Celebrating Kaitlyn

There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington took a well deserved seat Saturday and waited for the celebration to begin

There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington took a well deserved seat Saturday and waited for the celebration to begin

It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of people came out on Saturday to cheer for Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington. Everyone turned out to welcome home the Snowboard Halfpipe champion and to let her know just how proud of our hometown girl we all are.

On a late winter’s afternoon, the band Freeway Revival played while the enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a tasty barbecue and drink specials provided by Sun Valley on the patio outside Warm Springs Lodge. At 4 p.m., it was showtime as well-wishers, packed tight from the Lodge, across the bridge, and onto the lower slopes of Lower Warm Springs, turned their eyes toward the mountain for the colorful downhill parade that announced Kaitlyn was coming

The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and festive while they waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and upbeat while waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

First, instructors from the Sun Valley SnowSports School put on a spectacle, serpentining and criss-crossing their way to the bottom of the hill. Sun Valley’s winter Olympians and Olympic coaches followed. The fine people representing Sun Valley included former Olympians Chuck Ferries, Jonna Mendes, Reggie Crist, Abbi Fisher-Gould and Sondra Van Ert.  Snowboard coaches from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), the program in which Kaitlyn grew up and remains a Gold Team member, Kaitlyn’s family and friends then preceded Sun Valley’s sweetheart. The SVSEF’s Jody Zarkos called play-by-play action leading up to the big moment when Kaitlyn rode the slope into the crush of her fervent fans. Scooped up by Whiz McNeal and Sean Glaccum of Sun Valley Ski Patrol, Kaitlyn, American flag in hand, was carried triumphantly to a stage in front of Warm Springs Lodge, where for the next hour, she was feted and celebrated and laden with gifts.

The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders down Lower Warm Springs, leading the way down for Kaitlyn who rode down last

The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders on Lower Warm Springs, leading the way for Kaitlyn who rode down last amid deafening cheers

Kaitlyn hopped onto the stage and surveying the scene (and it was a scene) commented, “Holy cow! I can’t believe the crowd that is here today!” Jody replied, “You earned this crowd,” and from there the celebration began in earnest.

Setting the tone for the procession of luminaries who came to honor Kaitlyn, Idaho state Senator Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), took to the stage to read a proclamation in her honor from the Office of Governor Butch Otter. The proclamation concluded, “Kaitlyn has achieved her goals with inspiring success. She has been an ambassador for Idaho and taught the world how to cowgirl up.”

Next, Ketchum mayor Nina Jonas said, “Kaitlyn embodies everything we hope and believe and try to be,” and jokingly offered her a necklace in trade for the impressive gold disc that hung around Kaitlyn’s neck.

Chris Koch, mayor Bellevue, Kaitlyn’s hometown in the Wood River Valley, renamed a portion of the bike path in her honor.

1998 Olympian snowboarder Barrett Christy, a friend and mentor to Kaitlyn, put the accomplishment in perspective. “The sport has progressed so much in the past five years with the level of women in snowboarding growing tremendously. Kaitlyn is responsible for that,” she said and continued, “You can’t learn attitude from a coach and that is what Kaitlyn has that sets her apart from the rest. That and her amazing style. That can’t be taught. It’s who she is.”

Kaitlyn was carried through the crowd by members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol

Kaitlyn was carried through the crowd by members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol

SVSEF snowboard coach Andy Gilbert kept the accolades coming. “Kaitlyn is a true original and always has been,” he enthused. “She has always been willing to work hard. In fact, her work ethic is second to none.” He, too, gave a nod to Kaitlyn’s style, calling her an “innovative rider” and simply saying how very, very proud he is of her.

During the few days Kaitlyn had at home (she left Sunday for her next competition), she made time to ride with local children, giving them the thrill of a lifetime. As Jody Zarkos said, “Kaitlyn’s ability to take obstacles and turn them into stepping stones,” truly inspired up-and-coming riders.  Rob Clayton, executive director of the SVSEF, agreed that what Kaitlyn teaches by example is invaluable. Calling her the “gem of the Gem State,” Rob said, “We tell our kids, ‘see that necklace that is hanging around her neck? You can have it around your neck, too, and in the same color if you work really, really hard like Kaitlyn did.’”

