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.
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.
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.