Valley locals make their mark
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The true spirit of Idaho is that of a pioneer. The type of person who doesn’t simply stand around and wait for something to happen, but rather the type who makes things happen.
Here we profile six such snow pioneers, people whose passions and roots run deep through the heart of the Wood River Valley.
THE SKY IS THE LIMIT
Kaitlyn Farrington Leads the Next Generation
When Kaitlyn Farrington first started snowboarding, she didn’t do so in hopes of gaining fame and glory, or even to get free trips halfway around the globe.
Rather, at 12 years old, Kaitlyn’s motivation to switch from skis to a snowboard was much simpler than that. It was a classic younger sibling moment. She wanted to be more like her older sister, Jessalyn—and Jessalyn was a snowboarder. Little did Kaitlyn know that in a mere eight years, she’d be climbing podiums around the world for her skills in the halfpipe.
Farrington, now 21, said she was not a natural at snowboarding, but, thanks to lots of practice and patience, she was able to improve. By 2005, she became good enough to join the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s (SVSEF) snowboarding team and began to enjoy the competition side of the sport. To help support her burgeoning career, Kaitlyn’s family sold cows from their farm to help pay for her travel for competitions.
With growing momentum and steadily improving skills, Farrington soon caught the eye of GNU Snowboards, and by the ’06-’07 winter season, she had received her first sponsorship. A year later, she scored a spot on the U.S. Rookie Snowboarding Team.
Since then, Farrington has continued to carve up the snowboarding scene. In the ’09-’10 winter season, it seemed like she made a podium every weekend. Kaitlyn won the Winter Dew Tour Cup Overall Championship at Mount Snow, Vermont, by being the only woman to pull off a clean “Crippler 7” (an inverted frontside 360 degree flip). She then took gold at the European X-Games in Tignes, France, by beating out Olympic gold medalist, Torah Bright. Finally, Farrington ended her season on a high note by finishing just behind another Olympic gold medal winner, Kelly Clark, for an impressive second-place showing at last year’s U.S. Open Championships of Snowboarding at Stratton Mountain, Vermont.
Although Farrington travels the world snowboarding and has dreams of making the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, she said one of her favorite runs in the world is still Broadway on Baldy. Farrington credits Sun Valley, both the mountain and the coaches she met on it, for a large portion of her success.
“Since there wasn’t a halfpipe until later, I got really good at freeriding and just having fun,” Farrington said. “Baldy made me a strong rider because of all the different terrain. It made me a strong all-around snowboarder.”
This winter, Farrington will once again participate in the Grand Prix, the Dew Tour and both Winter X-Games, and hopes to execute a Cab 1080 (a popular trick among male snowboarders in which the rider starts fakie, spins around 360 degrees three full times, and then lands regular) along the way.
Kaitlyn sees the other women on the U.S. Team as some of her greatest competition, but adds that they are also some of her best friends. Farrington cites fellow women’s snowboarder, Maddy Shaffrick, as one of her biggest inspirations.
Farrington’s advice for aspiring snowboarders is to have fun and believe in your own abilities. “The sky is the limit. Really, you can do anything,” Farrington said.
And with her success last season, it seems that she is following her own advice. With a little fun and fierce ambitions, Farrington hopes to keep making the Valley that raised her proud.