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Sun Valley Resort Opens with Gob-bles of Runs
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Sunny the Bear was jazzed about opening day at Sun Valley Resort.
   
Friday, November 25, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Sun Valley skiers never mention Rock Garden in the same sentence as Thanksgiving. And they rarely ever mention Exhibition and Olympic on that day, either.

But eager beaver skiers could boast they’d skied those off-piste runs, Holiday and others as Sun Valley launched its 87th season in extraordinary fashion.

Sun Valley Resort opened with gob-bles of runs open on the River Run side of the mountain, including access to some of the steepest terrain on the mountain. There were—count them!—28 runs open. So many that it was almost easier to list what wasn’t open than what was open.

 
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Tillie and Erik Babcock and Lily Enos and Bryce Foster claimed the first seat on the chairlift.
 

“Best opening day ever!” enthused Jesse Foster.

Skiers and boarders who had been waiting with anticipation since storms dumped nearly two feet of super packable snow on the mountain two weeks earlier showed up in droves for the opener, the opening lift lines stretching to the bridge over the Big Wood River.

And, if favorable conditions persist, the Resort anticipates an earlier than usual opening of the Warm Springs side of the mountain in the days to come, said Jenna Vagias, the resort’s communication manager.

“We’ve got lots of runs open and the Ski Patrol is out there looking for others to open up,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, director of Guest Operations.

 
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Plenty of elbow room could be found once five chairlifts took skiers to different points on the mountain.
 

Despite the initial lines, skiers quickly fanned out over the mountain with the help of five chairlifts running. Some took their first run of the season and retreated to the River Run Lodge to toast it with a Bloody Mary.

“This is like Christmas!” said Helen Milner, as she surveyed the scene from the Roundhouse gondola. “Look at the parking lot—every spot is taken and then some. And people are skiing every bit of the mountain!”

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand. People are excited, and they should be,” added Ed Vining. “The skiing’s outstanding. I can’t imagine a better start to the ski season.”

Dave Galloway hopped aboard the Lookout Express after testing his new four-month-old knees on a  warmup run on Lower River Run.

 
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Mike Fitzpatrick, director of guest operations, shows off Sun Valley’s No. 1 finger fan.
 

“I wasn’t going to come today but they had so many runs open I couldn’t stay away. I’ve got two new Kopplin knees,” he said, referring to Sun Valley knee replacements done by Dr. Matt Kopplin. “And they feel great, although I won’t push it by skiing the powder on Upper Holiday today.”

A banner proclaiming Sun Valley the No. 1 Ski Resort in North America three years straight stretched across the base of the Roundhouse Gondola. And Sun Valley Resort employees handed out No. 1 fingers for fans to wave, along with commemorative Sun Valley cocoa mugs, pins, tattoos and buffs.

Tillie and Erik Babcock and Lily Enos and Bryce Foster were among those who claimed the first seat on the first chairlift up the mountain, their eager beaver spirit rewarded with 2022 Sun Valley jerseys.

“We got here at 7 in the morning yesterday,” said Tillie Babcock. “We just hung out all day, listening to music and stuff. And I got a short nap. It’s worth it to be first.”

 
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Two of those who hopped aboard the first gondola celebrate Sun Valley’s three-peat as North America’s No. 1 ski resort.
 

Norm Leopold was counting the days until he gets his 100-day pin for a hundred days of skiing.

“Ninety-nine days left!” he said.

Sandra Sheeline and her twin sister Sibyl Hansen were looking forward to another year of skiing at age 87.

“I love that you get away from the crowds here,” said Sheeline, who with her sister takes part in Mountain Masters, a nine-week ski instruction program that runs five days a week. “My favorite run is Upper River Run—I love the bumps, the challenge. Then the Bowls—they’re what make Sun Valley so great.

“I love the fall line here, the long continuous ski runs,” added Ed Vining. “I’ve skied all over Idaho but this is my favorite.”

Robert Buersmeyer has skied Bald Mountain for more than 50 years.

“I’ve skied all over and this is the best mountain. by far. It has a consistent pitch, it has steep stuff and there are no lift lines…or very small lift lines. And I love the people—this is a real community of people who come here for the lifestyle.”

“Everything’s amazing,” added Wood River Middle School students Caden Powell and Jamer Johnson.  “The runs flow together, like the way College flows into Flying Squirrel and Lower College. And we love the jumps next to the guns.”

 Sun Valley Nordic Center, which rarely has enough snow to open Thanksgiving Day, froomed nearly 15 kilometers of cross-country ski trails for Thanksgiving Day. The Nordic Center opened Trail Creek, Leif’s, White Clouds and Practice loops on Thursday after taking the Practice Loop for a test run on Tuesday.

Three of its four snowshoe trails are packed out, as well.

“This is a really good turnout for Thanksgiving and a good opener to the season,” said Peter Stearns, Sun Valley’s mountain strategic advisor. “Our team has really done a good job.”

Bald Mountain will have another go of it beginning at 9 a.m. today. The Warm Springs side of the mountain and Dollar Mountain have been scheduled to open Dec. 9. But resort officials may open Warm Springs earlier if conditions permit.

~  Today's Topics ~


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