Hop to! Easter’s on its way!

Spring is in the air and Easter is just around the corner. Now is the time to make sure you don’t miss a moment of the festive holiday celebrations in Sun Valley.

Come to the Sun Valley Village on April 18 for an egg hunt and a visit with a very special VIB (very important bunny)

Come to the Sun Valley Village on April 18 for an egg hunt and a visit with a very special VIB (very important bunny)

On Friday, April 18, come and enjoy a sweet tradition at the Sun Valley Village.  At 4:30 p.m., everyone  age 10 and under is invited to search for eggs in a huge Easter egg hunt. Children are divided into age groups and asked to bring their own baskets as they scramble around the grounds in front of the Sun Valley Inn, collecting eggs.

Simultaneously, the Village location of the Toy Store will host face painting and children big and small can enjoy ice cream specials at the charming a la mode or satisfy a sweet tooth at the wonderfully nostalgic candy shop, the Chocolate Foundry. It will be a sweet beginning to a memorable holiday weekend.

If you're ten and under, the lawn outside the Sun Valley Inn is the place to be for a madcap Easter egg hunt

If you're ten and under, the lawn outside the Sun Valley Inn is the place to be for a madcap Easter egg hunt

Festivities continue on Easter Sunday, April 20, with a lavish Easter brunch. The Inn’s Limelight Room will brim with fresh, tasty and traditional delights, sure to please any age and any palate. Brunch will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please call 208.622.2135 for more information.

April 20 also marks closing day for the snow season on Bald Mountain. Before or after enjoying a bountiful brunch, be sure to get in your last turns of the year. The weather has been beautiful and the corn snow terrific. The final day of the season is traditionally also a chance for locals and visitors alike to dress up, turn their faces to the sun and appreciate the season that was.

Here, last tracks matter as much as first tracks!

Face painting is a great part of the Easter weekend fun

Face painting is a great part of the Easter weekend fun

Specials at the Resort add extra incentive to enjoy everything on offer. Lodging is available for the night of April 19, including Sunday brunch, for $93 per person, double occupancy. Please phone 800.786.8259 for more details. Tie on that Easter bonnet or clip on your ski helmet and get out and enjoy the weekend.

Happy Easter, happy spring and happy end of the season! Next up? Golf! Stay tuned to this blog for the exciting early season details.

–RES

Take a break from decorating eggs to enjoy them specially prepared for you at the lavish Easter brunch in the Limelight Room

Take a break from decorating eggs to enjoy them specially prepared for you at the lavish Easter brunch in the Limelight Room

Race Action Heats Up on Baldy

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!

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

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

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

Conditions are great and the skiing is fast

Camaraderie is a big part of this event

Camaraderie is a big part of this event

Local racer Hailey Duke is skiing great and looks like she is having fun, too

Local racer Olympian Hailey Duke is skiing great and looks like she is having fun, too

All photos courtesy of Nick Maricich.

–RES

Spend Spring Break with Top Skiers

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

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?

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

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.

–RES

 

 

Rev Up for the Rev Tour

Freeskiers and snowboarders brought some major amplitude to Dollar's slopes at this week's Rev Tour stop (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)

Freeskiers and snowboarders brought some major amplitude to Dollar's slopes at this week's Rev Tour stop (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)

This week, Sun Valley’s Dollar Mountain hosted the high-flying 2014 Pop-Tarts U.S. Revolution Tour, otherwise known as the Rev Tour. Sun Valley was the final stop for the tour and brought energy and mad skills to Dollar’s amazing terrain park and 22-foot superpipe.

“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)

Athletes flew on Dollar's Terrain Park (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)

The Rev Tour featured events in halfpipe and slopestyle for both freeskiing and snowboarding. Since The Rev Tour stop is a 4-star TTR (Ticket to Ride) event for snowboarding as well as an AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professionals) bronze and FIS (International Ski Federation) NorAm event for freeskiing, it brought top athletes to Sun Valley. The competition was fierce.

Some of the country's up-and-coming snowsports athletes brought style and skills to Sun Valley this week (photo 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)

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)

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.

