‘Skin it 2 Win It’ is a ski and snowboard race on Dollar Mountain. Participants skin 563 feet up Forbidden Fruit ski run and then ski or snowboard down Otto’s Run trying to complete as many laps as possible in three hours.
Categories include men, women, and coed teams of one, two and four person teams. Each lap takes approximately 15 minutes.
Coffee, energy drinks, food and music are provided for racers to enjoy between laps. This fundraiser benefits the Sawtooth Nationals Forest Avalanche Center. A donation of $25 per person requested. 10:00 am to 1:00 pm with awards to follow.
The Anti Comp Returns For Its 8th Year; Event To Be Held At Sun Valley, Idaho
(Montreal, Quebec – January 4, 2013) – Orage and Sun Valley Resort have joined forces with Freeskier Magazine, Go Pro, Retallack Lodge and a number of other partners for the return of what is arguably skiing’s funnest event of the season. “When we launched the Orage Masters event a decade ago we did it out of necessity, the comp scene needed something new. This time around we’re just doing it for the sake of throwing a killer event at a killer resort”, commented Mike Nick, Orage Marketing Director. “We launched the Masters back in 2003 because we (Orage) wanted to put our own spin on the event circuit with a slope event that looked more like a party than a contest. With the Sochi Olympics on everyone’s mind these days, rightfully so, we figured there’s no better time than now to lighten things up a bit with the return of skiing’s one and only “Anti Comp.”
Brian Callahan, Sun Valley’s Terrain Park Manager – “When Freeskier (Magazine) mentioned that the Orage masters was looking for a new home, Sun Valley jumped at the opportunity. We’d seen what they’ve (Orage) done over the years and the idea of hosting an event with a ten year history and so many stoked athletes and fans seemed like a no brainer; I made it my personal goal to make it happen”.
Scheduled to take place April 5-7, 2013 the 8th installment of the Orage Masters, a ski event better known as one part slopestyle, one part on hill tailgate party, one part costume party will take place at Sun Valley, Idaho featuring 40 of todays top ski athletes. With its team vs team format, The Orage Masters will feature 8 teams of 4 athletes each representing today’s top film crews. “In the past we’ve hosted hard good teams but this year we’re changing it up a bit to profile film crews the likes of Level 1, Inspired Media, Stept productions, The Traveling Circus and more, commented Nick. (full team listings to be announced at a later date)
The Orage Masters 8 is proud to name Go Pro, Freeskier Magazine, Sun Valley and Retallack Lodge as partners. Please visit www.OrageMasters.com for more info.
Day one of DIVAS -- the terrific coaching team motivates the group
The standard definition of the word di·va [dee-vuh, -vah] is: Italian, literally, goddess, feminine of the divine, god. The term has evolved in modern times to describe famous female opera singers (no idea why) and then devolved to a term for a woman that must have her way exactly, or no way at all.
Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader
But there is another definition of DIVAS, specific to Sun Valley: Idahoan, “Die Incredible Vimin Alpine Shredders.” And for 90 local women skiers, this is the only definition that matters. Sun Valley’s DIVAS are skiers of intermediate ability and above who take part in an eight-week clinic, skiing one day a week with a rotating cadre of some of the mountain’s best coaches. It’s women teaching women and it’s such a big success, that in its third year, DIVAS has a wait list. According to Snowsports Supervisor Nick Maricich, the DIVAS program is the top women’s clinic in the country and is being emulated by many other resorts. Yay us!
What makes the program so popular? The answer is as diverse as the skiers. In a pre-season questionnaire sent out by DIVAS co-founder and Sun Valley skiing royalty, Danielle Crist Carruth, each woman was asked what she hoped to get out of the clinic. Possibilities ranged from improving bump technique, to improving confidence; from skiing with the girls and making new friends, to getting away from the kids for three hours. I just appreciated being asked what I wanted for a change and chose D: all of the above.
This Monday morning, on day one, I joined 29 other shredders at the base of the Warm Spring Lodge. In my second year of the program, I was excited to be there. My inaugural year as a DIVA was not only a huge boon to my ability to carve pretty round turns, I also met some great people and laughed – a lot. This year, with the goal of finally conquering moguls and pulverizing powder, I took my turn skiing down in front of a slew of coaches, praying I didn’t fall or disqualify myself from the group that also wanted to ski varied terrain.
