Hailey Duke Inspires

Olympic alpine racer Hailey Duke isn’t hard to pick out from the crowd leaving Warm Springs after a great day spent on the slopes. Most recreational skiers don’t look this comfortable with a pair of racing skis slung over each shoulder. She also carries a huge backpack and juggles the rest of the equipment she needs to train for what will be some of the most important six weeks of her life. And that doesn’t even take into account the Team USA race suit she is wearing beneath her jacket; the same one she wore in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, except now the cuffs are a bit frayed and are rolled up to her knees. She has a second one she races in.

Alpine Olympic racer Hailey Duke is all smiles at the base of Warm Springs following a morning of training

Alpine Olympic racer Hailey Duke is all smiles at the base of Warm Springs following a morning of training

Duke is beaming as she comes off the hill, thrilled to be back in Sun Valley, thrilled to be training on Baldy. Her bright blue eyes sparkle with delight as this native daughter (she was born in Sun Valley and lived here until she was five) explains how happy she is to be home. “My parents were both Sun Valley Ski Instructors when I was little,” she said, “I learned to ski on Dollar. This winter, I had to figure out where my support system was, where I could train most effectively and be most comfortable. Sun Valley is it. Baldy is an awesome hill. It provides everything I am looking for at the top level – the best surface, great courses. It just doesn’t get much better than this.”

Effective training is critical to the 28-year-old at this juncture in her racing career as she is taking a run at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games that begin in less than 40 days in Russia. She explains, for slalom skiers, the meat of the season starts now and she plans on soon traveling to Utah and then on to Europe to try to secure one of four women’s spots for slalom racers on Team USA. Making this happen as an independent athlete requires raw determination, outstanding organization and laser-like focus. Thankfully Hailey possesses all these traits.

Duke makes running slalom look easy (photo haileyduke.com)

Duke makes running slalom look easy (photo haileyduke.com)

Part of her motivation stems from now feeling strong, fast and healthy following brain surgery last February. Yes, brain surgery. After years of fighting overwhelming fatigue, Hailey was finally diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was attached to her pituitary gland. A successful surgery left Hailey feeling much better quickly and by spring, she was back on her skis, pursuing her Olympic dreams. Due to her health concerns and subsequent declining results, she was cut as a member of the U.S. Ski Team and suddenly needed to learn to negotiate the tricky world of competing as an independent athlete. That means not only training at an elite level, but fundraising, securing sponsorship, planning complex itineraries and literally chasing the dream.

Since the surgery, Hailey says she feels great – invigorated, energetic and ready to take on everything that this next chapter entails. She is also slightly amazed that she was able to accomplish everything she did – great World Cup finishes and a spot on Team USA in 2010 – while the tumor unknowingly grew. Just imagine what she is capable of totally healthy and healed.

Following successful surgery for a brain tumor, Hailey is focused on the road to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in February

Following successful surgery for a brain tumor, Hailey is focused on the road to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in February (photo haileyduke.com)

Hailey is ready to see just what she is capable of and to that end, spent the morning with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold and FIS teams running slalom gates on Lower Warm Springs. She is living with coach Erika Hogan who she knew from her younger years in Sun Valley. “I’m living a few blocks from where I was born,” Hailey said. “I love the healthy vibe here. I love the people. It’s the best place to home base during this critical time for me.”

For the SVSEF athletes running gates alongside Hailey, having an Olympian among them is also incredibly inspiring. “I tell the younger kids that we are all skiing the same course,” she said. The FIS racers are those 16 and older who have qualified by criteria or been invited by the coaches to ski at the FIS (international) racing level. “It’s not that far away from where they are to where I am. We are working on the same things,” Hailey said.

Hailey will be training on Baldy 2 -3 hours each day before she leaves for her upcoming races that include two Europa Cups. To get to Sochi, she will need to podium in at least one Europa Cup race, get to the final World Cup race before the Olympics and from there, hopefully, it’s on to Russia.

“I really don’t believe you’re only as good as your last race,” she smiled. “I bring depth and experience to the sport and plan to work as hard as I can to represent America in Sochi.”

