Olympic Fever

There is nothing like a heavy snowfall to set the mood for the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games. As millions gathered electronically Friday night to watch the world’s best athletes convene at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, a large crowd congregated in downtown Ketchum at Whiskey Jacques as light, fluffy snow accumulated quickly outside.

Go, Team! A large crowd gathered in downtown Ketchum to enjoy the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games. The event was hosted by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation

Go, Team! A large crowd gathered in downtown Ketchum to enjoy the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games. The event was hosted by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation

The evening, hosted by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, drew many avid skiers and snowboarders to cheer on Team USA as well as the local athletes representing the Wood River Valley. Three talented women who call the Sun Valley-area home have the town’s strong and vocal support.

Olympics HQ Friday night was Whiskey Jacques in downtown Ketchum

Olympics HQ Friday night was Whiskey Jacques in downtown Ketchum

Snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, 24, grew up in the Wood River Valley is a product of the SVSEF snowboard program. Andy Gilbert, head development coach of the SVSEF snowboard team told Transworld Snowboarding, “Kaitlyn was part of the first wave of kids that benefited from Sun Valley investing in a halfpipe program. When she started high school and we saw her competing and holding her own, she graduated to bigger events and really got on the radar. All of the coaches that have been involved with Kaitlyn’s training from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation over the years are really proud of her accomplishment. It’s great to see the excitement and support our entire community has for her and her family.”

Snowboarder Katilyn Farrington Tweeted this photo out of herself in Sochi @KatilynFarr

Snowboarder Katilyn Farrington Tweeted this photo out of herself in Sochi saying she had 'already made a mess of herself' before the Opening Ceremony even began @KatilynFarr

Kaitlyn became the first women’s rider to perform a backside 900 and is known for her high-octane enthusiasm, determination, super positive attitude and calm. She told Transworld Snowboading, “I’m proud to join the ranks of the legendary athletes who have participated in both the winter and summer Olympic Games before me, and who also call Sun Valley home,” said Farrington. “This is something I’ve been working toward for a long time, and heading to Sochi and competing on the world’s stage is going to be 100 percent fun!”

February 12 is go time for Kaitlyn, as the three rounds of qualification, semi-final and finals will be held that day.

Bringing her Sun Valley roots to center ice, standout women’s hockey forward Hilary Knight is definitely one to watch. This Sun Valley resident will join her teammates in a run for the gold. Knight, 24, made her Olympic debut at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. That year, she was part of the team that won the silver medal.

Sun Valley resident Hilary Knight started out the Sochi Olympics strong, scoring less than a minute into the first game

Sun Valley resident Hilary Knight started out the Sochi Olympics strong, scoring less than a minute into the first game

Hilary is already shining in the Sochi Games. In Team USA’s first game against Finland, she scored 53 seconds into the first period and also made an assist in a game that ended 3 -1 in favor of Team USA. This set the tone for what we can expect from Hilary and her team in the coming weeks.

On the slopes, Jasmine Campbell who was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands but moved to Sun Valley when she was ten, will race for the U.S. Virgin Islands’ ski team. Jasmine, 22, will compete in the giant slalom and slalom. Jasmine is the only winter athlete representing the USVI and she proudly carried the flag in the Opening Ceremonies. She follows in her father John’s footsteps. He skied in the 1992 Winter Olympics on the Virgin Islands’ team.

Jasmine Campbell spent much of her childhood training on Sun Valley's slopes. Now she puts her considerable skill to use for the US Virgin Islands' Ski Team (photo: Virgin Islands Olympic Committee)

Jasmine Campbell spent much of her childhood training on Sun Valley's slopes. Now she puts her considerable skill to use for the US Virgin Islands' Ski Team (photo: Virgin Islands Olympic Committee)

The enthusiastic crowd at Whiskeys, and gathered around widescreens throughout the Wood River Valley, were probably also cheering Olympic competitor Ashley Wagner. Ashley performed this August in Sun Valley On Ice on her road to Sochi.

