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!


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

Bring Your A-Game, this Nordic Race is Tough!

Cross-country ski racing at the top of the world

Cross-country ski racing at the top of the world

This Saturday, February 23, cross-country ski racers will queue up at the Sun Valley’s Nordic & Snowshoe Center, ready to take on the Diamondback Revenge, widely considered the Valley’s toughest Nordic race.

The course leads up to the White Clouds and runs along the golf cart path of that spectacular course. “It kicks off with a long 2km climb,” according to the Nordic Center’s Steve Haims “It is an interesting and beautiful race that rolls along the top of the mountains and then comes screaming down.” The race motto is “Come for the grind, enjoy the views!”

Cross-country skiing in Sun Valley is simply stunning

Cross-country skiing in Sun Valley is simply stunning

Steve calls it a technical course, but everyone is welcome to participate. There will be two classic or ski skate races: a 7km (one lap) race and a 12km (two lap) option. For children, Nordic Director Ivana Radlova has set a noon start for a race that will involve both a 1.5km course and a 3km option.

Come for lunch or a Full Moon dinner at the beautiful Sun Valley Club

Come enjoy a delectable lunch or a Full Moon dinner at the beautiful Sun Valley Club -- skiing is not a prerequisite to eating!

Registration is currently open at the Nordic & Snowshoe Center located half a mile east of the Sun Valley Lodge. You may also register until 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Entry is $15. Please call 208.622.2250 for more information.

After the race, be sure to enjoy a wonderful lunch at the Sun Valley Club. Hearty soups, a delicious salad or sandwich, and their famous chocolate chip cookies would taste great after all that work. You earned it!

If you are not a cross-country racer, per se, this would still be a great weekend to get your skinny skis on. There is a full-service rental shop at the Nordic Center, as well as an extensive menu of instruction options. Cross-country skiing is great fun, great exercise, and a great way to enjoy the area’s stunning beauty.

Also this weekend at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center, come out for the monthly Full-Moon Snowshoe. Ivana will lead a group on a serene and peaceful snowshoe hike by the light of the moon, beginning at 8 p.m. The activity is appropriate for most ages and abilities and costs $15. Please register at 208.622.2250. Self-guided snowshoe or ski tours are also available.

The Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center is a full service Mecca for Nordic enthusiasts

The Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center is a full service Mecca for Nordic enthusiasts

The wonderful restaurant at the club will be open for dinner that night serving selections that include Lava Lake lamb chops, prawns, short ribs, rainbow trout, and a variety of salads including the popular roasted beet salad. Yum! Reserve your spot by calling 208.622.2800 and enjoy a relaxing and completely different kind of night out.


Nordic Glides into the Spotlight

Paradise found at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center

Paradise found at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center

Beginning Saturday, January 26, Sun Valley is throwing a party that reaches from Hailey to Galena Lodge and over the pass. The Sun Valley Nordic Festival brings thousands of recreational and competitive cross-country skiers to the valley to enjoy legendary trails, seminars, demos, dining, shopping and entertainment. The week-long Festival kicks into full gear with a big party, a locals’ favorite, the Galena and the Trails Benefit on Saturday night, and builds to the jewel in the Festival’s crown, the Boulder Mountain Tour.

The Boulder Mountain Tour (BMT) is a big deal. Covering 32 kilometers of trail through the sublime Boulder Mountains, the race draws skiers from across the nation. It is one of the country’s longest running and most respected cross-country contests. Best of all, it is appropriate to all abilities. Both highly competitive and recreational skiers will be comfortable in the race. They also offer a Half Boulder, an untimed event for which no age class awards will be given. It’s just a lot of fun. Race day includes souvenirs and a clothing bag for participants, as well as raffle prize drawings. See?  It’s a party, albeit one that requires cardiovascular exertion.

Perfect trails at Sun Valley Nordic

One example of the spectacular trails that won Sun Valley/Ketchum the title of Nordic Town USA

Between the Galena benefit and the BMT, there are dozens of events to appeal to every interest. To name a few: skiing at Alturas Lake, wine tastings, reggae concerts, an induction ceremony at the Sun Valley Alpine & Nordic Ski Hall of Fame, gatherings at Galena Lodge and Smiley Creek Lodge … the list goes on and on. A full list of events and happenings can be found here.

Sun Valley Resort is in on the action, too. The 40 beautiful kilometers of perfectly groomed tracks at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center will set the stage for two events during the Nordic Festival. On Wednesday, January 30, at 10 a.m., competitors will ski in a 3.3km AXCS National Masters Prologue. On Thursday morning, racers will run the same course, but three times in a row, battling it out on the official scored classic event for the 2013 AXCS National Master Championships. As many as 100 racers are expected to line up for Thursday’s start according to Nordic Director Ivana Radlova.

But there’s more. “Skin It 2 Win It,” a team ski and snowboard race on Dollar Mountain changes things up a bit during Nordic week. Here, instead of gliding across the snow, racers climb 563-feet with the help of skins and then ski or snowboard down Otto’s Run on Dollar, trying to complete as many laps as possible in three hours. The madcap and cardio-pumping race benefits the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center and begins at 10 a.m. with awards to follow.

All signs point to fun

All signs point to fun

On Sunday, after the winners of the BMT have distinguished themselves and received their awards, everyone is invited back to the Nordic & Snowshoe Center for Demo Day. Industry professionals will show off the latest and greatest in hard goods from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All Sun Valley trail passes that day are a mere $10. Ivana calls this “quite a great deal and a super way to try out some new skis, boots or poles.”