Duke is chasing the dream from the back of her truck filled with all her dreams and all her goals

Duke is chasing the dream from the back of her truck filled with all her dreams, goals and equipment

To support Hailey in her quest for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and to follow her progress, please log onto haileyduke.com or follow her on social media. If you see a smiling woman with a frayed Olympic race suit encouraging local athletes before dropping into the course herself, be sure to say hello and give her your best wishes. Hailey Duke is an excellent ambassador for alpine racing and for Sun Valley and is sure to inspire the New Year’s resolutions to anyone with snow sports dreams.

Hailey Duke’s spirit, grit and optimism are a great example to us all.

–RES

Build Skills, Catch Air

Skiers and snowboarders spent a beautiful Sun Valley weekend trying out Dollar's newest skill-building terrain park

Skiers and snowboarders spent a beautiful Sun Valley weekend trying out Dollar's newest skill-building terrain park

“Dropping in!” This delighted cry rang out time and again on Dollar Mountain’s new skill-building terrain park that officially opened for the season on Sunday. Designed for beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders, the new features, located skiers’ right on Quarter Dollar, is not only big fun, it enhances the learning curve exponentially.

Children's SnowSports Director Shannon Price thinks this park is fantastic for both fun and learning new skills (and, yes, she is always this happy!)

Children's SnowSports Director Shannon Price thinks this park is fantastic for both fun and learning new skills (and, yes, she is always this happy!)

According to Shannon Price, Director of the Sun Valley Children’s SnowSports program, this progression park is a wonderful addition to Dollar. Kids will automatically be drawn to it and they will have so much fun they won’t even know they’re learning! For those with big dreams of big air, this is the perfect place to start.

The park is built with “soft” features, including rollers, a mini Halfpipe and a family cross course. There are no “hard” features like rails. And everything is designed with young athletes in mind.

“The gentle pipe actually improves children’s skills and form,” explained Shannon. “The layout lets a child who is snowplowing to drop in, and by using the curvature of the pipe, their skis automatically become more parallel. It’s amazing how quickly beginning skiers improve when they use this feature.”

The mini-pipe help skiers get parallel and is good practice for everyone

The mini-pipe help skiers get parallel and is good practice for everyone

The park is open to everyone on Dollar and on a stunning Sunday morning it was getting a lot of use. SnowSports School children’s group lessons explored every foot of the available terrain, yelping with delight the entire way down. Parents and children took to the mini-pipe together and laughed over the rollers on the way back to Quarter Dollar lift.

Skills built on this gentle park will transfer easily to Dollar’s more challenging features that were also getting quite a work out this weekend. Visitors, recreational skiers and snowboarders and members of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation freestyle team flew, jumped, flipped and spun over jumps, jibs and boxes, having the time of their lives.

Local athletes train on jumps on Dollar Sunday, showing how it is done

Local athletes train on jumps on Dollar Sunday, showing how it is done

No matter if you are an absolute terrain park beginner, have a child who has dreams of back flips or cross course racing or just want to try something new, the new terrain park at Dollar has your name on it. Be sure to head to the mountain during your Sun Valley holiday vacation and take a run, or three or four. Make a day of it by enjoying a fabulous lunch at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.

If you think your child will want to spend the entire day – or week – trying out everything Dollar offers, book a group or private lesson at the SnowSports School by calling (888) 490-5950 or click HERE. The highly trained, amazingly enthusiastic instructors are sure to make your child’s experience one to remember!

Getting ready to drop into the park!

Getting ready to drop into the park!

Christmas is here and we wish you and yours a spectacular holiday in Sun Valley! Don’t forget the Nutcracker on Ice this evening followed by the Torchlight Parade and fireworks. Then after Santa visits in the morning, be sure to get out onto Baldy and Dollar and don’t miss this wonderful new place to play.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

–RES

The Jolly Holiday Season Begins

Santa listened earnestly to many children's wishes during the Winter Wonderland Festival

Santa listened earnestly to many children's wishes during the Winter Wonderland Festival

Things were jolly, indeed, this weekend in Sun Valley. Families flocked to the Village to enjoy the second annual Winter Wonderland Festival. Children raced around with scavenger hunt cards looking for clues, boarded a colorful train for a ride, carefully (or not) decorated gingerbread cookies with gobs of frosting and whispered in Santa’s ear.

