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 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.
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.