Valley locals make their mark
(page 6 of 7)
FALLING IN LOVE WITH SKIING
Doran Key Shares her Passion for the Slopes
I started skiing with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s ski team when I was seven, and, like most kids growing up in the Valley, I quickly fell into the routine of praying for powder, spending all of my lunch money on candy bars and trying to understand how my skis were supposed to resemble the shapes of “pizza pies” and “French fries.”
As the years went on and my skiing improved, I remember finding myself in a puzzling situation—for the first time in my life I realized adults could be cool. Ski coaches were a conundrum, and there was one in particular who stood out.
Her name was Doran Key, and I thought there was no one better. Even as a kid, I could sense her passion and it was contagious. It was impossible not to love skiing when doing it with her.
Growing up here, I’ve noticed that many of my experiences on Baldy were not unique. It might have been Snickers instead of Kit Kats for lunch, or some kids may have stayed on the team longer than I did, but overall, I’ve heard a lot of the same stories; especially when it comes to favorite coaches. And Doran Key is included in those stories almost every time.
Doran, now 53, came to Sun Valley with her family in ’65 and joined the ski team that winter. Even then, she knew she’d found a home in the Valley. When Key was 20, she was invited to coach for what was then called the “Farm Team.” She accepted, and has been working for the Foundation ever since.
She estimates that in the 30 or so years she’s been at it, she’s coached upwards of 1,500 kids. Scott McGrew was one of those kids and has been coaching alongside Key for the past eight years. McGrew said he has always been impressed by Key’s radiant energy, selflessness and dedication.
At least my world lights up.”
“It has never been about Doran. It has always been about the kids,” McGrew said. “There are very few people I think you can honestly say that about.”
Doran beams when she talks about seeing a child win a race or have a breakthrough skiing powder.
“When kids light up because they’ve done well, the whole world lights up,” Key said. “At least my world lights up.”
Although Key is also involved in children’s activities at Atkinsons Park in the summer, she said coaching alpine skiing is an unbeatable experience. The time spent riding the chairlift in between runs is her most cherished.
“In no other sport do you have that break between the activity where you can actually sit down with your kids for 10 minutes and get to know them,” Doran said.
During her coaching tenure, Key has taught the gamut—from skiers like me, who couldn’t care less about speed, to Sun Valley legends such as Muffy Davis, Picabo Street and Zach Crist; she’s been there for it all. And, despite Key’s pride in her students that became Olympians, she said many of her other coaching experiences have been equally rewarding.
Doran said she is just as proud when children join the team at age seven and stay on it until they graduate from high school, even if they’re not the ones who make it up onto the podiums. She also said that seeing the number of young adults, like McGrew, who have returned to coach for the team after being on it as kids, has been incredible.
Key said her goals are to make lifelong skiers out of her students and to help children get involved in a healthy, outdoor activity. And after 30 years of doing just that, she has no intention of calling it quits. Key said she plans to continue coaching until she is unable to walk out to the mountain anymore.
When asked what she would want her legacy to be, Key’s answer was modest. She said, simply, that she wants to be remembered as someone her students had fun skiing with and who played a positive role in their childhoods.
Key could not say enough about how supportive and generous the community has been toward her and the program over the years. And while she realizes that what she does is important, she doesn’t seem aware that the community is trying to return the favor. Key has dedicated her entire adult life to teaching the Valley’s kids to love the mountains they were raised in. For her efforts, the Valley has fallen in love with her as well.