Preview: Local schools and clubs feeling population pressures

Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Executive Director Scott McGrew said the nonprofit has a waiting list and will have to make some tough decisions about who gets into the upper-level training programs

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have triggered a permanent influx of new residents to the valley, including relatively affluent families who are putting pressure on local clubs, schools and other organizations that are not accustomed to such surges of interest.

“This could spark a healthy conversation about sustainability and the trajectory of the community,” said Scott McGrew, the Executive Director of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

The SVSEF has a waiting list of about 100 kids, even after doubling its Learn Alpine Skiing and Racing (LASAR) “pay-what-you-can” Alpine ski and snowboard program at Rotarun in Croy Canyon.

McGrew said returning athletes and their siblings, including those from a waiting list of 30 from last year have priority. He said a lot of new faces will be on the Rotarun ski hill this year, both from the valley and from outside the area.

“There are a lot of new families to the community that are on our waiting list,” McGrew said. “They are attracted to what we have here, and we can’t fault them for that.”

McGrew said the skier “development programs” that train skiers and snowboarders for competitive teams are seeing unprecedented demand, especially at the first- through fourth-grade levels. Ski teams typically use the resort in Sun Valley, rather than Rotarun.

“They can certainly afford the programs, but we are at capacity,” he said. “We cannot grow unchecked, which is against our principles. We have to take a strong look at who gets the spots. At the higher levels it's an application process. We look at who’s appropriate and skill appropriate. We are also seeing returning alumni, which is really cool."

Private schools of interest for affluent members of the community are also seeing new demand, as are high-end health clubs like Zenergy in Sun Valley.

For complete story see the Wednesday edition of the Mountain Express.

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