Hailey Duke Inspires

Olympic alpine racer Hailey Duke isn’t hard to pick out from the crowd leaving Warm Springs after a great day spent on the slopes. Most recreational skiers don’t look this comfortable with a pair of racing skis slung over each shoulder. She also carries a huge backpack and juggles the rest of the equipment she needs to train for what will be some of the most important six weeks of her life. And that doesn’t even take into account the Team USA race suit she is wearing beneath her jacket; the same one she wore in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, except now the cuffs are a bit frayed and are rolled up to her knees. She has a second one she races in.

Alpine Olympic racer Hailey Duke is all smiles at the base of Warm Springs following a morning of training

Alpine Olympic racer Hailey Duke is all smiles at the base of Warm Springs following a morning of training

Duke is beaming as she comes off the hill, thrilled to be back in Sun Valley, thrilled to be training on Baldy. Her bright blue eyes sparkle with delight as this native daughter (she was born in Sun Valley and lived here until she was five) explains how happy she is to be home. “My parents were both Sun Valley Ski Instructors when I was little,” she said, “I learned to ski on Dollar. This winter, I had to figure out where my support system was, where I could train most effectively and be most comfortable. Sun Valley is it. Baldy is an awesome hill. It provides everything I am looking for at the top level – the best surface, great courses. It just doesn’t get much better than this.”

Effective training is critical to the 28-year-old at this juncture in her racing career as she is taking a run at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games that begin in less than 40 days in Russia. She explains, for slalom skiers, the meat of the season starts now and she plans on soon traveling to Utah and then on to Europe to try to secure one of four women’s spots for slalom racers on Team USA. Making this happen as an independent athlete requires raw determination, outstanding organization and laser-like focus. Thankfully Hailey possesses all these traits.

Duke makes running slalom look easy (photo haileyduke.com)

Duke makes running slalom look easy (photo haileyduke.com)

Part of her motivation stems from now feeling strong, fast and healthy following brain surgery last February. Yes, brain surgery. After years of fighting overwhelming fatigue, Hailey was finally diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was attached to her pituitary gland. A successful surgery left Hailey feeling much better quickly and by spring, she was back on her skis, pursuing her Olympic dreams. Due to her health concerns and subsequent declining results, she was cut as a member of the U.S. Ski Team and suddenly needed to learn to negotiate the tricky world of competing as an independent athlete. That means not only training at an elite level, but fundraising, securing sponsorship, planning complex itineraries and literally chasing the dream.

Since the surgery, Hailey says she feels great – invigorated, energetic and ready to take on everything that this next chapter entails. She is also slightly amazed that she was able to accomplish everything she did – great World Cup finishes and a spot on Team USA in 2010 – while the tumor unknowingly grew. Just imagine what she is capable of totally healthy and healed.

Following successful surgery for a brain tumor, Hailey is focused on the road to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in February

Following successful surgery for a brain tumor, Hailey is focused on the road to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in February (photo haileyduke.com)

Hailey is ready to see just what she is capable of and to that end, spent the morning with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold and FIS teams running slalom gates on Lower Warm Springs. She is living with coach Erika Hogan who she knew from her younger years in Sun Valley. “I’m living a few blocks from where I was born,” Hailey said. “I love the healthy vibe here. I love the people. It’s the best place to home base during this critical time for me.”

For the SVSEF athletes running gates alongside Hailey, having an Olympian among them is also incredibly inspiring. “I tell the younger kids that we are all skiing the same course,” she said. The FIS racers are those 16 and older who have qualified by criteria or been invited by the coaches to ski at the FIS (international) racing level. “It’s not that far away from where they are to where I am. We are working on the same things,” Hailey said.

Hailey will be training on Baldy 2 -3 hours each day before she leaves for her upcoming races that include two Europa Cups. To get to Sochi, she will need to podium in at least one Europa Cup race, get to the final World Cup race before the Olympics and from there, hopefully, it’s on to Russia.

“I really don’t believe you’re only as good as your last race,” she smiled. “I bring depth and experience to the sport and plan to work as hard as I can to represent America in Sochi.”

Duke is chasing the dream from the back of her truck filled with all her dreams and all her goals

Duke is chasing the dream from the back of her truck filled with all her dreams, goals and equipment

To support Hailey in her quest for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and to follow her progress, please log onto haileyduke.com or follow her on social media. If you see a smiling woman with a frayed Olympic race suit encouraging local athletes before dropping into the course herself, be sure to say hello and give her your best wishes. Hailey Duke is an excellent ambassador for alpine racing and for Sun Valley and is sure to inspire the New Year’s resolutions to anyone with snow sports dreams.

Hailey Duke’s spirit, grit and optimism are a great example to us all.


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.


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


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.

Registration 9-11

Racing at Noon

Parade 2:30 (Top of Greyhawk Chair #7)

Let the Party Begin!


The Janss Pro Am Classic is a huge reunion every year

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.

This team is super

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

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

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!”

No race suits here!

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.


Rock n The Sun Spring Concert Series

Rock ‘n The Sun Spring Concert Series 4:30-6:00 pm

This season for the first time ever we will offer
a free concert series on the last four Saturdays of the season,
with a larger outdoor stage and full concert sound system featuring:

March 16 – Lukas Nelson, the Promise of the Real (River Run)
March 23 – Paranoid Social Club(River Run)
April 6 – The Bernie Worrell Orchestra(River Run)
April 13 – DJ Dan(Warm Springs)

Entertainment schedule subject to change.

Janss Cup – Warm Springs

Janss Cup – Warm Springs

April 5 – 6, 2013

SVSEF Ski Race



Skoch Cup – Warm Springs

Skoch Cup – Warm Springs

January 18 – 20

Sun Valley Ski Club Race



Alice of Wonderland


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… .”

Local folklore has it that the lodge was almost named after Alice, but she wouldn’t have it. “I told them, if I don’t own it then I don’t want it named after me.”

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.”

Mrs. Sun

Share your memories of Alice and read other’s here. Read her obituary here.

Lift Line: My Favorite Run

Take me home, Warm Springs!

by Alec Barfield

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.

Apres Ski Music at Warm Springs Lodge – All Nite Diner

Apres Ski Music at Warm Springs Lodge – All Nite Diner

March 16–18