As the world is learning how to work around the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to come out of our coronavirus hibernation and ski, board, jump and grind our way into winter. The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is planning to get back to a packed season, as its athletes prepare for another successful winter.
With the constant cancellations and rescheduling of last winter, look for this year to have plenty of home events at Bald Mountain, Galena Lodge and Rotarun Ski Area in Hailey, all while keeping a watchful eye on SVSEF athletes who are primed to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics in China this February.
With the inclusion of more venues for training and events, the SVSEF has also been able to reach kids in the South Valley, including Hailey and Bellevue. Because of this, the ski team saw a serious uptick in participation with more than 200 additional future skiers and snowboarders registered, bringing the entire club program to over 700 kids in the entire Wood River Valley.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect in 2021-22.
The alpine season has already begun in some areas, with some major events that are on the horizon. The first major event for the alpine team is a national FIS race at Beaver Creek, Colorado, from Dec. 6-8, which is also a World Cup venue.
One of the main skiers on the alpine team—Jack Smith—will be out of the year after suffering a broken tibia and fibula bone in July. Smith, 20, is still involved and trains with the SVSEF alpine team.
Other skiers to keep an eye out for are Ryder Sarchett and Dasha Romanov—both 18-years old. Sarchett and Romanov qualified for the U.S. Development Team and are well positioned for great seasons.
According to SVSEF Alpine Director Will Brandenburg, both skiers have an attainable goal of doing well at the Junior World Championships, which are from March 1-9 at Panorama, British Columbia, Canada.
Sarchett enters the 2021-22 season as the No. 2-ranked slalom skier in the world at his age group.
Romanov is entering the season with a small ankle injury; however, that should not slow her down.
Another athlete that is making headlines this year is Sun Valley Community School senior Jesse Keefe, who has impressed the ski world for quite a while. Despite being born without an ankle bone in his right leg, Keefe’s talents propelled him to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic Team last year.
Keefe has been a part of the SVSEF program since he was a child; now, at 18, he is ready to show his truest talents on the slopes.
“He’s always been treated as he should be, which is an athlete on the team,” Brandenburg said. “It’s exciting for someone in our community. He’s going to make some noise at the world stage.”
The biggest name to come out of the SVSEF as of late is snowboarder Chase Josey, who has made the U.S. Snowboard Team for the fifth time in his career. Josey will eye a spot on the Olympic Team during qualification events in January, and SVSEF Snowboard Director Andy Gilbert believes he has a great shot at making the Olympics for the second time in Josey’s career.
“He’s a veteran now, which is weird because I’ve been coaching him since he was nine years old,” Gilbert said. “He’s a gamer, though. He’s got the moves and tricks to make a statement.”
Even though Sun Valley has always been known as a skier haven, snowboarding has become a staple in the community. Since 1998, an SVSEF snowboarding alum has made every Olympic team: Sondra Van Ert, Graham Watanabe, Aprilia Hägglöf, Kaitlyn Farrington and Josey.
Gilbert said that the future looks bright with a pair of middle schoolers, Naomi Gorringe and Karsen Miller, giving him flashbacks to when Josey was young.
“Naomi is a very unique rider, she’s always full of energy and moves to her beat,” Gilbert said. “Karsen is as hungry of a snowboarder as I’ve ever seen. He’s wide-eyed and wants it all, and he’s willing to learn.”
The Nordic side of the SVSEF is a major player in the development of athletes in Sun Valley. Skiers like Johnny Hagenbuch (U.S. Development Team), Sydney Palmer-Leger (U.S. Development Team), Kevin Bolger (SVSEF Gold Team), Sam Wood (SVSEF Gold Team) and Sammy Smith (SVSEF Comp Team) have seen success, and expect it to continue this year.
“I’m stoked for all of the kids,” SVSEF Nordic Director Rick Kapala said. “We want to give them a wonderful experience with Nordic skiing.”
The SVSEF has been nothing short of a family. With over 100 coaches between all disciplines, most of those coaches are club alumni.
“They give back, and that’s the fuel that makes the engine run,” Kapala said.
Another story to watch is Jake Adicoff, who is legally blind and competes on the U.S. Paralympic Team. He is a returning silver medalist from the Pyeongchang Games in 2018. When the Paralympics return March 4-13, Adicoff will take Sam Wood as his guide.
Boise-area native and Boise High sophomore Sammy Smith, 16, will be one of the more interesting cases coming through the SVSEF. Her family has spent every winter in the Sun Valley area, and she has been a part of the SVSEF for four years. She is on both the freestyle team and the Nordic team.
When she is not busy doing both ski disciplines, she is a nationally recognized soccer star, and led the Boise High Brave girls soccer team to a second-place finish in the Idaho High School Activities Association 5A State Soccer Championships this year. She was also named to the U17 U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. If that weren’t enough, she is also a track and field phenom, winning both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter 5A state titles last spring.
A total 20 home events for the 2021-22 Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation season. The 49th annual Zions Boulder Mountain Tour will double as a community event and an SVSEF Cross-Country event.
In addition, all events are subject to cancelations or rescheduling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DATE, DAY....... EVENT........... LOCATION
Dec. 10, Friday....... Wild Game Dinner .. Sun Valley
Dec. 14-18..... Rotarun Rip-A-Thon.. Rotarun Ski Area
April 1-2...... Janss Cup........... Warm Springs
April 3, Sunday.............. Boulderdash.......................... TBA
DATE, DAY......... EVENT.......... LOCATION
Jan 10-13...... Western Region Elite FIS... Warm Springs
Feb. 5-6.. North Series Monroe Cup... Rotarun Ski Area
Feb. 20, Sunday........ Arkoosh Cup...Rotarun Ski Area
Feb. 25-27...... Laura Flood Memorial... Warm Springs
March 18-21.. U12 IMD Championships... Warm Springs
DATE, DAY..... EVENT....... LOCATION
Dec. 11, Saturday.......... Winter Start Event.. Galena Lodge
Dec. 22, Wednesday. Holiday Bonfire Drag Races..Lake Creek
Jan. 15-16....... Sun Valley Super Tour... Lake Creek
Jan. 22, Saturday..... Billy Goat Loppet. Sun Valley Nordic Center
Feb. 1-6.... Zions Boulder Mountain Tour.. Sun Valley
DATE, DAY....... EVENT.......... LOCATION
Jan. 8, Saturday.... Baldy Banked Slalom.. Bald Mountain
Feb. 10-11.... USASA Boarder/Skier-Cross.... Dollar Mountain
Feb. 12-13..... Beverly Hay Cup.... Dollar Mountain
March, TBA...... Intramural Scrimmage...... Rotarun Ski Area
DATE, DAY..... EVENT....... LOCATION
Feb. 10-13.... USASA Boarder/Skier-Cross..... Dollar Mountain
March, TBA............... Sauce Cup............ TBA
DATE, DAY...... EVENT........ LOCATION
Jan. 28-30.... Intermountain Freestyle Comp... TBA
*The schedule was updated to reflect the new date for the Rotarun Rip-A-Thon.