On Saturday, our local children, many with Olympic dreams of their own hit 12” of fresh powder Saturday morning (with up to 10” more expected to fall over the weekend). I imagine many members of the SVSEF alpine, snowboard and freestyle teams, as well as the athletes of Sun Valley’s Free Ride program saw their podium-potential as they floated down the perfect slopes. Who knows who among them may be the next Kaitlyn Farrington or Jasmine Campbell.

Three of SVSEF's outstanding D-Team coaches -- Doran Key, Susanne Connor and Orlie Sather -- training the next generation of Sun Valley Olympians

Three of SVSEF's outstanding D-Team coaches -- Doran Key, Susanne Connor and Orlie Sather -- training the next generation of Sun Valley Olympians

Olympic fever is a wonderful affliction to get. Go Team USA! Go Team Sun Valley! We are very proud of all of our Olympic athletes and Sun Valley’s longstanding tradition of producing some of the world’s top athletes.

Check HERE for the full Olympics television schedule.

–RES

Play It Safe

There is nothing more exhilarating, more exciting than carving some turns or catching some air on skis or a snowboard in Sun Valley. Add a glorious January sun, bright blue skies, terrific conditions and wide-open top-to-bottom shots and you get the picture — we are in a sweet spot of the winter season. But along with all the fun, comes responsibility and in support of National Safety Month sponsored by the National Ski Areas Association, Sun Valley Ski Patrol again offers a variety of programs designed to help guests stay safe and play safe.

January is safety awareness month on the slopes in Sun Valley

January is safety awareness month on the slopes in Sun Valley

All guests are invited to participate in activities that range from avalanche awareness courses, to snow sports equipment safety checks and events designed just for children. For instance, kids are invited to grab a “Kids Safety Awareness Map” at Dollar Mountain, River Run or the Warm Springs’ ticket windows until January 26. The maps familiarize young skiers and riders with important safety points around the mountains. Completed maps should be returned to the window in exchange for a surprise.

This is a month Sun Valley Ski Patrol looks forward to every year. “The safety of our skiing and riding guests and employees is our first priority,” said Mike Lloyd, Director of Sun Valley Ski Patrol. “We view Safety Month as an opportunity to meet and greet our skiing and riding guests and talk about safety on the slopes. The activities we have planned will offer tips that we hope will help keep people safe when on the mountain.”

Guests meet some integral members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol -- our avalanche dogs -- at the top of the gondola

Guests meet some integral members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol -- our avalanche dogs -- at the top of the gondola

In addition to on-slope safety tips, Ski Patrol will also be out and about in town visiting area schools with avalanche dogs. In addition, patrolers, snowmakers, SnowSports School instructors and members of Guest Services will hold public events to help educate and inform. This week, members of the Snowsports School will also offer Chair Aware tips and buttons to youngsters, helping them understand chair lift safety.

Upper River Run will be the practice ground for beacon clinics on January 22 and 24 at 10 a.m. Grab your beacon and meet at Ski Patrol Headquarters atop Baldy to learn or refresh this vital skill.

But wait, there’s more! The Trucker Sno-Cat will be on display all week at Dollar and the ever-popular Safety Maze is in place on Baldy’s crest.

Come explore the Safety Maze atop Baldy

Come explore the Safety Maze atop Baldy

First and foremost to Patrol’s education component is also “knowing the code.” The National Ski Patrol Responsibility Code is a mountain user’s reference that everyone, from seasoned skiers to absolute beginners, should be familiar with. In case you missed the oversize posters detailing the Code on the Christmas and Challenger chairlifts and at the base of the mountains, here they are:

  • Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or object.
  • People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  • You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  • Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  • Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Jake reminds you to play it safe and have fun

Jake reminds you to play it safe and have fun

Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports is offering discounted equipment inspection and tunes throughout the month of January. Stop in at the base of River Run to have your bindings tested and certified, get skis and snowboards tuned, have your helmet inspected for a proper fit and make sure your boots aren’t too worn down by walking on pavement. All help ensure the safest day possible on the slopes.

