibly including the Hokey Pokey, which musician Larry Laprise claims to have invented here). Pop by in the winter of 1956 and Marilyn Monroe could be tucked away in a booth, relaxing after a day filming Bus Stop in the snow. Stop for dinner in the forties and sit next to Clark Gable, Bing Crosby or Gary Cooper. The Ram was a place where people let their hair down because, according to a 1958 Sports Illustrated feature on Sun Valley, “It has the New York nightclub feeling.”
STOP NINE: Continuing on through Sun Valley Village, follow the path to the left towards the Lodge. You’ll pass through what was originally known as the Sun Valley Mall. Installed in 1966 by the resort’s second owner, Olympic skier Bill Janss, the shopping street was modeled on the popular shopping mall concept of the time. Today it has been so tightly woven into the character of the original village that it is simply referred to as the Sun Valley Village. In fact, one spot here claims a link to the earliest history of the resort. The Brass Ranch skiwear boutique is named after the sheep and cattle ranch that once stood here.
Showman and teacher, Maricich ushered in a whole new era in Sun Valley skating
If you have ever enjoyed a summer ice show under the stars, skated a few laps around Sun Valley’s iconic outdoor rink or taken in a Suns hockey game, you have seen something Herman Maricich helped create. For decades, he simply defined skating in Sun Valley. This showman, technician, teacher, visionary and Sun Valley icon passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 4 from congenital heart failure. He was surrounded by family in his Sun Valley home and had recently reached the ripe old age of 90.
Programs like the Three Musketeers were crowd favorites
He may be best remembered as a daring barrel jumper, a skating polar bear or comic bull in the ice show, or as half of the elegant duo performing to “Singing in the Rain” clad in a tuxedo, but Maricich’s contribution to skating in Sun Valley goes much deeper.
Maricich arrived in Sun Valley in a roundabout way. He began skating in Oakland, California, his hometown, when he was 12 years old. His first laps on the ice were taken on speed skates that he bought for $7 with paper route money. He took to skating right away and trained in speed skating, figure skating and stunt skating; the genesis of acts that would captivate Sun Valley audiences for years.
"Everyone was young, it was a great time," Maricich said of skating in Sun Valley's storied ice shows
In 1942, just after the Resort opened its doors, Maricich heard they needed skaters for the show, then called the Ice Carnival. At the time, he was working in a shipyard and the lure of sunshine, clean air and mountains made it an easy decision to hop on a Union Pacific train to Idaho. During that summer, he lived in dorms in the Lodge basement, called the Lower Three, worked as a skating instructor and performed in the weekly shows. In a 2011 interview he said, “All the pretty girls in the show were college girls. They waited tables during the day and skated. The boys also worked at the Resort, as bellmen and waiters. Everyone was young. It was a great time.” He spent free time hiking, picnicking and falling in love with Sun Valley.
Training to be a fighter pilot took Maricich away during the war years. He was an officer in the Air Force, flying P47 single-engine fighter planes. After the war, he returned to California and earned a degree in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley on the GI Bill.
During this time, he kept skating and competing and became Pacific Coast junior champion and skated in two national competitions, taking third place in the pair skating Nationals of 1947. He returned to Sun Valley’s summer shows in 1947 and it was here that he was discovered by Sonja Henie’s producer. Maricich got a part in the Sonja Henie Ice Show and started a career touring the country skating men’s pairs and singles programs.
Maricich's bullfighter number was a huge hit at Sun Valley's Saturday night shows
Sun Valley’s spell brought Maricich back to the Wood River Valley, however, and he settled among the mountains for good in 1953. Sun Valley’s Hans Johnson invited Maricich to come teach and skate at the resort full-time and the Maricich era began in earnest.
In the early 50s, the Resort had two outdoor seasonal rinks. One, a smaller precursor to today’s, had refrigeration system, and one relied on Mother Nature to stay frozen. In 1954, the Resort expanded the outdoor rink to the current size. But by 1962, maintenance of the outdoor rink in winter was proving expensive for the new president of Union Pacific who was trying to cut costs. “Sun Valley never paid for itself,” chuckled Maricich. “We had all these extravagant things going on.”
