Life on the Mountain
36th Annual Fall Game Dinner
It was an important year for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s (SVSEF) Annual Fall Game Dinner and Auction—local SVSEF icon and veteran Kate Berman retired after 13 years as the Director of Fundraising Events. The Limelight Room at the Sun Valley Inn was packed with some 320 people—all standing, applauding and whistling—while the microphone-shy Berman modestly said her thanks, gave her bows and ceremoniously handed the torch off to Sarah Crowley, who will begin taking over her position this year.
“It’s been a great road. I’m very proud to have been a part of it,” said Berman. “In fact, I’m more proud than I ever have been to be involved with this program, but I’ve been doing it a long time. I’m ready to try something else.” Starting out as a parent volunteer with two kids on the alpine ski team, Berman was asked to join the SVSEF Board of Directors in 2000, which later evolved into the position as Events Director. “I had no experience in event planning,” she said. “They hired me because of my volunteer involvement in the community and my background in the restaurant business,” (she, together with Chelle Gourlay, owned and operated the Bald Mountain Cantina for many years). “I learned a lot. But without tremendous support from the community and volunteers, it wouldn’t have been possible. I give all the credit to the program,” she said.
Because of the dedication and hard work on the part of Berman, along with 165 volunteers and contributions from hundreds of local businesses and organizations, the 36th annual Fall Game Dinner was, yet again, a huge success. Live auction items included a Sun Valley Heli Ski Day, Luxury Mexican Getaway and the ever-famous Argentinian Lamb Asado for 40 people that sold for $6,500. During the cocktail and appetizer reception hour, all of the tuxedos and fur scarves sashayed about the room, bidding on silent auction items and mingling with friends in sports coats and blue jeans, along with parents, volunteers, athletes and neighbors. There were $20-$75 balloon gift bags, $100 “Gold Medal Opportunity” medals and a raffle for a season ski pass on Bald Mountain, won this year by local sponsor Charlie Dunn.
This event, together with the Janss Pro-Am Classic in April, raises almost two thirds of the overall operating budget for the SVSEF—a program that has produced athletes like Picabo Street, Reggie and Zach Crist, Lynsey Dyer, Morgan Arritola and Langely McNeal, among others. And it has been funded for over 40 years by the local community. Don Wiseman, Executive Director of SVSEF, said during his speech that “If you’re in this room, you’re a local. And we thank you.”
“It’s a wonderful community tradition,” said Berman. “This year gave me enormous pleasure because the winner [of the Jack Simpson Dedicated Coaches Award] was Ruben Macaya,” who coached her two children. Macaya, raised in Argentina, has been an SVSEF coach for nearly 20 years and the Alpine Program Director since 2001. His former SVSEF students, including Maggie Acker and Sean Higgins, expressed their gratitude during a short film honoring his career, causing more than a few sniffles to spread throughout the room. His acceptance speech was received by thunderous applause and a standing ovation. (Be sure to check out our Valley Profile on Ruben Macaya in the winter 2012 issue of Sun Valley Magazine).
On the dinner table were roasted Elk Medallions with a Huckleberry Zinfandel Sauce and Duck Confit, served with a selection of Pietra Santa Wine and, of course, the famous Canadian Goose centerpieces. “I love those geese. We have used them every year since I started,” said Berman. “It’s one of my favorite traditions.” One of many legacies that she will be leaving behind, and that will be carried on for years to come. Sarah Crowley definitely has some big shoes to fill, but as Berman said, “She’s doing a great job. She’ll have support from a lot of people throughout the community, and we are thrilled to have her.”