The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups
I was placed with five fun women who shared similar goals. The always positive, extremely helpful and very entertaining DIVAS co-founder Nicky Elsbree was my coach du jour. Each week is themed and the focus on Monday was balance – apropos for women at the beginning of a New Year. For the next two-and-a-half hours, Nicky helped us work on our balance from every angle.
Being a DIVA is an exercise in balance in itself. Most of the 90 women up there every Monday, Tuesday or Friday are balancing multiple commitments, from jobs to children to spouses and volunteer gigs. The three hours we carve out each week for ourselves, carries over to everything else. As one of my fellow DIVAS said on the lift, the valley spread out beneath us, if we don’t get out here and enjoy where we live, we may as well live anywhere. Amen. Skiing with DIVAS forces you to focus, to quiet the never-ending mental “to do” list, to be present.
Nicky Elsbree demonstrates balance
For those interested in adult specialty ski programs, Sun Valley has something for everyone. DIVAS also offers a beginner clinic called DIVAS 101 and the Snowsports School runs popular programs including Mountain Masters, Masters Race, Ski Club and the new men-only program, ARCS.
If you’re here for the winter, or most of it, these clinics are probably the best way to get excellent instruction at a great value, while meeting new friends and enjoying the mountain lifestyle.
Please call the Sun Valley Snowsports School at(888) 490-5950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and find your inner diva.
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.
Practice makes perfect in the Progression Park
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.
Past seasons on the cross course proved a huge hit with the kids. This year will be no different, just better and better.
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.
Let’s face it, kids have limitless energy that can sometimes be challenging for parents to harness. Even after hours of shredding on Baldy, playing on the “Bald Spot” terrain at the top of the hill and tackling runs from moguls to glades and Adventure Trails, many children are still not ready for the fun to end.
And let’s face it, after hours of skiing on Baldy and trying to keep up with said kids, parents might need a bit of a break. Maybe even one of the famous Bloody Marys or a beer for après ski at River Run Lodge. A little live music and adult conversation might just hit the spot.
Every child loves to sled and tubing is even better
How to keep everyone happy? It’s the Tubing Hill to the rescue! Every afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m. and running until 5 p.m., the young and the young at heart can get a ticket, grab a special inner tube sled and delight in an hour of taking some laps down the Tubing Hill, relocated his year to Baldy. Located to skier’s left of Lower River Run and adjacent to the children’s learning area, Kinderspielplatz, the Tubing Hill is a terrific way to get a little more out of your day.
On New Year’s Eve, Matt jovially manned the base of the run, handing red and blue inner tubes to a child as young as three (accompanied by his dad), to two 17-year-old girls who announced they “loved” their ride after the first lap, to every age in between. At the top of the hill, accessed by the Magic Carpet and a gentle uphill walk, Mark helped launch the sledders down the curving slope, giving an extra spin or a little more speed when asked. Two local sisters, who hadn’t skied that day, had come over to the hill simply to enjoy tubing. They were happily doing laps, sometimes sharing a tube (it goes faster that way), or driving their own.
Ready, set, go!
Everyone loves to sled but the adults among us may not always love the hassle of driving to the right spot and repeatedly lugging children up steep hills. At the Tubing Hill, the Magic Carpet does the work and there is no need to drive anywhere. Brilliant!
Across the plaza, I am guessing the parents of some of those happy children, were enjoying Happy Hour at the bustling Lodge. The last “run” of the day for many vacationers and locals alike is Mahogany Ridge, the long, polished bar at River Run. Serving cocktails, beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee and hot chocolate drinks, it is a very popular gathering place and a great spot at which to compare notes, brag about runs and talk about just how amazing the skiing in Sun Valley is right now. And did I mention the legendary Bloody Marys?
Mahogany Ridge is the place for apres ski
It’s all happening at the base of River Run. Happy, shrieking children sliding and spinning down the Tubing Hill; parents joining them for a few runs or gathering with friends at the Lodge to unwind and extend the day a bit longer.
