The Hawaiian Nationals is a side-by-side dual slalom race for telemark skiers and snowboarders held on Warm Springs where your tropical costume means as much as your skiing ability. Each competitor gets two timed laps, one on each course. This event also features the Tandem Telemark Challenge – two skiers on one pair of skis negotiating a modified slalom course.
Part reunion, part party, part ski race, the Janss Pro Am puts the fun in fundraiser (photos courtesy of SVSEF)
Warm Springs is about to turn into a giant costume party as the annual Janss Pro-Am Classic rolls into town. This fundraiser for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) signifies spring in these parts like nothing else, bringing together teams of pros and amateurs for some good-natured gate running, a lot of partying and some pretty elaborate costumes, on the slopes and off. This year, the event will grace Warm Springs and the Sun Valley Resort from April 4 – 6.
Doing good by having fun
Named for Bill Janss, the beloved former owner of the Sun Valley Company, this year’s event is expected to host nearly 500 enthusiastic participants for Giant Slalom racing and free skiing, cocktail parties, an awards banquet in the Limelight Room, hosted breakfasts and lunches, and of course, costumes!
One very coordinated Janss team stands at the ready atop the Greyhawk Chair
The 2013 theme, “Let the Games Begin,” is a nod to both the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (where SVSEF hopes to be represented), as well as an invitation to play in the spring sunshine.
“While the theme is inspired by the Winter Games, everyone is invited to make it their own,” explained SVSEF Events Director Kate Berman. “For instance, Dr. Tom West, a chiropractor, is part of team “Operation” after the board game. A group of freestyle skiers are dressing as the “Sorry!” game – as in “Sorry! We’re freestylers! Our teams are always so creative and I love seeing what they come up with.”
Everyone is invited to watch the 32 teams race on Lower Warm Springs on Friday and Saturday, April 5 & 6 at 10:30 a.m. Speed isn’t the ultimate goal for the amateurs (consistency is king), but the pros on board usually can’t help but go fast. Among this year’s impressive names are locals including: Ski Cross champ Langely McNeal, former Olympian Jonna Mendes, X-Games star Zach Crist and SVSEF’s very own Doran Key.
“Christin Cooper once said the Janss is the biggest reunion for former US Ski Team members around,” laughed Kate. “Everyone looks forward to getting together on Baldy’s amazing runs with old friends and new for such a terrific cause. It’s very popular, one of the most fun events of the year in the Valley.”
The hottest team on snow -- Karen Holzman (far right) and pro Langely McNeal and team celebrate some fast times at the Janss (photo courtesy Langely McNeal)
And it’s just as much fun for the amateurs. Karen Holzman who is organizing team “Greek Goddess” this year with Langely as her pro, always looks forward to this event. “We support the Janss because SVSEF is at the core of what’s special about our community. They contribute and have contributed so much to training local past and future Olympians, as well as some pretty amazing lifelong recreational skiers,” she explained. “It’s a great weekend because of the costumes, spirit of competition (who in Sun Valley isn’t competitive?), you can have family and friends on your team and just generally, a lot of laughs!”
At this race, it's less about speed and more about impact
This, the 16th Janss Pro-Am Classic marks Kate’s final party as the woman who makes it all happen. After 13 years as Events Director (and before that volunteer mom and board member for SVSEF), Kate is turning over the reigns to the very capable Sarah Crowley on April 7. After committing literally thousands of hours to the health well being of the organization, she said she feels she is leaving SVSEF when it is in a very strong position. “This is the biggest Janss we have seen in years,” she smiled. “SVSEF is doing amazing things. I’m really proud of all the work we have done and excited to see what comes next.”
Her only request? That no one makes a big fuss over her at the Janss’ events. Speaking on behalf of the rest of the community, I hope they do.
Alice Schernthanner, July 24, 1938 - July 23, 2012. “Alice does ski here forevermore in our hearts.”
