At our house, “pass day” is an annual rite of passage. We make the pilgrimage to the River Run Lodge, ready to embrace the change of season that securing our ski passes signifies. In the 15 minutes or so it takes to process all of us (paperwork, photos, handover of finished pass on its Sun Valley lanyard), we officially put summer behind us and stare longingly through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows at what will soon become a busy pastiche of skiers and boarders at the base of the mountain.
River Run Lodge is open for business
Getting our passes means it’s time for other annual rituals, too. We clean out the garage, put the bikes in the corner and put ski equipment front and center. Ski edges and bases are checked; helmets are fished out of storage; clothing, mittens and socks checked to see who has outgrown (or lost) what.
As the weather finally shakes off any vestiges of Indian Summer and commits to cold, snow-making nights and fat clouds ready to drop some winter magic, there is much to look forward to. Thanksgiving is right around the bend and Sun Valley is a lovely place to spend it. The Resort is offering great room rates, a lavish buffet and both Bald Mountain and Dollar will open on Thanksgiving Day. I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the Lodge Dining Room two years ago. It was the most elegant and delicious I have experienced in a long time. And the best part? No clean up! Early season prices and packages continue through December 20 so get those ski passes ready.
Step two: take a photo in front of the mountain map
The mountain will open for a pre-season race camp even earlier than Thanksgiving. Kicking off the Resort’s 77th ski season, young alpine and freestyle skiers from all over the west will convene on the hill from November 17-21, taking advantage of Baldy’s perfect pitch and great training conditions.
Preparations for a new Winter Wonderland at Sun Valley Village are well underway – a festival of sights, sounds and tastes that will combine to create a memorable, magical holiday. Think of the most iconic, beautiful holiday story you can, imagine it coming to life, and you get the idea. Come and stay and remember what the season is really about.
And don’t forget your ski pass. Whether it is for one day or a full season, when it is scanned for the first time this winter, I bet you will be as excited as I will. When I was a part-time Sun Valley resident for 20 years, I kept my ski tags on my coat for months after my trip ended – a proud badge of honor and a daily reminder of the amazing ski vacation that was.
Step three: get your pass
My children’s ski passes from years past have become a nostalgic display of sorts – five years of memories hanging on hooks in my home. They were all so young during that first season in 2007-2008. That was a good year. They have all been good ones, actually, as the children grew in size, confidence and ability and I carved out (no pun intended) time almost every day to take advantage of at least a few runs on our mammoth backyard playground.
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.
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!
More than 125 of the bravest, and perhaps craziest, skiers and riders in Sun Valley put their skills to the test last Sunday as they attempted to cross the pond in front of Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge during the 3rd Annual Dollar Dayz Pond Skim event. Competitors were judged on skim, costume, splash and crowd cheer as they careened across, or into, the nearly 60-foot ice cold pond.
The rest of us were there as unapologetic gawkers.
We filled the air with "oohs" and "ahhs"…we gasped and cheered as competitors skied, boarded, slid, skidded and (sometimes) cartwheeled across the pond. The in-water crashes were spectacular and onlookers were not guaranteed to stay dry either–as many a pond-skim-gone-sideways ended up dousing the crowd in a water ski-worthy spray of water.
Luckily the sun was out, the beer was flowing and the BBQ grill was fired up with tasty treats as the crowd gathered to watch what has become one of Dollar’s most anticipated events. It is also happens to be a great excuse for cross dressing!
This year’s event was no exception as there was everything from geishas and aliens to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny barreling down the hill at full speed in an attempt to make it across the nearly 250,000 gallons of water with an average temperature of 34 degrees. A chicken was spotted amidst the ubiquitous sea of tutus, coconut shell bikinis and super hero capes. And the gorilla suit nearly cleared the crowd.
Best guess on your odds to make it across: 50 / 50. So whether you choose to skim or spectate, make sure not to miss this wacky event next year. And bring a towel!
Since the very beginning, some 75 years now and counting, Sun Valley has been heralded for having one of the best ski school programs in the world. It’s one of the big reasons the ski area has been so well respected and much beloved for so long. That’s because the school at Sun Valley not only teaches people of all ages to ski, they somehow teach folks to love the sport.
