If you have hiked, biked, skied or snowboarded on Bald Mountain, particularly on the River Run side in and around the Frenchmen’s runs, you may have noticed some unhealthy looking trees. The culprits? Douglas-fir beetles (the population exacerbated by wildfires in the region over the past decade or so) and parasitic dwarf mistletoe.
In a newly announced measure, Sun Valley with the Ketchum Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service is undertaking measures to manage certain forest stands on the mountain. A large-scale tree-thinning project was started in June and will continue for a few years. The aim is to reduce insect and disease infestation, improve forest health and growing conditions, enhance tree species diversity and reduce fuel loading from dead and dying trees.
Expect more of this after tree-thinning measures are put into place on Baldy. You can practically taste the powder!
An intended consequence of this work will also benefit recreationalists on Baldy. In addition to creating healthier and more fire-safe forests, the work will carve out new glade skiing. By next winter, you will be able to dip into large gladed areas, find amazing pockets of powder and enjoy new terrain consisting of open grown park-like stand conditions. Sounds pretty glorious on a hot summer’s day, doesn’t it?
The Sawtooth National Forest, USDA Forest Service and USDI Bureau of Land Management have authority over the 3,332 acre playground we call the Bald Mountain Ski Area. All entities are involved with Sun Valley Company in making this a successful endeavor.
The new efforts on Bald Mountain will improve the forest's health and enhance the experience for summer and winter recreational users
Sun Valley’s tip-top mountain operations staff will complete the work. This involves employing, for the first time, a track hoe with a special blade. This “masticator” blade meets the challenges of Baldy’s steep slopes and can quickly bring down trees with a 14-inch diameter or less, turning trees into compost where they lie. Kerry O’Brien, grooming trail crew manager for Baldy for 30 years, is operating the special blade and is on the search for the healthiest looking trees to preserve while taking out the dead wood.
All work will be done under the standard of Best Management Practices, reducing impacts to soil, wildlife and healthy vegetation and will affect 182 acres of timbered stands over a three to five year period.
By summer’s end, work on about 25 acres in Frenchmen’s will be complete.
Picture yourself here, enjoying new gladed terrain on Baldy next winter
With this concerted effort, Baldy will stay a verdant green in summer and boast a healthier tree population year-round. There will also be a little more white to play in during the winter. It’s a win-win!
Last week, I traveled to Houston and home again, taking advantage of the brand-new nonstop United Express service connecting Sun Valley and the major hub of Denver. What a pleasure it was! We flew out on the morning flight that departs Sun Valley at 7:30 a.m., arriving in Denver at 9:11 a.m. Check-in and security were a breeze despite the fact that two other nonstop jets to great connecting cities (Delta to Salt Lake City and United Express to San Francisco) also go out in the morning.
Getting to Sun Valley via Denver on United is a great new option for travelers
The planes are large and fast and comfortable with the leg to Denver taking no time at all. The return to Sun Valley, that leaves Denver at 6:52 p.m. and arrives back at Friedman Memorial Airport at 8:40 p.m. is just as convenient. After you land, it’s a quick 20-minute ride to the Sun Valley area. After a good night’s sleep, our vast playground awaits!
The trip south offered easy connections, good flight schedules and competitive rates. My friend who has traveled to Houston a lot and tried many different connections, said this is by far the easiest and most convenient. I imagine that is true for other flights that can connect through Denver from all over the country and the world.
The new nonstop jet service is comfortable, convenient and quick
Though I live here and this new flight offers me limitless connections to move around the country and the world, it also makes getting to Sun Valley easier than ever. I flew to Sun Valley for 25 years from the east coast before moving here and well remember the days before direct service from Denver. Let’s just say back in the proverbial day there were a lot of stops and serious time in rental cars!
With flights to Sun Valley now originating in Salt Lake City, Seattle (Alaska Air), San Francisco, Los Angeles (Alaska Air) and Denver, the number of ways to quickly and easily arrive in paradise have increased dramatically.
