This November while the rest of the nation waited for snow, Red Bull had selected Sun Valley as the place to come and hold their early season prep camp. With the weather cooperating and the park crew jamming over time to make snow where the lower elevations were getting rain, it all came together beautifully. With the terrain park reserved specially just for them, they were able to get ready for the season ahead. We were super stoked to have them here and getting to share our zone with these gracious athletes was a true reward.
Photos: Ray Gadd
Words: Greg Randolph
Around these parts you can get a lot of action in before the sun sets for the day. It was a dream-like Friday and it felt like we all had senioritis all over again. Staring out the window at work, the 5 o’clock whistle could not come early enough. When it rang we went straight to the garages, grabbed the dirt bikes, geared up and took off. Within four hours we had covered half of Blaine County’s trails and found ourselves walking into Ochi Gallery for our buddies’, Chatham and McCabe’s, Gallery Debut.
Walking into the gallery the world could not have changed more dramatically in the matter of a few steps. From the woods to the refined space of Ochi Gallery, it was like taking a shower in light and art. Zeb was spinning (I didn’t even know he had yet another talent) and outside an unlikely group of troubadours picked endlessly through a broad swath of covers from country western to punk.
Andy McCabe is Smith Optic’s graphic designer and in his spare time he explores Idaho roots signage and typography, laying it down with an amazing ability to find compositions which we all really love and get a little nostalgic over. He filled an entire wall with humor and history which brought the gallery to life.
Chatham Baker’s displayed works featured a unique use of Krink markers to create detailed pointillism-style graphics of iconic western images like skulls and eagles. It took me almost the entire night to get around the entire gallery and take it all in. When you consider that each of these two men balance family life and full time jobs and are still able to create such a large collection of art, it becomes even more impressive.
It was a night when you realize how Sun Valley stands out from a lot of other western mountain towns in its diversity of talents and community. With an incredible backdrop of outdoor distractions, a vibrant artist colony teems just below the surface. It is a place where you can realize your dreams while living a life that is richer than most. We are blessed and the respect for what we have here in people was burned into my mind as I made my way home for the night. Cheers and well done men!
Photos: Mark Oliver
Words: Greg Randolph
It began nearly a quarter century ago as a way to pass time during spring slack season at a time of year when the tourists are not on tour and the locals are getting a little restless. It’s a basic yet brilliant concept: the bars and restaurants in town rally together and each creates a mini-golf hole to try and befuddle even the savviest golfer. Athletes congregate in teams of two and play a round of ultimate mini golf. Bonuses are awarded for various actions and everyone tries to make it all the way around town before the closing bell rings.
Costumes are taken seriously in Sun Valley and the KWO as it is affectionately known brings out the best of the best.
It’s no joke and if there was ever a winter of preparation to get ready for this event Sun Valley has got it. Spend hours upon hours at apres and you are the finely tuned machine who will come and represent.
With a high noon shotgun start the spiral starts to twist and competitors march off in the last straight line they will walk for the rest of the afternoon headed to a meeting with destiny. Lefty’s, Rico’s, Sawtooth Brewery…it’s all about strategy and timing. Who is serving shots? Save them for last. Bonus strokes come at a price.
The rules are few and you can only wonder what goes through the minds of unsuspecting motorists as they crawl through town with their heads on a swivel. What on earth is happening here? In a mash up of Mardi Gras, Burning Man, and the Master’s Putt-Putt the KWO is a spectacle. The tension in the air is palpable, the humidity elevated, only one will stand alone on the podium with the golden putter at the end of the day.
As the day continues to spiral and the strokes are being counted with somewhat suspicious honor-system-integrity the final plays are made, high fives exchanged and the throng moves into town square. With the talliers tallying and the revelers reveling the suspense is popped like a balloon and the golden putter is revealed for all to see.
Almost as quickly as it began it comes to an end. The final winner emerges from the back of the crowd and seizes the champion trophy.
Word and photos by Mark Oliver
If there are two truths to be said about Sun Valley over the years, one is never trust what the weather man tells you. The second: if you give any local a reason to dress up, they most definitely will. The weather report rolling through the weekend was anything but favorable for dressing up. Yet from most everyone I talked to, that was not going to deter them from hitting the Goldmine, pulling out their vintage gear, busting out the margarita machine, or breaking out the fire pit and camper for a blowout of a last weekend on the hill.
