Bring on the Boulder

The Boulder Mountain Tour caps off a week of cross country celebrations

The Boulder Mountain Tour caps off a week of cross country celebrations

Things are in full swing in Nordic Town USA as Sun Valley celebrates a week devoted to everything cross country. Each January, the Sun Valley Nordic Festival brings together devotees of cross country ski culture with training opportunities, parties, concerts, a film festival and food and drink specials all over town. The fun culminates this weekend with the 39th Annual Swix Boulder Mountain Tour on February 1.

The Boulder, as it’s known, brings hundreds of people to town for friendly or serious competition on a course that begins north of Ketchum at Galena Lodge and finishes fast at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters. The big event is a 32-kilometer race but there is also a Half Boulder that covers 15-kilometers.

This is a week many locals look forward to each year, but it is also an annual event on the calendar of skiers from across the country. One such cross country aficionado is Brad Laesch of Seattle. Saturday’s race will be Brad’s fifth and it’s something he looks forward to each year. During a phone interview conducted as he organized and packed his skis and gear, Brad said, “I love the atmosphere of the Boulder, it is always so much fun. The start at Galena Lodge is such a terrific, energetic location. The actual racecourse is beautiful, nestled in a little bowl area among the mountains. And I always see friends from Seattle at the starting line.”

The Boulder Mountain Tour is a one-of-a-kind race

The Boulder Mountain Tour is a one-of-a-kind race

Each year, Brad and members of his family fly Alaska Air direct into Sun Valley to get in on the fun. In past years, his wife and daughters have participated in the Half Boulder. This year, his daughter Greta, 11, is returning for her third race. When they land on Friday, Greta will warm up on the snow with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation cross country team with a friend from Boise who trains with them on weekends.

Greta, Brad, Lexie and Lily Laesch of Seattle look forward to their annual trip to Sun Valley to race in the Boulder and Half Boulder (not pictured, son Conrad)

Greta, Brad, Lexie and Lily Laesch of Seattle look forward to their annual trip to Sun Valley to race in the Boulder and Half Boulder (not pictured, son Conrad)

As for Brad, he has been training all fall and winter despite poor snow conditions around Seattle. “I’ve been doing a lot of roller skiing around our park,” he laughed. “I get weird looks but it helps me work on balance and I can do drills and intervals. It’s better than nothing!”

Brad and his family, and all the other Boulder and Sun Valley Nordic Festival attendees, also love the whole vibe of town and the Resort this week. Though there have already been coffee tastings at local roaster, the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Paralympic Biathlon Training, pre-race skiing with Muffy Ritz and other VAMPS coaches, and a spirited downtown sprint, the fun is just getting started.

Racers queue up at the starting line on Thursday evening's in-town sprints

Racers queue up at the starting line on Thursday evening's in-town sprints

Celebrate a race well run Saturday night at one of the most rocking parties of the year – Reggae in the Mountains. The party, called “the greatest show on snow,” takes over Ketchum Town Square at 5 p.m. A concert pre-party will take place at Lefty’s Bar and Grill in Ketchum at 4 p.m. This year, the concert features the nine-piece roots Bob Marley inspired band Sol Horizon from Sonoma County, California, and the nine-piece roots music inspired band Natural Roots from Salt Lake City. After the concert, the party continues in downtown Ketchum at Whiskey Jacques’ with music from Soul Medic, Jah Wave and Lions Den Unlimited Sounds. For more information, visit HERE.

Enthusiasm was high among athletes and spectators for the competitive town sprints

Enthusiasm was high among athletes and spectators for the competitive town sprint relay race

Leading up to the big race, on Friday, the Friends of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center present the Banff Mountain Film Festival and raffle. This annual fundraiser is held at Ketchum’s nexStage Theatre and offers more than $10,000 of incredible raffle prizes and four hours of amazing outdoor films. The event begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are $14 to $15. It is advisable to buy them ahead of time as they do sell out and they are available at Backwoods Mountain Sports, the Elephants Perch and Chapter One Bookstore. You need not be present to win raffle prizes.