More great news on the travel front was announced Monday as the Fly Sun Valley Alliance confirmed that the great nonstop service we are so enjoying this summer, will again be offered during ski season. When the snow flies, flights from Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake and Seattle will begin in December and run through March for the 2014-15 snow season, getting you from home to Sun Valley’s storied slopes more easily than ever.
You'll be here ...
... and here before you know it!
Alaska Airlines will connect Seattle and Sun Valley and Los Angeles and Sun Valley from December 18 to March 29. United Express will provide service between San Francisco and Sun Valley from December 18 to March 29 as well, and Denver to Sun Valley daily from December 18 to January 5 then Saturdays from January 10 to February 7 and Wednesdays and Saturdays from February 11 to March 28. Delta flies to Sun Valley every day year round from Salt Lake City with three flights daily during peak winter periods and two flights daily otherwise. Start thinking snow!
“We worked closely with the airlines and our partners to add the right mix of seat capacity and schedules to match the variable demand periods, with strong capacity during the holidays, February and March, and a bit less in January and April,” said Carol Waller, Director of Fly Sun Valley Alliance. “There will also be a significantly expanded marketing program to ensure we have a successful winter season and fill all these flights coming into Sun Valley.”
No matter if you’re coming from Houston or anywhere else that flies to Denver (or San Francisco or Los Angeles or Seattle or Salt Lake City for that matter), make the connection and book Sun Valley as your final destination. You’ll be really happy you did!
The 2013-14 ski and snowboard season didn’t exactly go out quietly. On Sunday, hundreds of merrymakers donned their most creative costumes and got after the last turns of the year before the lifts ferried the final passengers to Lookout Restaurant at 3:45 p.m. The sun was bright, the air was warm and snow conditions were great — the perfect ending to a terrific Sun Valley season.
If you didn’t make it up Bald Mountain yourself (or at least to the patio at Warm Springs Lodge), enjoy this sampling of photos, capturing the spirit of the day!
The top of Baldy was one big open-air party as the 2013-14 season wound to a close
Young and older came out to enjoy the gorgeous sunshine and big small-town spirit
Skiing and snowboarding were only part of the fun on Sunday
Local ski legend Zach Crist spends some quality time with friends
Two athletes who probably skied every day of the season -- local philanthropist Kipp Nelson, and friend
Thanks to all for making it one fabulous season!
Part of the great Sun Valley team that made it happen all winter long: Tony Parkhill, Matt Baxandall and Peter Stearns
Gorillas somehow weren't out of place at the base of the run (photo courtesy Susie Ring)
The season definitely ended on a high note
The party on the Warm Springs patio didn't end when the lifts stopped running. Thanks to all for an amazing season!
Thanks to Sun Valley’s Nick Maricich for sharing these photos.
The action at the Western Region Spring Series is non-stop this weekend with elite ski racers making the most of spring break Sun Valley style.
Gentlemen, and ladies, start your engines!
According to Nick Maricich, director of Sun Valley SnowSports, “the racing on Warm Springs, Hemingway and Cozy has been amazing. It is great to have the majority of the U.S. men’s Olympic speed team on our slopes as well as all the other tremendous athletes.”
Great form isn't in short supply on the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain
“Athletes and officials from around the world have given the green light to the 2016 US Nationals in Sun Valley, saying ‘this is one of the best race hills in the world.’ They can’t wait to come back,” said Maricich.
Come out and cheer on the skiers
Here are some scenes from the excitement on the hill this week.
Conditions are great and the skiing is fast
Camaraderie is a big part of this event
Local racer Olympian Hailey Duke is skiing great and looks like she is having fun, too
For many college students, spring break means kicking back on a slope or on a beach and escaping from the rigors of the academic year for two blissful, relaxing weeks. But for a group of elite alpine racers, nothing could be better than spring break in Sun Valley, competing in the 2014 Western Region Spring Series.