Maricich taught generations of skaters in Sun Valley and loved encouraging young talent
“I told them, “Why don’t you let me take this over? Clean the ice? Run it?” Maricich said. “I had an old cheap truck with a snowplow. I’d clear the snow and blow it off the end of the rink. I even had my own re-surfacer system.” This truck, called the Hermoni, was only retired last winter after 36 years of service. Maricich began to lease and run the rink in the winter.
When Bill Janss bought the resort in 1964, Maricich secured a year-round lease for the rink and was officially in charge. He said, “With that,” he said, “I changed the idea of the staff. I went out and got as many great pros as I could without all the hierarchy.”
Barrel jumping was a family act. Here, Maricich and son Nick practice this daredevil trick
The program gained momentum and credibility. “There weren’t as many skating schools back then. I could build the teaching program and get prominent pros on staff and they brought students with them as well as working with local skaters,” explained Maricich.
As head instructor, Maricich taught the famous and beautiful. He took Lucille Ball and her children for spins around the rink and had to keep reminding a gaggle of Kennedy kids that hockey was not allowed. During his heyday as manager at the rink and lead pro, he rubbed elbows with the likes of Ann Sothern, Leonard Bernstein and Gary Cooper. He took over the children’s skating program and directed their numbers in the ice show. Maricich went on to put together a skating school that has evolved into today’s Sun Valley Figure Skating Club that boasts more than 200 members.
Maricich skated with and taught many stars including Lucille Ball
Soon, the program that got so busy that it became evident that the resort needed an indoor rink. “Janss said it was a good idea, but he couldn’t finance it. He was investing in the mountain,” explained Maricich. “I thought about it for a few years and approached him again. I proposed trying to get it done privately with investors. Janss kind of laughed at the idea but wished me well.”
Maricich was determined. “I wrote up a proposal and presented it to about 100 people. Out of those, I got ten people to invest and I found financing for the rest.” He took over as the general manager of a project, paid rent for the land and secured a 15-year lease. Construction took a little more than a year and cost $450,000.
With the addition of the indoor rink, hockey was sure to follow. Bob Johnson came and ran a hockey camp while Maricich set the wheels in motion for a resort hockey team that evolved in the Suns. A strong junior and senior program quickly followed. Today, the Sun Valley Youth Hockey Association coaches almost 200 children every year and adult leagues are filled to capacity.
But even during this period of innovation and construction, Maricich continued to do what he loved to do: entertain. He performed in the ice shows for decades and was known for comedic and daredevil acts. Maricich would choose a theme for each summer season and help to choreograph all the numbers. “He was pretty much the dominant force in coming up with the acts,” said longtime friend and collaborator, Dick Haskell who started in the shows in 1957. He would also create intricate costumes for many of his roles: animal heads likes bulls and donkeys and bears that had moving tongues and tusks and eyes.
“Everything you see at the rinks today are just an extension of what Herman developed,” said Haskell. “He did an awful lot to keep it going.”
Maricich's second wife, Mariana, performed with him for 15 years as a Hermanette
Maricich’s “Hermanettes” were also part of the glamor. The “Hermanettes” were beautiful ladies clad in figure flattering costumes who performed support roles in Maricich’s numbers. “We’d pop a bottle of champagne after the shows,” Maricich said. “We were one big family.”
Maricich came to Sun Valley to skate, and skate here he did, for a lifetime. Generations of locals who took their first turns around the ice with the Learn to Skate program, hundreds of pros, Olympic skaters and recreational enthusiasts alike have all benefitted by Maricich’s vision, passion and dedication.
A doting father, Maricich lifted young daughter Maria overhead
On a personal note, Herman was my friend and my neighbor. He never forgot to ask about my two daughters who are figure skaters, wondering what jumps they were working on or what level test they were preparing for. He was charming, debonair, intelligent, perceptive … truly one-of-a-kind.
He will be missed by his five children: Nick, Maria, Tony, Alex and Stasha, grandchildren, Alexandra Maricich and Zac Siele, and the whole community to whom he gave so much.
A skater and a gentleman, the community celebrates this life well lived
In Sun Valley, any excuse to dress up in a costume is a good one. We ski and ride in costumes on numerous occasions. We mini-golf around town in costumes. So when Halloween, the sanctioned costume event of the calendar year rolls around, the party is sure to last all week.