In general, the Nordic Festival offers amazing opportunities to ski at a very friendly price. $49 will buy a pass valid from January 26 through February 3 on any of the valley’s cross-country trails, including all Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD) and Sun Valley Nordic Trails. Passes are available from the BCRD, Sturtevant’s in Hailey, Backwoods Mountain Sports, the Elephants Perch, Galena Lodge, the SNRA and Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center.

The lovely dining room at the Sun Valley Club

Enjoy a pre-snowshoe meal on January 26 at the lovely Sun Valley Club

And if you’d just like to enjoy a snowshoe under a full moon, the Nordic Festival happens to fall at the perfect time. On January 26, Katherine Pleasants of the Nordic & Snowshoe Center will lead a memorable snowshoe tour, lit by moonlight, at around 8 p.m. That evening, the elegant and cozy restaurant at the Sun Valley Club will serve a special dinner from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Menu items will be a la carte and include flavorful appetizers, healthy salads, a selection of entrees, including the catch of the day and dessert. Go ahead and indulge — you are about to get some exercise! Please make reservations for this meal by calling 208.622.2919. For more information on the guided snowshoe tour, phone  208.622.2250.

Great deals are still available if you are on the fence about coming to town. I highly recommend you do. They don’t call us Nordic Town USA for nothing.



Nordic Nirvana

The Sun Valley Club is open for winter sports and dining

The Sun Valley Club, home to full service cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dining and retail

All it took was one good snowfall Monday for the Nordic & Snowshoe Center at the luxurious Sun Valley Club to turn the welcome sign to “open.” And reports from the trails indicate some of the best early conditions in recent memory.

For those who aren’t aware of the importance of cross-country skiing to Sun Valley’s mountain culture and lifestyle, it is worth noting that we have been christened Nordic Town USA and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation was recently designated as a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site. Many around these parts take their Nordic pursuits very seriously because there is no better place to get outside and embrace winter.

Some of the 40km of track at the Nordic & Snowshoe Center

The skiing is great at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center

But you need not be a world-class athlete or serious enthusiast to enjoy Sun Valley’s magical terrain. The Nordic & Snowshoe Center and Sun Valley Club offer something for everyone. For a low impact, no-instruction-needed way to take in the scenery, many guests and locals alike enjoy snowshoeing. All that is required are some decent, weatherproof boots, a few sensible layers, and sunscreen. For a twist on this activity, the Center offers weekly historic snowshoe hikes. Sun Valley’s rich story and landmarks, from the first chairlift, to the Hemingway Memorial, and everything in between, come alive during this entertaining and informative two-hour tour.

If you are interested in cross-country skiing, many opportunities exist to learn basic technique or to move to the next level on the 40 km of trails. Each day of the season at 10 a.m., the pros at the Nordic Center offer an introduction to classic skiing, a great way to get started. At 2 p.m. daily there is a class in the popular skate ski technique. Those interested should register at least a day ahead and each group has a two-person minimum. Private lessons are also available by appointment.

The Nordic trails are groomed daily for optimal conditions

Nordic trails are groomed daily for optimal conditions

Instructor Steve Haims addressed the “intimidation” factor of the sport. “You don’t have to love cardio to love cross-country skiing,” he explained. “You can go your own speed and people can enjoy classic skiing from day one.  Come in, rent your gear, chat with us about the different trails, take a lesson. Chances are, you will love the peace and beauty.”

And during your Sun Valley stay, it is absolutely possible to enjoy both alpine and cross-country skiing. In fact, according to Ivana Radlova, Nordic Director at Sun Valley, it is fun and beneficial to intersperse both. “If your legs are tired from skiing powder, it is a great day to do some classic or skate skiing,” she explained. “You will recover much more quickly than if you sit on the couch.”

The restaurant at the Sun Valley Club

The lovely restaurant at the Sun Valley Club

The Sun Valley Club is also for those who would like a day to simply relax. Serving one of the tastiest and most popular lunches in the Valley, and offering a full bar, the gorgeous Club invites all to eat, drink and enjoy the unmatched views. From the inviting fireplace in the lobby, to year-round virtual golf, to a shop that offers not only sports gear, but clothing and accessories of all kinds, a trip to the Sun Valley Club will please everyone in your group.

Call (208) 622-2250 for more information, or just drive a half-mile east of the Sun Valley Lodge to enjoy everything offered by this world-class facility.


The skiing Tuesday was great

Another day in paradise. Courtesy photo from my father, a truly enthusiastic cross-country skier



Boulder Prep Clinic this Thursday!

With 10 inches of new snow, the trails at Sun Valley Nordic are as good as it gets. Fast, smooth, and fun. The entire trail system will be opening this week as our world class groomers “work” the snow for optimal skiing conditions. Because of the variety of terrain at the Nordic Center and the accessibility to Ketchum and Hailey, there is no better place to prepare for the Boulder Mountain Tour. Throw in a Boulder Prep Clinic featuring an Olympian (Tessa Westbrook) and a BMT Champion (Brooke Hovey), and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Get faster, ski better and have fun this week and next at Sun Valley Nordic. Call to reserve your spot in the Boulder Prep Clinic. Clinics meet at 4pm, and last about an hour and a half. Cost is $40 per session. Expect video analysis, technique work and a great workout. Experienced skiers only please!! See you at the Nordic Center!

Perfect skiing at Sun Valley Nordic

Perfect skiing at Sun Valley Nordic