Train rides around the Sun Valley Village were popular among the younger set

Train rides around the Sun Valley Village were popular among the younger set

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded the group gathered outside the Boiler Room and Sun Valley provided delicious food and warm drinks to keep the merriment going. By all accounts, it was a lovely, festive way to spend the afternoon.

Peter and Chloe enjoyed gingerbread man decorating in the Boiler Room

Peter and Chloe enjoyed gingerbread man decorating in the Boiler Room

Then, on Sunday, the elegant Lodge Dining Room opened for its bountiful champagne brunch. Newly configured this year, the Brunch offered its signature abundance of fresh, delicious food to suit everyone’s palate at numerous stations. From bowls of crab legs and shrimp, to made-to-order omelets and crepes; from Eggs Benedict to salads and fruit, it was hard to maintain discipline at this all-you-can-eat occasion! And that doesn’t even begin to cover the dessert table and the flowing champagne! Live guitar music offered a soothing soundtrack beneath lively conversations. This special meal will be offered on Sundays all season long and is something everyone who visits Sun Valley should experience.

Dessert, glorious dessert!

At champagne brunch, it's dessert, glorious dessert!

A crepe station is always popular at brunch

The crepe station is always a popular option

On the mountains, Baldy and Dollar hosted happy skiers and boarders all weekend long. Dollar is now open daily for the season, providing top-to-bottom runs as well as many fun and challenging terrain features. On Baldy, runs on Seattle Ridge also opened on Saturday. Skiing and boarding are now available on all over the vast mountain, offering great possibilities for a full day on the snow. Roundhouse Restaurant, Seattle Ridge Lodge, Warm Springs Lodge, River Run Lodge and Lookout are all providing tasty treats of all varieties to keep your energy high for just one more run.

Baldy's Seattle Ridge is open for the season!

Baldy's Seattle Ridge is open for the season!

But the fun is only beginning. A special breakfast with Santa takes place on December 21 and 22 at the Lodge Dining Room. Also on the 21st, be sure to come to the Sun Valley Village at 5 p.m. for the Tree Lighting Ceremony outside the Inn. Carolers, Santa and ice carving demonstrations will ring in the season.

There is nothing like Christmas Eve in Sun Valley with the Nutcracker on Ice, Torchlight Parade and fireworks

There is nothing like Christmas Eve in Sun Valley with the Nutcracker on Ice, Torchlight Parade and fireworks

On December 22, be sure not to miss the sixth annual Classic Christmas Concert at the Sun Valley Opera House. The tradition is enriched this year with several popular local acts including the Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus and special guest Joe Fos. Carolers and dancers from the Footlight Dance Centre will also perform. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 at the Sun Valley Recreation Center or online.

Everything leads up to Christmas Eve festivities, including the popular Nutcracker on Ice at the outdoor rink, followed by Sun Valley’s traditional torchlight parade and fireworks.

Please join us to celebrate the happiest of holidays!

–RES

Sun Valley Welcomes San Francisco

The entire Wood River Valley is delighted to have daily air service between Sun Valley and San Francisco this season

The entire Wood River Valley is delighted to have daily air service between Sun Valley and San Francisco this season

At precisely 1:22 p.m., the first United Airlines direct flight between San Francisco and Sun Valley landed under bluebird Idaho skies amid much hoopla. Emissaries from the Sun Valley Resort, local government officials and oodles of well-wishers gathered in the lobby of Friedman Memorial Airport to greet the inaugural flight. Rosé champagne flowed, cake was cut and there were smiles all around.

The large crowd in the terminal cheered as the regional jet touched down

The large crowd in the terminal cheered as the regional jet touched down

On the tarmac, 52 passengers de-planed amid cheers, flashbulbs and a very warm welcome. Travelers got in the spirit, waving as they walked down the stairs and embracing the rock-star reception. To celebrate, passengers were given gift bags full of goodies donated by local businesses and waiting for baggage was a delight as arriving visitors were serenaded by music from Wood River High School choir.

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded arriving passengers

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded arriving passengers

Sun Valley Resort Company Manager Tim Silva, Pam Snow from SkyWest Airlines, Jameson Ano from United Express, Ron Fairfax, chairman of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and Eric Seder, president of the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance, marked the occasion by cutting a huge red ribbon once the wheels were down.