Demo days at the beautiful Sun Valley Nordic Center is a great way to wind down the Sun Valley Nordic Festival week

Demo days at the beautiful Sun Valley Nordic Center is a great way to wind down the Sun Valley Nordic Festival week

On Sunday, wind down the weekend at the Sun Valley Nordic Center. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you are invited to join the best local and national reps who will bring out the latest equipment to demo. A special discounted daily pass costing $10 will get you onto the snow in whatever new boots or skis you wish to try. The Clubhouse at the Sun Valley Nordic Center will offer a special lunch during this event. Sit down and treat yourself to a wonderful meal. You’ve earned it! This demo day is always a fun event.

Sun Valley loves its Nordic roots and culture. The SVSEF was recently named one of very few Olympic and Paralympic training sites for cross country skiing in the nation and we boast miles and miles and miles of scenic and spectacular trails running in every direction. This is truly Nordic Nirvana. Come join us and experience it for yourself!

–RES

Dine by the Light of the Silvery Moon

There is something wonderful about the combination of moonlight and fresh snow and that is exactly what dinner patrons enjoyed Saturday night at the year’s first Sun Valley Clubhouse Moonlight Dinner. The day’s heavy snowfall dissipated by evening, allowing the light of a big winter moon to intermittently fall on the silent snow.

The Sun Valley Club, located just east of the Lodge, is HQ for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fabulous lunches, and three times this season, a very special moonlight dinner

The Sun Valley Club, located just east of the Lodge, is HQ for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fabulous lunches, and three times this season, a moonlight dinner

The lovely spacious dining room at the Clubhouse hosted parties both large and small for a festive meal. The chef offered an a la carte menu with something for every palate. Appetizers included hot southwest chicken tortilla soup, a generous prawn cocktail with house made cocktail sauce, duck flatbread, an apple walnut salad and a bibb wedge salad. Entrees consisted of three choices: chicken roulade, grilled Atlantic salmon and prime rib of beef. Dessert was a choice of chocolate and white mousse cake or my all-time favorite, Bananas Foster.

Our group of seven reserved this special dinner to celebrate my son’s ninth birthday. The big, comfortable table, welcoming atmosphere and varied menu was the perfect choice for a special occasion. Conversation was animated and laughter constant as we tucked into our meals and enjoyed watching the snow fall lightly outside the big picture windows. The birthday boy enjoyed a man-sized portion of prime rib and the rest of the group, for the most part, followed suit, enjoying the flavorful carved-to-order meat accompanied by roasted garlic mashed potatoes, baby carrots and asparagus. The prawn cocktails were also a popular and well-received choice. For dessert, my son blew out the candle on his mousse cake and enjoyed every bite.

The moonlight dinner at the Sun Valley Club was a perfect place to celebrate a special birthday

The moonlight dinner at the Sun Valley Club was a perfect place to celebrate a special birthday

If you missed the fun last weekend, don’t fret. There will be two additional Moonlight Dinners this season, the first on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14 and the second on Saturday, March 15. Please call the Sun Valley Clubhouse directly at 208-622-2919 to make your reservations. Plan a little extra time before or after dinner, too, to take advantage of a snowshoe or a gentle cross country ski around the Nordic Center’s amazing trails. Under the light of the moon, there is nothing more serene.

The Ring and Foster families also celebrated a birthday Saturday under the light of the moon

The Ring and Foster families also celebrated a birthday Saturday beneath the light of the moon

Chances are you will be spending more and more time at the Nordic Center and Sun Valley Club as the Resort opened cross country skiing trails originating from the Club on Monday. Recent storms allowed for the opening of 5 kilometers of trails including Practice Loop and Leif’s Loop. Until there is additional snow, there will not be groomed classic tracks, but classic skiers are invited to enjoy the skate skiing trails. Glenn’s Loop is also open for snowshoeing and all trails are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lessons are available and all the gear cross country enthusiasts need is available to rent on premise. For more information, please call the Sun Valley Nordic Center at 208-622-2250.