When I woke up Saturday, and looked out the window, I, like most, wept a little inside. The trees were caked in slush and low clouds covered the hills in the distance like a scene straight out of Braveheart, which was, well, disheartening. I tossed around in bed wondering how the hell the weekend would ever be salvaged. However, Ullr smiled down us an hour or so later, the clouds majestically breaking revealing a sky which was electric blue. Dumbfounded, I scrambled and threw my gear in the truck speeding out to Warm Springs. What I found in the Greyhawk Lot nearly brought tears to my eyes.
It was mayhem, and parking was an act of savvy and bravado, but everyone was down to help make it work. The different camps were already long established – many from the night before. There was Guy and his annual Margarita Madness closest to the hill.
Just below them in the lot were a number of other of small friends camps. Then there was “Kegs and Eggs” an annual birthday party breakfast lunch and beer pong camp on the far end. DJ Spice Train had poached some electricity from the far building and had set up his turn tables and was blasting tunes across the lot all day.
The Daggers (my crew) were tailgating next to him in prime fashion. Past us was SAP and friends who cooked pounds and pounds of chicken, ribs and dogs handing them out to passers by. Smoke billowed from his constantly sizzling grill adding an aura of serious tailgating to the scene.
Many of my friends headed up to shred their vintage snowboards. It is a custom of the Daggers crew to only ride vintage on the last two days of the season.
Throughout that first day the scene and the sunlight fluctuated and people took laps on the mountain, coming back to camp periodically to refresh themselves, relieve themselves or grab a snack.
The base lodge was packed with tons of people over the weekend. I would wager to say that more than half were dressed in costume and enjoying the live music and beers and food on the deck. Down toward Apples, crowds gathered and toasted the season en masse. El Stash played to a huge crowd, and people enjoyed the great atmosphere of food and friends.
At 3:30 on Sunday many made the mass exodus to the top of the mountain to say farewell. There were fireworks and people just taking it all in until the ski patrol asked everyone to leave. By that time is was so cold up there your beer was frozen and most were ready to get to the bottom and into a warm lodge.
Everyone skied down, but not quite as fast as normal. Just taking it all in, milking every last turn and saying goodbye to our beloved mountain each in their own way. There were hundreds that participated in a top to bottom human slalom. It was so fun to watch, and people were totally stoked.
It’s weekends like this that really put an exclamation point on why I live in Sun Valley. Reflecting on the day, it was obvious that over the last four or five years here the energy has been turned up a few notches. People show up, and come out, and love to celebrate the area in which we live. They are not afraid to get dressed up two days straight and hand a dog or a beer to a stranger or invite them to take a run. But more importantly the vibe is on an all time high. I heard people commenting about how this is the way it used to be years ago. And they are right. A new generation is picking up where the last left off.
It wasn’t until I was sitting next to TGR Cinematographer Matty Moo Herringer that I got it. he turned to me and said, “I have been to a lot of closing weekends over the years, but this is by far the best… the scene here is so rad”.
We all need to give massive props to the Sun Valley Company on this year. What a season you gave us! Bravo on hosting a great events like the Rev Tour, the Orage Masters, the Dollar Mountain Money shot, the Janss Cup, and the Sun Valley Film Festival just to name a few. You gave us live free concerts for weeks on the deck of River Run this spring. You built a 22 foot super pipe and put yourself on the map as a park that many kids who came here want to come back to. You ran races and competitions all over your property for everyone from masters to ankle biters, from tele-markers in grass skirts to a number of great Intermountain USASA and USSA events. You gave us night skiing for the first time (maybe consider some permanent lights over there!). You agreed to sponsor the Red Bull camp and Super Unknown and Level 1 shoots and we will be excited to see all that happens over on Dollar in the next couple weeks and future. All I heard from visitors was what a great time they have had. And lastly you gave us this weekend. What a blast – keep up the good work, and lets have just as much fun this summer!
We live in a great place with great people. We’ll see you this summer!
