Coming April 3rd – 5th, the Janss 2014 Pro-Am Classic in Sun Valley. Be sure to catch all the giant slalom racing that will benefit the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
Join us at both River Run and Warm Springs for a free sponsored ski demo by Atomic. Starting at 9:00am and running until 3:00pm on Saturday, January 18th.
2014 started on a sunny high note for Sun Valley holiday-makers ringing in the new on Dollar Mountain. Slopes were filled with smiling faces on the first days of the New Year and family fun was the name of the game.
Skiers and snowboarders honed their skills in lessons, navigated the new Prospector Park skill-building terrain area, hit the Family Cross Course, rode the rails and soaked up the sun and the beautiful views.
The Swanson family, visiting for the holidays from Seattle, came out for an afternoon of tubing with their three daughters and friends. As guests at the Resort, their condo was a short walk from Dollar’s slopes and they strolled over to enjoy the tubing course.
“It was a great way to spend the afternoon,” said mom Mari Swanson. “The kids had a terrific time and it was a nice break from skiing, but still a great way to be outside.”
I spent part of the beginning of the New Year on Dollar, as well, making my first tentative turns following knee surgery last spring. Accompanied by my patient 8-year-old and a patient friend, I tried out my repaired leg on the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar before progressing all the way to Dollar Face by the day’s end. While my technique and style might be slow to come back, the joy of being on the snow and on skis with Sun Valley at my feet, returned immediately.
My son and friend made sure to try out Prospector Park (thumbs up), a few park features and the Cross Course. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch on the fabulous Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge patio where great food is accompanied by a big show and it seems the sun is always shining. Even when you live here, there is no better way to feel like you’re on vacation than lunch on the patio.
They say the way you spend January 1 sets the tone for the year to follow. Hopefully, the months to come will be as enjoyable, laughter-filled and memory-making for those who spent New Year’s Day on Dollar as that beautiful day last Wednesday.
Wishing you all peace, joy and lots of fun in the snow in 2014!
Come join us at the Opera House Starting December 25, running until January 1st for a week of special shows. During those times, Walking With Dinosaurs will be showing at 1:15pm, 6:30pm, and 8:30pm. Also during these dates, starting at 3:00pm, will be a free showing of selected ski movies brought to you by Level 1 films, one of the industries most innovated ski filming companies. To compliment that, a free showing of Sun Valley Serenade or a Warren Miller Film for just $5.00 will start at 4:30.
Day: 3:00pm 4:30pm
December 25: Refresh Warren Miller 2013
December 26: Eye Trip Sun Valley Serenade
December 27th: After Dark Warren Miller 2012
December 28th: Partly Cloudy Sun Valley Serenade
December 29th: Refresh Warren Miller 2011
December 30th: Eye Trip Sun Valley Serenade
December 31st: After Dark Warren Miller 2013
January 1st: Partly Cloudy Sun Valley Serenade
Dateline: River Run, November 28, 2013, 8:50 a.m. The excitement at the base of River Run was palpable as a large, happy group gathered on the plaza under bright blue skies and a warm sun. Friends reunited, families convened, the sound of buckles and bindings snapping into place competed with the whir of the chair lift’s motor.
Yes, at exactly 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the first lucky foursome hopped onto the River Run #1 lift, hooting and hollering on their inaugural ride up Bald Mountain for the 2013-2014 season. Behind them, every other chair filled quickly, transporting the hundreds of expectant skiers and snowboarders to their first magical turns of the year. Sun Valley’s 78th season was off to a great start.
The first holiday gift of the season from Sun Valley Company opened 11 runs, a Progressive Park, two magic carpets and four-high speed quads on Baldy and Dollar to the anxious snow sports masses. Some early season natural snow, combined with Sun Valley’s world-class, standard-setting snowmaking provided a great corduroy surface for enthusiasts. The smiles and thumbs up from the first skiers and boarders down River Run told the story, as they quickly queued back up for another run. Top-to-bottom vertical lured people to Baldy this year, with Upper College, Lower College, Sunset Strip, 42nd Street, Roundhouse Lane, Roundhouse Slope, Lower Canyon, Mid River Run and Lower River Run available for skiing and riding.