It's beginning to look a lot like cross country skiing season in Nordic Town USA with the opening of 5km of trails in Sun Valley

It's beginning to look a lot like cross country skiing season in Nordic Town USA with the opening of 5km of trails in Sun Valley

With the Boulder Mountain Tour and the Sun Valley Nordic Festival coming soon, many people’s thoughts are turning to serious cross country fun. In Sun Valley, festivities celebrating the Nordic lifestyle begin January 24 and run through February 2.

The weekend’s snowfall put everyone in a great mood and the season is truly underway. Whether you favor fat or skinny skis, play hard on the mountain or on the trail and then be sure to stop by the Sun Valley Club to enjoy a hearty, delicious and nutritious lunch. And be sure to book a special night for that special person on Valentine’s Day. It will surely be a night to remember.

–RES

SUN VALLEY NORDIC FESTIVAL

Sun Valley Nordic Festival
January 25th – February 2nd, 2014
The Sun Valley Nordic festival is a week long event filled with Nordic skiing, demonstrations, races, seminars and special activities all culminating with the world famous Boulder Mountain Tour.

Thanks to an incredible cadre of Nordic community partners, this one of a kind Nordic Festival celebrates “Nordic Town USA” showcasing the Sun Valley community and all it has to offer Nordic skiers. From world class nordic trails, to exciting ski racing events and fantastic nordic parties, this is a week long extravaganza for the Nordic enthusiast. For more details about festival week events, lodging and dining, visitsvnordicfestival.com or nordictownusa.com

Day of Rest

The day after the Boulder Mountain Tour offered the best equipment to Demo at Sun Valley

On Sunday, the Sun Valley Nordic Festival wrapped up with a great Demo Day at the Resort's beautiful cross-country trails

The Sun Valley Nordic Festival drew to a festive close Sunday following a hugely successful week of races, demos, parties, concerts and events. The 38th annual Boulder Mountain Tour drew more than 900 people to a beautiful course north of Ketchum on Saturday where the competition was fierce for the serious racers and pretty mellow for recreational skiers. For everyone, the 32-kilometer course ran fast under a bright blue Idaho sky.

The Laesch family at the BMT, minus their 7-year-old son who enjoyed the day on Dollar

The Laesch family (minus 7-year-old Conrad who opted for a ski lesson on Dollar) at the Boulder Mountain Tour

The Laesch family of Seattle returned to Sun Valley this weekend for the fifth time, drawn by the terrific Nordic skiing and friendly atmosphere. “This year, the girls (ages 10 and 12) and I did the Half Boulder and [my husband] Brad once again did the full Boulder,” explained mom, Lexie. “It was a spectacular day and we all got a lot out of the race. It’s a great experience — from the people from all over the country you meet on the shuttle bus to the race, to the cheers you get crossing the finish line.” Brad, a competitive racer, concurred. “It’s the one race of the year I try not to miss. The people are terrific and the skiing is as nice as it gets. We always look forward to it.”

But for many racers, the Laesch family included, Sunday, was a relative day of rest after the big race, an opportunity to recover, to compare notes and to simply celebrate another beautiful day in NordicTown USA. Approximately 400 avid cross-country enthusiasts spent much of their ‘recovery’ day skiing the perfectly groomed trails at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center. There, beside the Sun Valley Club, local retailers set up shop for a very well attended Demo Day. I overheard one merchant relay that before 8 a.m., he had 20 people lined up waiting to try the latest and greatest gear.

The gear was out in all its colorful glory – the best in boots, skis and poles were all available to try throughout the day — all the was required was a $10 trail pass. Many skiers took advantage of the opportunity to demo next year’s models and to talk with the experts about technique, conditions and ways to improve. Others just brought the family and enjoyed a spectacular day of browsing equipment and taking a few laps around the 40-kilometers of trails Sun Valley offers.

Gear, glorious gear

Gear, glorious gear

All the best equipment was available to try at Demo Day

All the best equipment was available to try at Demo Day

Although license plates in the parking lot showed guests were visiting from Missouri, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, everyone at Demo Day seemed to know each other. Congratulations on finish times rang out among the crowd and everyone shared their tales from the week’s events.