And remember that Ski Patrol is there to help. Our Patrol members are some of the most qualified, helpful and friendly people around. They are EMTs, Paramedics; explosives and ropes experts. They love their job and they know our mountains front, back and crosswise. Be sure to say hello to one this week and thank them for all they do. Also give a shout out to Guest Services, the people at the ticket windows and all mountain employees. They are all doing their very best to make sure you are having the time of your life, and staying safe.

–RES

Safety is fun this week in Sun Valley

Safety is fun this week in Sun Valley

 

New Year’s on Dollar

2014 started on a sunny high note for Sun Valley holiday-makers ringing in the new on Dollar Mountain. Slopes were filled with smiling faces on the first days of the New Year and family fun was the name of the game.

The Swanson and Gabbert families enjoyed an afternoon on Dollar's Tubing Hill

The Swanson and Gabbert families of Seattle enjoyed an afternoon on Dollar's Tubing Hill

Skiers and snowboarders honed their skills in lessons, navigated the new Prospector Park skill-building terrain area, hit the Family Cross Course, rode the rails and soaked up the sun and the beautiful views.

At the end of an exhilarating ride, the Swanson girls are ready for more

At the end of an exhilarating ride, the girls are ready for more

The Swanson family, visiting for the holidays from Seattle, came out for an afternoon of tubing with their three daughters and friends. As guests at the Resort, their condo was a short walk from Dollar’s slopes and they strolled over to enjoy the tubing course.

“It was a great way to spend the afternoon,” said mom Mari Swanson. “The kids had a terrific time and it was a nice break from skiing, but still a great way to be outside.”

The feeling on Dollar at New Year's? Woo hoo!

The feeling on Dollar at New Year's? Woo hoo!

I spent part of the beginning of the New Year on Dollar, as well, making my first tentative turns following knee surgery last spring. Accompanied by my patient 8-year-old and a patient friend, I tried out my repaired leg on the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar before progressing all the way to Dollar Face by the day’s end. While my technique and style might be slow to come back, the joy of being on the snow and on skis with Sun Valley at my feet, returned immediately.

My son and friend made sure to try out Prospector Park (thumbs up), a few park features and the Cross Course. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch on the fabulous Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge patio where great food is accompanied by a big show and it seems the sun is always shining.  Even when you live here, there is no better way to feel like you’re on vacation than lunch on the patio.

Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge is HQ for great food, lift and tubing tickets and even super post holiday shopping for gear

Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge is HQ for great food, lift and tubing tickets and even super post holiday shopping for gear

They say the way you spend January 1 sets the tone for the year to follow. Hopefully, the months to come will be as enjoyable, laughter-filled and memory-making for those who spent New Year’s Day on Dollar as that beautiful day last Wednesday.

Wishing you all peace, joy and lots of fun in the snow in 2014!

–RES

Dollar is all about family fun

Dollar is all about family fun

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

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!

A Board Bin Birthday Block Party

This week, Ketchum’s Board Bin celebrates its 25th birthday and you are invited to the party! On Saturday, October 26, from 1 to 8 p.m., the crossroads of Fourth Street and Washington will host a block party with food, bands, games and fun for the whole family.

Ketchum's Board Bin celebrates 25 years of bringing snowboarding and skateboarding to the community

Ketchum's Board Bin celebrates 25 years of bringing snowboarding and skateboarding to the community

“It’s supposed to be a beautiful day and we would love everyone to come out,” said Board Bin owner, Karin Reichow. “There will be a skateboard slalom race course, four ping pong tables hosting a tournament for every level player, a bouncy house and much more. Our neighbors are all participating and it will be a great community event.”

That corner of Ketchum has a lot to celebrate. In addition to the Board Bin celebrating 25 years in business, the Toy Store (with another location in the Sun Valley Village) can boast 35 years of making children happy; Java on Fourth has been serving up their famous Bowl of Soul coffee drink for 22 years; Johnny G’s Subshack has been making their fabulous grinders for 15 years. All will contribute to Saturday’s celebration, as will Rickshaw, Ninkasi Beer, Glow, Desperado’s, Dr. Maria Maricich and Bavarian Soul.