Sun Valley can lay claim to many icons. From movie stars to literary giants, world-class athletes to world-wide leaders, hundreds of inspirational people have graced the hallways of Sun Valley Lodge since its birth.
But beneath the glamor and behind the facade of fame lies another legacy – an unforeseen outcome of Averell Harriman’s million dollar palace in the snow – that of the birth of a community in the heart of Idaho’s mountains; one with icons of its very own.
This past Sunday that community came together to celebrate one of those icons. Not an olympic skier or a nobel-prize wining author, but a woman whose life had a much greater impact on those who live in the Wood River Valley.
“The name Alice Schernthanner will remain on the lips of this community for a very long time,” Amy Federko said in her eulogy to Alice, reading from a letter written by Amy’s son, Josh.
A singular woman, Alice was both “famous and infamous, a legend in her own right,” Amy told the packed crowd at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, and there was not a murmur of dissent.
Alice’s legacy in the Wood River Valley community could be measured in the number of pancakes she’s flipped for the Papoose Club, which she formed in 1954 as a baby sitting co-op for skiers and went on to transform into a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting local organizations that serve children. Or it could be measured in the number of times she proudly led her Warm Springs Riding Club along the Wagon Days Parade route. It could equally be celebrated for the foresight she had in starting Blaine County’s recycling program from the back of a semi-truck, or for being a vocal and active advocate for affordable community housing – to the extent her and her husband, Andy, built some on their own Warm Springs property.
But it will be measured in the hearts and minds of the thousands of children she taught to ski both on Dollar Mountain as the children’s program supervisor for close to 30 years, and through her tireless promotion of the Blaine County School Ski Program.
Hundreds of those children, now grown up with children of their own, gathered at Dollar Mountain Lodge on Sunday to celebrate the life of this remarkable woman, who blazed a trail for modern homesteaders: building her own home from the ground up, skiing for a living and raising six children, all while living life on her own terms in the Wild West. The lodge she helped create was full to bursting on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the peals of children’s laughter emanating from the grassy knoll at the base of Dollar making a fitting tribute to the woman who helped create their perfect playground.
The lodge’s namesake, Carol Holding, wife of Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding, offered her thoughts on her friend and colleague Alice to the assembled community. ”Listening today I was happy to hear she really had a happy life away from this cabin,” she said with a smile. “I’d been under the illusion all these years that she lived in this little cabin.”
Mrs. Holding went on to say how it was Alice’s persistence that brought this 26,000-square-foot state-of-the-art children’s skiing facility into being ”When Earl built River Run, Alice and I were so upset with him. We tried everything we could think of to get him to build a children’s school there, but he wouldn’t. But she said to me, it’s ok – give it time, it’ll work. It took 15 years, but we got it. And this lodge here is Alice’s lodge as much as it is mine. It wouldn’t be here without Alice and through it all she suffered many hardships to get it here and changed so many children’s pants… .”
Mrs. Holding’s touching and laughter-filled remembrances were followed by a free-for-all as friends, family and former students of Alice shared their memories. What emerged was a portrait of a strong-minded, high-spirited woman with fantastic earrings, who took life in her stride and always told the truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not.
Two of the many stories shared at the celebration of Alice’s life paint a technicolor picture of what was important to Alice: skiing, children and family.
“I would come here from Florida in the winter to ski with Alice,” said her friend Sherry. “One year she was pregnant, just starting to show, and she had the first daughter in a backpack on her back. As we came down the mountain we could hear people at the bottom whispering, aghast, saying ‘That’s child abuse!’ Alice looked at me, clearly baffled, and said ‘I don’t understand. They know I’m only skiing the groomers don’t they? I’m not skiing the bumps.”
Alice’s daughter Heidi shared a favorite story she had heard in the days following her mother’s death on July 24 (the day before her 74th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary).
“Alice was looking after a sick girl at the lodge, she had just come out of the bathroom with her when a grand woman in a mink coat swept in demanding service. Alice said to her ‘Let me just help this little girl lie down, she’s not feeling well.’ The lady replied, ‘Well, she doesn’t look sick.’ Then the girl projectile vomited all over her.”
