A Traveling Circus

The Orage anti-comp is one big costume party

The Orage anti-comp is one big costume party

The Orage Masters “anti-comp” proclaims itself a traveling circus, the “craziest scene skiing has ever seen,” one part tailgate party, one part costume party and one part slopestyle. And this wacky hybrid is pulling in to Sun Valley.

Witness the raucous, riotous, outrageous Orage events yourself on Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, when 32 freestyle athletes, participating in teams of four, will take to the jumps, rails and features that Terrain Park manager Brian Callahan and his team have been busy pulling out of their collective vivid imagination.

Though Dollar may have officially closed for the season on Sunday, Brian is out pushing piles of snow around the mountain, including collapsing the 22-foot Superpipe and moving the snow into huge hills to create a high altitude playground of proportions heretofore unseen! This circus has many more than three rings and must be seen to be believed.

Orage, the manufacturer of colorful, high-quality ski outerwear and clothing, gave birth to this end-of-season mayhem in 2001 at Mammoth Mountain in California. In 2011 and 2012, the event took a hiatus as organizers (a.k.a. the ringmasters) searched for the perfect bright, sunny town with a great resort and people who love a good costume party. Needless to say, Sun Valley fit the bill.

The Terrain Park team is busy at work turning Dollar into a giant playground for this freestyle spectacle

The Terrain Park team is busy at work turning Dollar into a giant playground for this freestyle spectacle

This, the 8th chapter of the Orage Masters brings some of the top names in freeskiing to Sun Valley. All the pros have big followings online and will represent ski film crews including Level 1, Inspired Media Concepts, Stept, and, of course, Traveling Circus. The anti-comp is drawing (expected) competitors including Phil Casabon, Mike Hornbeck, Sean Jordan, Chris Logan, Matt Margetts, Andy Parry, Sean Pettit, John “LJ” Strenio, Clayton Vila and Will Wesson. Sun Valley’s own Banks Gilberti will also take home slope advantage. Other local riders planning to shred on Dollar are Collin Collins and Karl Fostvedt.

This is one crazy show on snow

This is one crazy show on snow

Four racers will be on the course at any given time, according to Mike Nick, marketing director for Orage, amping up the atmosphere of a three-ring circus. “Two teams go head-to-head in each heat and the other teams are the judges,” he explained. “Spectators can get right on the course and will be very close to the athletes and the action which makes it even crazier,” Mike explained. He also said that local skiers and boarders are invited to come to the training course on Friday (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) to meet the athletes and get a taste of Saturday’s escapades.

After training on Friday, a broom hockey tournament will take place from 4 – 6 p.m. at Sun Valley’s Indoor Ice Rink. In the center ring on Saturday, preliminary heats will begin at 11 a.m. and events run until 4 p.m. To cap off the madness, the popular band Old Death Whisper will play a free concert at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge from 4 – 5:30 p.m. The party moves to downtown Ketchum to Whiskey Jacques at 8 p.m. with a live show and after-party featuring the Casey Donahew Band.

You have never seen anything like this, so you should probably go see it! Sun Valley is, after all, the birthplace of freestyle skiing!

Spectators will be able to get right next to Saturday's action

Spectators will be able to get right next to the action on Saturday

As Mike said, “Sun Valley has been doing a lot to reinvent itself in the freestyle world, and the roots are definitely here. This is something of an untapped resort for this generation of freestyle skiers in many ways and the athletes are excited to get here and get onto the course.”


Splash into Spring

Sun Valley Terrain Park manager Brian Callahan proves the edict 'go big or go home' at the Pond Skim

Sun Valley Terrain Park manager Brian Callahan proves the edict 'go big or go home' at the Pond Skim ...