My oldest son, Jack, who’s soon to turn four, has been participating in the Little Spuds Sessions. After just a few sessions with a member of the "Redcoats," as Jack calls the instructors, his progress has been amazing. He can now ski Quarter Dollar from top to bottom without any help of any kind. Heck, he’s even carrying his skis to and from the truck–at least most of the way! And now, I not only look upon my young shredder with pride, but also with a serious sense of relief. No more getting dragged down the hill by a giggling kid!
Brook "Trout" Leiphart has been my son’s instructor and Jack likes to tell us how " my Redcoat Brook" taught him how to "make pizza," "turn like a plane" and "fly like Superman"
As his nickname implies, Brook "Trout" is very active in the local fly fishing community, regularly volunteering for the Hemingway chapter of Trout Unlimited, and has been a ski instructor at Sun Valley for 11 years. He spends the summers teaching trap and skeet shooting for Sun Valley Company.
Brook carved turns through a handful of fun questions about life as an instructor in Sun Valley.
Where did you learn to ski?
At Ostego in Michigan when I was around three or four.
What’s your favorite part of being a ski instructor?
I was in the real world working a real job, but I wasn’t happy. So I decided that I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life. I don’t have any kids or any debt so I could afford to do something like this and I really enjoy it. Teaching kids to ski is very rewarding and worthwhile. Plus this job helps me reach my goal of skiing 1/3rd of the year, 122 days.
Another Little Spud has been taught how to ski--and to love the sport--at Dollar Mountain.
What is your favorite ski run?
On Baldy it’s Can-Can because it only has natural snow and on Dollar it’s Otto’s Run.
What’s your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
Good old PB & Js from home.
What’s the best part of life in Sun Valley?
Being able to ski here and taking advantage of everything else this place offers. This truly is a "no lift line" mountain. I’ve spent seasons in Park City and Lake Placid and no place beats Sun Valley. We’re really spoiled here.
What are your favorite non-skiing activities?
Fly fishing and I love hiking above timberline. I’m trying to hike all nine 12,000-foot peaks in Idaho. I’ve already hiked the highest points in all 50 states. I’m #111 on the Highpointers‘ list.
Who is your hero?
Sir Edmund Hilary. I was born on the day he summated Mount Everest.
As part of an ongoing Winter Profile series featuring real mountain divas–who are living and working and loving life in the mountains–we caught up with former Alaskan heli ski guide, wife, mother of three, DIVAS Program co-founder (along with Nicky Biddle Elsbree) and longtime Sun Valley SnowSports School ski instructor veteran Danielle Crist Carruth on Baldy last week. Here is what she had to say about life in the mountains.
Sun Valley SnowSports instructor and DIVAS co-founder Danielle Crist Carruth enjoying her last run of the day
First Run in the A.M.? On a powder day, a quick run down Plaza (Picabo’s Street) before they open the bowls is always in order.
Last Run of the Day? For me, the end of the day is made for poking around in all the little tree stashes that haven’t been found. And there are plenty of them…
Favorite Run on a Sunny Day? Sunny spring skiing is my favorite. Corn snow in the bowls is just tough to beat.
Best Run on Baldy? Any day you are spending a lot of time on the cold springs double chair is a good one in my book, as you really can’t beat the lower bowls when conditions are right.
Favorite Lunch Spot? I love the Club House (as it is affectionately called by locals; but marked on trail maps as Lookout Lodge, at the top of Baldy), and secretly hope they never rebuild it. This is followed closely by Fondue on the deck of Roundhouse on a sunny spring day.
First Memory on Skis? Squaw Valley. Wooden Hart skis. Girls in bikinis. Picnic lunching in the granite cliffs on a sunny spring day with family friends.
Who First Got You on Skis? Same person who taught my brothers (former Olympians and X-Games competitors Reggie and Zach Crist) and all of our children: My dad Roger Crist, aka Poppa.
When did you learn to ski? I was 2 years old. It was "trial by fire" in my family. If you couldn’t keep up, you were left in the lodge with a coloring book for hours. Sometimes that was preferable!
Favorite Memory on Skis? Hard to pick just one, but my favorite days are the ones when you head up without a plan just because you know the skiing is going to be great and you run into just the right people in just the right places … and you are just part of all that great energy that surrounds an amazing day on Baldy.
Favorite Off-Mountain Activity? Nothing beats hanging out with my family, whether it’s on the mountain, in the living room, or road tripping to Moab or California.
Do you have a skiing or mountain obsession (something you couldn’t live without)? My neck gator. Or my buff in the springtime. I can’t ski without my neck garb. Really.
