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Doran Key raises the 2014 Janss Cup first-place trophy during the Sun Valley Limelight Room awards party. Her winning Boot Scootin’ team featured pro Paul McDonald, junior pro Sophia Mazzoni, Phillip Neeley, Orlie Sather and Brian Caulkins.

The newly-named Sun Valley Winter Sports Hall of Fame will welcome eight deserving individuals when its induction ceremony is held sometime in the near future.

No one is more deserving than Doran Key of Ketchum, an original Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation ski team member who went on to coach young SVSEF skiers for 38 years from 1978-2016.

For many years Key was a fixture at the top of the Kindercup course on Dollar Mountain, sending the slightly-frightened kids off on their first-ever trips down a race course.

She said, “I remember their fear, their joy, having their parents there and all the emotions with it.”

“I was pretty stunned and completely overwhelmed,” said Key about her selection along with ski industry contributors Averell Harriman, Dick Dorworth, Jim Savaria, Bob Jonas and Graham Anderson.

Rounding out the inaugural Sun Valley Winter Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019 are figure skaters Herman Maricich and Sonya Dunfield.

There is no greater ambassador for skiing itself and life in the Wood River Valley than Doran Key, 62, who brought infectious energy, skill and enthusiasm to her winter duties as a ski team coach and her summer job as an Atkinson Park employee.

“Skiing was a lifesaver for me,” said Key, who was 7 years old when she first came to the valley with her family in 1965.

“Living here for the past 55 years has been “the greatest gift in my life. The extended family I’ve developed is a gift of a lifetime. We are lucky beyond belief,” she added.

Raised with two brothers and two sisters in the Bay Area city of Piedmont, Doran Hecht Key recalls ski trips to Lake Tahoe—renting a cabin at Squaw Valley with two or three families and having a blast with 15 kids bunched on the floor in sleeping bags.

Doran’s mother Mollee Hecht brought the family to Ketchum in 1965 and Doran entered third grade at the Ketchum School, a first- through eighth-grade school then located at the current site of Giacobbi Square in downtown Ketchum.

Mollee worked as a waitress at Pioneer Saloon with Doran’s step-father Jim Lunke, a Pioneer bartender. Lunke introduced Doran, the youngest Hecht sibling, to skiing on Baldy and to backpacking in the hills around Ketchum.

“I remember Jim took us up to Redfish Lake and I was awestruck when we stopped at the Galena Summit overlook. I remember smelling the pine trees and thinking this is the place where I always want to be,” she said.

Doran joined the Sun Valley Ski Team in 1966. That was the first year of its formation as the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

When she graduated with 84 others from Wood River High School in 1975, her classmates included such noted local skiers as Pete Patterson, Allan Patterson and Benjy Walker.

Her first SVSEF coaches included Jack Simpson, John Jonas, Jim Savaria and Jack Holt. From coaches Simpson and Savaria, she said she learned “hard work, fairness, a sense of humor and no BS.”

By the seventh grade, she was skiing six days a week with the Sun Valley Ski Team—four days after school and both weekend days.

After competing in the 1975 Sun Valley Ski Patrol downhill and placing third among the women, Doran met her future husband Chris Key at the event’s awards party. They’ve been married for 41 years.


Doran’s mother worked at Ex Libris Bookstore in Sun Valley and then started her own bookstore, Mollee’s Bookery in Ketchum, which became Chapter One Bookstore.

Mollee conveyed a strong work ethic to her children, and, at 94, she still lives down the road in Boise near Doran’s other siblings. Doran has visited frequently since her retirement from the ski team and Atkinson Park jobs in recent years.

After Doran graduated from Wood River High, she worked for Sun Valley for a couple of seasons at Trail Creek Cabin and then became a lunch cook for Bert Bender at Ketchum‘s Warm Springs Restaurant. She worked there for 20 years, doing every job in the place.

Doran conducted the SVSEF Wild Game Dinner fall fundraiser for many years at Warm Springs Restaurant.

One year, she convinced a visitor from Minnesota named Bob Dunn to volunteer at the Wild Game Dinner. Dunn stayed in Ketchum, became Warm Springs Restaurant manager and now runs The Grill at Knob Hill Inn.

In 1978, Rich Hjort from the SVSEF offered Doran a job coaching with the so-called Farm Team, the predecessor of the SVSEF Development Team for elementary school kids.

She became SVSEF Development Team head coach in 1984 and stayed in that position until 2016.

In 2009, Key accepted the prestigious Jack Simpson Dedicated Coaches Award. It honors one of her first coaches at the SVSEF.

She has always loved animals. Many years, Doran and Sun Valley Suns hockey star Bobby Noyes organized the Paw and Pole ski fundraiser for the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

Doran and Chris Key, along with Noyes, also worked for Ketchum Recreation Director Terry Tracy for many summers at Atkinson Park. Doran did that for 27 years.

She is proud of the fact that she coached 35 second-generation children on the ski team, and also that many of her ski students returned to work for SVSEF as coaches.

Her abilities in teaching children may have been best expressed by a current teacher at Hemingway STEAM School, Scott Slonim.

In a letter to the editor published April 9, 2014 in the Mountain Express, Slonim wrote about Key, “I recently got to ski with her and her ski team on two occasions and was blown away by her enthusiasm, energy, knowledge and organization.

“She exudes excitement and positive energy and the kids just feed off of it. When she speaks to her group, she lets them have a say in what they are doing, making everyone feel a part of the decisions.

“She explains everything with complete organization, not easy to do standing on a ski run, so the kids know exactly what they are supposed to do. She makes sure every child is comfortable, as she is extremely tuned in to their feelings.

“When it comes to teaching skills, she has all kinds of fun tricks that get the kids thinking about what they are supposed to be doing in an exciting way. She does all this while keeping track of other groups going on at the same time.

“We are very fortunate in our valley to have Doran Key coaching our kids.”

The Community Library’s Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History has taken over and renamed the former Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame produced since its origin in 2010 by the Ketchum Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Society.

Seeking to include all winter sports, the Center for Regional History decided to include contributors from a variety of winter sports, and so the inaugural Class of 2019 includes figure skaters as well as skiers, builders and other notables.

The public will be invited when the Sun Valley Winter Sports Hall of Fame holds its induction ceremony at the Community Library.

“The accomplishments of this year’s inductees take your breath away,” said Mary Tyson, Director of Regional History at the Ketchum-based library. “We look forward to celebrating these remarkable individuals with the community.”

For this year’s induction class, there were 13 nominees submitted through the public notification. Eight were chosen, and the five names of those not selected this year will be added to next year’s nomination list for the shrine.

Committee members are comprised of the Library Board Regional History Committee.

Email the writer: sports@mtexpress.com

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