Callahan, the first splash down of the day, takes a swim

... and becomes the first splash down of the day

Easter Sunday felt like spring, real spring, with temperatures in Ketchum soaring to above 60 degrees, accompanied by blue skies and a sun-shiny sun. It was an absolutely perfect morning for the annual Sun Valley Ski Patrol “Cold Bowl” pond skim, a hilarious event that attracted dozens of competitors for the chance to ski or board across a man-made (freezing cold) pond at the base of Dollar Mountain. With music that dared you not to get a groove on provided by DJ Train, a delicious outdoor barbecue and play-by-play action, the morning saw a lot of successful runs and some pretty spectacular splashy spills. All told, closing day on Dollar was one big party. Both children and adults took the challenge, donning silly costumes (including a disproportionate number of bunny ears) and spent the entire day on the 22-foot Superpipe, the Rail Yard course, the Cross Park and more traditional runs.

One young skier uses all the Terrain Park features at Saturday's rail jam

One young skier uses all the Terrain Park features at Saturday's rail jam

The incomparable DJ Train got the party started at Dollar Dayz

The incomparable DJ Train got the party started -- and kept it going -- at Dollar Dayz

On Saturday, Dollar Dayz kicked into high gear with the CandyGrind Rail Jam. Freestyle skiers and boarders jumped in to show off their best moves on the multi-faceted course. Announcers deconstructed and judged each run, again, on an absolutely beautiful spring day.

On Friday, the Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village to the delight of hundreds of children, ranging in age from infants to ten-year-olds. Oodles of colorful eggs were strewn all over the Inn lawn, including in the swan pond, from the Opera House to the Sun Valley Inn and over to the Konditorei.

On your mark, get set, hunt!

On your mark, get set, hunt!

Outside the Toy Store, children waited patiently to have whiskers and bunny noses painted on their faces, or eggs painted on their hands. The Easter Bunny made the rounds, posing for photos and giving out a lot of hugs. Easter festivities continued on Sunday with a highly popular brunch at the Lodge Dining Room.

All-in-all, it was a terrific season on Dollar, with great conditions for every level skier, events including the Revolution Tour and freestyle and snowboard competitions, the Christmas Eve torchlight parade and so much more. Thanks to Dollar’s Guest Services, Snowsports instructors, groomers, lift operators and everyone else that helped keep the mountain amazingly fun, welcoming and safe.

The Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village Friday

The Easter Bunny made a special appearance at the Sun Valley Village Friday

Ski season winds down on Baldy on April 14 and spring skiing rates are in effect beginning April 1. Check out the amazing deals, the corn snow and the spring conditions that just call for some après ski on the deck at River Run or Warm Springs. There is still a lot of season left with the Orage anti-comp, the Janss Pro Am and hours of just cruising the mountain.

Soon it may be time to ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Stay tuned for details of what some people consider the best few weeks in the Valley!


Thank you, Dollar, for an amazing season!

Thank you, Dollar, for an amazing season!

Dollar Mountain Pond Skim!

4th Annual Dollar Mountain Pond Skim

9am Registration on Dollar Patio

10am Start

Costumes Encouraged / Raffle

Free Entry / Music

Outdoor Bar & Grill

Big Lights, Big Air, Big Fun

It was a big show of big air at Dollar Thursday night

It was a big show of big air at Dollar Thursday night

Thursday night, you could smell the party on Dollar way before you could see it. Burgers sizzling by the dozen on outdoor grills enveloped Carol’s Dollar Lodge, right down to the parking lot, in a mouth-watering haze. But it was also hard to miss the sights and sounds of the “Big Air” contest going on beneath the lights on a cold, clear late winter’s night.

Two mammoth klieg lights flooded the awesome jumps beside the Half Dollar lift, spotlighting a “Big Air” contest featuring athletes from this week’s 35th Annual US Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National (USCSA) Championship. Midway through the five-day event, competitors turned up the adrenalin and embraced the opportunity to spend an evening with their fellow athletes.

USCSA athletes worked up appetites as big as the jumps during the week's events

USCSA athletes worked up appetites as big as the jumps during the week's events

The Big Air contest showcased freestyle skiers and snowboarders who qualified for the event by submitting a video to USCSA. Eight daredevils took to the jumps, wowing the crowd with eye-popping tricks and some seriously big air. Many athletes and their families hiked up the hill to catch the action from an in-your-face vantage point. The crowd was three deep from the crest of Half Dollar to the base of the Lodge.