A very unscientific poll outside the Sun Valley Club echoed those of the Laesch family. Everyone gathered agreed that the Boulder Mountain Tour is one of the must-attend races of the year. A combination of the conditions, the crowd and the truly jaw-dropping scenery make it a day marked in permanent ink on the calendar. Equal praise was given to Ketchum and Sun Valley for the vast array of events surrounding and preceding the BMT. High on everyone’s list of the week’s highlights were the very affordable skiing valley-wide, the Marley in the Mountains concert Saturday night and friendly atmosphere.

Congratulations to NordicTown USA for putting on a wonderful week and welcoming so many guests to our towns and our trails. Congratulations to all the athletes who participated in the races and events.  We hope you all come back next year and bring your friends. It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year, too.

–RES

The last day of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival was full of fun and relaxation, mountain style

The last day of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival was full of fun and relaxation, mountain style

Sun Valley Nordic Festival

The Sun Valley Nordic Festival is a week filled with nordic skiing, demonstrations, races, seminars, and activies all culminating with the Boulder Mountain Tour.

The schedule, thus far:

1/26
Ski the Rails..Ketchum to Hailey-  BCRD

1/27
Skin it to Win It A.T. Race-  Dollar Mtn
Local Stoker Ski Tour-  Alturas Lake

1/28
Guest Speaker-  Ketchum Community Libray
Local Stoker BC Ski Tour-  TBD

1/29
Twilight Ski/Dinner-  Galena Lodge
Local Stoker Ski Tour-  TBD

1/30
Masters Nationals Prologue-  Sun Valley Nordic
Nordic Hall of Fame-  Ski Hall of Fame

1/31
Masters Nationals 10K Classic-  Sun Valley Nordic
Downtown Races/Jam-  SVCA Field, Ketchum

2/1
Boulder Mt. Tour Expo-  YMCA
Banff Mountain Film Festival
Local Stoker Tour-  TBD

2/2
Boulder Mountain Tour Race-  North Valley Trails
½ BMT Race-  North Valley Trails
Banff Mountain Film Festival

2/3
Swix BMT Demo Day-  Sun Valley Nordic Center

 

SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour Demo

SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour Demo

Sun Valley Nordic Center

Sunday, February 5

10am

Sun Valley Nordic Festival

2nd Annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival

Jan 28-Feb 5, 2012

The 2nd annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival will feature nine days of activities, races, clinics and fun events, discounts on nordic ski passes, discounts on demos/rentals, lodging and dining, which showcase and celebrate Sun Valley’s well-deserved reputation as "Nordic Town USA.”

The creation of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival was a collaborative efforts from a wide variety of groups, individuals, and businesses, now known as the Sun Valley Nordic Ski Alliance, who are all interested in further promoting Sun Valley as a major Nordic ski destination. The idea to create a weeklong event that capitalized on the renowned Boulder Mountain Tour ski race and built in new activities that might encourage racers to come a few days earlier, but also to have activities that non-race skiers and families could enjoy.

Train for the Boulder at the Sun Valley Nordic Center

Sun Valley Nordic Center photo

Learn to ski on skinny skis, improve your skating and classic skiing skills and/or train for the Boulder Mountain Tour at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center. The Nordic Center is located at the Sun Valley Club and Golf Course. We offer nearly 42km (25 miles) of groomed trails with a variety of terrain and clinics for beginners to experts.
For more information and trail rates, please call the Nordic Center at (208) 622-2250.

Specialty Nordic Clinics include:
Ski with the Masters

Sun Valley Masters Clinics (coordinated by 3-Time Olympian Jon Engen) http://www.sunvalleymasters.com/
Fast Skating: 8-week course begins January 4 at noon. $320 per person.
Classic Technique: 8-week course begins January 5 at noon. $320 per person.
Skate Technique: 8-week course begins January 6 at noon. $320 per person.

Skate Ski University with Kris Thoreson- Graduate to better skiing with this 6-week work-out. $240 per person

The Sun Valley Nordic Festival begins January 29, culminating with the big race, the Boulder Mountain Tour, on February 5.