Why Sun Valley–what do you love about it? I love the people. There are places with more snow and more gnarly terrain, but there is no place where you can get as much vertical in a day than here. And there is no place with better people to ski it with.
What is Your Passion? I have to admit I’m pretty passionate about skiing. It sounds simple, but I get a lot of pleasure out of shredding great lines with good friends or helping someone else appreciate this sport as much as I do. I’m incredibly passionate about spending time with my family and friends. There are, of course, lots of ways to do that, but skiing tends to be a pretty good one … and probably my favorite.
What is your job on the mountain? I am a Sun Valley SnowSports School ski instructor. I have been doing this job, and loving it, since college (during Christmas break). So, forever.
What is the Best Part about your job? I love getting people fired up about skiing and the mountain lifestyle. I think we are incredibly lucky to be able to live here and raise our kids here and play here with such quality people. If just a little of that great energy can rub off on someone else, then that’s not a bad way to make the world a better place.
As part of an ongoing Winter Profile series featuring real mountain divas–who are living and working and loving life in the mountains–we caught up with former collegiate ski racer, wife, mother of two, DIVAS Program co-founder (along with Danielle Crist Carruth) and Sun Valley SnowSports School ski instructor extraordinaire Nicky Biddle Elsbree last week. Here is what she had to say about life in the mountains.
Sun Valley SnowSports instructor and DIVAS co-founder Nicky Biddle Elsbree
First Run in the A.M.? On a Powder Day…Upper River, the road less traveled. On any other day it would be Graduate for a groomer, as it’s so sweetly falls away…
Last Run of the Day? Plaza… Picabo’s Street…whatever you want to call it. It’s a nice little secret–if your legs can handle “one more.”
Favorite Run on a Sunny Day? Maybe a groomer..and I don’t know exactly why, but there’s something about skiing Squirrel with the sun on your back and your shadow stretching slightly ahead. Also any Bowl on a sunny day.
Best Run on Baldy?Exhibition and Lefty’s are my favs when they are ripe for the taking. They are interesting and challenging: right, left or straight down the middle.
Favorite Lunch Spot? I’m not big on combining lunch with skiing. I just don’t have time to get bogged down and prefer to just snarf down a snack. Although my body somehow requires a Bowl of Soul for Apres, no matter what the time.
First Memory on Skis? I have two (hundred). The first real memory was going down a patch of parental packed snow on a hill in our neighborhood. We’d get lugged up (again by the parents) and ski down…or at least try. The packed snow hill (involving shovels) represented a huge effort on the part of my folks and there are some fun pictures to prove it.
The second is letting the rope tow at Nashoba Valley (MA) whirr through my mitts as I tried to get brave enough to really grab on and go. That thing was fast and furious. And scary. But it had the advantage of making the ski down seem easy.
When did you learn to ski? I learned when I was 2 years old. The between-the-legs, work-my-parents-back method was our only option. Lucky for them we figured it out pretty fast. Unlucky for us, my big brother and I both broke our legs at 5 and 3 years old (at Stowe and Nashoba the same winter). After that, we figured it out a little better, so it was easier on everybody.
Favorite Memory on Skis? That’s tough as there are memories galore. Eastern skiing, western skiing, dabbling in Europe, good days and GREAT. My fondest memory of skiing (as recently as two hours ago) remains the FREEING feeling that magically happens while on the slopes. There is nothing on earth that compares.
Favorite Off-Mountain Activity? Let’s see…with kids, I’d have to say sledding, tubing and hockey. Without kids, I gotta give nordic skiing the nod, even though it doesn’t happen very much. It is great for the dogs and good to clear the head and inhale that mountain air while getting exercise!
Do you have a skiing or mountain obsession (something you couldn’t live without)? Hats. I pretty much love hats and could not live without them. I do wear a helmet as it’s the right thing to do, but oh how I love my hats. Oh, and ski apparel too (jackets, pants, outerwear)…but I’ve really gotten a grip on that. Really.
Why Sun Valley–what do you love about it? I love Stoecklein’s Baldy poster from way back. It evokes what Sun Valley is to me: magnetic, peaceful, wondrous, alluring, changing, quiet, western. And after one year (tops): HOME. And now, 23 years later, it’s still home.
What is Your Passion? I’m passionate about coaching. It seems I’ve found my niche in ski coaching and instructing, adults and kids alike. I like to empower people to become better and it lights me up when they do.
