Celebrating Kaitlyn

There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington took a well deserved seat Saturday and waited for the celebration to begin

There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington took a well deserved seat Saturday and waited for the celebration to begin

It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of people came out on Saturday to cheer for Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington. Everyone turned out to welcome home the Snowboard Halfpipe champion and to let her know just how proud of our hometown girl we all are.

On a late winter’s afternoon, the band Freeway Revival played while the enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a tasty barbecue and drink specials provided by Sun Valley on the patio outside Warm Springs Lodge. At 4 p.m., it was showtime as well-wishers, packed tight from the Lodge, across the bridge, and onto the lower slopes of Lower Warm Springs, turned their eyes toward the mountain for the colorful downhill parade that announced Kaitlyn was coming

The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and festive while they waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and upbeat while waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

First, instructors from the Sun Valley SnowSports School put on a spectacle, serpentining and criss-crossing their way to the bottom of the hill. Sun Valley’s winter Olympians and Olympic coaches followed. The fine people representing Sun Valley included former Olympians Chuck Ferries, Jonna Mendes, Reggie Crist, Abbi Fisher-Gould and Sondra Van Ert.  Snowboard coaches from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), the program in which Kaitlyn grew up and remains a Gold Team member, Kaitlyn’s family and friends then preceded Sun Valley’s sweetheart. The SVSEF’s Jody Zarkos called play-by-play action leading up to the big moment when Kaitlyn rode the slope into the crush of her fervent fans. Scooped up by Whiz McNeal and Sean Glaccum of Sun Valley Ski Patrol, Kaitlyn, American flag in hand, was carried triumphantly to a stage in front of Warm Springs Lodge, where for the next hour, she was feted and celebrated and laden with gifts.

The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders down Lower Warm Springs, leading the way down for Kaitlyn who rode down last

The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders on Lower Warm Springs, leading the way for Kaitlyn who rode down last amid deafening cheers

Kaitlyn hopped onto the stage and surveying the scene (and it was a scene) commented, “Holy cow! I can’t believe the crowd that is here today!” Jody replied, “You earned this crowd,” and from there the celebration began in earnest.

Setting the tone for the procession of luminaries who came to honor Kaitlyn, Idaho state Senator Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), took to the stage to read a proclamation in her honor from the Office of Governor Butch Otter. The proclamation concluded, “Kaitlyn has achieved her goals with inspiring success. She has been an ambassador for Idaho and taught the world how to cowgirl up.”

Next, Ketchum mayor Nina Jonas said, “Kaitlyn embodies everything we hope and believe and try to be,” and jokingly offered her a necklace in trade for the impressive gold disc that hung around Kaitlyn’s neck.

Chris Koch, mayor Bellevue, Kaitlyn’s hometown in the Wood River Valley, renamed a portion of the bike path in her honor.

1998 Olympian snowboarder Barrett Christy, a friend and mentor to Kaitlyn, put the accomplishment in perspective. “The sport has progressed so much in the past five years with the level of women in snowboarding growing tremendously. Kaitlyn is responsible for that,” she said and continued, “You can’t learn attitude from a coach and that is what Kaitlyn has that sets her apart from the rest. That and her amazing style. That can’t be taught. It’s who she is.”

Kaitlyn was carried through the crowd by members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol

Kaitlyn was carried through the crowd by members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol

SVSEF snowboard coach Andy Gilbert kept the accolades coming. “Kaitlyn is a true original and always has been,” he enthused. “She has always been willing to work hard. In fact, her work ethic is second to none.” He, too, gave a nod to Kaitlyn’s style, calling her an “innovative rider” and simply saying how very, very proud he is of her.

During the few days Kaitlyn had at home (she left Sunday for her next competition), she made time to ride with local children, giving them the thrill of a lifetime. As Jody Zarkos said, “Kaitlyn’s ability to take obstacles and turn them into stepping stones,” truly inspired up-and-coming riders.  Rob Clayton, executive director of the SVSEF, agreed that what Kaitlyn teaches by example is invaluable. Calling her the “gem of the Gem State,” Rob said, “We tell our kids, ‘see that necklace that is hanging around her neck? You can have it around your neck, too, and in the same color if you work really, really hard like Kaitlyn did.’”

Everyone showed their appreciation for Kaitlyn with gifts that included a necklace in the shape of the state of Idaho from Jonas, an engraved golf putter and lessons (evidently she’s working on her game) from Koch and a standup paddle board for the off-season from Clayton.

But the biggest gift and a highlight of the ceremony came when Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva took to the microphone. After reading a heartfelt letter of congratulations to Kaitlyn from Sun Valley Resort owner Carol Holding, he and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns upped the ante. From Sun Valley, Kaitlyn was awarded a lifetime season’s pass and was presented with a huge rectangular gift wrapped in gold paper. Inside? A new sign reading “Kaitlyn’s Bowl.” The golden girls’ name will now grace the Bowl on Baldy formerly known as Farout Bowl.

Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns present Kaitlyn with the new trail sign that changes Farout Bowl on Baldy to Kaitlyn's Bowl

Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns present Kaitlyn with the new trail sign that changes Farout Bowl on Baldy to Kaitlyn's Bowl

Finally, Kaitlyn returned to the podium simply to thank her hometown supporters. “It is my pleasure to be up here today and I am so thankful for it all,” she said. “Thank you for believing in me and thank you for helping me get to the Olympics. I want to share it all with you and share this gold medal with you.”

The crowd went wild.

Kaitlyn, preparing to be celebrated by luminaries, smiles at some of her biggest fans -- the children who she inspires

Kaitlyn, preparing to be celebrated by luminaries, smiles at some of her biggest fans -- the children who she inspires

The celebration continued well into the evening with a street party, more live music, great food and the raffling off of a new GNU snowboard autographed by Kaitlyn.

A great time was had by all.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn. Thank you for letting us share your moment in the sun.

–RES

Sun Valley Welcomes San Francisco

The entire Wood River Valley is delighted to have daily air service between Sun Valley and San Francisco this season

The entire Wood River Valley is delighted to have daily air service between Sun Valley and San Francisco this season

At precisely 1:22 p.m., the first United Airlines direct flight between San Francisco and Sun Valley landed under bluebird Idaho skies amid much hoopla. Emissaries from the Sun Valley Resort, local government officials and oodles of well-wishers gathered in the lobby of Friedman Memorial Airport to greet the inaugural flight. Rosé champagne flowed, cake was cut and there were smiles all around.

The large crowd in the terminal cheered as the regional jet touched down

The large crowd in the terminal cheered as the regional jet touched down

On the tarmac, 52 passengers de-planed amid cheers, flashbulbs and a very warm welcome. Travelers got in the spirit, waving as they walked down the stairs and embracing the rock-star reception. To celebrate, passengers were given gift bags full of goodies donated by local businesses and waiting for baggage was a delight as arriving visitors were serenaded by music from Wood River High School choir.

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded arriving passengers

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded arriving passengers

Sun Valley Resort Company Manager Tim Silva, Pam Snow from SkyWest Airlines, Jameson Ano from United Express, Ron Fairfax, chairman of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and Eric Seder, president of the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance, marked the occasion by cutting a huge red ribbon once the wheels were down.

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) was one big party celebrating the new flight

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) was one big party celebrating the new flight. Sun Valley Resort General Manager Tim Silva (in yellow) helped cut the ribbon and welcome visitors

On December 12, Sun Valley Company issued the statement: “[It] a new era in air service into Sun Valley … This marks the first new airline carrier into Sun Valley in the past 20 years and is the first ever jet service serving the Resort.”

Trip Nabors of Ketchum was among the throng, awaiting the arrival of a friend on this inaugural flight. He praised the new ease of travel between the two cities, noting that the additional service allowed a good friend to easily get to Sun Valley to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

For locals, the arrival of the United Express 66-seat CRJ 700 jet, was also exciting. Lisa Marie Allen and Peter Hendricks of Sun Valley toasted incoming passengers as they themselves prepared to hop on the first returning flight to San Francisco to enjoy a long weekend getaway to the City by the Bay. Upon arrival in the Bay Area, Lisa Marie sent the following message: “The flight was fabulous! The champagne continued to flow. Cheers!”

Locals, former Olympic figure skater Lisa Marie Allen and husband Peter Hendricks, newly elected Sun Valley city councilman, enjoyed the festivities before hopping on the first return flight to San Francisco

Locals, former Olympic figure skater Lisa Marie Allen and husband Peter Hendricks, newly elected Sun Valley city councilman, enjoyed the festivities before hopping on the first return flight to San Francisco

Locals were also excited about a special 10 percent off discount being offered on this flight by the Fly Sun Valley Alliance. Please click HERE for the details.

This flight will operate daily through March 30 for the 2013-2014 winter season, and resume July 2 through September 23 for the summer.

With Sun Valley this week being named as one of the Top 10 U.S. destinations by Lonely Planet on its annual list, it’s no wonder San Franciscans flocked to the area on this first flight. After all, there truly is no place like Sun Valley.

Welcome San Francisco! We are happy you are here!

–RES

Training the Next Generation of Champions

The state-of-the-art SVSEF Engl Training Center is now officially open!

The state-of-the-art SVSEF Engl Training Center is now officially open!

A large, enthusiastic crowd arrived at Warm Springs Village at the base of Bald Mountain Friday afternoon to cheer the newly renovated Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Engl Training Center. The Center is for use by the program’s approximately 500 alpine, freestyle, snowboard and cross country athletes. Chilly temperatures did not curb the excitement as SVSEF’s Executive Director, Rob Clayton, appeared on the be-ribboned balcony above the street to declare the training center officially open.