The owners of Board Bin helped show Sun Valley a new way to play on the snow

The owners of Board Bin helped show Sun Valley a new way to play on the snow

There is much to celebrate and much to look forward to in the coming winter sports season according to Karin and her husband Jim Slanetz. “We are obviously hoping for tons of snow to enjoy,” Jim said. “And Sun Valley is always getting better and better for this sport. With new Adventure Trails and other runs being cut, there will be even more terrain to explore on Baldy. For boarders, Dollar and the park and pipe are awesome, too.  We are expecting a great season.”  

And Karin and Jim would know, as they have been in Sun Valley since 1988 with front-row seats to the development and evolution of the sport of snowboarding in the winter and skateboarding in the warmer months.

“We started with two snowboards, five skateboards, some accessories and stickers in a little garage in Ketchum,” Karin laughed. Business was mostly word of mouth at that point as people interested in this new way to play in the snow sought out the Board Bin. That year, the young couple had the weather gods on their side, with one of the best snow seasons on record. The combination of powder and the fact that the new store carried the best snowboards available at the time got many people hooked.

That was then, Karin Reichow and Jim Slanetz in 1991...

That was then, Karin Reichow and Jim Slanetz in 1991...

But it was definitely an uphill go. “We were open from maybe noon to six that first year,” Karin recalled. “We were typical young people in a resort town, working all these jobs.” Jim added, laughing, “I drove a taxi, worked as a prep cook, everything.” But the Board Bin grew, moving two more times before settling on Fourth Street in 1993 where they have been selling hard goods, accessories and hip clothing for boys and girls, men and women ever since. They also lease children’s snowboarding equipment for the season and offer limited free leases to kids with a passion for the sport but who could not afford it otherwise.

... this is now

... this is now

And Sun Valley has also evolved into a snowboarding kind of town. The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation was named the USSA Snowboard Club of the Year, Chase Josey who graduated from Community School last spring was named to the 2013 Snowboard Team and Dollar Mountain boasts the only 22-foot Superpipe in the Northwest.

Head out to downtown Ketchum on Saturday to celebrate and socialize. Three bands, Jimmy Robb, El Stash and StoneSeed with provide a soundtrack to what is sure to be a fun-filled, beautiful autumn day. Congratulations Board Bin on 25 great years.

–RES

The new gear is in and everyone is looking forward to the opening of the mountain in about a month

The new gear is in and everyone is looking forward to the opening of the mountain in about a month

Snow in September

Imagine my surprise as I returned to Sun Valley Thursday from a quick trip out of town. When I left, skies were blue and temperatures were hot. The coin-like leaves of our ubiquitous aspen copse were just beginning to be dipped in gold. The region’s colorful, warm, inviting autumn days were just heating up.

Yes, this was a photo taken of the Sun Valley Lodge on September 26, just days after the autumnal equinox

Yes, this photo was taken at the Sun Valley Lodge on September 26, just days after the autumnal equinox

But always-fickle Mother Nature seemed to have missed that memo as the snow began to fly, then dump, in earnest on Wednesday. By Thursday evening, Bald Mountain was blanketed in more than five inches of fresh early season powder, clearly demarcating the runs when the clouds lifted and the sun shone Friday morning.

For winter sports enthusiasts, the first snow of the year makes your heart race just a little faster. The sight of Baldy’s trails covered in white evokes a longing that sets into motion the countdown to the mountain’s opening day around Thanksgiving. To see current conditions on the mountains, click HERE to access Sun Valley’s webcams.

On Thursday, snow blanketed backyards still in their late summer bloom

On Thursday, snow blanketed backyards still in their late summer bloom

This snow year in Sun Valley promises to be a great one and it actually is time to begin thinking about the coming season, especially if you plan to put a trip to Idaho in your upcoming holiday plans. New direct flights from San Francisco to Sun Valley on United Airlines begin December 12, making the connection between the Bay Area and the Wood River Valley as easy as can be. Early season lift and lodging packages tied to this new flight begin at $81 per person double occupancy and will book quickly. Imagine buckling up in San Francisco and unbuckling in paradise a short two hours later. Now is definitely the time to look at your calendar to take advantage of this new option.