–RES

Special Olympians Shine

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

Saturday morning, athletes competing in the Special Olympics Idaho State Games, listened for last minute instructions from coaches before hitting the slopes on Dollar

Sun Valley welcomed 500 athletes to Dollar Mountain and the Sun Valley Nordic Center for a full day of races and participation on Saturday, but the experience started on Friday when athletes running with the Special Olympic torch, and accompanied by a police and fire escort, made their way to Dollar. One stop for the torch was Sun Valley’s Community School. High school students at the school have been working with Higher Ground all winter, training every Wednesday afternoon with Special Olympic skiers and riders 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
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

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

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.

–RES

Athletes took a moment to pause during the Torch Run as it passed through Sun Valley's Community School (photo Community School)

Athletes took a moment to pause during the Torch Run as it passed through Sun Valley's Community School (photo Community School)

Celebrating Kaitlyn

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

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 festive while they waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and upbeat while waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

First, instructors from the Sun Valley SnowSports School put on a spectacle, serpentining and criss-crossing their way to the bottom of the hill. Sun Valley’s winter Olympians and Olympic coaches followed. The fine people representing Sun Valley included former Olympians Chuck Ferries, Jonna Mendes, Reggie Crist, Abbi Fisher-Gould and Sondra Van Ert.  Snowboard coaches from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), the program in which Kaitlyn grew up and remains a Gold Team member, Kaitlyn’s family and friends then preceded Sun Valley’s sweetheart. The SVSEF’s Jody Zarkos called play-by-play action leading up to the big moment when Kaitlyn rode the slope into the crush of her fervent fans. Scooped up by Whiz McNeal and Sean Glaccum of Sun Valley Ski Patrol, Kaitlyn, American flag in hand, was carried triumphantly to a stage in front of Warm Springs Lodge, where for the next hour, she was feted and celebrated and laden with gifts.

The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders down Lower Warm Springs, leading the way down for Kaitlyn who rode down last

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

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

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

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.

–RES

NBS Hits the Slopes and the Town

A member of NBS shows how it's done (Tal Roberts Photography)

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

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)

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

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

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!

–RES

Our Golden Girl Comes Home

With a high school drum line providing the backbeat and water cannons announcing that a VIP was on board, the Delta jet bringing Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington home, touched down Monday afternoon.

The golden girl with her Olympic gold medal

The golden girl with her Olympic gold medal

The excitement inside the terminal at Friedman Memorial Airport was palpable, the pride, collective, as the large crowd craned its collective head, hoping to catch a glimpse of the golden girl. Supporters holding signs of congratulation thronged the waiting room and media from all over the state and region were well represented.

Support from every part of the community was on display when Kaitlyn Farrington returned home

Support from every part of the community was on display when Kaitlyn Farrington returned home

Hundreds of local students came to the airport and lined the impromptu parade route, cheering for Kaitlyn

Hundreds of local students came to the airport and lined the impromptu parade route, cheering for Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn, who grew up on a ranch in Bellevue and took her first turns on a snowboard in Sun Valley as a member of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), returned to the Wood River Valley wearing the huge gold medal she earned in Sochi, Russia, as queen of the Halfpipe. Pitted against the top women in the sport, three of whom had won Olympic gold themselves, Kaitlyn dominated the event, earning a score of 91.75, and delivering two runs that showcased her style, skills and self-assurance.

She was met inside the terminal not only by supporters, but by the Mayor of Bellevue, Chris Koch. “On behalf of the Wood River Valley, we welcome you home,” Koch announced, and continued, “now the celebration can really begin because you are home with friends and family.” With that, he handed Kaitlyn the Key to the City of Bellevue.

Kaitlyn prepares to accept the Key to the City from Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch

Kaitlyn prepares to accept the Key to the City from Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch

With the Key to the City in one hand, and her medal glinting around her neck, Kaitlyn was modest and understated in her comments. “Thank you for supporting me through the years,” she smiled with her signature dimpled grin, “Thank you for getting my family to the Olympics, as well.” This referenced local fundraising efforts that helped pay for her parents, Suz Locke and Gary Farrington, to be in Sochi cheering their daughter to gold.

Next stop for Kaitlyn? She, her parents, and SVSEF snowboard coach Andy Gilbert will be driven in a convertible through Bellevue. The champion will then ride a ladder truck with local firefighters through Hailey and Ketchum to the SVSEF headquarters located at the base of Warm Springs at Bald Mountain. Hundreds of well-wishers are expected to line the streets and cheer for our golden girl.