In the morning, River Run Lodge provided a calm place to coax feet into boots still stiff from the off-season; to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry. At lunchtime, River Run and Lookout atop Baldy were open to provide nourishment and refreshment on Baldy.
Dollar was quieter, but still welcoming skiers to the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar. Snow guns were fired up all over the mountain, readying additional runs and Dollar’s amazing terrain park for operation during the coming holiday season. Dollar will continue daily operation through December 1 and then close until re-opening for the season December 14, so be sure to get over there this weekend to play in early season snow. Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge is open to enjoy a snack or meal and Kindercare is available.
Check back to sunvalley.com or call 800-635-4150 for the most current reports on conditions and terrain.
We are all thankful this weekend for our beautiful ski mountains, family, friends, clean air and sunshine. Opening day was an exciting kick-off to what is sure to be the best season ever in Sun Valley! See you on the slopes.
The headline? Sun Valley’s new highly-anticipated Olympic-size 22-foot (deep) superpipe will open for business on Sunday, January 6. Taking shape on Dollar’s Old Bowl, this will be one of only three 22-foot pipes currently open in America. One more reason to be sure to include Sun Valley in your winter vacation plans.
The Zaugg “Pipe Monster”, the largest pipe groomer in existence, is busy at work, prepping the extreme feature. According to the Zaugg website, the machine was designed by aeronautical engineers to work much in the same way as an airplane wing. It is lightweight, flexible and able to withstand high stress — traits that might also be useful to those brave enough to jump in. The combination of this monstrous machine and the know-how of Sun Valley’s Terrain Park experts, is creating a pipe that allows tricks people once thought impossible — like jumps 20 feet above the deck. Epic.
According to Sun Valley’s Brian Callahan, guru of all things Terrain Park, now is the perfect time to get comfortable on the ever-evolving and growing jumps, rails, jibs, pipe and other features specifically built for Dollar. “The Progression Park is open and is a great place to get comfortable,” he said. For people like me who don’t know what a Progression Park is, as Brian explains it, it is a an “extra small terrain park with features appropriate to beginners. It’s the perfect place to learn how to unweight your skis or your board, to get air and really enjoy using all the surfaces.”
For those already comfortable catching air, the medium parks are also up and running on Dollar. These jumps and rails are X-Games and Slopestyle caliber, according to Brian, and offer endless possibilities for fun.
And if that isn’t enough, the Family Cross Course is in its final stages and will be completed on Sunday. This track lets skiers and boarders bank curves, jump and tuck to the bottom, in direct competition with up to three others. It is a kid favorite, for sure.
Just in time for the amazing Revolution Tour, coming to Sun Valley in March, a huge snowmaking effort is underway, preparing the competition boarder cross course. Be sure to come to Dollar from March 17 to March 22 to watch the best of the best compete in Halfpipe, Snowboardcross, and Slopestyle. The course used by the Revolution athletes will be open to the public, but requires completion of a training session.
In fact, safety on all terrain park features is of the utmost importance to Brian and his team. Sun Valley Snowsports has instructors specifically trained to teach in the park and pipe and will offer special camps and lessons to familiarize users with what’s available on Dollar throughout the season. Call the Snowsports School at 208.622.2289 to sign up for a lesson or clinic to ensure the safest, most enjoyable day at the park ever. Then, let her rip.
