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

Light up the Night

On Saturday night, following a countdown of 5-4-3-2-1, it was officially Christmas in Sun Valley! Hundreds of people in the holiday spirit flocked to the Village to enjoy the lighting of the Christmas tree and all the surrounding activities.

Sun Valley is magical at night, lit with millions of white lights

Sun Valley is magical at night, lit with millions of white lights. Saturday night hundreds strolled beneath them

Merrymakers were greeted by millions of white lights that festooned trees up and down the walkways, creating a magical glow amid light snow. Hot chocolate stations kept everyone warm and happy as they enjoyed all the night offered.

Among the highlights? Ice carving demonstrations that showed just how much work and skill – and how many power tools  – it takes to create one of the many oversize ice sculptures that will now remain throughout Sun Valley for the rest of the cold weather season. The noisy sounds of chainsaws mixed with the shouts of delighted children as blocks of ice transformed into Christmas trees, thrones and, of course, a big Sun Valley Sun. Many, curious about the properties of such huge ice blocks, hopped onto the seats wondering if they would stick. They didn’t, but it surely was a bit chilly!

It takes a chainsaw and some serious artistic skill to transform a huge block of ice into a festive holiday tree

It takes a chainsaw and some serious artistic skill to transform a huge block of ice into a festive holiday tree

Sun Valley’s famous and charming carolers also gathered at the event, serenading the crowd with many Christmas favorites. The group of young men and women, clad in old fashioned and traditional winter outfits (complete with hand muffs for the girls), put a smile on everyone’s face as they sang the evening away in multi-part harmony.

The Sun Valley's famous carolers' renditions of holiday songs put a smile on everyone's faces

The Sun Valley's famous carolers' renditions of holiday songs put a smile on everyone's faces

Santa made an appearance and invited dozens and dozens of children to whisper last-minute wishes in his ear.

The highlight of the event, though, was probably the lighting of Sun Valley’s beautiful, living Christmas tree, located just outside the doors to the Sun Valley Inn. Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva welcomed the group, abuzz with anticipation, and then counted down until the switch was thrown and the tree came alive with color. You could almost hear the collective intake of breath before the applause began.

5-4-3-2-1! The Sun Valley Christmas tree is alight for the season

5-4-3-2-1! The Sun Valley Christmas tree is alight for the season

The merriment continued well into the night with the Duchin Lounge at the Lodge hosting a Christmas sweater party and Village restaurants preparing festive and delicious meals to suit every taste and every budget. Santa Claus greeted families at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room Saturday and Sunday morning and excitement was in the air.

Be sure not to miss Sunday night’s sixth Annual Classical Christmas Concert at The Sun Valley Opera House  Tickets are available at the Sun Valley Recreation Center for $20, or for purchase at the door. For more information please call 208.622.2135 or email recreation@sunvalley.com. Doors open at 6:30 and the music begins at 7 p.m.

The mountains skied really well this weekend, too, inviting snow sports enthusiasts to enjoy the run up to Christmas Day under bright blue Idaho skies, surrounded by some of the most jaw dropping vistas in the Lower 48. Reports from up top were generally comprised of “woo hoo!”

Welcome to Sun Valley where Christmas is exactly the way it is supposed to be!

Welcome to Sun Valley where Christmas is exactly the way it is supposed to be!

It’s truly beginning to look a lot like Christmas and we are all glad that you are here to share the holidays in true Sun Valley style!

–RES

Strolling through a Winter Wonderland

Sun Valley’s second annual Winter Wonderland Festival, taking place this Saturday, December 14, springs straight out of a picture book depicting an ideal holiday setting. Snow sparkles all around, the inviting smell of peppermint hot chocolate wafts through the air mixing with fresh baked gingerbread, holiday windows display cozy, colorful ways to keep warm and children’s laughter rings out from every direction.

The village brightens up with million lights

It is a family affair, indeed, at the Sun Valley Village when the Resort invites everyone to join them to officially usher in the Christmas season. The young and young at heart will decorate gingerbread men, little ones can enjoy a train ride around the Village, live music provided by choirs from Wood River High School will offer a light-hearted soundtrack and food will be plentiful.

Santa, I have been a very good boy this year...

Santa, I have been a very good boy this year...

Santa is coming to town, too, and will be available to hear children’s Christmas wishes, all while posing for that all-important holiday picture.

