View from a Sled

Once Ski Patrol is summoned, they can arrive at your side within a matter of minutes

Once Ski Patrol is summoned, it is usually a matter of minutes from the hut to the slope

This week, my Monday morning started off in an ordinary Monday kind of way. A little rushed, a bit overcast. I was off to the mountain at 9 a.m. to join up with the DIVAS, my women’s ski group lesson — always a highlight of my week. The usual. An hour and a half later, though, the day had become extraordinary, in the truest sense of the world.

On a groomed run, concentrating on a technique the instructor has just outlined, my bottom ski got away from me and down I went. Falling goes part and parcel with skiing or snowboarding, especially if you are trying something new, pushing yourself a bit. I fall a few times every year which I actually think is good because it means I am not being complacent. Normally, I take a tumble, get up, laugh at myself and shake it off. This one was different. The moment I lost control of my ski, it hurt, and not in the same way that just hitting the snow and taking a good slide down the hill hurts.

Rich Bauer, my new best friend

Ski Patrol's Rich Bauer doing what he does best

While I personally know many of the fine people on Sun Valley’s outstanding Ski Patrol, only once before have I had an “official” interaction with them. A few years ago, when one of my daughters fell jumping a ski gun lip on College, she landed face first and left the snow splattered with blood. Ski Patrol was called, she got the ok, and off we went.

My wonderful teacher called up to Ski Patrol (208.622.6262) as I sat on the slope, dumbfounded at my dumb luck, surrounded by a great, supportive group of women. Within minutes, my knights in shining white-crossed uniforms, Rich Bauer and Barry Irwin, arrived on “the scene.”

Rich, a Paramedic and member of Wood River Fire & Rescue (one of 15 firefighters on Patrol) is married to a DIVAS member, so we chatted about that as he assessed the damage. He, Barry (a ten year Ski Patrol vet), and I determined that skiing down was not an option, so I enjoyed (yes, a euphemism, but it really wasn’t scary) my first sled ride off the hill. The boys bundled me into the toboggan, gave me a warm blanket, and wrapped the waterproof outer layer. Barry even shared his gloves with me as my mittens had gotten soaked in the snow, and pulled the sleigh with bare hands. Throughout the process, from our initial contact, to the determination that a ride was necessary, to the release interview at the base of Warm Springs, Rich and Barry were kind, compassionate, consummate professionals. I expected no less given Ski Patrol’s stellar reputation, but now I can attest to it first-hand.

Warm, cared for and calm, off we go

Warm, cared for, and calm ... off we go

Accidents happen, and if you do happen to need assistance on Baldy or Dollar, there is no better team to have behind you than Sun Valley Ski Patrol, our first responders and the medical staff at St. Luke’s Wood River Hospital. From the moment you need help, to the arrival of Ski Patrol, to delivery (if needed) to our amazing EMS and Paramedics, and the hand-off to a world-class group of doctors and nurses, you will be treated with care, respect, and kindness, all while receiving the best medical attention possible.

Thank you to Rich and to Barry, to my fellow DIVAS and coaches, to Annie and Dr. Keith at St. Luke’s for making what could have been a worrisome experience very manageable and as painless as possible – literally and figuratively.


Find Your Inner Diva

Day one of DIVAS

Day one of DIVAS -- the terrific coaching team motivates the group

The standard definition of the word di·va  [dee-vuh, -vah] is: Italian, literally, goddess, feminine of the divine, god. The term has evolved in modern times to describe famous female opera singers (no idea why) and then devolved to a term for a woman that must have her way exactly, or no way at all.

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

But there is another definition of DIVAS, specific to Sun Valley: Idahoan, “Die Incredible Vimin Alpine Shredders.” And for 90 local women skiers, this is the only definition that matters. Sun Valley’s DIVAS are skiers of intermediate ability and above who take part in an eight-week clinic, skiing one day a week with a rotating cadre of some of the mountain’s best coaches. It’s women teaching women and it’s such a big success, that in its third year, DIVAS has a wait list. According to Snowsports Supervisor Nick Maricich, the DIVAS program is the top women’s clinic in the country and is being emulated by many other resorts. Yay us!

What makes the program so popular? The answer is as diverse as the skiers. In a pre-season questionnaire sent out by DIVAS co-founder and Sun Valley skiing royalty, Danielle Crist Carruth, each woman was asked what she hoped to get out of the clinic. Possibilities ranged from improving bump technique, to improving confidence; from skiing with the girls and making new friends, to getting away from the kids for three hours. I just appreciated being asked what I wanted for a change and chose D: all of the above.

This Monday morning, on day one, I joined 29 other shredders at the base of the Warm Spring Lodge. In my second year of the program, I was excited to be there. My inaugural year as a DIVA was not only a huge boon to my ability to carve pretty round turns, I also met some great people and laughed – a lot. This year, with the goal of finally conquering moguls and pulverizing powder, I took my turn skiing down in front of a slew of coaches, praying I didn’t fall or disqualify myself from the group that also wanted to ski varied terrain.

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

I was placed with five fun women  who shared similar goals. The always positive, extremely helpful and very entertaining DIVAS co-founder Nicky Elsbree was my coach du jour. Each week is themed and the focus on Monday was balance – apropos for women at the beginning of a New Year. For the next two-and-a-half hours, Nicky helped us work on our balance from every angle.

Being a DIVA is an exercise in balance in itself. Most of the 90 women up there every Monday, Tuesday or Friday are balancing multiple commitments, from jobs to children to spouses and volunteer gigs. The three hours we carve out each week for ourselves, carries over to everything else. As one of my fellow DIVAS said on the lift, the valley spread out beneath us, if we don’t get out here and enjoy where we live, we may as well live anywhere. Amen. Skiing with DIVAS forces you to focus, to quiet the never-ending mental “to do” list, to be present.

Nicky Elsbree works on a DIVAS' balance

Nicky Elsbree demonstrates balance

For those interested in adult specialty ski programs, Sun Valley has something for everyone. DIVAS also offers a beginner clinic called DIVAS 101 and the Snowsports School runs popular programs including Mountain Masters, Masters Race, Ski Club and the new men-only program, ARCS.

If you’re here for the winter, or most of it, these clinics are probably the best way to get excellent instruction at a great value, while meeting new friends and enjoying the mountain lifestyle.

Please call the Sun Valley Snowsports School at (888) 490-5950 or email and find your inner diva.