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) was one big party celebrating the new flight

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) was one big party celebrating the new flight. Sun Valley Resort General Manager Tim Silva (in yellow) helped cut the ribbon and welcome visitors

On December 12, Sun Valley Company issued the statement: “[It] a new era in air service into Sun Valley … This marks the first new airline carrier into Sun Valley in the past 20 years and is the first ever jet service serving the Resort.”

Trip Nabors of Ketchum was among the throng, awaiting the arrival of a friend on this inaugural flight. He praised the new ease of travel between the two cities, noting that the additional service allowed a good friend to easily get to Sun Valley to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

For locals, the arrival of the United Express 66-seat CRJ 700 jet, was also exciting. Lisa Marie Allen and Peter Hendricks of Sun Valley toasted incoming passengers as they themselves prepared to hop on the first returning flight to San Francisco to enjoy a long weekend getaway to the City by the Bay. Upon arrival in the Bay Area, Lisa Marie sent the following message: “The flight was fabulous! The champagne continued to flow. Cheers!”

Locals, former Olympic figure skater Lisa Marie Allen and husband Peter Hendricks, newly elected Sun Valley city councilman, enjoyed the festivities before hopping on the first return flight to San Francisco

Locals, former Olympic figure skater Lisa Marie Allen and husband Peter Hendricks, newly elected Sun Valley city councilman, enjoyed the festivities before hopping on the first return flight to San Francisco

Locals were also excited about a special 10 percent off discount being offered on this flight by the Fly Sun Valley Alliance. Please click HERE for the details.

This flight will operate daily through March 30 for the 2013-2014 winter season, and resume July 2 through September 23 for the summer.

With Sun Valley this week being named as one of the Top 10 U.S. destinations by Lonely Planet on its annual list, it’s no wonder San Franciscans flocked to the area on this first flight. After all, there truly is no place like Sun Valley.

Welcome San Francisco! We are happy you are here!

–RES

Meal with a View

Roundhouse Restaurant, nestled beneath Rock Garden run (or just off Roundhouse Lane if you prefer a gentler entry) about two-thirds of the way up Bald Mountain, is one of the gems that makes Sun Valley, Sun Valley. Rustic, charming and traditional, but with a modern flair, this one-of-a-kind restaurant features roaring fires, a cozy atmosphere and drop-dead views of Ketchum, the Pioneer Mountains and beyond.

Roundhouse welcomes you to lunch beginning December 12

Roundhouse welcomes you to lunch beginning December 12

Roundhouse will open for the season on December 12, serving lunch seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m (starting December 19th). There is also still space available for a special dinner on Christmas Day. Reservations are required for dinner and are accepted for lunch. Expect starched white linens and crystal at both seatings to compliment a delicious menu that relies on locally-sourced, seasonal fare. But no worries, this is still a ski lodge. Parkas and ski boots are de rigueur at lunchtime and the atmosphere is an only-in-Sun Valley mix of upscale and casual.

Charming and cozy -- a meal at Roundhouse is sure to be memorable

Charming and cozy -- a meal at Roundhouse is sure to be memorable

For the ultimate in après ski, be sure to visit Averell’s Bar on the lower level of Roundhouse. Featuring huge picture windows overlooking Roundhouse Slope and downtown Ketchum, there is no more beautiful way to end a day on the snow. But Averell’s is more than a glass of wine or a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. Every day, revelers are invited to enjoy Roundhouse’s famous fondue, accompanied with baguettes, red potatoes and granny smith apples. Additional “add-ons” are available for dunking in the sublime fondue, including spicy sausage, grilled steak, shrimp, wild mushrooms and roasted winter vegetables. Handmade Bavarian pretzels served with spicy mustard, cheddar spread, honey mustard, mesquite chipotle barbecue, olive cream cheese and jalapeno beer cheese are the perfect reward for completing all that vertical on skis or a board. The menu is designed for sharing, so bring your friends and indulge! The gondola will whisk you – and your gear — back to River Run after après ski ends.