We have not yet officially reached the start of the 12 days of Christmas, but from my perspective, Sun Valley’s alpine skiers and sliders have already been given gifts aplenty. With apologies to the original scribe of the beloved holiday classic, my 12 Days of Christmas might go, thus far, something like this (feel free to hum along):
On the first day of Christmas, Mother Nature gave to me: a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the second day of Christmas, Mother Nature gave to me: two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the third day of Christmas Mother Nature gave to me: three groomed steeps, two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the fourth day of Christmas Mother Nature gave to me: four days of snowfall, three groomed steeps, two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas Mother Nature gave to me: five pow-der runs! four days of snowfall, three groomed steeps, two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
I will stop there, because the prevailing theme quickly runs to overkill, but in Sun Valley, in December, the skiing is stunningly good. This week, after a massive storm came through and dumped something like three feet of white, fluffy powder on the top of Baldy, I have skied runs that are normally reserved for much, much later in the season. I dropped down into Central Park off of College and splashed in the still fresh snow, three days after the big storm. The trail that sounds like “Stilhung” but is spelled in a way I can’t begin to fathom, beckoned alluringly from the top of International, offering still untouched powder past my knees. I tackled Rock Garden, Upper Holiday and Upper River Run, nearly three weeks BEFORE Christmas. (For our guests, all these runs involve some combination of steep pitches, trees, bumps or powder and are not always in great shape this early in the year).
Sun Valley Ski Patrol has been aggressive in opening terrain and on Thursday … wait for it … they dropped the rope on some of Baldy’s awesome bowls. Yes, people were skiing and riding the bowls on December 6, and making laps on the Mayday lift. For lack of a better word – epic!
Lift talk is, without fail, enthusiastic and filled with gratitude. On a weekday morning, those of us lucky enough to work the night shift or have the day off, giddily compare notes, conditions and look almost guilty at our good fortune. Our only complaint? Tired legs from all this early-season powder. Yes, it’s hard to be us.
The mountain’s base is in fantastic shape for the coming season and it promises be a very white and very jolly holiday in Sun Valley. In fact, I don’t think there is better skiing anywhere in the country right now. It’s that good.
I will take this recent snowfall over drummers drumming, maids a’ leaping, swans a’ swimming –even golden rings. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here, and that looks pretty darn amazing — especially when you’re looking down at it from 9000 feet.
Helmet: check. Goggles: check. Ski pants that still fit (phew): check. Socks without holes: check. Skis, poles, boots: check. Gloves, two left ones: whoops. Wish I had caught that while I was still at home. But, hey, it’s my first day of the season. Something had to give!
Thus outfitted, geared-up and downright excited, on Sunday morning I turned into the lower parking area at River Run, hungrily eyeing the hill. The first day of ski season is a homecoming for me. I gave a big wave to Bill, my favorite parking shuttle driver. He smiled, giving me thumbs up. At the base of the hill, I caught up with the boys in the tune shop and rental desk, people I haven’t seen since closing day last April. Dan at the Brass Ranch not only recommended the right gadget allowing me answer my phone without fumbling around (don’t worry, I don’t chat on the phone on the lift), he installed it, too. Smiles all around.
More smiles as the ticket taker at the base of the River Run chair, a new face this year, scanned my pass. Day one was officially underway! A warm-up run led me down Upper College to Mid River and back to the lift. My thoughts on these groomers alternated between “Whee!” and “Ow, my knees!” and “Yikes! I’m not sure I remember how to do this,” but I made it all the same. The next run, down Upper Warm Springs to I-80 was smoother and more relaxing and by the time I made it to the soft bumps (yes, bumps, in November!) on Ridge, I was getting my groove back.
Early season skiing is gratifying. I always appreciate, with my sore knees and tired muscles (I knew I should have signed up for one of those pre-season boot camps), that every run on our huge, challenging mountain isn’t available on Day One. At first, just enough slopes are open to remember the joy of skiing, the basics of making pretty turns and to provide a real-life boot camp. Nothing trains your legs for skiing like skiing. With each snowfall and Sun Valley’s amazing snow making, runs seem to open in direct correlation to what my legs can handle.
Scanning that sweeping 360-degree vista atop Bald Mountain, there is a lot to look forward to. Seattle Ridge is already drenched in white and striped with corduroy. Also looking ahead-of-the-usual-curve-snow-wise are Baldy’s storied bowls. From the perspective of the lift, coverage looked great.
By all accounts, the opening days on Baldy were excellent. Visitors I chatted with couldn’t have been happier. Locals came out in force with their families. And from here, it only gets better and better. Today looks like a great day to ski – time to run!