The Nordic Center offers Learn to Ski and Intermediate Group Lessons for both skate and classic style Nordic skiing daily. Please call (208)622-2250 for lesson times.
Learn to Ski packages are $40 per person and include equipment rentals.
Intermediate Groups Lessons are only $25 per person (equipment not included).
Private instruction is also available.

Just want to hike? Try snowshoeing. This is a great way to see all the beautiful Sun Valley sites and get a great workout! Rentals available daily.
Every Saturday and Sunday from 1-3pm, sign up for the Historic Snowshoe Group Tour lead by Katherine Pleasants telling her own narration of Sun Valley’s colorful history.

The Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center can also outfit you with top of the line Nordic apparel and equipment. We have a full service tuning, repair and rental center. And we also have locker rooms and showers. For more information please call us at: (208) 622-2250.

Lunch is served at the Sun Valley Club Restaurant daily from 11am-3pm and the Club bar is open from 11am-5pm daily. (208) 622-2919.

*Don’t forget that the Sun Valley Club offers year-round indoor virtual golf and the Sun Valley Golf Pro-Shop is also open all winter. For virtual golf tee-times call (208) 622-2251.

Sun Valley Nordic Demo Days Sunday

Free skiing this Sunday at Sun Valley Nordic

Don’t forget about the Nordic Demo Days this Sunday, the day after the Boulder Mountain Tour, at the Sun Valley Nordic Center. Marking the official end of the highly successful Sun Valley Nordic Festival, the Demo Days give skiers a chance to try the latest and greatest from Fischer, Rossignol and Salomon. Wax technicians, local shop representatives and BMT racers will be on hand to offer advice and pointers. Hours are from 10-2, and there will be an outside BBQ during the Demo! Oh yea, and the Super Bowl will be streaming inside the Clubhouse later in the day. Best of all, the skiing is FREE all day, as are the Demos. Don’t miss this chance to ski some of the best trails in the world, on the best Nordic gear available today. What a great way to recover from the Boulder.

Welcome to Nordic Town, USA!

This Saturday marks the kickoff of the first annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival. Lasting from January 30th to February 7th, the festival which is promoting Nordic Skiing from one of the country’s premiere Nordic skiing areas, will include demonstrations, parties, celebrations, races, seminars, and more. The week’s events will culminate in the 35th annual Boulder Mountain Tour.

Starting Saturday, January 30th, with the Blaine County Recreation District Ski the Rails/ Downtown Hailey Celebration and continuing throughout the week with events like Boulder Mountain Tour Preps and Clinics, Alturas Lake Skis, an aprs-ski party at historic Smiley Creek Lodge, an evening with ski-writer Dick Dorworth, Avalanche Awareness Programs with the Sawtooth National Avalanche Center, guided snowshoe adventures, the first Sun Valley 5K Snowshoe Challenge, and Sun Valley Nordic Sprint Races. There will also be a Downtown Ketchum Nordic night on Thursday, February 4th, with friendly competition, music from Reno-based World Pop group Sol’Jibe, and a bonfire. The party will take place at the future site of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, across from the Ketchum Post Office. Check out the Sun Valley Nordic Festival’s website for a complete list of the week’s activities (www.svnordicfestival.com).

The highlight event of the week will be the Boulder Mountain Tour. The 32-km world famous race starts at Senate Meadows and snakes along the immaculately groomed trails along the beautiful Big Wood River. Don’t miss your chance to race alongside some of the country’s best Nordic skiers and enjoy some spectacular views. New to the tour this year, the Half Boulder Mountain Tour. Beginning at the Tour’s halfway point, Baker Creek, the 15K course is an excellent opportunity for young and novice skiers to check out what the Boulder Mountain Tour is all about. For more information or to sign up for the race, go to www.bouldermountaintour.com.

A special thanks goes out to the Nordic Festival’s organizers including the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau, the Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD), the Boulder Mountain Tour, the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, the Sun Valley Nordic Center (nordic.sunvalley.com), the Elephant’s Perch, the Sawtooth National Avalanche Center and many more who made this awesome week of Nordic skiing happen. Welcome to Nordic Town, USA!