Back by popular demand, a scavenger hunt will also keep guests busy. Village shop windows are dressed with wonderful black and white archival photos depicting Sun Valley’s history as America’s number one winter destination resort. By identifying photos and completing the scavenger hunt, participants qualify for a free (yummy) prize!

Be sure to clear your afternoon. Gingerbread cookie decorating takes place in the Boiler Room from 2 to 4 p.m. Train rides are also offered during this time. Santa will take center stage on the Boiler Room deck beginning at 1 p.m. and will be ho, ho, ho’ing for two hours.

Last year, a group of friends and I bundled up our children and spent the afternoon in Sun Valley for the Winter Wonderland Festival, even finding time for a champagne toast to the season in the lobby outside the Duchin Room at the Lodge. The afternoon put a smile on everyone’s face and got us all in the holiday spirit.

But wait, there’s more! The fun continues on Sunday, December 15. With only ten days remaining until Christmas morning, now is the time to visit the Signatures & Gift Shop at the Village to have your presents beautifully wrapped. Members of Girls on the Run, a local program seeking to empower girls and young women through fitness and communication, will express gift wrap any present from anywhere. Donations are appreciated for this service.

Sunday also marks the return of the Lodge Dining Room’s famous, bountiful, elegant Sunday Brunch, offered from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. New specialties and complimentary champagne are included in this wonderful tradition.

Sunday brunch at the Lodge Dining Room returns (yay!) on December 15

Sunday brunch at the Lodge Dining Room returns (yay!) on December 15

For details and more information on upcoming Winter Wonderland Festival festivities please visit www.sunvalley.com/holidays.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

–RES

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

‘Tis the season to get out that red pen and mark your calendar so as not to miss any of the wonderful events that will make holidays in Sun Valley the merriest yet! From twinkling lights, to fabulous food; from fun for the family to sensational shopping – it’s all right here.

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays in Sun Valley

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays in Sun Valley

Here are some highlights for your December plans:

Our season kicks off in earnest on December 14 with a Winter Wonderland Stroll in the Sun Valley Village. This special afternoon includes photos with Santa at the Boiler Room deck from 1 to 3 p.m., a gingerbread man decorating workshop at 2 p.m., delicious food cart offerings including cider, hot cocoa, beignets and treats, craft demonstrations and a scavenger hunt and Window Stroll prizes. Stop into a la mode for gourmet hot chocolate or the Konditorei for a savory lunch or treat. It is a celebration for all ages.

Pop into a la mode and warm up with a special holiday hot chocolate

Pop into a la mode and warm up with a special holiday hot chocolate

The Sun Valley tree will sparkle to life on December 21 in front of the Inn. This annual tradition officially begins at 5 p.m. Shortly thereafter, the storied Sun Valley Carolers will entertain with their wonderful multi-part harmony renditions of Christmas classics and Sun Valley General Manager, Tim Silva, will then count down and light the tree. The remainder of the evening includes caroling, Santa arriving by sleigh at the Inn, ice carving demonstrations, food and warm drinks and a vintage Christmas sweater party for the grown ups at the Duchin Room beginning at 6 p.m.

On December 22, music takes center stage when the 6th annual Classic Christmas Concert comes to the Opera House at 7 p.m. The Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus will bring its signature blend of gospel and traditional music and will be joined by a live trio and the Sun Valley Carolers.

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and fireworks are among Sun Valley's most treasured holiday traditions

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and fireworks are among Sun Valley's most treasured holiday traditions

The culmination of all the pre-Christmas festivity leads to Christmas Eve, Sun Valley style. Don’t miss the tradition of the Christmas Eve Nutcracker on Ice and Torch Light Parade. At 4 p.m. on the 24th, complimentary hot cocoa and cookies are served on the Lodge patio. The Carolers welcome what is always a huge audience to the show at 5:30 p.m., with the special Nutcracker production, featuring professional and local young skaters, gliding into action at 5:40 p.m. Following the show around 6 p.m., look past the rink to Dollar Mountain where members of the Sun Valley SnowSports instructors and special guests will ski down the slopes holding lit torches – creating a mesmerizing serpentine of light into the dark night. Fireworks follow and if that isn’t enough, Santa is scheduled to arrive for a special appearance.

 

The torchlight parade is truly magical (photo courtesy Charlie Webster)

The torchlight parade is truly magical (photo courtesy Charlie Webster)

Shopping at the Sun Valley Village specialty shops, as well as at the base of River Run, will inspire you to polish off those Christmas lists. Quality defines the merchandise available at Brass Ranch, Panache, Pete Lane’s, Silver Creek Outfitters, the Toy Store, Towne & Parke Jewelers and the Sun Valley Signature Shops, and no matter if your tastes run from classical to whimsical, there is truly something for everyone.