Your chariot awaits to or from Roundhouse

Your chariot awaits to or from Roundhouse

Evening meals are served both in the main dining room and Averell’s. Be sure to come a bit earlier than your reservation to enjoy a cocktail at the inviting upstairs bar. And for dinner at Roundhouse, getting there is often half the fun! A ride on the Roundhouse gondola on a winter’s evening can mean a bright moonlit night, or an intimate cocoon of snow on the gondola’s windows. Be sure to wear warm boots, gloves, a hat and coat as the gondola isn’t heated during the approximately 15-minute ride. It is perfectly acceptable to change into party shoes once you reach Roundhouse, too!

Dinner at Roundhouse in winter is peaceful, magical, festive and delicious

Dinner at Roundhouse in winter is peaceful, magical, festive and delicious

Still need a reason to stop by? This season, Roundhouse is hand-crafting signature cocktails, as well as offering an extensive wine list and many boutique brews. New cocktails, appropriately named after ski runs, include: the Graduate (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, bing cherries, diced apples, cinnamon, orange bitters, simple syrup), the International (Hendrick’s Gin, Fever-Free Mediterranean Tonic) or the Sunny Side Organic Lemondrop (Organic Square One Vodka, organic lemon juice, organic agave nectar, organic sugar). Also special for the holidays is a Huckleberry-Pomegranate Cosmo (Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, Patron Citronage, huckleberry puree, organic Agave nectar). Cheers!

For dinner reservations, please call 208-622-2012 or book online through Open Table.

A meal, or drink, just tastes better at 7,700 feet, whether you are wearing your ski boots or high heels. There is no better way to toast the season than from a cozy table at Roundhouse!

–RES

Start your own holiday tradition at Roundhouse this season!

Start your own holiday tradition at Roundhouse this season!

Singular Skis for a Singular Ski Town — and Beyond

Right now, outside my window, it is snowing. By Tuesday of this week, forecasters predict this storm will bring double digit inches of glorious, fluffy, white powder to Sun Valley’s mountains. Hooray! Everyone is now thinking about skiing and snowboarding in earnest.

Snow season is on! Time to make sure your skis are up to the adventure! (photo Will Wissman)

Snow season is on! Time to make sure your skis are up to the adventure! (photo Will Wissman)

There is no ski town like Sun Valley and no mountain like Baldy. With its consistently steep pitch, varied terrain and adrenalin-pumping opportunities for top-to-bottom shots, it is a skier’s mountain like no other. And now a local Ketchum entrepreneur and legendary skier is building, shaping and crafting skis, from scratch, to each client’s exact specifications.

The Ski Shaper at work and ready to teach you how to make your own custom skis (photo Tal Roberts)

The Ski Shaper at work and ready to teach you how to make your own custom skis (photo Tal Roberts)

Meet Caleb Baukol, The Ski Shaper™.

Caleb is the founder of Big Wood Ski ™, a completely custom, handcrafted line currently being made one pair at a time in downtown Ketchum. Caleb, an accomplished back country and big mountain skier, creates custom in a world of mass production, hand-crafted in a business of factories, individualized in an industry of standard and made in America in world of made elsewhere.

And you can learn the fundamentals of making your own skis with The Ski Shaper™ himself at a special workshop being offered Saturday, December 7, through Friday, December 13. This Winter Ski Building Workshop invites you to Big Wood Ski ™ headquarters in Ketchum to learn about base cut out, installing edges, fiberglass preparation, cutting and grinding skis, waxing and much, much more. Participants will produce a prototype ski to take home on Friday and ski the next Saturday. Pick the length and the shape and then personalize the ski through hammer stamping the tip and tail protectors.

Big Wood Ski crafts gorgeous, custom, one-of-a-kind  skis right here in Sun Valley (photo Hillary Mayberry)

Big Wood Ski crafts gorgeous, custom, one-of-a-kind skis right here in Sun Valley (photo Hillary Mayberry)

But it won’t be all work and no play as the workshop kicks off with, what else? Skiing on Bald Mountain! R & D, of course. Participants will also take off the safety goggles and unwind during the workshop with Foosball, ski movies and a party on the 13th to enjoy the finished product with beer, wine and friends. Chances are, some local ski legends will also swing by. It is a quintessential Sun Valley experience!

Why custom skis?