On New Year's Eve, the action for the young, and the young at heart, will be at the Inn
As the old adage aptly states: happy children, happy parents. And what could make children happier than a New Year’s Eve celebration tailored especially to their interests and tastes? On Monday, December 31, the Continental Room at the Sun Valley Inn will be transformed into a giant playground at which kids can count down to the New Year. Pizza, chicken fingers, popcorn and ice cream sundaes will abound and dozens of age-appropriate activities will keep little partygoers busy and happy while mom and dad sneak out for a party of their own or stay to partake in the fun.
Kids have unspent energy? Let them work it out playing a hilarious game of Bungee Basketball. Participants are attached to a long bungee cord by a belt as they try to run down an inflatable court to dunk a basketball before the bungee bounces them back. Do your kids love the “gotcha” of Lazer Tag? They can slide into a vest, pop goggles over their eyes, grab a lazer “gun” and take part in this always-popular game. Giant boxing gloves are available to help siblings work out some of their year-end issues before the clock strikes midnight and an old-time midway offers games of all varieties. If the kiddos need some quiet time, a movie corner surrounded by beanbag chairs provides a peaceful oasis.
The event can be described as a “carnival” according to Lana Breazeale, Director of Recreation at Sun Valley. “There is a lot going on,” she laughed. “We will have a DJ playing popular music the kids know. There are contests and drawings for prizes all night long. At midnight, we have a balloon drop, noisemakers and hats. It’s really fun. It makes the kids feel special to have a party of their own.”
It also makes families feel relieved to have such a great option for what is always a nearly impossible night to get childcare. “Many parents may not have ‘big’ plans for a party or event, but want to toast the New Year,” Lana explained. “We have seen many go to the Ram for dinner or the Inn Lounge for a glass of champagne, staying close to their children, but still getting some grown-up time.”
Enjoy dinner at the Ram or a drink at the Inn Lobby Lounge knowing the kids are happy and having fun
No matter if you’re down the hall or downtown, though, safety is of the utmost priority to Lana and her team. Children wear identifying lanyards and are even escorted to the restroom. The event is open to everyone, from Resort guests to locals, and reservations are greatly appreciated.
The fine print: the party is open from 7:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. The fun will be supervised by trained adults and you are welcome to drop off your child who is three or older. Littler party-goers must be accompanied by their own grown up (a parent or care provider). Cost is $75 per child (a great value at just over $13/hour. Try to get that anywhere else on New Year’s Eve) and reservations may be made by calling 208-622-2135.
As the sun set Christmas Eve, only the silhouettes of dozens of Snowsports instructors were visible atop Dollar
Just after 5:30 on Christmas Eve, I stood atop Dollar Mountain, watching the lights from the Sun Valley Resort burn brighter by the minute. The winter sun retreated, leaving a fat, hay-colored moon in its stead. Behind me, in front of me, and on every side, congregated dozens of Snowsports instructors. For the most part, conversations were subdued as friends greeted friends and took a moment to survey the scene below, unanimously proclaiming it one of the prettiest Christmas Eve nights in recent memory. As this ever-multiplying group waited for the Torchlight Parade to begin, the quietude was interrupted sporadically by an impromptu Christmas carol or a shout of excitement.
Instructors' skis were lined up and ready to go at dusk
I took it all in from the front of a line that stretched, I am guessing, a few hundred people back. Beside me, stood long-time ski instructor Hans Thum, smiling his trademark kind smile. He promised that all would be fine – he had his eye on me. Coming from a legend who has skied the Sun Valley Torchlight Parade 44 times, I felt reassured and grateful.
Because truth be told, I had been nervous all day about the endeavor. Although I have watched this dazzling tradition many times, I always watched from a distance. I hadn’t an inkling of the level of expertise required to participate — something I failed to consider when I asked (begged?) to ski. But standing there, as the temperature dropped and it grew darker and darker, I worried. My worst fear, as a non-Snowsports instructor (not even close) was that I might ruin it for everyone. I fretted about not being able to see where I was going. I worried that I would catch my coat on fire. Most of all, I dreaded an ignominious tumble down Old Dollar that would disrupt the perfect slalom of the parade route and take out the skiers and snowboarders behind me. Or what if I missed a turn and sailed off course, torches illuminating my humiliation?