The tastes, smells and flavors of holiday meals also help define the season. Sun Valley’s signature restaurants will be serving fare that invites you to linger, to continue the conversation, to order just one more course or another glass of fine wine.

Tell Santa how good you've been this year at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room

Tell Santa how good you've been this year at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room

Special to the season is the reopening of the elegant Lodge Dining Room for a Champagne Brunch every Sunday, December 15 through March 30. On December 21 and 22, be sure to come to the bountiful breakfast for a special chance to see Santa Claus before he begins his around-the-world journey. Please call Restaurant Reservations 208-622-2800 to reserve a seat with Santa.

Historic Roundhouse perched two-thirds up Bald Mountain opens for the season for lunch daily on December 12 and for dinner during the season on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. A meal there is truly magical! Reservations for dinner are accepted at 208-622-2012.

The Sun Valley sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin is a must-do holiday activity

The Sun Valley sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin is a must-do holiday activity

No trip to Sun Valley is complete without a sleigh ride under the stars to historic Trail Creek Cabin for a warm, inviting and plentiful meal before a roaring fire. Book your sleigh ride and dinner reservations through the Recreation Center at 208-622-2135.

Check back to this blog for updates and more information on all the flavorful, fun options for holiday food as well as all the holiday hoopla.

Holidays in Sun Valley are exactly what they are supposed to be – genuine, memorable, colorful, filled with traditional. Be sure not to miss a minute!

–RES

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

Travel and Leisure agrees — Sun Valley is for Families

Anyone who has come to Sun Valley with their family knows that there is no better place, no matter your age, to enjoy a memorable, unique experience. The readers of Travel and Leisure agree. In the magazine’s just released 18th annual “World’s Best Awards 2013” results, discerning readers were polled and asked to cast their vote for the best of the best hotels, destinations, and companies that define the very finest in travel.

Year-round, Sun Valley is for families

Year-round, Sun Valley is for families

In the category of top Family Hotels, Sun Valley Resort was voted #38 out of the top 50. With our year-round recreational opportunities, three pools, eight restaurants, caring childcare, extensive kids’ programs, and family-friendly atmosphere, Sun Valley was among very few mountain resorts to receive the recognition.

As the winter season begins in earnest, it is readily apparent that Sun Valley is the premiere cold weather destination for families. With the Sun Valley Snow Sports School gearing up for the best season ever, specially trained instructors who love working with children will offer little shredders the best experience possible on the slopes. Based from the gorgeous Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge and River Run on Bald Mountain, full-day ski lessons are available for children ages 4 – 12 and snowboarding for ages 6 – 12. Lessons include four hours of on-snow instruction and a healthy hot lunch the kids will actually eat!

Happiness is children on Sun Valley's snowy slopes

Happiness is children on Sun Valley's snowy slopes

The epic Terrain Park at Dollar is another reason Sun Valley is family-central. With the only  22-foot Superpipe in the northwest and constantly growing and evolving jumps and park features, it is really one huge white playground. Sun Valley’s Adventure Trails on Baldy are also a family favorite. These trails that cut into glades on all sides of the mountain, provide narrow, banking, rolling runs that are wildly popular with the younger set. All are designed to meet up with traditional runs, so adults who choose not to follow their kids in, are always within earshot of the “woo hoo” cheers coming from the trees.

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing also make Sun Valley the best choice for families. Five-year-olds can snowshoe with their 75-year-old grandmothers on beautiful trails that highlight some of the area’s most scenic vistas. Cross country skiing is something the entire family can do, as well, and the finest instruction and gear rental are available at the lovely Sun Valley Club.

Go ahead and play on the Terrain Park

Go ahead and play on the Terrain Park

Two year-round outdoor heated pools await at the Sun Valley Lodge and Inn and are a great way to wind down and warm up after a day on the snow. If the family needs a quiet afternoon, the Sun Valley Bowling Alley and Game Room provides the best in old-school entertainment and the iconic outdoor ice rink awaits just beyond the Lodge’s back patio. The Opera House runs first-run movies, too. Try a family-friendly dinner at Bald Mountain Pizza and Pasta before taking in a film.

Bowl, eat, take in a movie -- you can only spend seven hours a day on slopes!

Bowl, eat, take in a movie -- you can only spend seven hours a day on slopes!

