Valley locals make their mark
(page 5 of 7)
The Culture of Tim Silva
From carving turns on his favorite Fischer Riesenslalom skis of yesteryear to the wood core Völkls he enjoys today, longtime Sun Valley advocate Tim Silva is still in love with skiing on Bald Mountain.
Despite spending 18 years away from the Valley, to give the Northstar at Tahoe resort a serious spit shine, Silva, who cut his teeth as a Sun Valley lift operator 35 years ago, is still at home in the Wood River Valley.
But this time around, Silva’s challenge isn’t just safely loading skiers onto lifts—it’s to help make Sun Valley as much fun for a 13-year-old as it is for someone his age, 58.
“Most people will tell you Baldy may be the best ski hill in the country, if not beyond that,” Silva said. “Warm Springs top to bottom is among the best runs anywhere. I love the bowls. The soft snow crud can stay soft and buttery for days.”
For the youngsters, the new terrain park at Dollar Mountain and halfpipe on Baldy are steps in the right direction, Silva said, adding that what makes Northstar and Sun Valley more than just great ski areas is that they are four-season resorts as well.
Silva is a fan of Sun Valley summers, too. His favorite warm-weather activities include mountain biking and trail running. He is a little worried that the grounds crew may chase him off the golf course, though.
“Much to the dismay of the superintendent, I do golf. Every time I’m out there I create a lot of work,” he said with a smile.
“I love to hike with my wife anywhere in the Pioneers,” Silva adds, explaining that their connection to this place is so strong that they even “dragged” their two children, who were born in Sun Valley, to Pioneer Cabin every summer during their California years to shoot the family Christmas card. “That is our place. It holds a great deal of sentiment for us.”
Silva returned full-time to Idaho in May ’09 to take the reins as Sun Valley’s general manager. When asked about his dreams for the future of the resort, Silva hopes that actions will speak louder than words.
“I plotted a path academically. I took a natural science route and studied forestry and recreation. Coming to Sun Valley is not an accident,” he said from his office adjacent to the Sun Valley employee cafeteria, where the people whom he believes are the core of the resort take their work-a-day respite. “I think the essence of any resort is the quality of guest services. We are lucky to have the caliber of people that we do. Some folks over there are the warmest you will ever meet.”
Silva believes Sun Valley employees make the original destination resort an international jewel by sharing their personal warmth and love of the area with visitors.
“You’ve got to want to come to Sun Valley. When you step off the plane in Hailey, you are greeted by a bellman. By the time you get to the lodge, you already have a feel for Sun Valley. It’s got the patina,” he said.
Silva sees room for refinement and continual improvement in all four seasons and in all disciplines at Sun Valley, but more specifically, at the root of the resort. Silva dreams of expanding one of Sun Valley’s original claims to fame: high-level ski instruction and mountain guide leadership to be on par with any ski area in the world.
“I admire anybody who loves this sport, from instructors to maintenance employees and to the people who live here and make it their primary focus,” Silva explained. He sees his job as sustaining the skiing culture. “It takes commitment, but it all adds up to a great experience for those who pursue it.”
Ultimately for Silva, Sun Valley is about family and the people who make the place. While riding the early-bird bus from Hailey to Ketchum, Silva’s name came up in conversation with veteran Sun Valley ski patroller and father of two, John Stokes, a builder who first met Silva during his early years at the resort.
“He is very busy, but he stops when we see each other and we talk about the kids. He is a very amiable guy,” Stokes said after loading his bike onto the Mountain Rides bus for his end-of-the-day ride back to Hailey as he prepares for a new ski season.
That’s Silva’s kind of ski culture.