At my house, Halloween is only slightly less important than Christmas. We spend the second half of October transforming the living room, dining room and kitchen into a spooky, haunted, spiderweb-ridden, talking skeleton kind of space. Then, each year, my son hosts his entire class for a Halloween ruckus. And we are not alone. From costumed ice skating, to the Hailey Hoopla, to a party in Ketchum that starts out kid-friendly and morphs into one of the most fun grown-up nights of the year, we close the streets, put out the welcome mats and invite every ghoul and goblin, of every age, out to enjoy some big fun.
Bellevue's Haunted Forest is terrifying -- in a good way
Starting in the South Valley, Halloween enthusiasts can prepare to be spooked and even scared out of their wits at the Bellevue Haunted Forest. On October 29 and 30, the Howard Preserve comes to reanimated life. At the site of the old town dump, Zombies and ghosts and spirits of all kinds will give a little scare before dark, but after the sun sets … all bets are off! This is a fun, safe, entertaining night that benefits the newly reopened, public Howard Preserve. Tickets are $7.50 and are available at The Bead Shop in Hailey, Splash & Dash and Mahoney’s in Bellevue and at the gate.
Little trick-or-treaters look forward every year to the Halloween Hoopla (photo: Suzanne Buchanan)
Hailey is Halloween central and on October 31, beginning at 3 p.m., Main Street rhymes with trick or treat. The 8th installment of the family-friendly Halloween Hoopla event lasts until 6 p.m. and takes place throughout downtown Hailey. Look for black and orange balloons outside participating businesses. Costumes are de rigueur and a costume contest at The Liberty Theatre will be awarding prizes for Halloween enthusiasts of all ages, all afternoon in half-hour intervals. Music, food and drink and a “spook alley” will provide affordable, family-friendly fare. Safe and fun even for the littlest trick or treaters, be sure to put this on your Halloween schedule.
In Sun Valley on the 31st, take your costume and your best moves to the ice. The Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink is offering a special skating package for those in costume from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For only $8, you get admission, skate rental and a beautiful day or night in the fresh fall air. Please call 208-622-2194 for more information.
Three gorgeous local ladies show just how seriously we take Halloween at the Nightmare on Main Street (photo Sonya Johnston)
The party continues into the night – well into the night – in Ketchum on Thursday. The annual Nightmare On Main Street begins at 7 p.m. and goes through last call, finally shutting down at 2 a.m. Main Street closes to allow revelers to take to the street and enjoy a wide assortment of food and libations. A kids’ costume contest takes place at 8 p.m. (best girl, best boy and overall). Later, at 10 p.m., the adults are judged for best male, best female, creepiest, sexiest, group and overall. If past years are any indication, Sun Valley is one creative place when it comes to homemade costumes. The group category is usually full of handmade, outlandish and hysterical ideas. Music from local DJs will keep the party going outside until 11 p.m.
Warren Miller's latest film is a treat after Halloween. Let the snow season begin!
Most years, Halloween also marks the change from fall to winter in this part of the world. Indian summer often hangs on with warm temperatures and sunny skies in late October before giving way in November to crisp days and hints of snow. Which is perfect, as Baldy is scheduled to open for an amazing season at Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving in Sun Valley is as peaceful and lovely as Halloween is crazy around here. The Resort invites guests to come, relax, ski or ride and enjoy a fuss-free Thanksgiving, all at special prices.
Join fellow snow lovers to count down to ski and snowboard season with a screening of Warren Miller's new action film at the Sun Valley Opera House. Winter officially kicks off Nov. 1 and 2 with Miller's Ticket to Ride
The change of season also brings with it the unofficial kick-off to the snow season when the latest Warren Miller action film comes to the Sun Valley Opera House. Skiers and riders anxious for the first flakes to fly crowd into the theater to enjoy Miller’s famous brand of filmmaking, as well as special promotions and prizes. This year, Miller’s latest movie, Ticket to Ride, will celebrate big mountain skiing and riding, the craziest tricks on snow and the highest peaks from Montana to Alaska; from Kazkhstan to Iceland; from Greenland to Switzerland. Nothing gets locals in the mood for the coming season like this annual event. There are three screenings of Ticket to Ride, on Friday, November 1 at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, November 2 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Enjoy a safe, spooky Halloween and the transition to early winter! Boo!
Sun Valley Terrain Park manager Brian Callahan proves the edict 'go big or go home' at the Pond Skim ...