Alice at home in Dollar Mountain Lodge ski school. Photo by Cody Doucette, courtesy Sun Valley Magazine
Rest in Peace Mrs. Schernthanner. In the words of the condolence book laid out for the hundreds of mourners to sign: “Alice does ski here forevermore in our hearts.”
My favorite run on Baldy is Warm Springs, top to bottom. Okay, so I live at the base. Bias established. But how can I deny Warm Springs the title? What’s not to like about being able to walk home after a day on the hill? No cars, no bus, no fuss. I love Warm Springs because the run, in its proximity to where I live, is a reminder of why I moved here. Live in the mountain’s shadow, watch the snowcats at night, ski it in the morning and go home.
That’s not to say Warm Springs gets my vote simply because it drains homeward. No, Warm Springs is still a solid 3,000 foot descent with some of Sun Valley’s best snow. North-facing, that’s just how it goes.
Technically, I’m speaking about Warm Springs the run. Warm Springs can also, however, be a connector, a faithful linker to the gems tightly sandwiched beneath the lowest ridge: Greyhawk, Hemingway and Cozy. So cozy. Often stitched with race gates, that trio undoubtedly sees the mountain’s fastest skiers.
Warm Springs base photo by Katie Matteson.
“Take it over to Hemingway,” patrol told me long ago, trying to get my friends and I off of College.
Well, I did.
… But not all the way. I ski Hemingway fast, but I ski Warm Springs the fastest. Even if it’s not as steep, Warm Springs is open and normally uncrowded. Let ‘em run, I say. The base is watching. Seriously, they are. The lodge’s long windows give a fantastic view of Lower Warm Springs, which becomes a show in and of itself, with skiers fast and slow meandering toward the bridge.
My second favorite run on Baldy? The trees off Fire Trail — and for entirely different reasons: Woods, silence, powder. Yet my answers are just that, my own. Anyone who spends time on Baldy, depending on their priorities, will tell you that this or that is best. They’re right because we’re all right. At Sun Valley there’s hardly anywhere to go wrong and you may as well ski the groomers, the bowls and the trees with the same lofty expectations.
Buses picking up skiers at the village, Winter of 1946.
Sun Valley Resort consists of three bases:
(1) River Run Plaza,
(2) Warm Springs at Baldy and
(3) Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
Each has its advantages, depending on personal preference (and mountain usage), and folks are split over where they like to begin and end the day. Proximity to one or the other, afternoon cravings for a hot dog at Irving’s (Warm Springs only) and one’s need for heavy-duty wagons to haul gear (River Run only) are just a few of the deciding factors to consider. But whichever base wins your profound yet seasonal loyalty, you must first make another choice: how to get there.
‘Tis the season of trains, planes and automobiles … and buses. Of course cars are welcome; there are well-marked and amply-spaced parking lots at both bases. Yet don’t deny Wood River’s public transit system, the ubiquitous Mountain Rides program, the opportunity to change your mind and routine. In terms of mountain access, there’s no better way to make your morning pilgrimage to the mountain than via one of Ketchum’s many buses.
Why Mountain Rides
Funding mass transportation is a no-brainer from the city’s perspective. Buses drive commerce by shuttling tourists and locals. Buses reduce traffic and congestion and, ultimately, buses help control local pollution levels. Financially and logistically it makes sense that the communities of the Wood River Valley committed significant resources to creating a free and easy-to-use transit system. The considerable environmental benefits of mass transit have only added value.
According to Treehugger.com, forty five million barrels of oil are saved each year from people taking public transportation, which amounts to one quarter of the energy needed to power American homes annually. Moreover if just 1 in 5 Americans used public transportation daily, this nation would see a 20% savings in carbon monoxide emissions. I could go on, but the environmental rewards of riding the bus are well-documented and the point is clear: The system merely requires the engagement of thoughtful citizens to keep the car in the garage.