Elite racers show how it's done this week on Baldy's Warm Springs runs
This week, Sun Valley welcomed skiers to the six-day, six-race series presented by Bentley Motors. Recent Olympians, members of the U.S. Ski Team, top college racers and members of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) team all got to the starting gate to compete in Super G, slalom and giant slalom all over the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain.
81 men and 54 women are expected to go head-to-head in this SVSEF-hosted International Ski Federation (FIS) competition. It is one of the last chances of the season for skiers to prove their merit and to shave points to advance in the field.
Ruben Macaya, head alpine coach of the SVSEF, said in an interview, “We should have what I would call World Cup conditions – hard, fast – it should be a smooth surface for everyone. The snow density is optimal right now and there is so much moisture in it that it makes for a great surface.”
What better way to spend spring break than racing down beautiful Bald Mountain?
Racing began on Wednesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, the action focused on men’s and women’s super G on Warm Springs. Friday and Saturday, women’s slalom on Cozy and men’s giant slalom on Hemingway. Sunday and Monday the main events are women’s giant slalom on Hemingway and men’s slalom on Cozy.
Spectators are invited to watch all the speed and splendor these athletes bring to the course. According to Mike Lloyd of Sun Valley Ski Patrol, the best viewing for Super G will be at the bottom of the Limelight run. Make your way to Greyhawk to catch giant slalom and for slalom, there is a ribbon line set up on Cozy for fans. Each race will also be announced and broadcast live on the Warm Springs Plaza.
Some of the marquis names expected to compete include 2014 Olympic super G silver medalist Andrew Weibrecht and teammates David Chodounsky, Erik Fisher, Travis Ganong, Jared Goldberg, Steve Nyman, Marco Sullivan and Resi Stiegler.
Come cheer on the skiers this weekend and pick up some pointers
Sun Valley Resort is throwing a post-race party on Saturday, March 29, at the Warm Springs Plaza to celebrate the athletes and their accomplishments. Live music starts at 2:30 p.m. followed by an awards ceremony at 4 p.m. Post-race awards will also be staged on Monday, March 31, 2:30 p.m., again at Warm Springs Plaza.
Best of luck to all the racers! Thanks for bringing your skills and commitment to Sun Valley’s slopes this spring break.
Come down to the Base of Warm Springs on March 29th, and on Sunday, March 30 the Base of River Run to try out all 2014/2015 skis and boots before you buy them! Products from Blizzard, Burton, Dalbello, Fischer, Head, Lange, Salomon, Stockli, Tecnica, and Volkl. All product testing will be free!! All 2014/2015 equipment available for pre-ordering. Save up to 20% on next year’s equipment by special ordering now! For any questions, please call Pete Lane’s rental department at 208-622-6123.
“We’re excited to host the Rev Tour for the second consecutive year and watch this sport’s promising young athletes perform at this world-class venue,” said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley Resort Director of Marketing. Dollar Mountain’s Olympic-size halfpipe and Olympic-size jumps with more than 73 terrain features gave the athletes a lot to play on.
Athletes flew on Dollar's Terrain Park (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)
Some of the country's up-and-coming snowsports athletes brought style and skills to Sun Valley this week (photo Cody Haskell)
Tuesday was devoted to halfpipe skiing and Wednesday to slopestyle skiing. Sun Valley native Ben Verge, coach of the US Freeskiing Team that just earned two gold medals at the Sochi Olympics, was among the spectators on Dollar scouting new and up-and-coming talent. Who knows which of the athletes soaring around Dollar this week might next represent Team USA. Thursday was all about halfpipe snowboarding and the Tour concluded Friday with slopestyle snowboarding.
Sun Valley is the birthplace of freeskiing, with early pioneers like Bobbie Burns and Penelope Street, using every available seam, dip, contour and cat track to redefine the sport. From the 1970s on, skiers and snowboarders continued to evolve freestyle in Sun Valley. The competitors at the Rev Tour are taking the sport to the next level, though, setting the bar, literally, higher and higher.