... and becomes the first splash down of the day
Easter Sunday felt like spring, real spring, with temperatures in Ketchum soaring to above 60 degrees, accompanied by blue skies and a sun-shiny sun. It was an absolutely perfect morning for the annual Sun Valley Ski Patrol “Cold Bowl” pond skim, a hilarious event that attracted dozens of competitors for the chance to ski or board across a man-made (freezing cold) pond at the base of Dollar Mountain. With music that dared you not to get a groove on provided by DJ Train, a delicious outdoor barbecue and play-by-play action, the morning saw a lot of successful runs and some pretty spectacular splashy spills. All told, closing day on Dollar was one big party. Both children and adults took the challenge, donning silly costumes (including a disproportionate number of bunny ears) and spent the entire day on the 22-foot Superpipe, the Rail Yard course, the Cross Park and more traditional runs.
One young skier uses all the Terrain Park features at Saturday's rail jam
The incomparable DJ Train got the party started -- and kept it going -- at Dollar Dayz
On Saturday, Dollar Dayz kicked into high gear with the CandyGrind Rail Jam. Freestyle skiers and boarders jumped in to show off their best moves on the multi-faceted course. Announcers deconstructed and judged each run, again, on an absolutely beautiful spring day.
On Friday, the Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village to the delight of hundreds of children, ranging in age from infants to ten-year-olds. Oodles of colorful eggs were strewn all over the Inn lawn, including in the swan pond, from the Opera House to the Sun Valley Inn and over to the Konditorei.
On your mark, get set, hunt!
Outside the Toy Store, children waited patiently to have whiskers and bunny noses painted on their faces, or eggs painted on their hands. The Easter Bunny made the rounds, posing for photos and giving out a lot of hugs. Easter festivities continued on Sunday with a highly popular brunch at the Lodge Dining Room.
All-in-all, it was a terrific season on Dollar, with great conditions for every level skier, events including the Revolution Tour and freestyle and snowboard competitions, the Christmas Eve torchlight parade and so much more. Thanks to Dollar’s Guest Services, Snowsports instructors, groomers, lift operators and everyone else that helped keep the mountain amazingly fun, welcoming and safe.
The Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village Friday
Ski season winds down on Baldy on April 14 and spring skiing rates are in effect beginning April 1. Check out the amazing deals, the corn snow and the spring conditions that just call for some après ski on the deck at River Run or Warm Springs. There is still a lot of season left with the Orage anti-comp, the Janss Pro Am and hours of just cruising the mountain.
Soon it may be time to ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Stay tuned for details of what some people consider the best few weeks in the Valley!
Part reunion, part party, part ski race, the Janss Pro Am puts the fun in fundraiser (photos courtesy of SVSEF)
Warm Springs is about to turn into a giant costume party as the annual Janss Pro-Am Classic rolls into town. This fundraiser for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) signifies spring in these parts like nothing else, bringing together teams of pros and amateurs for some good-natured gate running, a lot of partying and some pretty elaborate costumes, on the slopes and off. This year, the event will grace Warm Springs and the Sun Valley Resort from April 4 – 6.
Doing good by having fun
Named for Bill Janss, the beloved former owner of the Sun Valley Company, this year’s event is expected to host nearly 500 enthusiastic participants for Giant Slalom racing and free skiing, cocktail parties, an awards banquet in the Limelight Room, hosted breakfasts and lunches, and of course, costumes!
One very coordinated Janss team stands at the ready atop the Greyhawk Chair
The 2013 theme, “Let the Games Begin,” is a nod to both the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (where SVSEF hopes to be represented), as well as an invitation to play in the spring sunshine.
“While the theme is inspired by the Winter Games, everyone is invited to make it their own,” explained SVSEF Events Director Kate Berman. “For instance, Dr. Tom West, a chiropractor, is part of team “Operation” after the board game. A group of freestyle skiers are dressing as the “Sorry!” game – as in “Sorry! We’re freestylers! Our teams are always so creative and I love seeing what they come up with.”
Everyone is invited to watch the 32 teams race on Lower Warm Springs on Friday and Saturday, April 5 & 6 at 10:30 a.m. Speed isn’t the ultimate goal for the amateurs (consistency is king), but the pros on board usually can’t help but go fast. Among this year’s impressive names are locals including: Ski Cross champ Langely McNeal, former Olympian Jonna Mendes, X-Games star Zach Crist and SVSEF’s very own Doran Key.