If you are interested in seeing more, or purchasing a print please visit www.oliverphoto.zenfolio.com
Photos & Words: Ray J. Gadd
Spring in Wood River Valley brings about juxtaposed weather patterns mixing courteous doses of sunshine and thaw inducing temperatures with winter flurries inflated by frigid arctic winds. This intertwined combination of spring & winter can lead to a potentially chaotic outbreak of Spring Activity Anxiety. Symptoms most commonly associated with S.A.A. include: severe indecisiveness, confusion, and obsessive over packing of vehicles with sporting equipment. Patients are urged to remain calm, analyze possible activities, and cram as many said activities as possible in to one day to quell bouts of insanity.
The best part about being in Sun Valley in the Spring is that you can fit a whole smattering of activities in any given day of the week. Take your pick from skiing/snowboarding smile inducing corn snow, chasing sea-run steelhead, lapping 17+ miles of cleared bike paths, sessioning the handful of melted out singletrack trails, riding motos at the local track, or any number of other crossover recreational outlets.
Winter certainly hasn’t waved it’s red flag in the higher elevations. Baldy just finished up their last sanctioned weekend so it’s up to your self-ascending or snowmobiling access to get those last winter fixes.
This time of year, sea-run rainbow trout near the end of their 800+ mile voyage to their primordial spawning grounds found within Sawtooth Basin, a mere hour drive from Sun Valley.
Perhaps staring at that bike of yours for the last several months has you itching to rotate the cranks once again and relive those saddle sores.
While you may find yourself struggling with severe symptoms of Seasonal Activity Anxiety, fear not. Embrace the urges and take advantage of the plethora of opportunities to partake in a well-rounded day of sport. Find your cure at your local treatment center that is Sun Valley.
Photos: Tal Roberts
Words: Greg Randolph
They call it the anti-comp. “They” being more specifically the French Canadians and their international brand of irreverent entertainment, vices, and ski apparel bearing the name “Orage”. A battle royale for the ages. Visually disorienting; competitively uncompetitive. And yes, “It” really happened in Sun Valley.
Thought not an entirely novel concept–get crazy and party your brains out at the end of the year– the Orage Masters returned after a two year hiatus from the anti-competition circuit bringing a flare of end-of-the-year revelry that caught the Sun Valley locals a little off guard. Accompanying their traveling gong-show was some heavy local talent with Collin Collins, Banks Gilberti, and Karl Fostvedt back on home turf to represent. I was stoked to bring my young, impressionable pre-teens to see them rip and they did not disappoint.
The notion is fairly simple: get together all of your best buds after a season of traveling, competing and filming where the stakes are high, strip off the stressful veneer of being a pro, and then put it all on the line just for the heck of it. By “all on the line” it would appear this means finding whatever means necessary to compromise your ability to ski effectively, then over come said self-imposed impediments and rip open a can of whoop ass and let fly with your best tricks and creativity. A little like pre-paying your kids their allowance, pouring a couple of cans of Red Bull into them, and letting them run around the playground with flaming chainsaws I suppose you could say.
Teams were created with film companies like Level 1, 4bi9 Media, Stept Productions, and Inspired Media bringing their key athletes together, coming up with a theme for costumery, throwing down heavy tricks while simultaneously producing a video segment of the team’s efforts and acts of ill repute. Rumors of bottle rockets exploding in pants and the local market being bought out of canned beer raised few eyebrows demanding little extra explanation once the spectacle was taken in.
On the day of the big competition, we made our way through the melting snow, decomposing spring grass and dog poo slurry up the isothermic snow slope on Sun Valley’s park playground at Dollar Mountain. I didn’t have a beer in my hand (poor planning), but we were not disappointed as the show was truly deserving of an “all time” rating.
The usual trappings of a big spring ski party were evident–blaring music, girls in bikinis and plenty of questionable behavior. But what was not perhaps to expected were skiers throwing huge tricks like corked 1080′s, triple backflips and double front flips for the sake of a few hundred fans and industry brodeos in attendance. Dressed in every sort of sartorial expression, the festive atmosphere was a bit contagious.
It was hard to tell exactly what was happening but it didn’t matter. Teams were battling each other with a combined scoring of tricks, antics, stupidity, and shenanigans as they completely decimated what was left of the two massive booters, three rails and box set up on the slope. You could feel the competition slowly start to spiral into a state of unraveled chaos, but in the nick of time, a winner was chosen. By the end of the day it was Level 1 and 4bi9 Media in the finals. Something tipped the judges over the edge and Level 1 emerged victorious taking home $10k cold American cash and the bragging rights of winning skiing’s most notorious competition. It was audacious and it was insane. The impression left on my children hopefully mostly of the tricks and costumes. A complete write up and some videos are available at Freeskier Magazine.