“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifting snow, oh!” Or so goes the old ditty sung by generations of school children as they prepared for Thanksgiving break. At least that’s what we sang back in the proverbial day, images of family, feasts and a sense of belonging percolating with each verse.
In this season of giving thanks, for me, over the river and through the woods took the form of a 10-hour road trip to my brother’s house, through some fiercely beautiful terrain and a lot of scrubland. I was surely thankful to arrive. I was thankful for the hugs from my nieces and nephews. I was thankful for my brother and my sister-in-law and their hospitality. I was really thankful for a washing machine and some Lysol wipes.
I was also thankful, after driving by dozens of ski areas, that I ski in Sun Valley. Very thankful. Just like many of America’s suburbs are indistinguishable, strip mall by strip mall, many ski areas also look like some mountain version of Levittown. A gondola or two and lots of lifts sprawl over runs that look like they never really reach their full potential. Short steep-ish slopes are intersected by roads and funneled into other runs. Many ski areas are only minutes from the highway and stretch one after the other after the other. Buildings eight stories high huddle with their bland edifices and cookie cutter balconies and pools. Luxury homes line the edges of runs, condos dot the hills. Base areas are built up and lifts are accessed by concrete walkways.
Sun Valley is an original. In my travels, I have yet to see any resort that looks anything like it. From our opulent day lodges to our mountains whose slopes are untouched by driveways and homes, Sun Valley looks like I think a ski resort should: a touch European, elegant, unique, family-owned. I love skiing to the base of River Run or Warm Springs, or over to Roundhouse, and gathering in a central location with my friends. Our mountain was not conceived in a corporate office and you can tell. I know I am biased. I decided to make Sun Valley my home and raise my children here – of course I am captivated by our style of charm. I learned to ski in Sun Valley back in 1983 and have yet to find another ski area that equally appeals. Getting a glance at other ski resorts during our epic road trip made me even more grateful for what we have.
Sometimes you have to leave, to travel over the river and through the woods, to really appreciate from whence you came. I am grateful for my hometown, my ski resort and the season that lies ahead. From my people to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
It was music to my ears, a sight for sore eyes and every other applicable cliché when I pulled into the base of River Run just in time to see a ski racer swoosh to the end of the slope and jump onto a chairlift, ready for another go at it. Now, Bald Mountain doesn’t open to the public (a.k.a. me) until Thursday, November 22, but it is open right now for an early-season ski camp. There are racers skiing and training, right now, on the hill, as we speak. Oh! Joyous day!
The camp, organized by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) in cooperation with Sun Valley Resort, provides five days of training on Lower River Run to local racers and teams from all over the northwest.
“The kids love this camp,” said Ruben Macaya, Alpine Program Director for SVSEF. “They get to ski the mountain first which is always exciting and Lower River Run is a really good place to train.”
As Ruben explained, the relatively gentle pitch on Lower River Run is perfect for teaching skills and drills. As part of this camp, aimed at skiers ages 8 to 17, drills include one-ski skiing, balance building exercises, gate training and gate running.
“Early in the season you don’t want the kids building up too much speed,” Ruben laughed. “It takes more skill to slow down and do it right.”
The camp runs through Wednesday and many families who participate chose to stay in Sun Valley for Thanksgiving and ski the mountain when it opens to the public. After enjoying Turkey Day specials and packages, they will join hundreds of anxious locals and visitors alike who cannot wait to get in their first runs of the season.
By all accounts, the snow, a mixture of Nature-made and man-made, is good and Sun Valley will open Dollar and Baldy for its 77th winter season as planned. There is great early-season pricing in effect so there’s really no excuse not to get in some turns.
Ski Patrol actually came over to politely ask if I was alright as I lingered at River Run, watching the chairs swoop up the skiers. Shaken out of my reverie, I replied that yes, I was great. I was simply counting the days until I was on the chair myself. He smiled. Somehow, he didn’t think that was odd at all.
LET IT SNOW!
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