“Christin Cooper once said the Janss is the biggest reunion for former US Ski Team members around,” laughed Kate. “Everyone looks forward to getting together on Baldy’s amazing runs with old friends and new for such a terrific cause. It’s very popular, one of the most fun events of the year in the Valley.”
The hottest team on snow -- Karen Holzman (far right) and pro Langely McNeal and team celebrate some fast times at the Janss (photo courtesy Langely McNeal)
And it’s just as much fun for the amateurs. Karen Holzman who is organizing team “Greek Goddess” this year with Langely as her pro, always looks forward to this event. “We support the Janss because SVSEF is at the core of what’s special about our community. They contribute and have contributed so much to training local past and future Olympians, as well as some pretty amazing lifelong recreational skiers,” she explained. “It’s a great weekend because of the costumes, spirit of competition (who in Sun Valley isn’t competitive?), you can have family and friends on your team and just generally, a lot of laughs!”
At this race, it's less about speed and more about impact
This, the 16th Janss Pro-Am Classic marks Kate’s final party as the woman who makes it all happen. After 13 years as Events Director (and before that volunteer mom and board member for SVSEF), Kate is turning over the reigns to the very capable Sarah Crowley on April 7. After committing literally thousands of hours to the health well being of the organization, she said she feels she is leaving SVSEF when it is in a very strong position. “This is the biggest Janss we have seen in years,” she smiled. “SVSEF is doing amazing things. I’m really proud of all the work we have done and excited to see what comes next.”
Her only request? That no one makes a big fuss over her at the Janss’ events. Speaking on behalf of the rest of the community, I hope they do.
Van Gordon Sauter, former president of CBS News and Fox News, spoke about his book The Sun Valley Story at the Sun Valley Writers' Conference Saturday. Photo by Kristen Shultz
Van Gordon Sauter is a man with a view, many views in fact. And he’s not one to mince words. So when I heard that this “respected journalist, distinguished television executive, and renowned raconteur” was going to be talking at the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference about his new book The Sun Valley Story, I pulled every string I could to secure myself a spot (not an easy task, as any journalist who has tried to infiltrate the hallowed halls of the conference without publishing their own book will tell you). The fact I have known and worked with Van for the last five years, and that I contributed (in a very small way) to the book he was talking about, undoubtedly weighed in my favor.
The Wood River Valley is very lucky to call Van one of its own. He has had a second home here for many years, and he takes an active interest in the community, beyond just how it will impact his own property. A broadcast journalist and author with a storied career, he is one of the original founders of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, and has shared his love of this valley by writing numerous articles on it for the local press (including the Sun Valley Guide, of which I’m editor). Of his many areas of interest, history ranks the highest, so it seemed a natural fit for him to bring his engaging writing style to the entertaining story of the birth of Sun Valley Resort.
The Sun Valley Story is the result of a collaboration between Sun Valley Resort and Mandala Media. Published last year in honor of the resort’s 75th anniversary, the book is described by Van as “an anecdotal history,” one that captures the individual stories and events of Sun Valley’s singular history with his signature flair.
And if anyone can recount a good anecdote it’s Van. His “Break-out session” at the conference on Saturday was full of fascinating tidbits, both from the book and his own experiences in the valley. Including the one time he tried to buy a bar in Hailey that turned out to be insulated by miners clothing, or the story from Peter Duchin’s childhood in the Harriman mansion in New York, where – because his room was so far from the breakfast parlor – he had to hop on a bicycle every morning just to get his cereal. To get them all you’ll have to pick up the book, or corner Van at Cristina’s Restaurant any summer morning, but here are a few choice morsels about the major characters of the book that he divulged at the conference:
Van on Averell Harriman [the founder of Sun Valley]
“In 1935, when Harriman said ‘I want a ski resort in the West,’ that put into motion a project that by today’s standards is incomprehensible. This was and is, if you’ve tried to fly into here recently, one of the most unreachable places in America. At that point nothing came here expect the little train primarily used for hauling sheep. But Harriman said ‘I want it up and I want it up now,’ and low and behold, Union Pacific (and it’s hard to imagine a corporation of that capability today) put up this resort in 11 months. There was no zoning, no politicians, no litigation over environment, they just put it up. From bowling balls to beds to bourbon, the railroad got it here. And 11 months after he made that decision, the front doors open and the customers came.