What is your job on the mountain? I am in the midst of year seven with the Sun Valley SnowSports School, and count my blessings every day, as I’m a ski instructor and there are a lot of times when it doesn’t feel like a job. It hardly feels like work on an early-up powder morning with clients (most of whom become, or have become, friends) or while skiing, and laughing, with “my” Thursday Smith kids. So guess I am a living example of the philosophy that you should do what you love and it usually works out.
Parting Thoughts… When my parents come out to visit, I always say thank you (for taking the time to teach us how to ski and introducing us to the industry and the mountain and the lifestyle). Thank you.
If we are really honest with ourselves…we have to admit that for many Mountain Diva’s form comes before function. You know the drill and you’ve seen them on the hill (perhaps even secretly admiring them from afar). It’s the perfectly pulled together Diva with the color-coordinated outfit and somehow matching accessories. The fact that she has the latest in ski technology and can shred the mountain like a pro just adds to the awe factor.
But, when it comes to helmets, every Diva (especially mountain mamas) knows the mantra: SAFETY FIRST.
Why safety first? Well, we need to set a good example for our kids, as well as our sisters and peers. And since we are often the ones purchasing helmets for our kids, it is even more important that we know the essentials–and the DOs and DON’Ts of proper helmet fitting.
The good news is that helmet design has come a long way since the classic Bell downhill ski helmets first hit the slopes. They are now lightweight, aerodynamic and well padded (some even have extra soft ear flap choices). They also come in lots of shapes and sizes (to fit every head shape) and are offered in a dazzling array of colors, designs and finishes (Mountain Divas rejoice…you can still feel like you are choosing form over function, even if it is safety first)!!
To help you make the right choice, hear are a few tips on getting the perfect fit, followed by a quick rundown on some of the more popular helmets you’ll see on the slopes this winter:
Getting The Right Fit
1. Measure Your Head. Ski helmets are generally sized based upon your head circumference (usually measured in centimeters). Even the ones that use a Small, Medium, Large scale are based on head circumference, so measure your head and compare to the manufacturer’s size chart. Measure one inch above the eyebrows all the way around. Measure kids’ head circumference in the same manner. (Jump to the end of this blog for a conversion chart of centimeters to inches.)
2. Try On Several Brands. Be sure you try BEFORE you buy. Remember that ski and boarder helmets, just like heads, come in lots of different shapes and sizes, and there is one that will be the best fit for your head. The wrong shape will feel too tight (and may even pinch or have “hot spots” in certain areas) or will be too loose at the top or on the sides. Keep trying. Just like Godilocks, there will be one that will fit “just right.”
3. Check the Fit. This is really important for fitting kids helmets. A helmet should fit securely, but not so tight you have pain. “The helmet should feel snug around the crown and shouldn’t move around too much,” says Greg Bearce, supervisor at Pete Lane’s Warm Springs. If it feels like a good fit, try the following test: gently hold the helmet in place and try to turn your head from side to side, then up and down. The helmet should feel snug and should have very little room for movement (less than an inch), and should not obscure your vision.
4. Bring Your Goggles. Be sure to bring your goggles to make sure they fit your helmet. Otherwise, you may find yourself at the top of the mountain on a powder day without proper visibility, because your goggles are too big or too small to fit your helmet.
5. Ski Helmets for Children. Whatever you do, don’t buy a helmet that is too big or it will be useless. This is especially important when buying for kids or trying to recycle helmets for younger siblings. Resist the temptation to buy a helmet for a child to “grow into” because the fit will be wrong and the helmet won’t be able do its job of absorbing the impact and preventing concussions.
6. Don’t Wear a Beanie or Hat Under Your Helmet. “This is one of the biggest fashion misconceptions out there,” says Greg Bearce, supervisor at Pete Lanes Warm Springs. “A beanie is var far the worst thing you can wear under a helmet because it prevents the helmet from doing its job,” adds Bearce, “it just allows for too much movement, doesn’t let the helmet do what it was designed to do and can lead to the compression injuries that cause concussions.” Bearce notes that some of the really thin skull caps can work under helmets because they conform exactly to the head. But when in doubt, just avoid any thicker under layers–having the room to fit a hat or beanie probably means that the helmet is too big and is not a proper fit anyway.