Sun Valley's 73 terrain features and 22-foot superpipe provided plenty of opportunities to play (photo Cody Haskell)
According to the U.S. Snowboarding website, “The U.S. Revolution Tour has proved to be a progressive venue for today’s top junior riders to take the competitive stage in halfpipe, slopestyle, and snowboardcross. The tour is designed to serve as a stepping-stone for athletes making the transition from competing at the grassroots level to the elite level. The series pre-qualifies a portion of its field and then opens registration to any athlete, but is focused towards riders 13-19 years old. Top winners may earn an invite to be part of the U.S. Grand Prix, Junior Worlds, the U.S. Open, USASA Nationals, and participate in Project Gold camps.”
Congratulations to all the athletes and these podium winners. Pictured are snowboard halfpipe champions, Maddie Mastro, Hailey Langland and Kirby Kelly (photo U.S. Revolution Tour)
It is amazing to see these up-and-coming athletes on our slopes. Congratulations to all of them and thank you for coming to Sun Valley to share your skills and some major amplitude.
At just before 10 on the morning of March 1, hundreds of athletes gathered around their coaches, listening intently to last-minute advice. Tips were given about practice runs, snow conditions and finishing strong. Then the Special Olympians, participating in alpine skiing and snowboarding at the Idaho State Games, lined up and hopped aboard the Quarter Dollar chairlift, ready to compete and have a great time.
Saturday morning, athletes competing in the Special Olympics Idaho State Games, listened for last minute instructions from coaches before hitting the slopes on Dollar
This program, run in conjunction with Higher Ground and Sun Valley Resort, helps provide athletes will everything they need to have a great, successful day on the slopes: from gratis lift passes to free rental equipment and instruction. Many volunteers and professionals help make this training possible and the fruit of everyone’s labor was on display this weekend.
One skier shows great form in a practice run Saturday morning
Jeff Rust of Ketchum, Games Director and Higher Ground board member said, “the Special Olympics Idaho State Games are always very memorable, but this year having them in Sun Valley really set the bar. The Wood River Valley rallied around the athletes and made it a very welcoming experience.” He continued, “thanks to Higher Ground, Sun Valley Company, Wood River High School and our Local Girl Scouts, we were able to produce one of the most successful games to date. As always, the Victory Dance was the highlight of the games, but the addition of the Law Enforcement Torch Parade and amazing Opening/Closing Ceremonies, directed by Kat Vanden Heuvel, really added to the overall sentiment.”
Volunteer Tracey Caraluzzi gets ready to cheer on the athletes
Saturday marked the second time this season that Special Olympians competed on Sun Valley’s slopes. In February, the Resort also hosted the Eastern Regional Winter Games. Volunteer Tracey Caraluzzi was at both games and her daughter, Isabelle, was one of the students working with the athletes all winter and helping on the course on Saturday. “It’s such a great day,” Tracey enthused as she lined up slopeside to clang her cowbell as racers queued up at the start. “You see so many familiar faces, both athletes and families, and there is so much joy.”
Some of the hardware earned by skiers and snowboarders -- but everyone was a champion on Saturday
Judging from loud ringing of cowbells among fans stretched up and down Quarter Dollar and Poverty Flats and the ubiquitous smiles on the faces of athletes, coaches and supporters, the Special Olympic Idaho State Games were a huge success for everyone.
Athletes took a moment to pause during the Torch Run as it passed through Sun Valley's Community School (photo Community School)
There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington took a well deserved seat Saturday and waited for the celebration to begin
It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of people came out on Saturday to cheer for Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington. Everyone turned out to welcome home the Snowboard Halfpipe champion and to let her know just how proud of our hometown girl we all are.
On a late winter’s afternoon, the band Freeway Revival played while the enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a tasty barbecue and drink specials provided by Sun Valley on the patio outside Warm Springs Lodge. At 4 p.m., it was showtime as well-wishers, packed tight from the Lodge, across the bridge, and onto the lower slopes of Lower Warm Springs, turned their eyes toward the mountain for the colorful downhill parade that announced Kaitlyn was coming
The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and upbeat while waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl
The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders on Lower Warm Springs, leading the way for Kaitlyn who rode down last amid deafening cheers
Kaitlyn hopped onto the stage and surveying the scene (and it was a scene) commented, “Holy cow! I can’t believe the crowd that is here today!” Jody replied, “You earned this crowd,” and from there the celebration began in earnest.
