Saturday, December 15, 2018
Sun Valley to Open with ‘Awesome’ Conditions, More Gladed Skiing
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More than 350 young ski racers have been getting a jump on running gates on Bald Mountain ahead of Sun Valley’s official opening on Thursday.
 
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Kingston Conway seemed more interested in munching on his first-ever Sun Valley season ski pass Tuesday afternoon.

Eating may be a bigger priority for a 10-month old than celebrating the places that pass can take him provided he doesn’t eat it first.

But his father swore he’d have him on the Magic Carpet at Dollar Mountain as soon as it revs up.

 
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Youngsters like 10-month-old Kingston Conway can get a free Sun Valley ski pass through the age of 4.
 

“The snow’s already good for racing. Now I’m ready for the jumps,” said Tyler Conway, a slopestyle and halfpipe coach with Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

Little Kingston will get his first chance on Thursday, as Sun Valley Resort serves up Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain on the Thanksgiving platter.

Bald Mountain will be open from top to bottom with the Roundhouse Gondola, Christmas chair, River Run Express, Lookout Express and Kinderspiel Carpet running. Specifically, Upper and Lower College, Sunset Strip, 42nd St., Lower River Run, Mid River Run and Roundhouse Lane will be open.

And Dollar Mountain will have Quarter Dollar lift and the Accelerator Carpet running, and Prospector and Mine Shaft terrain parks open.

 
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Craig Davis got a jump on snow shoveling on Tuesday.
 

“It should be a strong opening. Snow making conditions have been ideal with the cold conditions and we feel confident guests will have a good experience,” said Kelli Lusk, communications manager for Sun Valley.

Indeed, the 350-plus youth and coaches taking part in a ski race camp that started Saturday were ecstatic about the 18-inch base that Sun Valley has built on Upper and Lower College Boulevard.

“The snow is awesome,” said KJ Savaria, a ski coach with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. “The grooming is getting better day by day. And the snow is nice and grippy.”

Ski Coach John Reagle, who has been skiing Sun Valley since 1971, agreed.

 
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John Reagle, a former U.S. Ski Team racer, came to Sun Valley in 1971 and has never left.
 

“It’s really good snow and it’s holding up well for the kids. And there are no rocks!” he said. I’m so excited for the season to begin. I can never get enough. I’ve never skied less than a 120-day season. My legs feel fine—I’ve been biking and trail biking—the trail biking mimics the motion of skiing.”

On Tuesday afternoon the young ski racers from Sun Valley, Bogus Basin and other ski resorts continued to work on getting their ski legs back under them, skiing on one leg and dialing down their line through race gates.

Meanwhile Craig Davis got a jump start on snow shoveling as he shoveled a couple inches of snow off the steps leading to the gondola under 50-degree bluebird skies.

“We’ll have this in operation to take people to the Christmas lift and for those who want to download,” he said. “Right now the upper mountain is skiing like Christmas. And you can get six turns of corn snow in the area they call Toilet Bowl where you turn off College onto the cat track leading to the Lookout Express.”

Sun Valley didn’t start making snow until after Halloween this year. But Dennis Harper and his arsenal of 500-plus snow guns have been aided by nighttime temperatures dipping into the teens, even as daytime temperatures have climbed into the upper 40s.

Resort officials are crossing their fingers for snow on Thanksgiving Day and Friday when there’s a 90 percent chance of snow in the forecast. There’s a 50 percent chance of snow showers for a week beginning Tuesday.

The cat track leading to the Roundhouse was amply covered on Tuesday, and there was a good amount of snow on Mid-River Run and Canyon. The mountain department may decide at the last minute Thanksgiving morning to open up these runs, Lusk said.

Sun Valley Resort, which opened as America’s first destination ski resort in 1936, goes into the 2018-19 season continuing to rank as one of the top ski resorts in North America.

The annual SKI Magazine Readers’ Survey ranked it No. 1 for lifts and most charming, No. 2 for lodging, best après, dining, best down day activities and on-mountain dining. It was ranked No. 3 for its grooming and as best for families.

Sun Valley and the U.S. Forest Service cleared vegetation and trees in the Can Can and Graduate areas of Bald Mountain this summer, giving skiers and boarders an additional 18 acres of gladed skiing. This brings the overall total number of gladed acres to 81, and it will mean that less snow is needed to cover areas like Lower Can Can.

In January Sun Valley officials hope to offer free tours for advanced skiers down Turkey Bowl, an out-of-bounds area off Seattle Ridge Lodge to offer a preview of the area they hope to open next winter.

Workers have already cut trees and leveled ground in preparation for the new Cold Springs lift and the addition of 18 new snowmaking guns down Lower Broadway. The project will open up 380 new acres of terrain, expanding the skiable acreage within the resort boundary from 2,054 acres to 2,434.

The SnowSports School will offer classes focusing on Elegant Skiing that incorporate Austrian schon skifahren techniques.  And there will be a new freeskiing program for high school students, said SnowSports School instructor Alan Hogg.

 The Warm Springs Lodge, which burned three days following the end of the 2017-18 winter season, is expected to open in time for the Christmas holidays with a new look.

An 18-seat bar will be positioned under the large picture window giving skiers and boarders unparalleled views of the ski action on Lower Warm Springs. And dining seat capacity will increase from 164 to 282.

The restaurant will include a Konditorei Warm Springs corner that will feature award-winning espresso and cappuccino produced by Lizzy’s Coffee, along with chocolate croissants and other favorites at the Konditorei in Sun Valley Village.

Eighty additional rooms in Sun Valley Inn are being remodeled with many of them set to open by the holidays, said Kelli Lusk, Sun Valley’s communication manager.

Those looking for the daily lift ticket deals can save up to 20 percent by purchasing tickets up to seven days in advance at www.sunvalley.com.

THERE’S STILL ROOM AT THE THANKSGIVING BUFFET

Seats are still available for the Thanksgiving Buffet from 2 to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at Sun Valley’s limelight room, said Kelli Lusk.

Tickets purchased in advance cost $75 for adults and $45 for children; they’re $95 and $60 purchased at the door.  For reservations, call 208-622-2135.

Gretchen’s, the Sun Valley Club and the Konditorei will also offer Thanksgiving dishes.

And, per tradition, there will be a free showing of “Sun Valley Serenade” at 2 p.m. at the Sun Valley opera house.

 

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