The charming and gracious Hans Thum led me through parade prep and then down the hill
But once the end of the wildly popular Nutcracker on Ice was announced via radio, it was go-time. Positioned safely between two Austrians, both of outstanding skiing pedigree, the call came to light the torches. Plastic caps off, a torch firmly in each hand, we lit the overgrown matchsticks by striking them end-to-end. Suddenly, the black surroundings glowed red and a battle cry went up among the crowd.
Up close and personal with the makeshift torches
“Stay right behind me!” Hans reminded as we pointed our skis down the slope and held the torches away from our bodies. As the line began to snake down Dollar, skiing became hypnotic. Ahead of me, I focused on the tails of Hans’ skis, working to stay in his perfect tracks. The rest of the torches blurred ahead of me and out of the corners of my eyes. The snow on Dollar was textbook-perfect soft corduroy that kicked tiny plumes of powder into the flames. Down we went, effortlessly. After a turn or two, I couldn’t remember what I had been nervous about.
About three-quarters of the way to bottom, the first fireworks exploded overhead and everyone in that long, long series of s-turns began to cheer. Instructors ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, from “new hires” to seasoned pros, snowboarders and skiers alike, guests like me — held our torches high, all proud members of the Sun Valley family beneath that sparkling Idaho sky.
Photographer Charlie Webster captured the view from the top of Old Bowl on Monday night
As the slope flattened and I approached the crowd standing outside Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, the only thought in my head was, “I want to do that again.” As someone who is rarely at a loss for words, I could find none appropriate as I stood in my skis, beneath the firework finale. Magical is too trite. Inspiring isn’t quite right. I think I will go with transcendent and leave it at that.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night (courtesy Charlie Webster)
The Sun Valley reindeer forage for food by Trail Creek in 1937.
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen … but do you recall? Streamer, Liner, Clipper, Saint and Nick? Probably not. Their’s was a short and unhappy life in Sun Valley, as the resort’s first and only reindeer herd.
It was 1937, and in anticipation of Sun Valley’s second ever Christmas, marketing genius Steve Hannagan, the man who gave Sun Valley its name, convinced resort owner Averell Harriman that a herd of reindeer was an essential ingredient for a picture perfect Sun Valley Christmas. Hannagan tasked Andres Bango, a Laplandar whose father had brought the first reindeer from Siberia to Alaska in 1898, to round up 13 of the beasts from the tundras of Teller, Alaska and escort them by boat, plane and train to the heart of Idaho. Newspaper reports from the day indicate that Harriman and Hannagan had hopes this group may be the nucleus of a permanent stand of reindeer in the Sawtooths.
Once arrived in Sun Valley, the beasts were fitted with special harnesses and sleighs for ferrying guests from the railroad to the resort and, most importantly, to pull Santa’s sleigh. However, while every comfort was afforded the reindeer – including a special barn built just for them – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Streamer, Liner, Clipper, Saint and Nick had a difficult transition to life in Idaho. Reindeer are the only domesticated deer in the world (in the wild they are known as caribou), and in general they are easy to domesticate, being naturally docile with a trusting disposition. But the 13 reindeer that ended up in Sun Valley were not so cooperative. They did not take kindly to being required to abandon their usual diet of tundra moss in favor of the more readily available alfalfa and by all accounts arrived from Alaska on the verge of starvation. A train load of moss was quickly dispatched from their homeland, but before it arrived the creatures had made the switch to alfalfa, refusing to return to their native diet.
By this point, the baker’s dozen were a nervous and ill-tempered bunch and when Bango hitched them up to a sleigh he couldn’t control them. To keep them running away or attacking passengers he had to hold their antlers until the sleigh was loaded and then release them and leap into the driver’s seat. According to his biographer Rudy Abramson, Harriman witnessed the creatures’ cantankerous nature first hand during the 1937 lighting of the Christmas tree. Santa Claus was delivered to the Lodge on his sleigh, but as soon as he stepped down, the reindeer charged at the jolly red man. The sight of a terrified Santa being pursued by angry reindeer in front of all his high-profile guests was enough for Harriman, and the reindeer were banished from Sun Valley.