Setting the tone for the procession of luminaries who came to honor Kaitlyn, Idaho state Senator Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), took to the stage to read a proclamation in her honor from the Office of Governor Butch Otter. The proclamation concluded, “Kaitlyn has achieved her goals with inspiring success. She has been an ambassador for Idaho and taught the world how to cowgirl up.”
Next, Ketchum mayor Nina Jonas said, “Kaitlyn embodies everything we hope and believe and try to be,” and jokingly offered her a necklace in trade for the impressive gold disc that hung around Kaitlyn’s neck.
Chris Koch, mayor Bellevue, Kaitlyn’s hometown in the Wood River Valley, renamed a portion of the bike path in her honor.
1998 Olympian snowboarder Barrett Christy, a friend and mentor to Kaitlyn, put the accomplishment in perspective. “The sport has progressed so much in the past five years with the level of women in snowboarding growing tremendously. Kaitlyn is responsible for that,” she said and continued, “You can’t learn attitude from a coach and that is what Kaitlyn has that sets her apart from the rest. That and her amazing style. That can’t be taught. It’s who she is.”
Kaitlyn was carried through the crowd by members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol
SVSEF snowboard coach Andy Gilbert kept the accolades coming. “Kaitlyn is a true original and always has been,” he enthused. “She has always been willing to work hard. In fact, her work ethic is second to none.” He, too, gave a nod to Kaitlyn’s style, calling her an “innovative rider” and simply saying how very, very proud he is of her.
During the few days Kaitlyn had at home (she left Sunday for her next competition), she made time to ride with local children, giving them the thrill of a lifetime. As Jody Zarkos said, “Kaitlyn’s ability to take obstacles and turn them into stepping stones,” truly inspired up-and-coming riders.Rob Clayton, executive director of the SVSEF, agreed that what Kaitlyn teaches by example is invaluable. Calling her the “gem of the Gem State,” Rob said, “We tell our kids, ‘see that necklace that is hanging around her neck? You can have it around your neck, too, and in the same color if you work really, really hard like Kaitlyn did.’”
Everyone showed their appreciation for Kaitlyn with gifts that included a necklace in the shape of the state of Idaho from Jonas, an engraved golf putter and lessons (evidently she’s working on her game) from Koch and a standup paddle board for the off-season from Clayton.
But the biggest gift and a highlight of the ceremony came when Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva took to the microphone. After reading a heartfelt letter of congratulations to Kaitlyn from Sun Valley Resort owner Carol Holding, he and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns upped the ante. From Sun Valley, Kaitlyn was awarded a lifetime season’s pass and was presented with a huge rectangular gift wrapped in gold paper. Inside? A new sign reading “Kaitlyn’s Bowl.” The golden girls’ name will now grace the Bowl on Baldy formerly known as Farout Bowl.
Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns present Kaitlyn with the new trail sign that changes Farout Bowl on Baldy to Kaitlyn's Bowl
Finally, Kaitlyn returned to the podium simply to thank her hometown supporters. “It is my pleasure to be up here today and I am so thankful for it all,” she said. “Thank you for believing in me and thank you for helping me get to the Olympics. I want to share it all with you and share this gold medal with you.”
The crowd went wild.
Kaitlyn, preparing to be celebrated by luminaries, smiles at some of her biggest fans -- the children who she inspires
The celebration continued well into the evening with a street party, more live music, great food and the raffling off of a new GNU snowboard autographed by Kaitlyn.
A great time was had by all.
Congratulations, Kaitlyn. Thank you for letting us share your moment in the sun.