This week's view from Baldy didn't exactly say September

This week's view from Baldy didn't exactly say September, but it certainly made snow sports enthusiasts start thinking about winter

It’s also the time for regular skiers and snowboarders to secure their season lockers at the base of the mountain as prices increase October 1. Having a locker to store skis, boards, boots and all your gear is the ultimate convenience. Rentals also come with other benefits including 10 percent off all Sun Valley owned retail stores, 20 percent off of rentals, two free demo rentals per season (try out those powder skis you’ve been coveting when the snow flies!) and unlimited ski tuning at $100 discount.

Friday morning brought bluebird skies and snow covering Baldy's runs

Friday morning brought bluebird skies and snow covering Baldy's runs

According to all the chic ladies at Brass Ranch, this is also going to be a banner year for ski wear. The lines being unpacked daily include some of the prettiest, most flattering coats, pants and accessories seen in ages. The early snow reminds that now is a great time to secure the perfect ski ensemble or even to shop for some holiday gifts while the selection is at its best.

Yes, this September snowfall will probably melt on the valley floor by this weekend, but it certainly put everyone around here in a mood for what will shortly follow. Sun Valley is beautiful year-round, but looks particularly lovely wearing white.

Fall is reasserting its dominance this weekend despite five inches of fresh snow and it promises to be a gorgeous autumn.

Fall is reasserting its dominance this weekend despite five inches of fresh snow and it promises to be a gorgeous autumn

Be sure to book your Sun Valley winter getaway now. It’s going to be an unbelievable year on Baldy, Dollar and up and down our miles and miles of award-winning cross-country trails.

Two months and counting … and in the meantime, there is golf to be played, hikes to be taken, bike rides to enjoy and fish to be fished for. It’s another splendid September in Sun Valley!

–RES

A Traveling Circus

The Orage anti-comp is one big costume party

The Orage anti-comp is one big costume party

The Orage Masters “anti-comp” proclaims itself a traveling circus, the “craziest scene skiing has ever seen,” one part tailgate party, one part costume party and one part slopestyle. And this wacky hybrid is pulling in to Sun Valley.

Witness the raucous, riotous, outrageous Orage events yourself on Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, when 32 freestyle athletes, participating in teams of four, will take to the jumps, rails and features that Terrain Park manager Brian Callahan and his team have been busy pulling out of their collective vivid imagination.

Though Dollar may have officially closed for the season on Sunday, Brian is out pushing piles of snow around the mountain, including collapsing the 22-foot Superpipe and moving the snow into huge hills to create a high altitude playground of proportions heretofore unseen! This circus has many more than three rings and must be seen to be believed.

Orage, the manufacturer of colorful, high-quality ski outerwear and clothing, gave birth to this end-of-season mayhem in 2001 at Mammoth Mountain in California. In 2011 and 2012, the event took a hiatus as organizers (a.k.a. the ringmasters) searched for the perfect bright, sunny town with a great resort and people who love a good costume party. Needless to say, Sun Valley fit the bill.

The Terrain Park team is busy at work turning Dollar into a giant playground for this freestyle spectacle

The Terrain Park team is busy at work turning Dollar into a giant playground for this freestyle spectacle

This, the 8th chapter of the Orage Masters brings some of the top names in freeskiing to Sun Valley. All the pros have big followings online and will represent ski film crews including Level 1, Inspired Media Concepts, Stept, and, of course, Traveling Circus. The anti-comp is drawing (expected) competitors including Phil Casabon, Mike Hornbeck, Sean Jordan, Chris Logan, Matt Margetts, Andy Parry, Sean Pettit, John “LJ” Strenio, Clayton Vila and Will Wesson. Sun Valley’s own Banks Gilberti will also take home slope advantage. Other local riders planning to shred on Dollar are Collin Collins and Karl Fostvedt.

This is one crazy show on snow

This is one crazy show on snow

Four racers will be on the course at any given time, according to Mike Nick, marketing director for Orage, amping up the atmosphere of a three-ring circus. “Two teams go head-to-head in each heat and the other teams are the judges,” he explained. “Spectators can get right on the course and will be very close to the athletes and the action which makes it even crazier,” Mike explained. He also said that local skiers and boarders are invited to come to the training course on Friday (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) to meet the athletes and get a taste of Saturday’s escapades.

