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Meet Sun Valley’s Summer Olympic Stars

This picture of Mr. & Mrs. Parry Thomas with Brentina, America's first World Champion and 2004 Olympic Bronze medal winner, graces the Sun Valley Lodge's Hallway of Stars. Brentina lives with the Thomas' at their River Grove Farm in Hailey.

There’s a little event going on right now in my hometown of London, England. In fact it’s about to kick off in a big way. Today, at 2 p.m. MT, the Games of the XXX Olympiad begins with what I am sure will be a spectacular opening ceremony (for us sequestered in the U.S. you can catch it tonight on channel 7 at 6:30 p.m.).

For obvious reasons, the winter Olympics is Sun Valley’s natural territory. However there is one local athlete whose claim to summer Olympic fame has landed her a prime spot in Sun Valley Lodge’s Hallway of Stars, where she stands shoulder to shoulder with Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Brentina, a Hanoverian dressage horse, is only the second animal ever to be bestowed with such an honor, the first were the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Brentina is the Wood River Valley’s hometown hero. Ridden by local athlete Debbie MacDonald to two Olympics (Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008) and one bronze medal, she is one of the most succesful  U.S. horses in history. Following surgery in early 2009, Brentina bowed out gracefully at the Las Vegas 2009 World Cup, and now lives a peaceful retirement at River Grove Farm in Hailey with owners Parry and Peggy Thomas. However, her stablemate Wizard may give Sun Valley residents the chance to cheer again this summer as he and his rider Adrienne Lyle prepare to take London by storm in the individual dressage competition. The competition begins Thursday and Friday (August 2 and 3) and concludes Tuesday and Thursday (August 7 and 9). Be sure to follow Adrienne and Wizard’s adventures in London here at her new blog.

For a sneak peek at the action you’ll see in the coming two weeks check out this video of Lyle and Wizard’s performance at the Grand Prix Freestyle in Devon, England last year:

Video not displaying? Click here.

I know I’ll be cheering our hometown duo on as they prance and dance their way into international hearts, and who knows, after a stop on the podium, maybe a spot on the Hallway of Stars will be in their futures too.

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Graham Wantanabe headed to the Olympics!

Local snowboarder and Boardercross competitor, Graham Wantanabe, has officially nabbed a spot in the Vancouver Games! Wantanabe, another SVSEF Olympic Development athlete, Wood River High School graduate, and lifelong Sun Valley resident, will compete in his second Olympic Games in February.

After he did not qualify for the 2006 Winter Games, Graham attended as a Wax Tech for the US Snowboard Team. But when a teammate was unfortunately injured during training, Graham was in the right place at the right time and filled the vacancy on the Olympic squad. But this year, Graham has taken a more traditional route and qualified at last week’s snowboardcross World Cup in Stoneham. Graham’s second place finish concretes his spot on the Olympic Team. Read the entire story: click here.

Don’t miss Graham next month and send him tons of Sun Valley love!

Boulder Prep Clinic this Thursday!

With 10 inches of new snow, the trails at Sun Valley Nordic are as good as it gets. Fast, smooth, and fun. The entire trail system will be opening this week as our world class groomers “work” the snow for optimal skiing conditions. Because of the variety of terrain at the Nordic Center and the accessibility to Ketchum and Hailey, there is no better place to prepare for the Boulder Mountain Tour. Throw in a Boulder Prep Clinic featuring an Olympian (Tessa Westbrook) and a BMT Champion (Brooke Hovey), and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Get faster, ski better and have fun this week and next at Sun Valley Nordic. Call to reserve your spot in the Boulder Prep Clinic. Clinics meet at 4pm, and last about an hour and a half. Cost is $40 per session. Expect video analysis, technique work and a great workout. Experienced skiers only please!! See you at the Nordic Center!

Perfect skiing at Sun Valley Nordic

Perfect skiing at Sun Valley Nordic

Morgan Arritola is named to the Olympic Team!!

Morgan Arritola can now add Olympian to her long list of accomplishments. Arritola, an SVSEF athlete and US Ski Team member, was named to the Olympic Cross Country team today. The announcement came after good early season results for Morgan who is still riding high following an extremely successful 2008/2009 season, finishing 5th at the U23 World Championships and a solid 22nd at the FIS World Championships in the Czech Republic. As one of four American women to compete in the Olympics, keep an eye out for this speed demon in Vancouver.

This local speed demon, who graduated from the Community School in Sun Valley and is currently a member of the SVSEF’s Olympic Development Team, only skied for the first time when she was 16. Introduced to the sport by SVSEF Cross Country Coach/Program Director, Rick Kapala, she certainly has something special. Kapala said, "Obviously this is really exciting for Morgan, as well as for the team and the community. She’s sort of ‘our gal’." He continues to point out the spectacular nature of her rise as a Nordic skier. "For her to have started where she did, which was basically picking up the sport at the age of 16, and now, only seven years later, she’s on the Olympic team. It’s really awesome."

We can’t wait to see her compete next month and are proud of all she has accomplished. Keep it up, Morgan!


Olympic Hopeful and Local, Langely McNeal, and Five Things She Loves About Sun Valley

Part of a generation of kids born and raised in the Ketchum/Sun Valley area, Langely McNeal, has had skis on her feet since she could walk. For her, Sun Valley is home and Baldy holds a special place in her heart. And now, for the past few years she has been training to get closer and closer to every skier’s dream, the Olympics.

Langely is one of two American women in the hunt for the Vancouver Games in the new event, SkiCross. Much like a motocross race on skis, with all the bumping, pushing and crashing, SkiCross is fast, furious, and terrifying. But anyone who has seen Langely on the hill knows this ball of fire can definitely hang. Langely, who still calls Sun Valley home and trains on Baldy, is a member of the US Ski Team’s SkiCross team (part of the US Freestyle team) and a member of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Olympic Development Team. As the top ranked US woman in SkiCross and with support from the SVSEF and the US Ski Team, Langely will be traveling to Europe to compete in several qualifying races in hopes of earning herself a spot in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Keep an eye out for our local girl and check out the five things she loves about Sun Valley below.

5 Things I Love about Sun Valley

1. The steep terrain on Baldy that feeds right into the non-existent lift lines.

2. The feel of carving a ski on the perfectly groomed runs, then having hot chocolate and whip cream at Warm Springs Lodge.

3. Being able to walk out my front door with a mountain bike, road bike, running shoes, whatever, and knowing I’ll be able to find some sweet trail in any direction.

4. The people, hands down. So many great personalities in our valley and amazing friends that you can’t find anywhere else.

5. The ridiculous amount of sunshine we see all year round… so spoiled!