A member of NBS shows how it's done (Tal Roberts Photography)
The National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) arrived in Sun Valley earlier this week and club members are taking the mountain, and the town, by storm! For the hundreds of participants here from every corner of the country, this year’s NBS Mini Summit is a gathering of friends old and new, an opportunity to enjoy Bald Mountain’s radical, and not so radical, runs, and one big party.
Tuesday, for instance, saw Adventure Races on Baldy. Something like a scavenger hunt for grown ups, these races, that were sponsored by REI, had skiers and riders exploring the hill in a madcap manner. Later that day, the famous NBS extended themed, happy hour du jour was titled, “50 Shades of Black.” Wednesday, brought Mardi Gras to Sun Valley one week early when beads, umbrellas and Fat Tuesday festivity turned River Run Lodge into a small corner of New Orleans.
Earlier that day, NBS members enjoyed a delicious barbecue on the patio at River Run Lodge overlooking the Big Wood River. The sun was bright, the sky blue and the lunch was made even more special with an appearance from Kaitlyn Farrington, the Wood River Valley native who just won the Gold Medal in the Sochi Olympics in snowboard Halfpipe. Kaitlyn chatted with NBS participants, enjoyed lunch al fresco, posed for photos and soaked it all in.
Olympic gold medalist and local golden girl Kaitlyn Farrington, joined NBS participants at lunch and posed for lots of photos with fans
NBS was founded in 1973 by Art Clay and Ben Finley who were determined to create a national Black Ski Summit. During an interview Wednesday at the base of Baldy, Clay remembered the club’s beginnings. “Back then very few African Americans could really ski,” he said, “Very few of us had ever been to a real ski resort.” According to the organization’s website, Clay and Finley, “moved forward with a proposal to bring together 13 black ski clubs for an event which was called ‘A Happening’, but was later changed to ‘Black Summit’. The purpose was ‘to identify and discuss problems and subjects which were unique to the black skiing population, ski and socialize,’” according to Finley.
Members of the elite Team NBS took to Baldy's slopes this week (Tal Roberts Photography)
Today, according to Clay, “the NBS has thousands of participants and continues to grow. We also offer a scholarship program to help kids who would never have a chance to ski get on the slopes and to support the hopes and dreams of our elite athletes.” Members of NBS have competed in the Paralympics and Olympics. The organization now includes 60 clubs representing 43 cities and a membership of 3,000. It is one of the largest ski organizations in the country and its Summit conventions bring together the largest gathering of skiers and riders in the United States.
This visit marks the NBS’ fourth trip to Sun Valley. The first was in 1975 for the Black Ski Summit. Members came back in 1998 for the club’s 25th anniversary. NBS returned again to enjoy the area’s blue skies and great conditions in 2012. They couldn’t wait to come back this winter. “The hospitality here is amazing,” club president Diana C. Starks enthused. “Everyone makes us feel so welcome. The skiing is also great. We have members who are at every level, beginners to experts, and Sun Valley makes it fun and challenging for everyone. Our novice skiers and riders take some lessons with the Sun Valley SnowSports School and then often go out afterwards to practice with friends or other members of the group who may be more experienced.”
Even after 40 years, NBS founder Art Clay (shown here during an interview at River Run Lodge) never tires of seeing new friends and old
This camaraderie is what Clay said he values most, after 40 years of events. “My favorite thing about NBS happening on an annual basis is that I get to see folks I haven’t seen for maybe a year, or maybe for 40 years,” he said. Every meeting brings together old members and new and creates memories that last a lifetime.
The group has ample opportunity for members to spend time together. Skiing and riding during the day turns into themed extended happy hours in the afternoon and parties and dinners into the evening. Starks said these themed events allow different clubs from around the country to host their friends and to contribute to the festivities. “We love our themed events,” she laughed. Ketchum and Sun Valley have also rolled out the welcome mat to the NBS with Shop Around opportunities at local stores and many chances to sample the best of our valley.
It's been a terrific week to enjoy everything that makes Sun Valley special
Sun Valley is thrilled to have the NBS back and thanks all its members for bringing their skills and enthusiasm to our slopes. Please come back again soon!