Who, What, Where, Now!
Sun Valley Nordic Festival
Photography by Hailey Tucker
In its second year, the Sun Valley Nordic Festival has grown in scale, participation and level of local support.
The festival, which began Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, aims to celebrate the vast amenities for Nordic skiers in the Valley as well as the outdoor lifestyles that Nordic skiing embraces.
The events in the festival include many races and competitions that have existed for years, but the idea of combining them all into one festival came about for a number of reasons said Jim Keating, executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD) and co-chair of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival.
The SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour, one of the headlining events at the festival, is world-renowned Nordic race stretching 32 kilometers from the Galena Lodge to the SNRA Headquarters north of Ketchum. Keating said part of the motivation for the festival was to garner more participation and a larger crowd for the race.
With the cross-promotion of the festival, the 36th annual SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, has, for the first time in years, reached its cap for registration.
Many of the events in the festival focus on non-competitive skiing or other winter sports, such as snowshoeing. Keating said they wanted the festival to honor the incredible athletes in the Nordic skiing world, but also encourage other members of the community to participate in any outdoor winter activities.
“There are a lot of events outside of the pure ‘I’m coming out and racing’ mindset,” Keating said.
He says he saw the festival as a way to celebrate the Valley’s ski town culture while drawing attention to and appreciating the unrivaled trail systems that surround it.
In the events that have already taken place over the week, Keating said the BCRD estimates they have seen close to 1,200 participants and expect the number to grow as the festival culminates this coming weekend.
Highlights from the festival so far:
Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011
Ski the Rails—The Nordic Festival kicked off with the family-friendly, all levels Ski the Rails afternoon. Over 400 participants came out on the sunny Saturday for a ski tour along the bike path, where the old railroad tracks used to run. With aid stations set up along the way and lunch party at the Sun Valley Brewery, many participants, whether first-time skiers or old pros, skied side-by-side up and down the Valley.
Sun Valley Snowshoe Challenge—Runners competed in either a 5K or 10K cross country race in snowshoes around the Sun Valley White Clouds golf course. The winners qualified for the USSSA 2011 National Championships. Hot chili and coco kept spectators warm and a kid’s 1K race kept everyone smiling.
15th Annual Galena and the trails Winter Benefit—The annual fundraiser, held in Sun Valley’s Limelight Room sold out. Attendees were treated to an Italian-style dinner followed by an auction and dancing. Bidding on whether the Galena Lodge proprietor Don Shepler should “shave or save” his famed billy goat beard earned the lodge near $2,000 and left them with a beard-less Shepler.
Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011
Galena Loppet—A longtime Galena tradition, the Galena Loppet was in full force with close to 70 participants. The loppet ran along the 20K perimeter of the Galena Lodge trail system. The event was light-hearted, with many attendees dressed in costumes and doughnut and beer stations scattered around the trails. For participants who skied the entire perimeter, poker cards where available at every aid station and a game of Nordic trail poker was played.
Monday, Jan. 31, 2011
Alturas Lake Trail Ski and Apres Ski at the Smiley Creek Lodge—Participants skied the 16K Nordic Trail near Alturas Lake and then dined on hearty food at the Smiley Creek Lodge after their ski.
Perspectives on Modern Cross Country Ski Technique—Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Cross Country Head Coach Rick Kapala dazzled listeners while walking them through the history of cross country skiing to show how it has developed into what it is today. Keating said the presentation was one of the most insightful he has seen.
Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011
Twilight Ski and Galena Lodge Dinner—The Galena trails remained open into the evening for those who wanted to go for a twilight ski or snowshoe. After the sunset, guests dined on a hearty Idaho lamb stew.
Backcountry Film Festival—The Liberty Theater hosted the Winter Wildlands Alliance’s touring backcountry film festival. The event, sponsored by the Idaho Conservation League, pieced together short films and excerpts from longer films centered on the theme of the human powered experience in the backcountry. Each film examined how people enjoy the backcountry with non-motorized recreation.
Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011
Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame Inductions—As the beginning of an important Valley tradition, the Ketchum Sun Valley Historical Society (KSVHS) nominated and inducted the first nine members of the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame. A large crowd packed into the KSVHS museum to see the nine members be honored. The inductees included Nelson Bennett, Bobbie Burns, Christin Cooper, Chuck Ferries, Bill Janss, Phil Puchner, Rob Keisel, Kevin Sweigert and Leif Odmark.
Nordic Experience with Peter Ashley—The Community Library hosted speaker Peter Ashley, vice president of Fischer Skis, to speak about his experience as a ski racer, nationally recognized coach and leader in the ski industry.
What’s still to come:
Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011
Ketchum Nordic Night—Celebrate the Nordic community with a night of racing, competitions, live music, food and art. The evening begins at 4 p.m. in the Center’s empty lot across from the Ketchum Post Office with a competitive Nordic sprint race. At 5:30 p.m. Brooklyn-based band, The Pimps of Joytime, will begin to play. Entry is free and bonfires will do their best to keep the crowd warm. The Galena Lodge staff is venturing south for the night to provide hot chili and drinks. Other events throughout the night, including a snowshoe dance competition, promise to keep the night fun-filled. Don’t forget to swing by Perry’s Restaurant before or after 5 p.m. because they will be donating 10 percent of their sales to the Galena Lodge and trail system.
Friday, Feb. 4, 2011
Ski the Sawtooths with Apres Ski at the Sawtooth Hotel—Ski the Park Creek Nordic Ski Area West of Stanley on Friday. The Sawtooth Hotel will offer a cozy, rustic Apres Ski atmosphere as well.
SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour Pre-Race Expo—From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Boulder Mountain Tour racers can pick up their race bags and get waxing advise for the following day. Sponsor booths will demonstrate the latest tools and techniques for the sport.
Smoky Mountain Snowshoe Adventure—Join the Idaho Conservation League for a snowshoe up Titus Ridge. Bring warm clothes, snowshoes and a lunch. For more information call 726-7485.
Banff Mountain Film Festival—FRIDAY AND SATURDAY—Support the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center by attending the Banff Film Festival at the NexStage Theatre in Ketchum. The festival begins at 6 p.m. both nights and will showcase some of the leaders in extreme mountain sports. Raffles for a wide variety of gear, trips and other prizes will happen both nights.
Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour—Beginning at 10 a.m., see some of the world’s best Nordic skiers and some new faces race from Galena Lodge to the SNRA Headquarters. More than $10,000 of prize money will be given to the top ten skiers in the men’s and women’s categories. The Boulder Mountain Tour showcases the Valley’s Nordic trails with some of the best skiers on them.
SWIX Half Boulder—For a non-competitive, shorter version of the Boulder Mountain Tour, attend the Half Boulder at Baker Creek at 11:45 a.m. Race times will not be recorded for the Half Boulder. The race is meant to be an entry-level experience for fun.
Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011
SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour Demo—The Sun Valley Nordic Festival ends with a demo day. Come try and test some of the newest Nordic gear available at 10 a.m. at the Sun Valley Nordic Center.