Everyone showed their appreciation for Kaitlyn with gifts that included a necklace in the shape of the state of Idaho from Jonas, an engraved golf putter and lessons (evidently she’s working on her game) from Koch and a standup paddle board for the off-season from Clayton.

But the biggest gift and a highlight of the ceremony came when Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva took to the microphone. After reading a heartfelt letter of congratulations to Kaitlyn from Sun Valley Resort owner Carol Holding, he and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns upped the ante. From Sun Valley, Kaitlyn was awarded a lifetime season’s pass and was presented with a huge rectangular gift wrapped in gold paper. Inside? A new sign reading “Kaitlyn’s Bowl.” The golden girls’ name will now grace the Bowl on Baldy formerly known as Farout Bowl.

Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns present Kaitlyn with the new trail sign that changes Farout Bowl on Baldy to Kaitlyn's Bowl

Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns present Kaitlyn with the new trail sign that changes Farout Bowl on Baldy to Kaitlyn's Bowl

Finally, Kaitlyn returned to the podium simply to thank her hometown supporters. “It is my pleasure to be up here today and I am so thankful for it all,” she said. “Thank you for believing in me and thank you for helping me get to the Olympics. I want to share it all with you and share this gold medal with you.”

The crowd went wild.

Kaitlyn, preparing to be celebrated by luminaries, smiles at some of her biggest fans -- the children who she inspires

Kaitlyn, preparing to be celebrated by luminaries, smiles at some of her biggest fans -- the children who she inspires

The celebration continued well into the evening with a street party, more live music, great food and the raffling off of a new GNU snowboard autographed by Kaitlyn.

A great time was had by all.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn. Thank you for letting us share your moment in the sun.

–RES

Our Golden Girl Comes Home

With a high school drum line providing the backbeat and water cannons announcing that a VIP was on board, the Delta jet bringing Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington home, touched down Monday afternoon.

The golden girl with her Olympic gold medal

The golden girl with her Olympic gold medal

The excitement inside the terminal at Friedman Memorial Airport was palpable, the pride, collective, as the large crowd craned its collective head, hoping to catch a glimpse of the golden girl. Supporters holding signs of congratulation thronged the waiting room and media from all over the state and region were well represented.

Support from every part of the community was on display when Kaitlyn Farrington returned home

Support from every part of the community was on display when Kaitlyn Farrington returned home

Hundreds of local students came to the airport and lined the impromptu parade route, cheering for Kaitlyn

Hundreds of local students came to the airport and lined the impromptu parade route, cheering for Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn, who grew up on a ranch in Bellevue and took her first turns on a snowboard in Sun Valley as a member of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), returned to the Wood River Valley wearing the huge gold medal she earned in Sochi, Russia, as queen of the Halfpipe. Pitted against the top women in the sport, three of whom had won Olympic gold themselves, Kaitlyn dominated the event, earning a score of 91.75, and delivering two runs that showcased her style, skills and self-assurance.

She was met inside the terminal not only by supporters, but by the Mayor of Bellevue, Chris Koch. “On behalf of the Wood River Valley, we welcome you home,” Koch announced, and continued, “now the celebration can really begin because you are home with friends and family.” With that, he handed Kaitlyn the Key to the City of Bellevue.

Kaitlyn prepares to accept the Key to the City from Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch

Kaitlyn prepares to accept the Key to the City from Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch

With the Key to the City in one hand, and her medal glinting around her neck, Kaitlyn was modest and understated in her comments. “Thank you for supporting me through the years,” she smiled with her signature dimpled grin, “Thank you for getting my family to the Olympics, as well.” This referenced local fundraising efforts that helped pay for her parents, Suz Locke and Gary Farrington, to be in Sochi cheering their daughter to gold.