Those not halfway up the hill, enjoyed the action from the outdoor barbecue outside the Lodge’s back doors. Having competed hard for three days, this gathering was the opportunity to gather and relax at a casual athlete reception. The more than 500 competitors from 65 teams visiting Sun Valley were all invited to the event and mixed and mingled with friends new and old. Food, from those succulent burgers to Sun Valley’s famous chocolate chip cookies, was plentiful and conversations were animated. Laughter rebounded from the slopes in every direction.

The athlete reception was a great chance to relax, mix and mingle

The athlete reception was a great chance to relax, mix and mingle

The USCSA Nationals wraps up on Saturday with a full schedule. The Dual Slalom Alpine race kicks into gear at 10:15 a.m. on Baldy’s Greyhawk run. For the many cross-country skiers racing for glory, the final 3 x 5 relays take place at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Snowboarders finish the competition on Greyhawk with a Giant Slalom race at 9:30 a.m. All disciplines will celebrate podiums and great results at the final awards ceremony at 4 p.m. on the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace.

According to Sun Valley Technical/Program Director and Race Department Manager Nick Maricich, the event is ending on a high note (no pun intended). “The Snowboard Giant Slalom will be a rare chance to see this Olympic event live,” he said. “On the Alpine side, the Dual Slalom should prove to be the most exciting Alpine event of the competition.”

A thoroughly unscientific survey of athletes, their families, Sun Valley Resort ambassadors and visitors Thursday night gave the entire week a huge thumbs up. Students said they enjoyed the large field of competitors and felt challenged, in a good way, by Sun Valley’s fast runs and big terrain features. Many also commented that the free-skiing and boarding was “epic.” The schedule permitted time for kids to just be kids and to play in the snow.

All eyes were on the big jumps and the big air

All eyes were on the big jumps and the big air

Nick said, “the athletes on the Alpine side said that the pre-race training was the best they have had all year and that the race venues were world class. The overall feeling was that the surface and pitch were amazing and they can’t wait to come back. I also heard great feedback on the  22-foot Halfpipe, the Terrain Park and the cross-country course. Sun Valley did it right!”

Go out on Saturday and support these athletes from as far away as Massachusetts, South Carolina, Illinois, California and British Columbia. The energy the college students, their coaches, families and friends brought to town and the slopes this week was palpable. We invite all USCSA competitors and their families to come back and see us again soon!

As Nick said, “Sun Valley is ecstatic to have top college athletes here and we feel that events such as these are important to our future. Any time we can introduce Sun Valley to some of the brightest young athletes in the country, we know we have invested in what comes next.”

Athletes relax at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge, a brief respite in a week of strong competition

Athletes relax at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge, a brief respite in a week of strong competition

Next up? The Rev Tour. Stay tuned for more information about this amazing event that is coming to town. There’s no way around it — things are happening in Sun Valley!


Sunday Night Lights

Bright lights, fun mountain

Bright lights, fun mountain

All the action Sunday night was on Dollar Mountain, where the slopes of Quarter Dollar and the Progression Park were flood lit hours after the lifts normally close. Hundreds of visitors and locals alike flocked to the hill to take advantage of Sun Valley’s first public night skiing from 4 -9 p.m. and everyone agreed 100 percent, the night was fantastic (please, let’s do it again soon).

Crowds flocked to Dollar to ride and ski under the floodlights

Crowds flocked to Dollar to ride and ski under the floodlights

Under crystal clear, star-filled skies, skiers and boarders ranging in age from approximately three to 73, did laps on the Quarter Dollar lift, accessing two groomed runs, rails and jumps. At about 7:30 p.m., the big show was on the jumps, with dozens of skiers and boarders executing tricks and catching some air, all backlit by the powerful lights. I heard one teen say it felt like being in a movie. Another young twin-tipped skier completed a 180 off a jump, with a parent in close pursuit. It was an even contest as to whose smile was the widest.

Many Progression Park enthusiasts curtailed the need for the lift by hiking back to the top of the run after completing their turn, allowing for an uninterrupted series of shots at the features. Music, provided by special moveable “boom boxes” provided a soundtrack to the night.

The night air was cold but not freezing and the snow on Dollar was soft and had been groomed to perfection earlier in the day. Conditions were great for a beginner or expert.