Words and Photos by: Mark Oliver
If you don’t know the coach for the US Olympic Halfpipe Rookie Team, Ben Verge, it’s really no surprise. He for the most part has lived a skiing career in Idaho off the beaten path or radar of anybody looking for someone like Ben. Although he may have graced the pages of a few magazines over the years, his story is like that of many other skiers that chose where they want to ski over the best place for a ski career. Ben is one of those guys that likely stood a good chance of being a professional, but that just wasn’t his goal. The guy lives it. He skis every day despite conditions, and when they are unfavorable, chances are he knows every tree to bonk, every roller to butter, and every obscure stupid hit to have fun off of, and he will. In turn, if you are skiing with him, so will you. With parks and pipes spoiling freestyle skiers, it’s hard to find people with that much instilled creativity and the ability to make the best of any condition. Honestly, Ben does, and it wasn’t until years after being washed up as a ski bum construction worker he would finally find his professional career – as a Coach.
Ben’s parents, Gus and Judy first came to Sun Valley in the 70′s for their honeymoon and never left. This is a similar story to many ski families we all know, but from day one on skis it was apparent – skiing was what Ben does. Ben was one of those kids ripping Dollar Mountain (Sun Valley’s beginner hill) about the time he could learn to walk, and not too long after that, he had graduated to the much bigger – much steeper, Bald Mountain. Ben’s work ethic and ability to start at the ground-floor and work up may have come, like many of us, from his father Gus. Gus had found work in Ketchum for Scott USA where he glued foam in goggles, and after years there he then started Reflex Poles – you still may find these poles in the bin at the local thrift shop (gold and black in color with big hard rubber grips). In the mid eighties after selling Reflex, he was then asked by Bob Smith to come on as the president of Smith Optics and did that most of Ben’s younger life.
Ben began skiing through grade school with the Sun Valley Race Team, and learned the fundamentals of how to ski and ski fast, but he will attribute much of how he looks at skiing to Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain. “I think growing up on a steep mountain racing just gave a me solid skiing foundation, as well as in the way I coach…. a lot of similarities come from being able to turn correctly and have the correct body position and this translates to the half pipe fully.” Since Sun Valley never had a park or pipe, just steep long runs, it wasn’t uncommon to find Ben hucking off cat tracks. Long after the mountain closed, Ben would be ripping his truck through the base parking lot towing friends behind. I remember in the late 90′s; Ben and Dave Clemmens blasting 9′s and landing switch on their race skis, eating it, and wanting to do it over and over again determined to get to 10 (because they had to).
Even after graduating high school, Ben lived mostly to ski. When his paths in life led him back home, he always had a ski pass and a snowmobile. He was determined, like most of us, to shred as much as possible and make that the goal. He coached the alpine ski team for a couple years, but it wasn’t until 2007 when after being laid off a construction gig, he gave in and helped start a (much needed) freeski program with the ski team.
In his first year he had only a few kids (Colter Brehmer, Wing Tai Barrymore, Nathan Moses, and Ben Parker). “We didn’t really have any idea of what we were doing but we were just having a ton of fun. We started going to contests together and just learning what it was all about – just having a good time, and I got lucky ’cause I had some great kids”. At the time Sun Valley had a mediocre 18 foot pipe, and no park. Much of Ben’s coaching was spent all over the hill just having fun like he always had done, and sharing that stoke with his crew. “Colter, coming from a ski racing background, was the ringleader, he was such a good skier, and had this ability to always find his feet… somehow he convinced Tai to be on the team with him. You know Tai literally couldn’t buy a turn? (laughs) He was not a very solid skier”, Ben Jokes. “I have never seen anyone learn as fast as he does though. He could only do a 5 in the halfpipe at the beginning of that first year and by the end he had won junior nationals – he was doing 18 foot 9′s in an 18′ halfpipe and it was just insane. They are just such cool kids and that was really what made me love the sport and made me love coaching. And really that is what really brought other people into our team.”