Helmet Style, Accessories & Options
Now onto the more creative part of helmet buying. Once you have the proper fit, you can get down to the details of style, color and accessories. Remember that different age groups have different priorities when choosing helmets–some are attracted to aerodynamics or accessories (wireless audio system ear flaps or full cell phone and in-line components) while others (especially younger kids) are drawn to the more immediate visuals of cool colors, metallic finishes or unique designs. And if you can’t find the perfect combo, you can always consider decals or stickers to add a design of your own.
Smooth, flowing lines and elegant finishing details complement the Intrigue’s low profile Hybrid Shell construction. Combining AirEvac 2 ventilation and a soft, fleeced tricot lining beneath a refined collection of designs, the Intrigueis the ideal helmet for women of discriminating tastes. It also has the option for the Skullcandy Audio System (an added bonus for Divas who like to carry their tunes with them down the mountain). And it comes a wide range of fantastic colors, including Black Pearl, White Pearl, Shadow Green, Antique/Coral, Bronze Fallen, Petal Blue Briston, Shadow Purple Baroque, White Fallen.
Revolutionary new technology discreetly concealed behind a bevy of stylish accents, the all-new Voyage will take you on a trip you never thought possible. Using revolutionary Hybrid In-Mold technology to minimize mass and maximize ventilation, the Voyage offers up the ultimate in performance without sacrificing one ounce of style. This patented technology weighs in a little less (at 450 grams/16 ounces) than the Smith Intrigue and currently comes in White, Black, Ivory Bristol, Ultramarine Night Out, Frost Gray Stereo or Paris Pink Baroque.
Giro’s Seam is the perfect all mountain helmet. An improved Thermostat vent system, Giro’s Stack Vent, and a feather light weight will keep your temp under control, your goggles clear and your comfort level at an all time high. Finish it off with the best fit system ever made (with an adjustable wheel in the back to help dial in the perfect fit) for a snow helmet and you are ready for a full day on the mountain. Lots of Giro accessories (like stereo ear flaps and other adjustments) and a wide range of colors make this a popular and functional helmet for both kids AND adults. Available in Matte Brown, Matte White, Matte Pewter, Cyan Tiles, Matte Black, Matte Red, Black Towers, Matte Blue Sunset, Matte Grey Stripes.
POC Skull Comp – Bode or Julia
The ultimate race helmet, upgraded. The Skull Comp is now updated to version 2.0, adding a new unique safety feature. After finding that today’s race skiers repeatedly hit gates hard and risk to deform the liner, we shifted the core material to multi impact EPP. On top of the liner, we use a thin outer shell in combination with our patented Aramid membrane penetration barrier, APB. To optimize the energy absorption properties, pneumatic honeycomb pads made of polyurethane are inserted into the multi impact EPP liner. Great fit, performance and protection over and overagain!
There are two editions of the POC Skull Comp, one designed by Bode Miller and one by Julia Mancuso–both extraordinary athletes at the top of their sport. Bode Miller rides with his POC Skull Comp Pro Model helmet in green and white. There is also a Poc Skull Comp Pro – Julia that is blue and white in honor of pro racer Julia Mancuso. And, as if the extreme protection and functionality weren’t enough, the Julia edition Skull Comp comes with a kit of Swarowski Crystals to make your own Julia style tiara.
A pro race helmet with Wwarowski Crystals…Mountain Divas REJOICE!!
Finally, form plus function.
Giro Seam, Mtn Blue Sunset
Helmet Size Conversion Chart
Centimeters to Inches
52 cm = 20- inches
53 cm = 20-7/8 inches
54 cm = 21 inches
55 cm = 21 5/8 inches
56 cm = 22 inches
57 cm = 22 3/8 inches
58 cm = 22 inches
59 cm = 23 inches
60 cm = 23 5/8 inches
The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) has a storied history of cultivating elite winter athletes. For over 40 years, the SVSEF’s ski, snowboard, freestyle and Nordic teams have coached, trained and taught local athletes to be the best athletes they can be, encouraging "strong minds, strong bodies, strong futures." Each winter, over 500 local skiers and boarders join the teams, learning discipline, balance, commitment and how to enjoy skiing and snowboarding for a lifetime. Whether these athletes go on to become professional athletes or just well-rounded community members, the SVSEF plays an important role in the development of the local participants. Athletes like Kristin Cooper, Picabo Street, Graham Watanabe, and the Crist Brothers are all alums of the SVSEF. They are also all Olympic athletes.