Inside Dollar Lodge, the party continued. Many people made a full night of it, grabbing a table and enjoying a casual dinner while they took a break from the mountain. I spied parents enjoying a beer or glass of wine while their children took a few more runs. The hot chocolate flowed and every chair in the restaurant was filled.

The night was very affordable (free for season pass holders and Blaine county pass holders), $15 for an adult ticket and $10 for a child for those with a same-day lift ticket, discount or multi-day pass. Even just buying a ticket was $20 for adults and $15 for children 11 and under, making it family-friendly night on the snow.

Many made a night of it at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge

Many made a night of it at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge

Dollar’s night skiing was a part of Sun Valley’s weekend long Presidential Party. Tonight, the festivities move to the Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. local DJ extraordinaire Lenny Joseph will spin his magic, creating a dance party on ice called “Grooves On.” A $10 fee includes ice admission, skate rental fee and free cocoa and cider. Pizza slices are available for $1. Skating at night, outside, under the stars, beside the Sun Valley Lodge is highly recommended.

For more information on all the special events, please call 208-622-2248.

Enjoy your Presidents’ Week stay in Sun Valley and thank you to the Resort for treating us all to a night of skiing under the lights.


Midweek, Sun Valley Style

This is what an after school activity looks like in Sun Valley

This is what an after school activity looks like in Sun Valley

Even when you live in a ski town, daily chores, routines and schedules can make you forget that you do. That is, until you drive past Dollar Mountain on an average winter Wednesday and snap out of ordinariness of daily life, reminded in no uncertain terms that Sun Valley was built on snow.

At 3 p.m. during a non-holiday week here in Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain is a hub of activity.  Almost very chair on Quarter Dollar is full. Snowboarders perform eye-popping tricks in our unbelievable terrain park. Skiers drop into the new 22’ super pipe like they are stepping off a curb. The parking lot is full.

Cooper, a great Little Spud, fresh from some runs

Cooper, a great Little Spud, fresh off some epic runs

This is one of the many amazing pleasures and privileges of living in Sun Valley. Snow sports are not a special activity. They are not relegated to the few weeks a year called vacation or designated for weekend warriors. Skiing and snowboarding and cross-country are woven into the day, every day. People take a few runs before work. Students take to the hills for an hour or two after school.  Snow sports are truly a lifestyle.

On this particular Wednesday, a few distinct groups comprise the bulk of users on Dollar. Sporting race suits and skiing in picture-perfect form and at astonishing speed, are a large group of young athletes from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. These U-14 competitors train gates on a giant slalom course on Dollar Face, perfecting their technique before gleefully taking on the terrain park jumps at the bottom of the run as they ski back to the lift.

At the other end of the spectrum are dozens of Little Spuds, practicing their first laps on Quarter Dollar and beyond. Little Spuds is a program offered by the Sun Valley Snowsports School that introduces children three to five years old to skiing. Sessions run when pre-school classes conclude on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The only requirement of this program is that the tots want to learn. From the broad smiles at pickup at the base of Quarter Dollar, it is evident enthusiasm and a new found love of skiing are in generous supply.

Higher Ground athletes train weekly at Dollar

Higher Ground athletes train weekly at Dollar

Also on Dollar on any given Wednesday, are Special Olympics athletes training with Ketchum’s Higher Ground program. Every week from 2 – 4 p.m., local alpine athletes hone their skills and practice their race techniques on Quarter Dollar. This weekend is a huge one for area Special Olympians and the Higher Ground organization, as they are hosting a Regional alpine and Nordic competition for the first time ever. Opening ceremonies will take place for more than 70 Nordic athletes at 10:30 a.m. at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center and at 11 a.m. for 40 additional athletes at Dollar Mountain. The public is invited and encouraged to attend the festivities.

Driving by Dollar on a midwinter’s midweek day, reminds us all to get out there and enjoy the amazing playground in our backyard.

Whether you are visiting Sun Valley for a week, spend a few months a year here, or call the Wood River Valley home, it never hurts to be reminded that the wonders and pleasures of the snow are yours for the taking.