“Ski technology, as we all know, has evolved tremendously in recent years,” Caleb said. “With shaped skis, we learned that skis do not need to be long and skinny to be stable at high speeds. However, most shaped skis available en masse are measured only in length and width underfoot. Instead of working only with traditional measurements in tip-waist-tail, Caleb also adds two other measurements in creating custom skis. This, what he calls “5-D” technology, adds variables in both the tip and tail widths. Because of this, no two pair of Big Wood Skis ™ will be the same. The camber is also fully customized on Caleb’s boards. Terrain preferences play into the equation, as well. Do you want to go backwards? Great! Twin tips it is. Do you prefer powder skiing? Easy! They will put exactly the right width and length board on your feet for your height, weight, ability and take into account discrepancies in strength left to right. Like the finest custom tailored suit, these skis will fit your body like they were made for you. Because they were.

Singular skis for a singular ski town (photo Hillary Mayberry)

Singular skis for a singular ski town (photo Hillary Mayberry)

The workshop will address all these many components. Participants will work with Big Wood Ski’s ™ signature materials — cores formed of bamboo and hardwoods, and outer layers crafted from beautiful hardwoods that are sanded and varnished into skis you may be tempted to hang on the wall and enjoy as a piece of beautiful, one-of-a-kind art. But once you ski on them, the place you will really want to see them, is on your feet, on the snow.

To register for the workshop or for more information, please call 208-481-8013 or email sales@bigwoodski.com. The workshop costs $1500 and skis are included in the price.

Sun Valley Resort is offering a special stay and play package deal to workshop participants. A special early season rate of $81 per person per night double occupancy ($85 for Friday/Saturday) comes with a lift ticket and luxurious accommodations at the Sun Valley Lodge. There is no better way to enjoy the full experience than by staying at the Resort when you are not crafting your envy-inducing skis.

The payoff to being on the right skis -- you will look like this, or at least think you do! (photo Will Wissman)

The payoff to being on the right skis -- you will look like this, or at least think you do! (photo Will Wissman)

No matter if you’re building your own skis, letting The Ski Shaper™ do it for you, or are simply going to break out last year’s model, now is the time to check those edges, apply the right coat of wax and make sure there are no nicks or scratches in the base of your skis or board.  It’s snowing like crazy and it’s time to get out there!

–RES

We are Open!

Dateline: River Run, November 28, 2013, 8:50 a.m. The excitement at the base of River Run was palpable as a large, happy group gathered on the plaza under bright blue skies and a warm sun. Friends reunited, families convened, the sound of buckles and bindings snapping into place competed with the whir of the chair lift’s motor.

Yes, at exactly 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the first lucky foursome hopped onto the River Run #1 lift, hooting and hollering on their inaugural ride up Bald Mountain for the 2013-2014 season. Behind them, every other chair filled quickly, transporting the hundreds of expectant skiers and snowboarders to their first magical turns of the year. Sun Valley’s 78th season was off to a great start.

At 8:50 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, skiers and riders were ready to get their first turns

At 8:50 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, skiers and riders were ready to get their first turns

The first holiday gift of the season from Sun Valley Company opened 11 runs, a Progressive Park, two magic carpets and four-high speed quads on Baldy and Dollar to the anxious snow sports masses. Some early season natural snow, combined with Sun Valley’s world-class, standard-setting snowmaking provided a great corduroy surface for enthusiasts. The smiles and thumbs up from the first skiers and boarders down River Run told the story, as they quickly queued back up for another run. Top-to-bottom vertical lured people to Baldy this year, with Upper College, Lower College, Sunset Strip, 42nd Street, Roundhouse Lane, Roundhouse Slope, Lower Canyon, Mid River Run and Lower River Run available for skiing and riding.

Great snow greeted early morning riders and skiers

Great snow greeted riders and skiers

In the morning, River Run Lodge provided a calm place to coax feet into boots still stiff from the off-season; to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry. At lunchtime, River Run and Lookout atop Baldy were open to provide nourishment and refreshment on Baldy.

Dollar was quieter, but still welcoming skiers to the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar. Snow guns were fired up all over the mountain, readying additional runs and Dollar’s amazing terrain park for operation during the coming holiday season. Dollar will continue daily operation through December 1 and then close until re-opening for the season December 14, so be sure to get over there this weekend to play in early season snow. Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge is open to enjoy a snack or meal and Kindercare is available.