Over the next couple years Ben took his crew all over the place, and was eventually recommended to help at an Olympic Gold camp in Mammoth, and then to take a team to Junior Worlds in New Zealand, as part of the US Freeski program. There he met Brita Sigourney, Maddie Bowman, Devon Logan, and Ty Wellman. Along with Tai and Colter, they quickly formed a pseudo-team. The next year he was able (through help from the SV Team) to freelance coach all of them. Over that year many of them did very well, and eventually most ended up on the US team’s radar. “We called it plan B like the morning after pill. (he laughs)”. One of his favorite moments he remembers taking the team over to Europe with “all their eggs in one basket”. Tai had to win the SFR to even be invited to Euro X, but they had banked on it, booking flights and rooms through the event. Tai ended up coming through, winning the SFR and a spot to Euro X in Tignes. That year Brita had also come out of nowhere, taking second to Sarah Burke at the X Games, and her career was catapulted from being a nobody to someone stepping up in women’s freeski.
This last spring Ben was chosen to help the U.S. Rookie team in preparation for Sochi 2014. “Its been really cool to work with the rookie team and having the opportunity to work with kids on different programs… and every kid is totally different. There is a Tai Barrymore who wants to get punched in the head, listen to metal and go as big as he can… then you have an Alex Fereria who is crazy talented and is way more technical in his head, and wants you to watch and give technical advice about tricks” Ben takes the time to get to know his kids. “Obviously there will be a ‘don’t be a pansy’ attitude…. but my philosophy is absolutely to have fun and to have fun with the athletes. You are learning it together and you’re all friends – living it with them… every opportunity I get I try to ski the pipe with them. I think that everyone learns better when other people are skiing/learning along side – and pushing each other is what it is all about.”
The week before heading off to the Olympic Test Event in Sochi Ben,Tai, Brita, and Maddie came to Sun Valley’s Dollar Terrain Park (looking these days much like NZ’s Snowbpark – minus the crowd) to train, and have a good time. “Honestly, there is just nowhere like Sun Valley… it’s where we all grew up and where we rode as kids, and to see it transform into a terrain park is rad. It’s just cool to see Sun Valley get behind what is going on and really kind of get to be a part of it… its awesome to see it revert to its roots, you know? The first chairlift ever is here in SV. It was a progressive awesome place; in the 70s when freestyle was huge and in the 80′s it was sick here as well. Then we had a solid 15 year lull, maybe 20, and to see it come back and keep moving forward and move into the forefront of what skiing and snowboarding are today it will be sick to see it keep going that way, and I hope it does.”
Ben’s commitment to coaching and having fun is apparent every day you ski with him. To emphasize this; one year Ben bruised his foot hitting a jump with his skiers. He was facing being out for the rest of the season, but he just strapped a snowboard boot on his right foot, and skied every run along side them. You would hear him screaming and whiz by you laid out in a carve heading to the pipe – it was impressive. That said, likely you will not find Ben just sitting at the bottom of the pipe watching runs, sipping a coffee in his sun glasses. He will be at the top of the pipe ready to make sure the right song is playing on your ipod, your skis are waxed, and you get a punch in the head before dropping in. And he will if you ask him for it.
As a coach Ben plans to see his crew of skiers through Sochi. “While I know everyone can’t go to the Olympics… I want to see everyone do their best, keep progressing the sport and themselves, and stay healthy keeping their bodies intact to have long happy careers that keep them involved in skiing – doing what they love. And for me its the same thing, I just want to keep doing what I love doing and be involved in the sport, in these kids lives, and being friends with all of them… you know? its so cool… its sick.”
Not too bad for a washed up carpenter from Idaho.
Words: Martha Williams
Photos: Mark Oliver & Ben Figueiredo
It’s the budding of spring and you can feel Sun Valley kickstarting back to life, switching gears, and you can almost hear the creative juices flowing. It’s not just the longer days and warmer temps, though. Within the heart of the valley a new bud is sprouting–the Sun Valley Film Festival: an extra long weekend of film, live music, seminars, and workshops which welcomes attendees in our customary fashion.
Since its earliest days, Sun Valley has always attracted the Hollywood elite–from directors to movie stars, the giants of film industry have found in Idaho a place where they can relax and blend in with the majestic scenery. Following this tradition, for the past two years the Sun Valley Film Festival has given us an opportunity to celebrate the craft of film in its various forms. Screenwriters, directors, producers, and several of the actors themselves joined in this year, giving festival goers a unique look at the film industry (whether Hollywood or independent).