Kaitlyn shows off that amazing medal next to Jason Carter, sports director at KMVT

Kaitlyn shows off that amazing medal next to Jason Carter, sports director at KMVT

A party is also in the works for Saturday, March 1, at the base of Warm Springs. Festivities begin at 2:30 p.m. at Warm Springs Lodge with live music and food and beverage specials from the Sun Valley Resort. At 4 p.m., an official ceremony honoring Kaitlyn will be held on the Warm Springs Deck, followed by a street party on Picabo Street between Jane Lane and Lloyd Court. Old Death Whisper will play, Apple’s Bar & Grill will provide food and libations, and everyone is invited.

For more on all the events, stay tuned to this blog.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn Farrington on your enormous accomplishment and for making this entire valley proud. Welcome home!

–RES

It’s Gold for Sun Valley’s Kaitlyn Farrington

It’s all anyone is talking about. From the coffee shop, to the grocery store, to the chairlift, there is one name on everyone’s lips: Kaitlyn Farrington. Earlier this week, Sun Valley’s golden girl won a gold medal in snowboard Halfpipe and this community could not be more proud!

It's gold for Sun Valley's Kaitlyn Farrington on Olympic snowboard Halfpipe! (photo Mark Sullivan)

It's gold for Sun Valley's Kaitlyn Farrington in Olympic snowboard Halfpipe! (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn, a Bellevue native who took her first turns on a snowboard with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), dominated the Halfpipe event, earning a score of 91.75. Though new to the Olympic team this year, she delivered two no-holds-barred runs, besting more seasoned competitors. Her winning run included a 900 spin, a corked back flip and style to spare. She took the top step of the podium in Sochi, Russia, after the ride of her life, topping three previous Olympic champions, Torah Bright of Australia who scored 91.50 points and Kaitlyn’s teammate Kelly Clark who garnered 90.75 points.

Kaitlyn, a member of the SVSEF Gold Team, told the press following her win, “I can’t believe it. I come out to each contest and I try and do a different run and that’s my approach to it. Sitting at the bottom, I was stoked I landed my run and once I knew I was going to be on the podium I was happy. I was hoping to make it to the finals, that was my main goal and then during the finals I thought if I land a good run I might be on the podium. So to come out on top – I just can’t believe it.”

The big show in Sochi didn't intimidate Kaitlyn in her run for the gold (photo Mark Sullivan)

The big show in Sochi didn't intimidate Kaitlyn in her run for the gold (photo Mark Sullivan)

Andy Gilbert, head snowboard coach at the SVSEF, was equally stunned and thrilled. In an interview, he said, “I am in shock. I am in complete and utter shock. I can’t describe how it feels. Kaitlyn first started with us as a fifth grader and obviously it takes a village.”

“I do feel like she looked confident throughout,” Gilbert continued. “I was a little worried looking at the semis because it makes for a long day to push it in not get tired, but she came out swinging.”

Kaitlyn's incredibly proud (and nervous) parents watched her gold medal run in Sochi (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn's incredibly proud (and nervous) parents watched her gold medal run in Sochi (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn’s incredibly proud parents Gary and Suz, watched their daughter’s runs slope side, holding a small sign that read, “Kaitlyn Farrington, Cowgirl Up” — a saying coined by her former swim coach that had become a family joke. Cowgirl up, she did.

Sun Valley could not be more proud of this self-described Idaho cowgirl. “The Sun Valley community couldn’t be more thrilled for Kaitlyn as she stands on top of the podium with Olympic gold,” said Tim Silva, Sun Valley Resort, Vice President and General Manager. “She has worked incredibly hard to get where she is, and we can’t wait to welcome her home and celebrate this historic win with her!”

Kaitlyn, with her coach Elijah Teeter, inspires us all (photo Mark Sullivan)

Kaitlyn, with her coach Elijah Teeter, inspires us all (photo Mark Sullivan)

Preparations are already well underway to give Kaitlyn a hero’s welcome upon her return to Sun Valley. Huge banners that will hang across the main streets are already in production and plans are in the works to celebrate Kaitlyn and her victory in a way only Sun Valley can. Please stay tuned to this blog for more information on plans to celebrate her amazing win.

Kaitlyn continues a long Olympic heritage in Sun Valley but is the first Olympic medalist since Picabo Street brought home gold in alpine skiing from Nagano in 1998.

For more information on Kaitlyn Farrington, visit www.teamusa.org.