Based on this tradition of elite athleticism, the SVSEF has now launched an additional mission, "Six@Sochi," with a goal of getting six SVSEF athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. These athletes, members of the SVSEF’s Gold Team, are all at the top of their discipline and the Sochi Olympics are within their grasp. This year’s Gold Team (many of whom are current US Ski or Snowboard Team Members) includes Nordic racers Morgan Arritola, Simi Hamilton, Chelsea Holmes, Matt Gelso, Mike Sinnott and Alexa Turzian, Alpine racers Tanner Farrow, Teagen Palmer and Kipling Wiesel , snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, and freestyle skiers Tai Barrymore and Shane Cordeau.
Here is a roundup of a few of these local athletes, Nordic skiers, freestyle skiers, bump skiers, snowboarders and alpine racers. So next time they pass you on a Nordic trail, ride up the lift with you or boost out of the halfpipe on Dollar right in front of your astonished eyes, you might just be in the company of a future Olympic Champion. (Athlete profiles courtesy of the SVSEF).
Kaitlyn Farrington: US Snowboard Team Member
As a junior in the SVSEF Snowboard Program Kaitlyn always showed potential in the halfpipe, then she exploded to the top of the ranks last year. In 2010 Kaitlyn dominated the results and was recognized as one of the best women halfpipe riders competing. A few of Kaitlyn’s successes in 2010: Winter Dew Tour Overall Champion; won the European X-Games, beating Vancouver Olympic Gold Medalist Torah Bright; and was on the podium 6 of her last 7 competitions. Needless to say, Kaitlyn was named to the US Snowboard Team and is looking for the Gold in Sochi.
Shane Cordeau: US Ski Team Member
Shane was born and raised here in Sun Valley. He grew up chasing his father, 4x World mogul champion, Joe Cordeau all around Baldy. Those ski lessons paid off and in 2009 Shane finished 2nd on the Nor-Am Mogul tour earning a spot on the U.S. Freestyle ski team. Shane got his rookie season off to a fast start finishing 1st at the U.S. Freestyle Selections event in December 2010. He followed that up with a 4th place at the U.S Olympic Trials in Steamboat Springs, Co., two weeks later. Shane made his World Cup debut at Deer Valley, UT., in January 2011. Shane was the highest qualifying American and finished an impressive 13th overall. Shane had two more top 25 results in World Cup competitions before suffering a season ending injury. Now fully recovered Shane has set his sights on this coming season, "I am ready to continue my pursuit of taking over the World Cup circuit during the next four years leading up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Tai Barrymore: SVSEF Gold Team Member
Tai returns to the SVSEF Gold Team after another successful season of Half-pipe competitions. Tai is one of the youngest athletes competing in the Dew Tour, North Face Open, U.S. Grand Prix, and X Games. Tai travelled to 4 different countries on 3 different continents and competed in 10 halfpipe events last year. It was a whirlwind season. He made the finals of every major event he entered and remained healthy throughout the year. His results include:
2010 Dew Tour-Breckenridge, Co 14th
2010 U.S. Grand Prix-Copper Mtn, Co 19th
2011 North Face Open-Northstar, Ca 9th
2011 SFR French Open-Tignes, Fr, 1st
2011 World Cup- La Plange, Fr, 13th
2011 Euro X Games- Tignes, Fr, 16th
2011 World Superpipe Championships- Whistler, Ca 14th
2011 New Zealand Open- Cadrona, NZ, 7th
The IOC has officially announced that Ski Half-pipe will be included in the 2014 Olympics. Tai is focused on competing at that event. He is excited for another whirlwind season competing in one of the most dynamic and physically challenging ski disciplines in the world. Tai continues to train year round with our younger athletes; mentoring, encouraging and supporting the team. He is an inspiration to all of our athletes and is living proof that you can get there from here!
Morgan Arritola: US Ski Team Member
Morgan is currently regarded as one of nation’s top female Nordic athletes. At the young age of 25 she already has an impressive list of results tallied to her name, including over a half dozen podiums at National Championships, competitive world-class results at numerous World Championships and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Morgan’s athletic talents extend beyond skis to the XC running trails where during the 2011 summer she chalked up two national titles- one at the XC running Half Marathon National Championships in Bend, OR., and the second in the XTerra Half Marathon National Championships in Ogden, UT. Morgan is primed for an outstanding 2011-12 ski season and will be a legitimate contender in any distance race she enters the entire season.