The weekend began with the first annual Sun Valley Screenwriter’s Lab featuring Will McCormack, co-writer of Celeste & Jesse Forever. Sadly I wasn’t able to attend, but want to mention the workshop in hopes that they will bring it back next year (please!).
I began my festival weekend with The Sapphires—a dramatic feature about a group of singing Australian aborigine girls who enlist to tour Vietnam and entertain American troops. It was hilarious and heartbreaking, and wonderfully co-written by the son of one of the true-life Sapphires.
On Friday morning I attended a “Coffee Talk” with Academy-Award winning writer Stephen Gaghan. He spoke about his lucky breaks, the condescension suffered in Hollywood, and the dangerous research he’s undertaken for films such as Traffic. His advice to writers and those who want to create: go engage with the world, and then figure out how to dramatize it.
Throughout the rest of the day I watched films about the deadly risks of K2 adventurers (The Summit), local stream restoration projects (Heart Rock Ranch), and strange couples who lose their way on backcountry Idaho roads and surrender their lives to the wolves (Craters of the Moon).
Themes found in films and talks throughout the weekend ranged from conservation to survival and legacy, and seemingly there were a lot of films with connections to Idaho and Sun Valley. Among them were Running From Crazy, a documentary about Mariel Hemingway and the legacy of her famously troubled family; Starring Adam West, about another Hollywood survivor and Sun Valley local; An Unkindness of Ravens, a sneak peek work-in-progress filmed in McCall, Idaho; and Starlet, starring Sun Valley native Dree Hemingway.
But perhaps one of my favorite features was the short documentary film Exit Wound, which follows an injured war veteran through his time returning home and taking part in Higher Ground—a Sun Valley nonprofit that offers therapeutic recreation to wounded veterans and persons with disabilities.
Jumping back to the rich and famous, though, Sunday morning’s Coffee Talk featured Sun Valley favorite Jodie Foster, who spoke about her acting career and visionary passion for directing.
Not that we are biased, but this is a pretty interesting place. The stars never stopped coming to Sun Valley, and their legacies have lived on to inspire a festival that promises to grow into one of the country’s greatest young weekends dedicated to film.
*To send you off, here are a few of Mark’s party pics from the week:
Words: Martha Williams
Photos: Mark Oliver
One way to get a spectacular view of Sun Valley and the surrounding mountains is to hike or ride the lifts to the top of Baldy. But an even better way, as we found out, is to run off the top of the mountain with another person strapped to your back as a big beautiful glider rises over your head and takes you soaring out over the valley.
I’d wanted to do as much since moving to the area four years ago. Since then, I’ve always loved looking up at the mountain to see the bright colored gliders sailing off the top, spinning around in the thermals, and seemingly descending at great and twirling speeds.
So, on Saturday we arrived at River Run lodge to meet the great crew of Fly Sun Valley guys who run off the mountain most every day (usually several times a day if they can). They walked in with their huge tandem paraglider packs, three times my petite body size, and soon after had Laura, Kristen, and me signing our lives away to the air. I was excited that this day had finally come.
Riding up to Roundhouse in the gondola the guys shared stories about distance trips* and crazy tricks. And something about sharing that small space with four guides, two tandem riders, one photographer, and four huge backpacks started to set reality in motion for me. I was about to take to the air, and I hadn’t gone to the bathroom.
* Pilot Matt “Farmer” held the world distance record in 2012 for a short time, but he was soon outdone by his good friend and local Sun Valley pilot Nate Scales, and later by their good friend Nick Grease. Because of its location and access, Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain is an ideal place for distance flying.
Up on top we suited up and waited for the perfect wind at the top of Limelight as friends skied by yelling and waving. And meanwhile we picked up Kristen, who on a whim ditched her skis and prepared to run down the hill in her boots.
After several deep breaths I found myself taking only a few steps downhill before the wind picked us up. My guide Chuck and I were soon soaring above the ski runs, spinning around in the thermals, and observing Baldy from a new perspective (to me at least). Gliding toward the Pioneers was surreal and beautiful, and more peaceful than you could imagine.
Laura and Farmer took sail soon after, followed by Kristen and her guide Charlie.
At one point we were all attempting to join the same air thermal—the three gliders joined in the air like a twirling circus.