Sun Valley's reindeer herd was replaced by this less aggressive breed.
But what became of the Sun Valley reindeer? While there is no record of exactly what happened to them, today caribou do exist in Idaho, although they are one of the most critically endangered mammals in the country. The last herd of Woodland Caribou in America lives in Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho, eastern Washington and southern British Columbia and numbers just 34. It’s nice to think that maybe, just maybe, Streamer, Liner, Clipper, Saint and Nick led their brethren to the cooler, wetter climes of northern Idaho, where they lived out their lives as wild caribou. Perhaps, 75 years on, their descendants are still roaming that land.
Backstage at the Christmas Eve Ice Show, party scene girls are ready for their spotlight
It’s hard to remember the exact year, but two or three holidays ago, while I helped backstage at the highly anticipated Christmas Eve Ice Show, it started to snow. The grand production was well underway and dozens of talented skaters spun and leaped around Sun Valley’s famous outdoor ice rink (the largest year-round outdoor rink in the world). Spotlights captured the falling snowflakes as they began to land on the skater’s lashes and vintage costumes, on the hats and scarves of the full-to-capacity audience. Quickly, the pace of the storm increased, and thick, heavy flakes, that looked like they might have been created in Hollywood (cue the snow), began to fall in earnest. The skaters were veiled in the snowy mist, their jeweled dresses sparkled in the lights, skate blades cut through the accumulating powder. It had been a light early snow season that year and this gift on Christmas Eve was on everyone’s wish list.
Members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club practice until it's perfect
The Nutcracker on Ice is a tradition that always has an element of magic, whether it comes in the form of snowfall, the appearance of an Olympian among the local skaters, a shooting star streaming across a crisp Idaho holiday sky. It is a tradition that my family has embraced now for six years. As the mother of two figure skaters (and their little brother who always got the role of a mouse because I needed them all in the same place), I have enjoyed the pleasure of a behind-the-scenes perspective on this show – a favorite of guests and locals alike. When the girls were little, I volunteered backstage, as the “quick-change” helper. This meant I was supposed to assist the skaters out of one costume and into another for the next scene. Allow me to tell you, though, there is nothing “quick” about changing little girls who are in ice skates out of their party scene dresses and into a candy cane costume, but these nights were filled with camaraderie, high excitement and a great deal of fun.
Local skaters practicing with their props
Two years ago, I moved out of my role of backstage mom and watched the production in full for the first time. Seated shoulder-to-shoulder with the entire Wood River Valley and guests from all over the country and the world, I happily sipped cocoa, waved to friends and was amazed by the skaters I see every day performing the charming choreography professionally and flawlessly. They practice a lot and it shows. When the Sun Valley Carolers arrived by sleigh, setting the performance in motion, the large crowd collectively inhaled before bursting into appreciative applause.
From this vantage point in the bleachers (which are unreserved and first-come, first-served for this show), I was again able to enjoy the traditional torchlight parade featuring ski school instructors, torches held aloft, navigating the face of Dollar Mountain. As far back as 1987, my family drove up a nearby hill and watched this stunning parade of fire before we went home to open gifts. Oh, and did I mention the fireworks that follow? Spectacular! As much as I liked being in the skate house, taking in the entire experience from the vantage point of the audience was magical, indeed.
The children's cast for this Monday's performance
The Christmas Eve Ice Show is something that all members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club and local skating community look forward to each year as much as the audience does. As the children grow, so do their parts and responsibilities. My little girls of six years ago are now the big girls, helping the little ones navigate their first ice show. The show’s choreographer, Gia Guddat said she loves to watch the skaters grow from party scene girls, to Candyland sweets, to snow angels. And everyone involved enjoys performing for the huge audience, giving this gift to the community.
At 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the place to be in Sun Valley is on the Lodge Terrace enjoying cocoa and a snack, then onto the bleachers (bring a blanket to sit on and bundle up) to enjoy the sights and sounds of a Sun Valley Christmas on Ice. The show is sure to become a tradition for your family, too.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!
My daughter's smile says it all at the end of last year's show. It is a wonderful night