After training on Friday, a broom hockey tournament will take place from 4 – 6 p.m. at Sun Valley’s Indoor Ice Rink. In the center ring on Saturday, preliminary heats will begin at 11 a.m. and events run until 4 p.m. To cap off the madness, the popular band Old Death Whisper will play a free concert at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge from 4 – 5:30 p.m. The party moves to downtown Ketchum to Whiskey Jacques at 8 p.m. with a live show and after-party featuring the Casey Donahew Band.

You have never seen anything like this, so you should probably go see it! Sun Valley is, after all, the birthplace of freestyle skiing!

Spectators will be able to get right next to Saturday's action

Spectators will be able to get right next to the action on Saturday

As Mike said, “Sun Valley has been doing a lot to reinvent itself in the freestyle world, and the roots are definitely here. This is something of an untapped resort for this generation of freestyle skiers in many ways and the athletes are excited to get here and get onto the course.”

–RES

Splash into Spring

Sun Valley Terrain Park manager Brian Callahan proves the edict 'go big or go home' at the Pond Skim

Sun Valley Terrain Park manager Brian Callahan proves the edict 'go big or go home' at the Pond Skim ...

Callahan, the first splash down of the day, takes a swim

... and becomes the first splash down of the day

Easter Sunday felt like spring, real spring, with temperatures in Ketchum soaring to above 60 degrees, accompanied by blue skies and a sun-shiny sun. It was an absolutely perfect morning for the annual Sun Valley Ski Patrol “Cold Bowl” pond skim, a hilarious event that attracted dozens of competitors for the chance to ski or board across a man-made (freezing cold) pond at the base of Dollar Mountain. With music that dared you not to get a groove on provided by DJ Train, a delicious outdoor barbecue and play-by-play action, the morning saw a lot of successful runs and some pretty spectacular splashy spills. All told, closing day on Dollar was one big party. Both children and adults took the challenge, donning silly costumes (including a disproportionate number of bunny ears) and spent the entire day on the 22-foot Superpipe, the Rail Yard course, the Cross Park and more traditional runs.

One young skier uses all the Terrain Park features at Saturday's rail jam

One young skier uses all the Terrain Park features at Saturday's rail jam

The incomparable DJ Train got the party started at Dollar Dayz

The incomparable DJ Train got the party started -- and kept it going -- at Dollar Dayz

On Saturday, Dollar Dayz kicked into high gear with the CandyGrind Rail Jam. Freestyle skiers and boarders jumped in to show off their best moves on the multi-faceted course. Announcers deconstructed and judged each run, again, on an absolutely beautiful spring day.

On Friday, the Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village to the delight of hundreds of children, ranging in age from infants to ten-year-olds. Oodles of colorful eggs were strewn all over the Inn lawn, including in the swan pond, from the Opera House to the Sun Valley Inn and over to the Konditorei.

On your mark, get set, hunt!

On your mark, get set, hunt!

Outside the Toy Store, children waited patiently to have whiskers and bunny noses painted on their faces, or eggs painted on their hands. The Easter Bunny made the rounds, posing for photos and giving out a lot of hugs. Easter festivities continued on Sunday with a highly popular brunch at the Lodge Dining Room.

All-in-all, it was a terrific season on Dollar, with great conditions for every level skier, events including the Revolution Tour and freestyle and snowboard competitions, the Christmas Eve torchlight parade and so much more. Thanks to Dollar’s Guest Services, Snowsports instructors, groomers, lift operators and everyone else that helped keep the mountain amazingly fun, welcoming and safe.

The Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village Friday

The Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village Friday

Ski season winds down on Baldy on April 14 and spring skiing rates are in effect beginning April 1. Check out the amazing deals, the corn snow and the spring conditions that just call for some après ski on the deck at River Run or Warm Springs. There is still a lot of season left with the Orage anti-comp, the Janss Pro Am and hours of just cruising the mountain.

Soon it may be time to ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Stay tuned for details of what some people consider the best few weeks in the Valley!