Just another average Wednesday in paradise

Just another average winter Wednesday in paradise

Special Olympics Eastern Area Winter Games

Sun Valley, ID
February 2, 2013



Alpine & Snowboard

Dollar Mountain– Elkhorn Rd, Sun Valley, ID 83353

Cross country Skiing & Snowshoe

Sun Valley Club– 200 Trail Creek Rd, Sun Valley, ID


ALPINE (Venue Director — Jeff Rust)

10:00 am – Registration opens @ Dollar Mountain Lodge
10:45 am – Coaches Meeting @ Dollar Mountain Lodge
11:00 am – Opening Ceremony @ Dollar Mountain Lodge


Competition will start immediately following the opening ceremony

  • 11:15 am – Slalom
  • 12:00 pm -1:00 pm – Lunch
  • 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm – Giant Slalom
  • 3:00 pm – Awards


NORDIC/Snowshoe (Venue Director — Haley Van Lie Shout)

10:00 am – Registration opens @ Sun Valley Club
10:45 am – Coaches Meeting @ Sun Valley Club
11:00 am – Opening Ceremony @ Sun Valley Club

Competition will start immediately following the opening ceremony

(Red) Bullish on Sun Valley

Filmmakers on the move on Dollar

Filmmakers work on getting the right shot on Dollar

What do you get when you combine some of the world’s premiere Red Bull-sponsored freestyle athletes, huge features on Dollar Mountain and a top-notch film crew out of Los Angeles? You get the scene at the base of Dollar this weekend. The amazing guys from SPT, the team that works with Sun Valley’s Brian Callahan to create our ever-evolving terrain park, are the subject of an action-packed, high-flying reality television show that is scheduled to air in April. Sun Valley will be featured in the first episode of this series, spotlighting SPT and produced by National Geographic.

Preparations are full speed ahead, readying for the arrival of the Red Bull athletes. Midweek, SPT was building two rail pads into an airbag (yes, just like it sounds – a huge airbag that the athletes land in). Snow making is going full bore toward the top of Dollar, creating a 65 to 80-foot jump that will launch these guys into our thin mountain air.

SPT, which stands for Snow Park Technologies, is one of the most-sought after consulting teams in the world, creating special projects on snow. Frank Wells of SPT is one of the guys who make the magic happen — designing and building awesome (in the true sense of the world) terrain parks and half pipes, competition courses and staging on-snow productions and events. Though he has worked all over the world, Frank loves Sun Valley.

The morning meeting includes Frank Wells of SPT and Bryant Dunn of SV Ski Patrol

The morning meeting brings together Frank Wells of SPT, the production crew and Bryant Dunn of Sun Valley Ski Patrol

“Sun Valley is one of our favorite places to come and to work,” Frank said, sipping coffee outside Carol’s Dollar Lodge. By 9 a.m., he had been up and down Baldy, secured some footage of a spectacular Idaho sunrise and found time to get in a few turns. He said everyone loves coming to Sun Valley, staying at the Resort and swimming in the Lodge Pool — “the only hot tub you can dive into!” Amir, part of the film production team and a first-time visitor to Sun Valley agreed, “That pool is great.” He and his colleagues are also enjoying the night life on Main Street and are generally having a blast and working hard.

Back on Dollar, Frank and his team brought in some special fierce-looking Snow Cats for this effort, allowing for the creation of the exact features required by the project.  Everything is in place and in control, except that one variable no one can control – not even Frank: the weather. The great news is Sun Valley is expecting two to five FEET of snow to fall above 7000 feet by Monday morning. The challenging news for Frank & Co. is that we are expecting two to five FEET of snow to fall by Monday morning. But Frank, the filmmakers, and, for sure, the athletes, don’t mind a challenge. They are extreme freestylers after all. Let the action begin!