Opening day saw action at Dollar Mountain, too

Opening day saw action at Dollar Mountain, too

Sun Valley is getting the après ski party started with the band Tracorum at River Run on November 28 and 29. Jeff Crosby & The Refugees play on November 30.

Check back to sunvalley.com or call 800-635-4150 for the most current reports on conditions and terrain.

We are all thankful this weekend for our beautiful ski mountains, family, friends, clean air and sunshine. Opening day was an exciting kick-off to what is sure to be the best season ever in Sun Valley! See you on the slopes.

–RES

There's only one word for opening day -- Yahoo!

There's only one word for opening day -- Yahoo!

Training the Next Generation of Champions

The state-of-the-art SVSEF Engl Training Center is now officially open!

The state-of-the-art SVSEF Engl Training Center is now officially open!

A large, enthusiastic crowd arrived at Warm Springs Village at the base of Bald Mountain Friday afternoon to cheer the newly renovated Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Engl Training Center. The Center is for use by the program’s approximately 500 alpine, freestyle, snowboard and cross country athletes. Chilly temperatures did not curb the excitement as SVSEF’s Executive Director, Rob Clayton, appeared on the be-ribboned balcony above the street to declare the training center officially open.

SVSEF Executive Director Rob Clayton was cheered on by an enthusiastic, supportive crowd

SVSEF Executive Director Rob Clayton was cheered on by an enthusiastic, supportive crowd

And Clayton, new to SVSEF this year, did not hesitate to share his grand dreams with supporters. “We want this to be the best snow sports program in the country,” he declared. He sees no reason this isn’t possible. In fact, though the SVSEF has been around since 1966, it continues to evolve, improve and exceed expectations. In 2013, the SVSEF was named Club of the Year and Snowboard Club of the Year by the United States Ski & Snowboard Association.

With the recent designation of Sun Valley as one of the rare official Olympic and Paralympic Cross Country Training sites in the nation, the SVSEF is setting standards on skinny skis, as well.

The center is a place to train, to gather and to dream a little

The center is a place to train, to gather and to dream a little

Clayton wants everything available in our amazing valley – from perfectly pitched vertical on Baldy, to the eye popping Terrain Park and Olympic 22-foot Superpipe on Dollar, to miles and miles of challenging and beautiful cross country – to be available to each and every young athlete in town. He sincerely wants everyone, from second graders on the alpine Development Team to the elite cross country Gold Team whose sights are set on national and international glory, to achieve personal bests, pursue their dreams and grow as citizens and athletes.

The $700,000 renovation of the Engl Training Center is sure to inspire. Sparkling clean and invitingly modern, the facility features spin bikes, Fitwalls and resistance training equipment, designated (beautiful!) locker rooms, a tuning and wax room and ski and boot storage. It is almost unrecognizable from the training center that existed just at the end of last season.

The facilities are pristinely clean, modern and will help athletes stay organized and focused

The facilities are pristinely clean, modern and will help athletes stay organized and focused

Clayton thanked the SVSEF board, his architects and construction team and many supporters in town for allowing this project to come in on time and on budget!

Idaho’s Lieutenant Governor Brad Little showed his support for the program, participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Members of local government, the SVSEF Board of Directors, Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Sun Valley Manager of Mountain Operations Peter Stearns were also in attendance.

It was a big street party at Warm Springs as Apple's Bar & Grill and Irving's served food and beverages, live music provided a soundtrack to events and retailers got in on the pre-season action!

It was a big street party at Warm Springs as Apple's Bar & Grill and Irving's served food and beverages, live music provided a soundtrack to events and retailers got in on the pre-season action!

In fact, Clayton specifically thanked Sun Valley for its support of the SVSEF. Starting today, a pre-season ski camp begins for nearly 200 athletes in the U-12 and above age category. At least half of these young athletes are from six other teams across the region. Clayton explained that Sun Valley was able to open unprecedented access on the mountain for this, the third Thanksgiving camp. River Run is operating top-to-bottom, for training – providing lots of early-season runs. Sun Valley’s legendary snowmaking has been working around-the-clock to give these skiers the best pre-season training around, as well as ready the mountain for opening day on November 28.