Fortunately this argument doesn’t need to made often in Sun Valley, where open minds and a love of nature have always made public transit, once K.A.R.T. now Mountain Rides, a highly popular venture. Still what all types of riders quickly learn is that getting driven around and dropped off has obvious practical advantages. Some of my top favorites:
Don’t waste time circling the parking lot. Hop on the bus and ski sooner.
Don’t carry five pairs of sticks and poles from the car to the lodge. Hop on the bus and stop the whining.
Don’t drive home when you’re legs can’t move. Hop on the bus and stretch out.
When all is said and done, why not take the bus?!
Know Your Bus Driver (and the Rules & Etiquette)
Follow the rules of bus etiquette...or you may end up riding outside, like J.P. Morgan in this test of the first chairlift
Like the post office, the Mountain Rides buses are social. Riders share stops and routes, and bus drivers intentionally keep to the same schedules week after week.
In other words, making friends is common. My usual drivers are To and Rod (Rod being what I’d call my “regular”). Just like a lot of us: Rod wants to ski everyday–and so he works accordingly. He’s been driving the bus for years because it makes doing what he loves simpler.
I live in Warm Springs and need to get downtown. My options are the Blue and Bronze Routes. For no good reason I always take Blue, which departs from the base lodge (the Irving’s stop) on the hour and half past the hour. I show up on the hour, grab a hot dog from Irving’s Red Hots and hop aboard. Classical music is playing and my seat is warm. Four stops and ten minutes later, I finish my meal and say good bye. Free and easy.
In the course of my ride, I learn more about life than buses. And I realize that not many cities have drivers like ours … Friends driving friends sounds too good to be true–yet, in my experience, the Mountain Rides drivers have never been anything but friendly, funny and informative.
To help keep it that way, I’ve included a few basic rules of bus etiquette that every small-town rider should follow:
Bus drivers need to stay focused on the road (especially during busy holiday weeks and weekends), so before asking your driver for directions, consult the Mountain Rides pamphlets for color-coordinated, big font basics on getting around Ketchum.
Large maps are also located at the most popular stops (Warm Springs, River Run, Baldy Circle).
Don’t stand up before the bus comes to a complete stop. It’s dangerous.
Remember that others are riding with you and put the cell phone down or pause the iPod. (“Guys yelling into their cell phones is the worst” says Rod). Instead of jabbering on obliviously, hang up the phone and talk to the driver. Or talk to your friends (old or new-found)–buses here are communal and it’s fun to compare adventures after a day of skiing.
Getting to the Mountain (Schedules & Times)
Although Mountain Rides buses operate year-round, certain routes are seasonal, or "winter only." With the onslaught of winter tourism, it’s only natural that the system expand to accommodate increased traffic. Below is an overview of every route, year-round and seasonal (mountain access points are in bold). Visit the website for more time tables and maps.
Blue Route(all year) – Connecting the Warm Springs base, the YMCA, downtown Ketchum, Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain and Elkhorn. Times: 7:00 AM to 9:30 PM, year round (until 12:50 at night, winter only).
Red Route (all year) – Connecting Elkhorn neighborhoods, the River Run base, Christophe and downtown Ketchum (including Kentwood Lodge and Lift Tower Lodge). Times: 8:30 AM to 4:55 PM.
Green Route (all year) – Connecting downtown Ketchum, the River Run base, St. Luke’s and the Meadows. Times: 7:10 AM to 5:45 PM.
Bronze Route (winter only)– Connecting the Warm Springsbase and Sun Valley Village. (The Bronze Route runs from December 17th – April 1st.) Times: 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
Silver Route (winter only) – Connecting Sun Valley Village with Ketchum, the River Run base and Dollar Mountain. (The Silver Route runs from Thanksgiving through the end of the season.) Times: 8:00 AM to 5:56 PM.
Gold Route (winter only) – Connecting Sun Valley Club, Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain and Elkhorn Springs. (The Gold Route runs from December 17th – April 1st.) Times: 9:05 AM to 3:05 PM.