The snow continues to fall in Sun Valley and the snowboarding and skiing are the best they’ve been all year. Come channel your inner Kaitlyn at Dollar’s Olympic size Superpipe or just play in the terrain park.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn on your amazing win! Everyone who lives in Sun Valley, or loves it, can’t wait for you to come home so we can share your excitement and thank you for your inspiration.

–RES

Have Fun, Stay Safe

The goods news is that it’s snowing like crazy in Sun Valley. In fact, the snow is great news! Four inches of fluffy new powder has fallen in the past 24 hours, piling onto another 4” that fell earlier this week and two feet that fell in a storm a few days ago. Sun Valley is showing off its winter white finery and offering some of the best skiing and snowboarding anywhere this Presidents’ Day weekend. Woo hoo!

Heavy recent snowfall is making the second half of the season something to celebrate

Heavy recent snowfall is making the second half of the season something to celebrate

Enthusiasm is high to say the least.

However, all this wonderful new snow has created some safety concerns of which all mountain users need to be aware, and to respect. The season’s minimal early snowfall followed by a series of closely-spaced, powerful storms, equals an unstable snowpack. Given these conditions, it is critical that guests respect closed areas on both Baldy and Dollar.

Sun Valley Ski Patrol is working around-the-clock to drop the ropes on any many runs as safely possible

Sun Valley Ski Patrol is working around-the-clock to drop the ropes on any many runs as safely possible

On a sophisticated mountain like Baldy with its detachable high speed quad lifts and state-of-the-art gondola, and some of the best grooming equipment and groomers anywhere, it is easy to forget that slides can happen, even in-bounds. As members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol work tirelessly to get as many trails open, as quickly as possible, mountain users should understand their methods and goals. Mitigating snowpack instability is one of Ski Patrol’s primary responsibilities within ski area boundaries. Before, during and after storms, they implement ski cutting techniques and explosives to accomplish this. Many think the best alarm clock there is is the ka-boom of dynamite hitting the Bowls.

If areas remain closed, though, it is for good reason. In addition to unstable snowpack, these can include (but are not limited to) snowcat or snow machine travel, areas of thin cover, man made obstructions, wildlife considerations, fallen trees, or unsafe conditions in which to run a toboggan. These can change quickly due to current conditions.

 

Members of Ski Patrol are maximizing fun and safety and ask guests to respect ski area closures

Members of Ski Patrol are maximizing fun and safety and ask guests to respect ski area closures

Ski Patrol is comprised of some of the best, most enthusiastic skiers and boarders around. They love powder as much as the rest of us (maybe more) and yearn, like we all do, for first tracks, for themselves and for our guests. It gives them as much as a rush to drop that rope as it does for snow sports enthusiasts to be there when it drops. After all, they love Sun Valley’s mountains and want everyone to have the greatest experience possible.

When closures are ignored, though, unforeseen results may occur and that is really not what you want during an epic day on the mountain. Sun Valley Ski Patrol only sweeps runs that are open to the public. This means if a guest is injured or lost in a closed area, they are on their own. You don’t want to be that person as night falls. Entering closed areas also sets a poor example for younger guests. Overall, there is too much at stake to risk everything for a few turns in a closed area.

It is probably safe to say that everyone wants guests to enjoy the best day ever on Sun Valley’s slopes, especially members of Ski Patrol. But they also want to make sure that guests stay safe.

There is nothing better than a powder day on Baldy

There is nothing better than a powder day on Baldy

Check for special notices on sunvalley.com where the mountain reports post any special delays and closures. It’s always good to be informed about general conditions, too, so be sure to check in with the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center regularly, especially during, or right after, winter storms. Guests unfamiliar with closure policies should never follow people under ropes or into areas marked closed, but should seek a member of Ski Patrol or Guest Services to get the correct information.

The silence of falling snow is music to all our ears. This week, smiles are broad, the mood is light. But with the excitement about a fantastic second season that starts right about now, let’s all help the dedicated members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol do what they do best: keep us all safe and enjoying this magical mountain playground.

If you have any questions about openings and conditions, pop into the Ski Patrol hut atop Baldy and just ask

If you have any questions about openings and conditions, pop into the Ski Patrol hut atop Baldy and just ask

As the snow continues to fall (yay!) and settle over the next weeks, please enjoy the amazing terrain that is open and available to play in. If there is a rope closing off an area, please understand that it is there because it needs to be.

Now get out there and enjoy these fabulous February feet of snow!

–RES