SVSEF Executive Director Rob Clayton was cheered on by an enthusiastic, supportive crowd

SVSEF Executive Director Rob Clayton was cheered on by an enthusiastic, supportive crowd

And Clayton, new to SVSEF this year, did not hesitate to share his grand dreams with supporters. “We want this to be the best snow sports program in the country,” he declared. He sees no reason this isn’t possible. In fact, though the SVSEF has been around since 1966, it continues to evolve, improve and exceed expectations. In 2013, the SVSEF was named Club of the Year and Snowboard Club of the Year by the United States Ski & Snowboard Association.

With the recent designation of Sun Valley as one of the rare official Olympic and Paralympic Cross Country Training sites in the nation, the SVSEF is setting standards on skinny skis, as well.

The center is a place to train, to gather and to dream a little

The center is a place to train, to gather and to dream a little

Clayton wants everything available in our amazing valley – from perfectly pitched vertical on Baldy, to the eye popping Terrain Park and Olympic 22-foot Superpipe on Dollar, to miles and miles of challenging and beautiful cross country – to be available to each and every young athlete in town. He sincerely wants everyone, from second graders on the alpine Development Team to the elite cross country Gold Team whose sights are set on national and international glory, to achieve personal bests, pursue their dreams and grow as citizens and athletes.

The $700,000 renovation of the Engl Training Center is sure to inspire. Sparkling clean and invitingly modern, the facility features spin bikes, Fitwalls and resistance training equipment, designated (beautiful!) locker rooms, a tuning and wax room and ski and boot storage. It is almost unrecognizable from the training center that existed just at the end of last season.

The facilities are pristinely clean, modern and will help athletes stay organized and focused

The facilities are pristinely clean, modern and will help athletes stay organized and focused

Clayton thanked the SVSEF board, his architects and construction team and many supporters in town for allowing this project to come in on time and on budget!

Idaho’s Lieutenant Governor Brad Little showed his support for the program, participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Members of local government, the SVSEF Board of Directors, Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Sun Valley Manager of Mountain Operations Peter Stearns were also in attendance.

It was a big street party at Warm Springs as Apple's Bar & Grill and Irving's served food and beverages, live music provided a soundtrack to events and retailers got in on the pre-season action!

It was a big street party at Warm Springs as Apple's Bar & Grill and Irving's served food and beverages, live music provided a soundtrack to events and retailers got in on the pre-season action!

In fact, Clayton specifically thanked Sun Valley for its support of the SVSEF. Starting today, a pre-season ski camp begins for nearly 200 athletes in the U-12 and above age category. At least half of these young athletes are from six other teams across the region. Clayton explained that Sun Valley was able to open unprecedented access on the mountain for this, the third Thanksgiving camp. River Run is operating top-to-bottom, for training – providing lots of early-season runs. Sun Valley’s legendary snowmaking has been working around-the-clock to give these skiers the best pre-season training around, as well as ready the mountain for opening day on November 28.

SVSEF has grown 18 winter Olympic athletes to date. It will be exciting to watch this next generation develop, grow and hopefully grace a podium or two! This gorgeous new facility is sure to help make that happen.

–RES

What it's all about -- young athletes enjoy pre-season camp on Baldy

What it's all about -- young athletes enjoy pre-season camp on Baldy

Wally Huffman Promoted, New GM Named

Sun Valley Company announces the appointment of Wallace Huffman to the position of Director of Resorts and Resort Development.  Mr. Huffman has been the General Manager of Sun Valley Resort since 1977 and has had management responsibility for Snowbasin Resort in Utah for most of the ownership of Mr. Holding, which began in 1984.

Mr. Huffman will have overall responsibility for both operations but will step away from the daily operations to concentrate on planning and development for Sun Valley Resort, Snowbasin (a Sun Valley Resort) and Flagstaff Little America.  The Sun Valley Resort completed a vision plan in 2004 and Mr. Huffman has worked since that time with the City of Sun Valley to implement the plan.  Last year witnessed the completion and opening of the White Clouds Golf Course, the Sun Valley Club and the Sun Valley Pavilion, all integral components of the Holding family vision.  Also Mr. Huffman has been shepherding the master planning of the Snowbasin base area properties for the last two years.  He will now be responsible to the Holdings to implement that plan in the two counties in which Snowbasin is located.  Mr. Huffman’s office will be located at the Sun Valley Resort.

Sun Valley further announces that Mr. Tim Silva, currently the General Manager of Northstar at Tahoe, has been tapped to become the new General Manager at Sun Valley.  He has extensive experience at Northstar, having been the General Manager there for the past 17 years.  Prior to that time he was lift operations manager at Sun Valley and has never lost his affinity for the Holdings and the Sun Valley area.  Mr. Silva will assume his new duties early in May.  We wish him all the best.