*A speed wing is a smaller, faster wing meant mostly for descending and acrobatics (as an example, you may have seen film of people flying with skis on and touching down). In recent years the sport has grown in popularity as an exciting way to fly with more maneuverability.
And as wonderful as the trip was, the best part still might have been joining friends at the bottom for a beer and some sunny afternoon skiing.
Photos: Hillary Maybery
Words: Greg Randolph
Since most people still kicking today in Sun Valley can recall, the Kindercup has played a vital role in the ski and snowboard community. Each March every little grom who has been ripping around the hill all winter gets geared up for the “Big Race”. The valley comes out to enjoy a warm spring day and see what their little future Olympians are made of. It’s that one time each season that the dads actually take a few minutes to sharpen the edges and smear some wax on the skis which have bounced around in the back of the truck like cordwood all winter. Moms nervously skitter about trying to talk their kid into putting on the race bib, hoping little Jonny has brought his A-game.
The costumes have gotten brighter over the years and this past weekend was like walking around Toys “R” Us with your pupils dilated. Tutus, dragons, wings, capes, you name it they’ve gotten it. While it is all in good fun, you can spot the ones which have a competitive streak by that gleam in their eye. Picabo Street, Olympic Gold Medalist, once won here as did local X-Games champs Zach and Reggie Crist, snot bubbles and all.
But for everyone it is not about the competition but about tradition. It’s about life in a ski town where some things happen that you can rely on, the knowledge of tradition, the acknowledgement of the past with an eye to the future that brings a society together.
The concept of racing around poles stuck in the snow is as old as the sport itself. And in this tradition the next generation is born to innovate and passionately engage in a sport which has made areas like Sun Valley what they are today. Passing the torch to an ankle biter whose boots are nearly as long has his skis is all a part of building a legacy. And from the over 300 racers who showed up and gave it their all this past weekend, you can see this legacy will certainly live on.
Words: Martha Williams
Photos: Mark Oliver
Twenty-three miles north of Sun Valley, tucked at the base of Galena Summit and nestled beneath the Boulder Mountains, sits a snow seeker’s manna. Constructed during the 1960s using vestiges of the property’s nineteenth-century mining colony, the Galena Lodge is a valley favorite for those wishing to escape “the big town” for a day of peace, beauty, and scrumptious food.
From skate skiing to snowshoeing, to access to some of the best backcountry powder in the Wood River Valley, the Galena grounds offer it all. Their famous cross country trails, which utilize the area’s old mining and logging roads, welcome all levels of skiers. And if you’re in need of a lesson, or just a rental and a few tips, there’s no friendlier place than Galena’s ski shop.
We were welcomed by owner Erin Zell, who took over management of the Lodge with her husband Don Shepler seven years ago after they saw a job posting for the position in the Idaho Mountain Express. Don claims that they hadn’t really expected to take over the historic spot, but with their combined knowledge and passion for the area, there’s no better pair to be guardians of the land. “For us, it’s been a really unique experience and a chance to be part of the community,” says Don. “It’s a place for people to step back, to come unplug.”
And come unplug, we did.
After a rough couple of hours of skate skiing (and only two falls for me), the Galena kitchen staff, featuring the famous Vagabond Chef, cooked us up a few delectable dishes. The Lodge restaurant strives to feature the best of Idaho food products, and obtains a large portion of its food through Idaho’s Bounty or directly from the farm. Our feast began with the day’s special: Lava Lake Lamb Gyro—ground lamb, baba ghanoush, chopped lettuce with a tart yogurt sauce and feta on pita. And if those words alone aren’t enough to leave you salivating, we were then gifted with Idaho trout and braised greens, smoked sturgeon (farm-raised in southern Idaho), a Euro platter, and pear compote with a trio of truffles. We were the luckiest skiers in Idaho.
The best thing about Galena?
“Don,” replies kitchen supervisor Matt Welsh (the aforementioned Vagabond Chef).
For baker Mac “Honeybee” Miller, it’s “living up here in the woods . . . away from town, but close enough.”
This year, the Lodge is open through April 7, and will reopen for the summer season on June 15. In the coming month, you can join the Galena crew for a Wine Dinner with Steve Thies (March 22), and for their famous Full Moon Dinners (March 25, 26, and 27th).
For more information, visit: http://www.galenalodge.com/
And to follow the adventures of the Vagabond Chef–cooking for the world, one kitchen at a time–visit: