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

Skate and Schuss in Sun Valley

There is no prettier place to cross country ski than Sun Valley

There is no prettier place to cross country ski than Sun Valley

There is no question that we have amply made up for the late start to this season’s snowfall and the cross country skiing in Sun Valley is great. With bright skies and a warm late winter sun, now is the time to clip into those bindings and enjoy a fabulous workout in an idyllic setting.

Located a half-mile east of the Sun Valley Lodge on Trail Creek Road, cross country skiing headquarters is the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center. This 58,000 square-foot facility provides everything you need for an amazing day on the trails: from full equipment rental, to a huge selection of performance gear and accessories, to a wonderful restaurant and lounge (with one of the prettiest views in the Valley) to help you recharge after your workout. There are also locker rooms, equipment repair, and storage.

The beautiful Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Center is cross country HQ

The elegant Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Center is cross country HQ

Properly dressed and equipped, Nordic Nirvana is just steps away. This week, 12 trails offering 32-kilometers of perfectly groomed snow are open for your enjoyment. Whether you prefer classic skiing or skate skiing, flats or lung-busting hill climbs, there is something for everyone. Snowshoe trails appeal to visitors and locals who just want to get out and enjoy the fresh air and view.

And the view is one of the biggest draws on Sun Valley’s trails. Ski and snowshoe tracks run along picturesque Trail Creek, climb the White Clouds golf course, and meander through wooded glades. Another big draw is Sun Valley’s legendary machine grooming that offers the best conditions possible whether is it is a cold winter’s morning, or a sunny, warm afternoon.

Cross country skiing is not only a terrific workout, it is a beautiful way to spend a few hours

Cross country skiing is not only a terrific workout, it is a beautiful way to spend a few hours

New to the sport? Group lessons and private lessons in both skiing disciplines are available daily and may be arranged by calling (208) 622-2250 or just by stopping by the desk at the Pro Shop.  And don’t worry too much about the altitude. At 6,000 feet, the trail system won’t leave you gasping for air unless you want to be!

Passes are required on Sun Valley trails and are available, again, at the Nordic Center. If you buy a season’s pass, you will also enjoy unlimited access at the Royal Gorge Resort in Northern California. Please click HERE for details.

Stop in at the Pro Shop for the latest layers and performance gear before hitting the trails

Stop in at the Pro Shop for the latest layers and performance gear before hitting the trails

With the heavy snowfall during the past few weeks, now is the time to work a cross country workout into your routine or into your vacation. No matter your fitness or experience level, it will be a terrific day on the trails. Sun Valley is Nordic Town USA and one of the few Olympic and Paralympic cross country training sites in the United States. Come find out why for yourself!

–RES

Breathe deep! Cross country skiing or snowshoeing are wonderful ways to enjoy our beautiful valley

Breathe deep! Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are wonderful ways to enjoy our spectacular valley

It’s time for the Fly Fishing Film Tour!

On Wednesday, February 19, thoughts in Sun Valley will turn from fresh powder to freshwater; to trout streams and fly fishing to be exact. That evening at the historic Opera House in the Sun Valley Village, the 2014 Fly Fishing Film Tour (a.k.a. the F3T) will roll film. Labeled the “original and preeminent exhibition of fly fishing cinema,” the F3T is a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Fly Fishing Film Tour returns to Sun Valley February 19

The Fly Fishing Film Tour returns to Sun Valley February 19

According to tour producers, “Each year fishy folk of all ages gather at premieres to soak up films from around the world, spin a few yarns amongst friends and dream about casts still unmade.”

This is a film tour to watch. Since its inception in 2007, the F3T has grown more than 30 percent each year, reaching nearly 50,000 anglers across North America last season. The event returns to Sun Valley this year, connecting with our vast community of fly fishing devotees.

Sun Valley is fly fishing Nirvana, offering some of the finest trout fishing in the world

Sun Valley is fly fishing Nirvana, offering some of the finest trout fishing in the world

With eight films on offer, there is something to satisfy every midwinter’s fly fishing fantasy. From a piece on the Gold Cup Invitational Tarpon Fly Tournament, to an insiders’ look at the pursuit of wild brook trout and landlocked salmon, to a journey to the furthest reaches of the Alaskan frontier, fly rod will travel. The evening brings to life the personalities and places helping to define this lifetime sport. You’ll see a lot of pretty spectacular fish, too. For a full description of the films being shown, please click HERE.