Next stop for Kaitlyn? She, her parents, and SVSEF snowboard coach Andy Gilbert will be driven in a convertible through Bellevue. The champion will then ride a ladder truck with local firefighters through Hailey and Ketchum to the SVSEF headquarters located at the base of Warm Springs at Bald Mountain. Hundreds of well-wishers are expected to line the streets and cheer for our golden girl.

Kaitlyn shows off that amazing medal next to Jason Carter, sports director at KMVT

Kaitlyn shows off that amazing medal next to Jason Carter, sports director at KMVT

A party is also in the works for Saturday, March 1, at the base of Warm Springs. Festivities begin at 2:30 p.m. at Warm Springs Lodge with live music and food and beverage specials from the Sun Valley Resort. At 4 p.m., an official ceremony honoring Kaitlyn will be held on the Warm Springs Deck, followed by a street party on Picabo Street between Jane Lane and Lloyd Court. Old Death Whisper will play, Apple’s Bar & Grill will provide food and libations, and everyone is invited.

For more on all the events, stay tuned to this blog.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn Farrington on your enormous accomplishment and for making this entire valley proud. Welcome home!

–RES

Sun Valley University

On Tuesday, it was off the races for USCSA competitors

On Tuesday, it was off the races for USCSA competitors

If it seems like there is a lot of youthful energy and exuberance on Dollar and Baldy, at the Nordic Center and in town right now, there is. More than 500 competitors from 65 colleges and universities across the nation are in town competing in the 35th Annual US Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National (USCSA) Championship. Returning for the second year to the slopes of Sun Valley, this five-day competition is kicking it into high gear from Greyhawk, to the Terrain Park, to Sun Valley’s mammoth 22-foot halfpipe.

The big jump contest will happen under the lights on Dollar on Thursday night

The big jump contest will happen under the lights on Dollar on Thursday night

Athletes across all four disciplines of Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding are here to lay claim to the title of the top collegiate team in the country. Competition is fierce. Today, the USCSA is hosting events in Alpine racing, Cross-Country, Snowboarding and Ski Cross. This morning’s fresh cover of snow provided a few new inches of powder, and an inspiring wintry feel.

Yesterday, two skiers from Sierra Nevada College took first and second in the women’s alpine giant slalom on opening day. By all accounts, the lightning fast snow was big fun for the racers on Baldy’s Greyhawk run.

And according to Laura Sullivan, Executive Director for the USCSA national organization, in general, the kids are “ecstatic.” She said, “many would not have come to Sun Valley without this event and they didn’t know what to expect. When they got here and saw the Terrain Park, the halfpipe, the great runs, they were beyond excited. The kids who came last year were very positive about their experience and got the word out – Sun Valley is awesome!” We may have a few soon-to-be-locals in the group as Laura said a mem, inviting students to learn about summer job opportunities at Sun Valley has been met with a great response.

Thursday, everyone is invited to Dollar Mountain for a “big air” contest under the lights. Athletes will be showing off their most impressive Slopestyle tricks, all under huge klieg lights. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is invited to come to Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge to check it out.

On Saturday, the USCSA is bringing back team Dual Slalom, something Laura said they are very excited about. “The event starts at 9 a.m. and it’s a team event with qualifying races to finals. It should be terrific.”

College Cross-country racers are loving the Nordic Center and Sun Valley's amazing grooming

College Cross-country racers are loving the Nordic Center and Sun Valley's amazing grooming

Off the snow, the visiting athletes are having nearly as much fun as on the slopes. “Many of the kids are impressed with the tradition of the Sun Valley Lodge,” Laura said. “They like downtown Ketchum and appreciate that it’s a walking town. Many of the cross-country athletes have never seen a Nordic Center as nice as this one.”

Laura said USCSA is also appreciative of the 180 local volunteers that have come out to help the 45 people who came to Sun Valley to help with events.

To check out the action for yourself, and to cheer on the athletes, look no further than the base of the runs off the Greyhawk chair, the jumps and halfpipe on Dollar, or the Ski Cross course wending down skier’s right of that mountain. You can also catch a live video feed of the events HERE.