Red Bull athletes will fly from these epic jumps this weekend

Red Bull athletes will fly from these epic jumps this weekend



Getting ready to make movie magic

Getting ready to make movie magic

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Winter

Stopping on the bridge on a snowy Monday

They are perhaps the two best words in the vernacular of a ski town – it’s snowing! And it is. A lot. The Halloween pumpkins and fall’s golden aspen leaves are covered with a layer of white and I know I was not the only mother in town scrambling to dig out woolen hats and gloves still in summer storage this morning. The excitement wrought by the season’s first snowfall was palpable on the drive to school. When Lower River Run came into view, the slope was suddenly clearly delineated. Turning the corner, we stared at Upper College, now readily identifiable between the evergreens. As dawn broke, the snow guns were working hard, Mother Nature was cooperating and skiers rejoiced!

Things are in full swing on both Bald Mountain and Dollar in preparation for the rapidly approaching season. According to Marshall McInnis, an expert on all things Sun Valley, there is a lot to look forward to when the lifts start running on Thanksgiving Day. In addition to the beginning of snowmaking in earnest, other improvements are well underway to make this the best ski season ever in Sun Valley. Work undertaken by the Forest Service to ensure the health of the forests on Baldy provided an added bonus of creating a new tree run between Upper College and Limelight. “When you ski down I-80 this year, the sun will shine through the trees and there will be new opportunity for skiing above it,” said McInnis. He also said that two new Adventure Trails, one off the top of Seattle Ridge and one on the Cold Springs side of the mountain, will also provide new terrain opportunities. “There are more places to play this year,” he laughed.

First Snowfall on River Run

With only 30 days remaining until Baldy and Dollar officially open, this early snowfall has everyone scurrying to prepare. In addition to digging out the winter clothes, it’s time to get your ski pass, tune your skis or board and get in some pre-season conditioning. Really, it’s time. Look out the window.

There is snow forecast for the next four days, adding up to perhaps a few inches on the Valley floor and hopefully quite a bit more up on the mountain. Around town, everyone is smiling and laughing that Jack Frost is making his first appearance of the year. It looks like it will be a year of trick-or-treating in puffy jackets and snow boots with warm hats pulled down over costume wigs. But that is a small price to pay for a great early season on the slopes.

Check out the latest conditions in Sun Valley by clicking here.

Let it snow!


Dreaming of a White Halloween

It’s On on Dollar!


Early morning at Dollar Mountain


At 7:40 this morning, on the way to drop off my children at school, there was frost on the ground and the outside temperature read a brisk 18 degrees. That can only mean one thing — snowmaking! In response to the first really cold night of the year, the snow guns that dot Dollar Mountain fired up and began to lay down a blanket of white. As the sun rose behind the Lodge and the Pioneer Mountains, John Matteson, Brian Callahan and their team were starting to put down a foundation for the amazing season to come at the Terrain Park and on the trails.

By the time I saw it “snowing” on the hill (thrilling, truly), a crew had been hard at work behind-the-scenes for hours, arriving as early as 3 a.m. “This early-season temperature drop gives us the chance to crank up the guns, trouble shoot and solve any issues early,” Matteson explained. The man behind Dollar’s vast snowmaking apparatus, Matteson is thrilled at today’s taste of winter. “This is the earliest we have been able to start the process,” he said. “We look for consistent temperatures generally below 23 or 24 degrees, so last night was perfect. Getting going in early October means that all the literal and figurative kinks will be worked out early and snowmaking will be right on schedule.”

On schedule for the 2012-2013 season means that plans to have Terrain Park features operational by Thanksgiving Day are a “go.” If the weather continues to cooperate and nights stay cold, Matteson said they will undertake the alchemy that turns water into snow every night from now on.

To help make this process as seamless as possible, Matteson has new “toys” in his arsenal. This year, he installed a few individually automated snow guns that will communicate with the Resort’s sophisticated computerized system. Most of the guns on Dollar are still managed manually. Snowmaking is a true science, based on temperature, humidity and all kinds of other variables and the automated guns will help everything run smoothly. Matteson is sure the entire system on Dollar this year will be up to the task of making skiing and riding even more eye-popping and fun.

Callahan, who is in charge of the Terrain Park, said he, too, has new toys this season and cannot wait to unveil them (more on that in a later blog)!

It is always an exciting day when the snow guns kick on and preview the season to come. I cannot wait to watch the team on Dollar build that mammoth playground and then cover it with snow.  Game on!

Sun coming up, snow coming down.