It’s All About the Balance

It’s All About the Balance

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For Lucy Sackbauer, Sun Valley offers the best of both worlds

WORDS • ERIN SPONG | PHOTOS • HILLARY MAYBERRY (unless otherwise noted)

Born and raised in Vail, Colorado, skiing is engrained in Lucy Sackbauer’s DNA. First honing her technical skills as an alpine racer, Sackbauer discovered a second passion for telemark skiing her sophomore year of high school. Eager to pursue both, Sackbauer trained with her high school alpine team three days a week and a telemark team the other two days. “I did both so that I could ski every day,” says Sackbauer. The pursuit to ski as much as possible followed Sackbauer to nursing school, where she learned the intricate art of balancing work and play.

“I just worked really hard a couple days a week so that I could get a couple days of the week off or some days I would bring my textbook to the ski lodge, take a few runs and then go in and study,” says Sackbauer. “It’s just been really important to me to have that balance and I’ve continued it through all of my nursing jobs.”

PHOTO: Ray Gadd | LOCATION: Sun Valley, ID

The advantages of being a nurse are two-fold. A job that is consistently in high-demand makes it easy to find work virtually anywhere and with a schedule that allows for three days on and four days off, it’s perfect for those who seek to be more than just weekend warriors. Never losing sight of her skiing goals, Sackbauer has spent the early years of her professional life successfully navigating two careers. To open up her winters, the Atomic athlete was looking for a nursing gig where she could work full time in the summer and cut back hours as the snow started to fall. It was at the advice of a friend to check out Sun Valley that Sackbauer found her ‘best of both worlds.’

America’s original ski town, Sun Valley, Idaho, has remained true to its 82-year-old roots: focus on the skiing and people will come. This has attracted skiers from across the world to spend a winter or two in town. However, after experiencing everything Sun Valley has to offer, a lot of those people never leave. For Sackbauer, it was a combination of her flexible schedule in the emergency room at St. Luke’s Wood River hospital, the incredible skiing accessible from her doorstep and community camaraderie that led this 28-year-old skier to call Sun Valley home.

“[Sun Valley] is literally surrounded by the mountains,” gushes Sackbauer. “That really helps form the culture here. It’s a really strong community that makes the skiing culture so special [and] the skiing also shapes the community so it’s like that inverse relationship where they both benefit each other really well.”

Sun Valley Resort consists of two mountains, Dollar Mountain–which is catered more toward learning families and hard-core park rats–and Bald Mountain–otherwise known as Baldy and the first choice for Sackbauer on an in-bounds day. “Baldy shoots up 3,000 vertical [feet] right from town, so it’s a fun mountain to ski in all conditions,” says Sackbauer.

In an effort to explore more of the mountains beyond the boundaries of the resort, Sackbauer took a mountaineering course in the spring of 2017 in the Sawtooth Range–678 square miles of couloir after couloir just 36 miles from town–and has never looked at skiing the same way since. Although she lives mere steps from one of the two base areas of the resort, it’s the close proximity to the surrounding–and seemingly endless–backcountry terrain that has predominantly captured this skier’s attention.

[The Sawtooths] are these super jagged, really aesthetic mountains and there are couloirs everywhere,” lauds Sackbauer. “You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere and yet you can get right back to your car.”

For Lucy Sackbauer, skiing has always come first. So, when she found a town that could offer her both a nursing and skiing career, it didn’t take much for her to relocate to Sun Valley–a community of like-minded snow sliders who not only understand, but also pursue the balanced lifestyle of work and ski. “Everyone, because we all have skiing and mountains in common, we can all really relate to each other,” admires Sackbauer of America’s very first, and in her opinion, best ski town. “It’s a place that makes skiing really easy to do.”