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...
Recently, this blog detailed all the fabulous specialty programs available on Dollar and Bald Mountains for children. But why should kids have all the fun? Sun Valley offers incredible programs for adults, too, focused on skill development but also heavy on fun and camaraderie.
One of the most enjoyable and impactful is the Mountain Masters program. This nine-week specialty clinic emphasizes all-mountain skiing for intermediate to advanced skiers. Drew Merklinghaus, a national champion bump skier who enjoyed a short World Cup and Pro Tour career, runs Mountain Masters in conjunction with SnowSports School Director Tony Parkhill. The goal? To ski like a local and look like you live here, even if you don't.
If this is your year to take your skiing to the next level and to ski like a local, Sun Valley's Mountain Masters is the best way to accomplish your goals
Skiing like a local means taking advantage of all of Baldy's varied terrain. For those who prefer to train gates on the Warm Springs side, Mountain Masters will get them into the sunny bowls, onto bumps, and exploring all the hidden gems on this huge mountain. Conversely, those who default to all-mountain and free skiing will improve their technique in the race courses. This is possible because Mountain Masters meets five days a week for three hours a day. This offers plenty of time to play on this vast playground, all under the tutelage of some of Sun Valley's finest teachers.
However, even if you can't commit to skiing five days a week, you will reap huge benefits from the days you do participate. Once you sign up for the program, you can attend as many sessions as you like – five days a week isn't required although many people find that is exactly how they want to spend their mornings. "We welcome all comers any time," Tony Parkhill said. "Come be part of the fun. Some people are here for the entire winter, some just for a few weeks. We can work with any schedule."
There's a lot of mountain to master and this specialty program will get you out on all kinds of runs and all kinds of terrain
This year, Drew and Tony revamped Mountain Masters, adding some great new bonuses to the already strong program. For instance, Mountain Masters is offering clinics featuring guest experts and focusing on high performance skiing. One camp will focus on creating beautiful turns on-piste. Another will take skiers off-piste to work on how to conquer and enjoy those big bumps. Each clinic will last from three to five days and will be interspersed into regular program.
"We are working to not just put out a daily product," Tony explained. "This year we are going to mix it up and provide some thematic weeks. For instance, last week PJ Jones and Cookie Hale, seniors specialists from Jackson Hole, worked with our Mountain Masters. PJ concentrates on 50-plus skiers looking for different strategies to make their days go longer. Everyone got a lot out of this added instruction and having visiting experts adds a great dimension to the Masters program." There are also plans in the works to invite Masters program participants from other resorts to come and ski with us. "This makes a lot of sense with the Mountain Collective program and lets like-minded people enjoy the mountain together," Tony explained.
Imagine yourself here as your skills improve, you learn to love new terrain, and you have a great time with friends, old and new
The best top-level instructors offer individual feedback and give skiers the tools to master all that Baldy offers – which is a lot! Mountain Masters meets Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at Lookout on the top of the mountain. There are groups for both men and women or mixed and groups form based on abilities or friendships. Please call (208) 622-2289 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Conditions are great and there's lots of season ahead of us to enjoy. 2016 is your year to master the mountain!
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