REVISITING SUN VALLEY, ID

September 24th, 2009 by

THIS DESTINATION FOR THE RICH IS QUICKLY BECOMING THE DESTINATION FOR TALL TEES

Sun Valley was once the epicenter of North American destination skiing. Warren Miller created his empire here. The Mahre brothers stuck it to the Euros here. Hell, Ernest Hemingway lived, wrote and died here. But outside of a couple heroic efforts by Kip Nelson — namely the Ski Tour and 48Straight — Sun Valley has faded from the minds of the next generation of skiers.

But that’s all about to change. Sun Valley has partnered with Snow Park Technologies (SPT) — the park builders behind the X Games and Dew Tour — to transform the smaller of the resort’s two hills, Dollar Mountain, into a veritable terrain park paradise.

And just like Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come.

In our case, the “they” were international stars (and Scott USA and Monster Energy riders) Tom Wallisch, Justin Dorey and Ian Cosco. The three athletes — with filmers, photographers and marketers in tow — hopped in a Monster Energy tour bus and mobbed up to Sun Valley to see the new park hype first hand.

The mission was two-fold: Destroy the public park during the day and session a custom SPT booter for the whole town to witness at night. For the first two days, the trio ransacked the terrain park and found some creative mini-golf around Dollar Mountain. SPT had converted the usually sleepy Dollar Mountain into a bustling scene. We knew we were in familiar territory when kids started asking where Tom Wallisch was.

The main event, though, was the nighttime big air show. Scott USA put in the ground work to promote the event: autograph signings, radio station appearances, flyers, banners and a giant tour bus tooling around town to draw attention. SPT crafted a massive step-down with the Monster Energy claw cut into the takeoff. And as the sun set and the town gathered, all that was left was for the guys to do what they do best.

Jump after jump, the crowd was mesmerized; their silent awe pierced only by the sounds of the lapping sleds. It didn’t matter if it was a rodeo 900 or a 360, the town knew that they were looking at the future of the resort.

Sun Valley will always be a destination to the rich and famous, but freeskiing has at last found another home in Dollar Mountain and SPT. Yes, the Monster tour bus eventually left, the three athletes jetted off to JOSS in Sweden and business returned to normal, but moving forward it isn’t so hard to imagine a renewed energy and focus at Sun Valley.

All it took was a few passionate companies and a couple top-level athletes to kick start some change, putting the iconic valley back on the map in the eyes of a new generation.

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Freeskier Magazine—This is skiing.