The screening begins at 7 p.m. Discounted tickets for $13 are available in advance at two fabulous local fly shops: Silver Creek Outfitters (with a second location in the Sun Valley Village) and Lost River Outfitters, both in Ketchum. At the door, tickets will be $15.

If this photo makes your heart sing, then this film fest is for you (photo Bryan Huskey, Silver Creek Outfitters)

If this photo makes your heart sing, then this film fest is for you (photo Bryan Huskey, Silver Creek Outfitters)

Fly fishing is a way of life and nearly a year-round pursuit in Sun Valley. Take an evening’s vacation from the slopes and trails and span the globe with some of the most daring anglers around, setting your hook for a night of camaraderie and adventure. Local fishing is excellent this time of year, too, if you wade into the current properly prepared. Warm layers and a few pairs of fingerless gloves will make for a fantastic day of winter fishing. For updated fishing reports, please click HERE.

Fish on!

–RES

Winter fishing can be very productive, and very beautiful, in the Sun Valley area

Winter fishing can be very productive, and very beautiful, in the Sun Valley area

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

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

Sun Valley Welcomes Mile-High City

It’s been a season of great news in Sun Valley when it comes to making it easier than ever to visit this amazing all-season playground. This week, Fly Sun Valley Alliance, the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and Sun Valley Resort announced new non-stop air service connecting the busy Denver, Colorado, hub with Sun Valley’s Friedman Memorial Airport starting this summer. Beginning July 2, United Express flights operated by SkyWest Airlines will fly between the two destinations and service will continue through September 23. It will be a great Fourth of July celebration, indeed!

Starting this summer, Sun Valley will welcome direct fights from Denver

Starting this summer, Sun Valley will welcome direct fights from Denver

CRJ 700 regional jets will bring 70 travelers to Sun Valley from the Mile High City. Six seats will be in United First Class with 64 in the economy cabin. Sixteen seats are extra-legroom Economy Plus seats providing options for every flyer with every budget.

Denver is a huge hub for travel from the east coast and south, making it easier than ever to come hike, mountain bike, fly fish, swim and golf Sun Valley this summer.

Sun Valley is thrilled with new service connecting Sun Valley with San Francisco this winter and looks forward to welcoming visitors from Denver in time for July 4 celebrations

Sun Valley is thrilled with new service connecting Sun Valley with San Francisco this winter and looks forward to welcoming visitors from Denver in time for July 4 celebrations

“This new nonstop route to Sun Valley will allow additional connectivity to eastern US cities and other destinations in United’s global route network,” said Vic Kerckhoff, United’s director of leisure sales. “We are pleased to be expanding our service to the Sun Valley market and look forward to a long-term successful partnership with this important destination.”

The initial flight schedule shows jets departing Denver at 7:15 p.m. and arriving in paradise at 9:03 p.m. Flights return at 7:30 a.m., arriving in Denver at 9:11 a.m. This takes advantage of connections from all major eastern markets.

Welcome to Friedman Memorial Airport -- the gateway to our year-round playground

Welcome to Friedman Memorial Airport -- the gateway to our year-round playground

The new summer flight will run daily from July 2 – August 25 and 5 times per week from August 26 – Sept 23 and represents 5,500 additional seats into Sun Valley for the 2014 summer season.

“We are extremely excited about this additional new United Airlines nonstop service to Denver,” said Eric Seder, Board President of Fly Sun Valley Alliance, an organization engaged in strategic air service development efforts for the Sun Valley area.  “Our community has shown its support for improving air service and we are getting results.”

Ron Fairfax, Chairman of the Friedman Memorial Airport noted, “This is one more very positive step in the ongoing public-private partnership work underway to improve air service to Sun Valley for the benefit of our visitors, our businesses and our local residents.  The airport is proud to be a part of this collective effort.”

The friendly professionals at Friedman Memorial Airport will make your travels as worry-free as possible

The friendly professionals at Friedman Memorial Airport will make your travels as worry-free as possible

To book the new flights, please click http://www.united.com.

I am personally really excited to learn about this new service as I hope it makes it easier for my brother and his family to come visit from their home in Colorado. I also know it will entice all my east coast friends to come out to see for themselves why I always say Sun Valley is just as beautiful in the summer as in the winter. The welcome mat it out!

This new service is the latest in direct flights that link Sun Valley to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

Welcome to Sun Valley. The fun starts now!

Welcome to Sun Valley. The fun starts now!

Sun Valley looks forward to welcoming visitors from the Denver-area and beyond this summer and hopefully next winter, too. Everyone is hard at work to add winter service for 2014-2015.

It’s all good!

–RES