Van on Eastwood [Clint Eastwood wrote the introduction to The Sun Valley Story]
“Clint Eastwood produced and directed and starred in a movie called Pale Rider, which was shot just north of here in the Boulder Mountains. It was for him a marvelous experience because he could go shoot on location for most of the day and then drive home – he’s had a home here forever – and play golf in the late afternoon. It was just the epitome of an ideal movie-making experience for him, and it was a heck of a good movie.”
Ernest Hemingway loved Sun Valley in the fall, in particular for the hunting opportunities it afforded. Photo courtesy Sun Valley Resort.
Van on Ernest Hemingway
“Hemingway came and stayed in room 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge, a great place to spend the night, a lovely, small suite. It was there he finished his book For Whom The Bell Tolls. He loved it here, his times here were good and he developed an incredibly strong relationship with Gary Cooper. Many of his good times involved being in this town. But ultimately, it ended tragically.”
Van on Ernest Hemingway’s Ketchum home
“[After his suicide in Ketchum] the home he and Mary had bought here was given to The Nature Conservancy, which has been both a good landlord and a useless landlord (it’s currently in one of its good phases). The house is in pretty good shape. A lot of the Hemingway material that was left behind has been pilfered, the best of Hemingway in the house was given to the Kennedy Library at Harvard. At one time, I headed an ill-advised committee, of which I was the premier ill advising person, and we worked with The Nature Conservancy to try and open the house for limited public access. The neighbors, and I can understand their motivation, said no, we don’t want outsiders traipsing through here. So the house is marooned and fundamentally inaccessible to the public.”
Van on Bill Janss [Sun Valley Resort's second owner]
“Bill Janss was a marvelous human being. He was generous, he was kind. He was an Olympic skier, who was unable to compete in the Olympics due to the war, and he really got that mountain into remarkable shape. He turned it into the best ski mountain in the country. Unfortunately, he never could learn how to rent rooms, sell food, run retail establishments or sell condos, he had none of those skills.”
Van on Earl and Carol Holding [Current owners of the resort]
“The Holdings have been generous caring owners of this facility, the improvements they have made, from the snow-making to that gorgeous pavilion, have been remarkable. They made it work. Now we have a good valley, we have a great business here, and we need new hotels. The Holding family want to put a big hotel out at River Run, a ‘ski in, ski out’ establishment. But they can’t do that without a better airport. If any of you have tried to fly in here recently you’ll understand. This city, this valley is at a point now where it has to determine whether it has the courage and the capacity to fix the airport or move the airport, so that there can be direct flights from around the country to bring people in here. The Holdings are very old, no one knows what their children want to do, but their children are highly regarded – fundamentally the jury’s out on where all of this will go.”
Van on the future of Sun Valley [in response to the question "Where do you see the valley in 10 years time?"]
“I would say it’s all up to the airport. It’s a double edged sword. If we get the airport so it works here and the airline starts to have direct flights from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles wherever, we’ll see a dramatic influx of tourists. On the one hand that’s good, but it’s going to change the ambiance of where we live. There’s no doubt about it. My bottom line is, this is a beautiful place even tourists can’t destroy it, and it will be a better and better place if we do make it easier to get here. It’s impossible to get here now, it’s impossible to sell it to a large swath of the public because it’s so hard to get here.”
Van on the airport [in response to a question on the politics of the airport]
“I have been cautioned never to raise politics at this event… . There is a division in the community. Those who want an airport are trying to find ways to either change the airport runway or to move the airport down beyond highways 20 and 75. But their first choice has frigging grouse on it. Here’s a community of 25,000 people, desperately needs an airport and there’s mating grouse there. Can’t these grouse mate somewhere else? Whatever, that site is a long way from the resort, the construction expense would have been enormous. But without an airport that accommodates small commercial jets, this valley will wither and become non-competitive.”
The Sun Valley Story, by Van Gordon Sauter, was written to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the resort.
Details: Sun Valley Story, written by Van Gordon Sauter, with a foreword by Clint Eastwood, this glamorous coffee table book contains previously unpublished vintage images, as well as lavish four-color photographs from the last decade, including the Castle Rock Fire, the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, Allen & Co. Conference and the personalities that define Sun Valley today. See some excerpts from the book here, and buy a copy here.