–RES

Thank you, Dollar, for an amazing season!

Thank you, Dollar, for an amazing season!

The Rev Tour goes Local

Langely McNeal -- standout Ski Cross racer and fantastic local girl -- came home for the Rev Tour

Langely McNeal -- standout Ski Cross racer and fantastic local girl -- came home for the Rev Tour

When Ski Cross racer Langely McNeal looks up at Dollar, she sees a lot of things. She sees the mountain where she learned to ski 25 years ago when she took her first turns with father, Whiz, one of the longstanding members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol.  She also sees the future in Sun Valley’s amazing Terrain Park and Pipe. “So many amazing freestyle skiers and boarders have come out of Sun Valley before all this was here,” she smiled, gesturing to the playground that Dollar has become. “The kids that get to grow up on Dollar these days are so fortunate. Sun Valley has built a world-class training facility for Halfpipe and Slope. I would love to see more development with Ski Cross. The potential is unreal and I think Sun Valley could be the ultimate training Mecca.”

The view most of Langely's competitors have of her on the course

The view most of Langely's competitors have of her on the course

Langely, though a pre-Terrain Park child, hasn’t done too badly herself. She is back in town this week as part of the Revolution Tour and won the women’s Ski Cross competition on Monday.

“It’s a great course and it’s always so nice to be home,” Langely said. Currently training with the team at the International Snowboard Training Center in Silverthorne, Colorado, this X-Games alumna has her sights set on Sochi in 2014. Recently back from a trip to the very overcast home of next year’s Winter Olympic Games, she turned her face to the sun and exclaimed, “there really is no place else like Sun Valley. I am so excited to be here, so excited the Rev Tour is here. It gives me a great excuse to show off my hometown to my friends and teammates.”

Another Sun Valley local appearing in the Rev Tour is snowboarder, Chase Josey. Chase, a senior at Community School (where Langely’s mother, Beverly, has taught for more than two decades), exploded onto the international scene this past January in Copper Basin. There, he finished 8th in the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix with a score of 75.00. This was Chase’s first World Cup start. He, too, recently traveled to Sochi and hopes to go back next winter for the Olympics. For the Rev Tour, Chase competes on Thursday in Sun Valley’s fantastic 22-foot Superpipe with qualifying rounds beginning at 9:30 a.m. and finals dropping into the pipe at 3 p.m.

Another young talented Sun Valley snowboarder, Ryan Roemer made heats in Boarder Cross on Monday, but did not advance to the next round.

Local snowboarder Chase Josey previews what fans can expect to see in the Superpipe on Thursday

Local snowboarder Chase Josey previews what fans can expect to see in the Superpipe Thursday

Langely, Chase and Ryan are among the more than 500 athletes in town this week competing in the Rev Tour from as far away as Brazil and Japan. Events include Ski and Boarder Cross, Halfpipe and Slopestyle. According to the Rev Tour website, “In its ninth season, the U.S. Revolution 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 (Cross 15-19) and will award the top juniors 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. Competition formats may vary slightly at each stop, but athletes will always compete as an open class.”

For a look at the Cross Course from a rider’s vantage point, check out this POV video courtesy of Billy Pettengill of team ISTC from one of his training runs.  Billy placed second in Monday’s Rev Tour competition.

Watching Langely and Ryan fly through the rollers on the Cross Course and Chase work his magic in the Superpipe makes us all hold our collective breath and collectively cheer at the end of a successful run. Our homegrown elite athletes, among the best in the world, make us all really, really proud.

Langely was equally proud of her hometown. “It was cool to see Sun Valley step it up and take on the challenge of putting on an event like the Revolution Tour,” she said. “I think it shows that this place is more than capable of bringing many world class events and new business to town!”

–RES

Dollar in all its Park & Pipe glory (courtesy of James Bourret Fine Art Photography/Mountain Images Gallery http://jamesbourret.photoshelter.com/)

Dollar in all its Park & Pipe glory (courtesy of James Bourret Fine Art Photography/Mountain Images Gallery http://jamesbourret.photoshelter.com/)