–RES

Greyhawk was running fast on Tuesday

Greyhawk was running fast on Tuesday

A full list of participating schools follows:

Appalachian State University, Babson College, Boston College, Brown University, Cal State Fresno, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Sacramento, Castleton State College, Clarkson University, Colorado Mesa University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Hobart College, James Madison University, Lafayette College, Liberty University, Loyola Marymount University, Marquette University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, Northern Michigan University, Northwestern University, Oregon State University – Cascades, Pennsylvania State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rocky Mountain College, Rutgers University, Saint Anselm College, Sierra Nevada College, Skidmore College, Smith College, St. Olaf College, Stanford University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, The College of Idaho, The Ohio State University, United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy, University of British Columbia, UCLA, UC Berkley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, University of Colorado – Boulder, University of Idaho, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota – Duluth, University of Nevada, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wyoming, Virginia Tech, Viterbo University and Western Michigan University.

Sun Valley USSA Freestyle Frenzy Videos

Two weekends ago, Sun Valley Resort and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) hosted a USSA Freestyle Frenzy. The four-day event included a slopestyle event on Dollar’s Terrain Park, a halfpipe competition on Lower Warm Springs, and two days of mogul competition on Baldy’s new mogul course, Race Arena. Check out the videos below to see local and regional kids show their stuff!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVUZCnBu5P8

SVSEF Athlete Farrington finishes 2nd at the Dew Tour!

Kaitlyn Farrington, SVSEF athlete and Sun Valley local, competed over the weekend at the Wendy’s Invitational Superpipe Final in front of over 14,000 people. Farrington finished second overall in Snowbasin, though she seemed to be the crowd’s favorite as boos were heard when were lower-than-expected scores were announced. Although, Farrington was stoked on her second place finish and continues to have a killer season. Read the entire article here: http://www.allisports.com/news/elena-hight-takes-snowbasin-superpipe.

Local Skiers Deliver at NorAm Halfpipe Event on Baldy

Locals Tai Barrymore, Colter Brehmer and Hannah Haupt, along with 25 others skiers from throughout North America, threw down big tricks and wowed the crowd this weekend at the URTUR FIS NorAm in the SuperPipe on Lower Warm Springs. Barrymore had one of the biggest runs on Friday, finishing a close second behind Evan Schwartz. Brehmer finished ninth over all and Haupt ended up second for the ladies behind 2010 X-Game skier Megan Gunning.

Saturday’s runs were stunners as well with Barrymore hitting some of the biggest tricks of the day and skiers and boarders crowding Lower Warm Springs to watch the action. Go to www.URTUR.com for results or check back later for Saturday’s results and photos of the comp.

Thanks to the athletes, the SVSEF, URTUR and Sun Valley Company for putting on the event!

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NorAm Ski Halfpipe Comp this Weekend!

NorAm Halfpipe Competition taking place at Baldy’s Halfpipe tomorrow, January 8 and Saturday, January 9.

Starting tomorrow some of the nation’s best freestyle skiers will be competing in a FIS Freestyle Ski Halfpipe NorAm Event on Baldy. Twenty-eight skiers from the US and Canada will showcase their biggest and best tricks, flying, hucking, twisting, flipping off the SuperPipe on Lower Warm Springs. This definitely isn’t a juniors’ comp. These kids are competing for spots on the World Cup and ultimately the US Ski Team. They are the nation’s up-and-comers, so expect some huge air and some even bigger tricks. Then watch out for them in places like the Olympics and the X-Games in the next few years.

Come by and support local freestyle phenoms like Tai Barrymore, Colter Brehmer, and Ben Parker starting at 10:15 Friday morning and continuing throughout the day into Saturday. The event is hosted by Sun Valley Company and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) and is sure to be quite a show.

The event, put on by promoting and event company, URTUR, will be broadcast live on URTUR’s website, www.urtur.com. Up to the minute results will be available on the URTUR website as well. Also check back here for results, photos, and updates throughout the weekend.

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