21st Place 30K Mass Start Skate 2011 World Ski Championships Oslo, NOR
19th Place 15K Mass Start Skate 2010 World Cup La Clusaz, FRA
22nd Place 30k Mass Start Skate 2009 World Ski Championships Liberec, CZE
This is the time of the year when everyone’s favorite mountain, Baldy, gets packed! Lines are long, slopes are filled, it is hard to find a seat on the deck at Warm Springs Lodge and, suddenly, your friends’ red and blue jackets start looking just like everyone else’s red and blue jackets.
So just how are you supposed to find your friends in a sea of skiers, snowboarders, revelers, families, ski lessons and groups of ski-teamers? Not everyone has bright colored jackets like me (I swear, my favorite pink and green jacket can be spotted on Baldy miles away!), no one really uses walkie-talkies anyone (though if you did, we think it’s awesome!), and sometimes it is just too cold to take your gloves off and dig through your pockets for your cell phone.
So we have complied a few tips on just how to stay together on the mountain, the best places to meet on the mountain, and a few safety tips for skiing or boarding in groups.
1. Plan ahead. Knowing when and where you are going to meet your group is the first step towards success. Be specific in your planning. Instead of saying, "Meet you at the top around eleven," try something more specific (and less mainstream) like: "Meet you at the top of Seattle Ridge at 11:15."
Plan ahead with a specific time and location to make sure everybody meets up on top and in the right place
2. Watch the clock. There are several clocks strategically placed in every lift line. Watch for the big blue signs with maps on them, the clocks are on there too. There are also clocks at the top of the mountain and the top of Seattle Ridge. Being on time will help your group meet up easier!
3. Stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big, orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.
4. Move away from the lift! If you are meeting friends at the top of the mountain, whatever you do, DO NOT stand right where you got off. Many other skiers and riders will be getting off the lift before your friends get there, and if you are standing right in the way, it is a recipe for a disaster (or at least one or two pile-ups).
5. The best place to meet:Warm Springs Side: The Warm Springs Bridge (located right at the end of the Challenger lift line, just past Warm Springs Lodge). An old stand-by for groups of skiers and riders to meet up, the Warm Springs Bridge is almost a tradition of its own. Locals and tourists alike can be heard on a Friday night at Grumpy’s saying"Meet you on the Bridge at nine tomorrow." Just be sure not to confuse it with the River Run Bridge!
Looking towards the firepit at River Run Base Lodge
6. The best place to meet: River Run Side: The fire pit. River Run Lodge is huge and there are plenty of places to meet your group from the bear statue to the fireplace inside to the first ski rack, but our favorite place to meet, and warm up some chilly fingers, is the fire pit. Located right near the bottom of the gondola, you are sure not to miss this one and you can warm up and meet new friends while you wait.
7. If Meeting up enroute, stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam (or larger group) gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.
8. Move to the side of the slope! There are some long runs and some long cat tracks on Baldy, so if you and your crew get split up on Lower College or at the end of Hershey Highway and you are going to wait for them to catch up, be sure to move to the side of the run. Standing in the middle of any run can be dangerous for you and other skiers!
9. The best place to meet:Seattle Ridge. If your 13 year-old cousin doesn’t want to watch the Broncos game with you inside the Seattle Ridge Lodge while you wait for the rest of the family, the best place to meet on Seattle Ridge is outside the Lodge on the Lower Level. This not only keeps you out of the way of the lift and other skiers, but it provides easy access to the bathrooms and water, without going up or down any stairs!
10. The best place to meet:Top of the mountain. Lots of groups get together at the top and with the Lookout Lodge, three lifts and one cat track all converging in one area, it can get pretty hectic. Tell your friends to meet you by the big blue sign (the one with a map and a clock), or even a little lower, down by the Ski Patrol Shack. But try to stay out of the way of the snowboarder’s Strap-Up area.
11. Carry a map! Baldy can seem big and confusing, especially to a first-time visitor. So be sure to carry a mountain map with you at all times, that way if your group gets separated, at least you can figure out where you are and where you want to be! Also, the Sun Valley guest service folks (the friendly skiers and boarders in bright yellow jackets) are incredibly helpful; so don’t be afraid to ask. There are also some pretty sweet Smartphone apps with resort maps that can come in pretty handy!
Skiing and boarding is all about fun. Enjoying bluebird skis and hopefully some fresh powder with your family and friends. So be patient and kind to your fellow Baldy-lovers! A little karma goes a long way!