That doesn’t even begin to cover cozying up for a gourmet hot chocolate at a la mode in the Sun Valley Village, riding a horse drawn sleigh to a very special dinner at Trail Creek Cabin, or Sunday brunch with Santa Claus at the elegant Lodge Dining Room. The possibilities truly are endless.

With the first visit to Sun Valley, every member of the family, whether their “children” are toddlers or adults, will agree with the readers of Travel and Leisure that the Resort is a pretty special place for families. Start a tradition that lasts generations by bringing your clan to Sun Valley this winter. You will quickly understand what all the accolades are about!

–RES

Sun Valley is magical for families, especially at the holidays. Here, children enjoy brunch with Santa at the Lodge Dining Room

Sun Valley is magical for families, especially at the holidays. Here, children enjoy brunch with Santa at the Lodge Dining Room

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!

The Trauma Conference Comes to Town

“If you are an EMT, paramedic, member of a search and rescue team, ski patrol or just love wilderness medicine and rescue—this is your conference!” proclaims the program for the Ski and Mountain Trauma Conference, currently underway at the Sun Valley Resort.

Hundreds of first responders, doctors and ski patrol gathered this weekend at the Sun Valley Inn for a jam-packed Ski and Mountain Trauma Conference

Hundreds of paramedics, EMTs, doctors and ski patrol gathered this weekend at the Sun Valley Inn for a jam-packed Ski and Mountain Trauma Conference

For the eighth year, the St. Alphonsus Health System has brought the big show to Sun Valley, inviting first responders of all varieties, physicians, ski patrol and others who work with those who work and play in the outdoors to a three-day, jam-packed conference covering topics as diverse at managing frostbite and hypothermia prevention to creative splinting to gondola rescue techniques. The sessions, held at the Sun Valley Inn, are small and hands-on featuring simulations and presentations from national and regional experts. Hundreds come from all over the state and region to participate.

Sun Valley-area EMTs, paramedics, ski patrol and doctors look forward to this conference every year.

Presentations, hands-on sessions, networking and the latest and greatest in gear and technology are all available during the conference

Presentations, hands-on sessions, networking and the latest and greatest in gear and technology are all available during the conference

“Every single one of the classes I have been to has been applicable,” explained Ketchum firefighter and paramedic Lara McLean. “I usually do the whole weekend because what is offered is really relevant to where we live and the patients we see. From pediatric trauma to brain injury to dislocation management to myocardial contusion, the topics they cover matter to what we do — whether you are a ski patrolman, paramedic, or physician. There are many choices for whatever line of work you are in.”

Whiz McNeal, who has been on Sun Valley Ski Patrol since 1975 and is a ropes expert and training officer, said the fact that the conference happens here is huge incentive to attend and to keep learning.

“This conference is great because it doesn’t require time off or travel and it is really relevant to our valley and to our guests,” Whiz said. “There are lots of opportunities for continuing education, certifications and for learning about new protocols. It’s very dynamic and a good way to keep up with all the current science and information. Ski patrol is encouraged to attend and most do.”

Members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol will demonstrate their cutting-edge gondola evacuation techniques

Members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol will demonstrate their cutting-edge gondola evacuation techniques

This year, Sun Valley Ski Patrol partnered with the conference to offer gondola rescue demonstrations. Conference participants will shuttle to River Run on Baldy to learn how our fantastic patrol prepares for weather, equipment malfunctions and individual illness that can create situations where evacuation of the gondola becomes critical. On display is patrol’s special equipment and expertise.

This conference, according to attendees, is also a great networking and social weekend – the chance to catch up with other professionals and learn from each other. The schedule builds in opportunities for meals and down time where participants can compare notes and share information.

The Sun Valley Inn is HQ for a weekend of continuing education, gaining expertise and earning certifications

The Sun Valley Inn is HQ for a weekend of continuing education, gaining expertise and earning certifications

For all of us who live and recreate in the beautiful mountains that surround this valley, knowing that our first responders, ski patrol and other professionals have access to this conference is great news. The Sun Valley Inn is jammed with motivated people who care deeply about what they do and who will finish the conference on Saturday afternoon having been exposed to the latest, greatest information that will benefit everyone.

Thanks to all the participants for committing to continuing their education, and to Sun Valley for hosting this conference. Let the snow season (safely) begin!

–RES

Great information, with a dose of levity, defines the weekend

Great information, with a pinch of levity, defines the weekend