The history of ski racing in Sun Valley is as rich and as impressive as anyplace in the country. And the future is looking pretty bright, too. It is as if the slopes of Baldy and Dollar were blessed by the ski gods, Ullr and Skadi, to groom the fastest and strongest skiers and snowboarders to ever ride on snow. Sun Valley has been home to the best in the alpine sports scene since shortly after inventing the world’s first chairlift back in the 1930s. It’s a tradition that’s staying strong and is proudly on display as Sun Valley hosts events like last weekend...
It’s almost that wonderful time of the year, the week that the Sun Valley Nordic Festival comes to town. This celebration of cross country skiing brings hundreds to the Wood River Valley to enjoy the picturesque, well-maintained and seemingly endless trails that helped Sun Valley earn the title of Nordic Town U.S.A. Pilgrims from across town and across the country gather to ski, meet like-minded people, talk gear and wax, and have fun. Cross country ski culture is celebrated with races, training opportunities, parties, events and food and drink specials. It culminates with the famous Boulder Mountain Tour on February 6.
The fun begins well ahead of the storied Boulder, though. Beginning on January 29, programming including Town Sprints, Ski the Rails, the Paw ‘n Pole and much more kicks into high gear.
There is so much to do during the Sun Valley Nordic Festival, from clinics to races, demos to dinners, and it all culminates in the epic Boulder Mountain Tour (photo courtesy Nils Ribi)
The second annual Snowball Special Fat Bike Race sets the tone for the Nordic Festival. Fat bikes are all the rage and this race is a great way to get outside, get some exercise, have a fantastic time and do some good! The action is centered at the gorgeous Sun Valley Nordic Center where a specially created course on Sun Valley’s trails, including the White Clouds and Boundary Creek, awaits. The big race is Saturday, January 30, starting at 10 a.m. Choose from race distances of 20k, 40k and a 40k relay. The event will be enhanced with a raffle, podium prizes and one-of-a-kind awards from Upcycle. Proceeds from the event benefit the Fat Bike Advocacy Group of the Wood River Bicycle Coalition. Please visit www.snowballfatbike.com to register. You don’t want to miss this!
More traditional Nordic pursuits also begin on January 30 with the popular Ski the Rails event. This free community morning takes advantage of the Wood River Valley’s miles of Rails to Trails that stretch from the South Valley all the way north of Ketchum. There are well-groomed classic and skate options and aid stations are located throughout the course to keep you energized. A special lunch will be available at the Sun Valley Brewery in Hailey, too. Bring your family, friends – even your dog and enjoy this true community event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Some fleet of feet skiers will be giving it their all during the Town Sprints that are held in downtown Ketchum. It is a great way to check out some terrific athletes
Speaking of dogs, the 30th Annual Paw ‘n Pole is scheduled this year on January 31 at the Sun Valley Gun Club. Bring your best friend to enjoy an ‘intergalactic theme’ with race activities, delicious food and drink. The fun blasts off at 11 a.m. on Sunday and features the ‘Bow Wow Boulder’ -- a 3k skijor event, an Astro-Agility Course, a family snowshoe and cross country race, a costume contest, a silly pet trick contest and a sled dog exhibition. There will be demo skijor equipment available, too, as well as a prize drawing for all participants. Please register for this event here.
The marquis event of the weekend is the Boulder Mountain Tour also known simply as The Boulder. Starting at 10 a.m. on February 6, hundreds of racers will meet at the stunning Senate Meadows near Galena Lodge to compete in the scenic 34k tour. The race is designed as an open skate race, but a classic track is also available. There is also a 15k Half Boulder that begins at 11:30 a.m.
The Sun Valley Nordic Festival celebrates our wonderful cross country culture. Come and be a part of it!
But wait! There’s even more! The elegant and fun Galena and the Trails Winter Benefit to support Galena Lodge and the Trails will be held on Saturday, January 30, at Sun Valley’s Limelight Room. This is always a great party for a great cause. There are skier breakfasts, brunches, happy hours and dinners. There are opportunities to ski with some of Ketchum’s best local skiers like Muffy Ritz and to benefit from the wisdom of acclaimed coach Rick Kapala. There are NordicTown USA Sprints right in the middle of town, and fun to be had in Stanley, Idaho. For a full description of events, please click here.
In Sun Valley, we are so lucky to have miles and miles of some of the best cross country skiing unfurling in every direction. Fresh air and the enjoyment of our exquisite surroundings is something everyone can enjoy, whether you’re on skis, snowshoes or even a fat bike. Check back to this blog for more on the Sun Valley Nordic Festival and come be a part of it!
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