SVSEF has grown 18 winter Olympic athletes to date. It will be exciting to watch this next generation develop, grow and hopefully grace a podium or two! This gorgeous new facility is sure to help make that happen.

–RES

What it's all about -- young athletes enjoy pre-season camp on Baldy

What it's all about -- young athletes enjoy pre-season camp on Baldy

Let the Countdown Begin!

It’s beginning to look a lot like ski season, especially from a vantage point two-thirds of the way up Bald Mountain. According to my father, who hikes Baldy a few times each week, the early season is looking good. Indeed, Sun Valley’s famous snowmaking is in full swing with an expected opening date for runs on both Baldy and Dollar of Thanksgiving Day, November 28.

Everyone is hard at work on Bald Mountain, making snow and laying it out in preparation for a Thanksgiving open

Everyone is hard at work on Bald Mountain, making snow and laying it out in preparation for a Thanksgiving open

Sun Valley Company first fired up the snow guns on October 26 and the weather has, for the most part, been cooperating in the effort to lay down that base of fluffy white. If the cold snap and snow that is expected to begin this weekend hold, come Thanksgiving Day, skiers and snowboarders can expect to be making their first turns of the season down Upper College, Lower College, Sunset Strip, 42nd Street and Lower River Run on Baldy; and on Poverty Flats, Quarter Dollar Bowl and a Progressive Park on Dollar. On Bald Mountain, early season runs will be accessible via the No. 1 River Run and No. 5 Lookout Express detachable quad lifts. On Dollar, all fun in the snow will be via the Quarter Dollar quad lift and the Accelerator Carpet.

Sun Valley Resort boasts the largest snowmaking system in North America. On Baldy alone, there are 577 snow guns. The vast majority of the snowmaking system is computerized and automated, allowing for the most exacting snow making product that takes into account local air temperature, local air pressure and local water temperature. Dollar’s snowmaking relies on a manual system but is also a well-oiled machine.

Picture yourself here -- on Lower College -- in just two weeks' time

Picture yourself here -- on Lower College -- in just two weeks' time

No matter the chemistry and mechanics behind snowmaking, it is the poetry of the first airborne flakes accumulating in lush, puffy piles that most excites snow sports enthusiasts. The huge piles that are created on runs before being pushed into place remind me of the autumn leaf piles of my Connecticut childhood. You simply want to jump in and roll around in them. 

It certainly looks like it’s going to be an amazing ski and snowboard season in Sun Valley. Outside Online just named Warm Springs top-to-bottom one of “Five Runs You Need to Ride Before you Die,” citing the run’s elegance and uninterrupted fall line.  Sun Valley was also named the fourth best ski resort by Ski Magazine and a pick of “Where to Ski Now” by Men’s Journal.  On a related note, Fodor’s Travel named the Sun Valley outdoor ice rink one of the best 15 in the nation.

The piles of snow are piling up on Dollar in preparation for great runs and our epic terrain park

The piles of snow are piling up on Dollar in preparation for great runs and our epic terrain park

New regional jet service on Delta Airlines between Sun Valley and Salt Lake City will begin in January, the first direct flights from San Francisco to Sun Valley land starting on December 12, also on Delta, and Alaska Airlines announced it is expanding nonstop flight service between Sun Valley and Los Angeles and Sun Valley and Seattle. Getting here has never been easier.

But wait! There’s more! This weekend, the National Weather Service is predicting “the first significant snow event of the season,” in Sun Valley, bringing with it the possibility of up to seven inches of powder in the mountains.

With an anticipated Thanksgiving open, there is still time to get in on great early season stay and ski packages at the Sun Valley Resort. Come and enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving feast at the Sun Valley Inn and stay through the weekend to get in the first runs of what is sure to be a superb season.

T-minus two weeks.  Not that I am counting.

–RES

For some anxious skiers, two weeks is too long to wait to get in some turns!

For some anxious skiers, two weeks is too long to wait to get in some turns!

Spooky Sun Valley

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

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)

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

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!

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

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!

–RES

Happy Halloween from my two favorite blobs!

Happy Halloween from my two favorite blobs!