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Innovation

Play Hard Give Back: The Girl Scout Cookies of Action Sports?

Anyone who has been a starving and aspiring athlete can attest to the challenge of making ends meet.  Hard work, dedication, training, travel and so forth are about all a person has time for.  So much time is spent on one's self that the act of giving back to those who helped get the athlete to the tipping point of "making it" is typically unfathomable until retirement.  Which is where Play Hard Give Back becomes one of the next big ideas to come from the Sun Valley lineage of innovative thinking. Spencer Brendel grew up in Sun Valley as one of its most promising hockey athletes.  Graduating through the ranks, his life was a circuit of hockey rinks and hard work.  His talent and grit landed him in Sweden playing center in the "Juniors" before being recruited to come back to the States and play for Division 3 Saint Thomas College in Minnesota.  The Sun Valley Suns had given him much.  How would he return the favor?  As a student he took the path of his father, Jeff (a guy who has been known to come up with a good idea or three), and earned a BA in marketing and entrepreneurism.

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Biking, Summer

Ride Sun Valley: More Fun Than a Monkey on a Unicycle

Ride Sun Valley has become a major staple of both the Sun Valley’s summer event offering and the bike festival world as recognized by Outside Magazine.  Spanning two weekends with events ranging from the Shimano Super Enduro to kids racing to pumptrack racing to free guided rides to the US National Championships and all parts in between this is a week which celebrates the area’s 400+ miles of mountain bike trails and the thriving local bike scene.  

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Arts & Culture, Summer

Wine Auction Weekend: Where the Wine Flows Like Beer

For four glorious days here in Sun Valley, the wine flowed like beer, the beautiful women instinctively flocked like the steelhead of Stanley, Idaho and some serious funding to foster future arts and humanities opportunities for the Wood River Valley was raised. The 32nd annual Wine Auction Weekend invited attendees to partake in copious amounts of world renown vino varietals, mouth watering bites from the valley’s finest culinary experts, and boot stomping live entertainment. While the long weekend showcased a wide variety of wine induced events, two major spectacles took center stage. Friday night played host to the Wine Auction Gala where, “high spirits, great wine, superb food, good company, and a little friendly competition” melded together for some serious fund raising.

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Arts & Culture, Summer

A MASSV WEEKEND

The 4th of July weekend brought an alien invasion of sorts to the Sun Valley area this year with the arrival of the second edition of the MASSV Music Festival.  The Music and Arts Showcase Sun Valley's (MASSV) vibe permeated the air from the Trail Creek parking lot filling the town's street with throngs of youth wearing costumes which no doubt turned many a head in our typically conservative little town.  As the day turned to evening you could hear the excitement building with the thump of bass which gave way to night.

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Biking, Summer

SHEEPTOWN DRAG RACES: FLAMING LOGS, SINGED NOSTRILS

Every good drag race has a Christmas Tree. Sheeptown is a good drag race.     It didn’t seem likely that this event could ever have happened.  The idea was in actuality a creative ruse, nothing was really supposed to come of it.  But minutes after posting a photo of a drawing scrawled on wrinkled paper showing riders towing logs behind bikes in front of hundreds of screaming fans that had flames added to the logs in an attempt to garner more attention, the fire chief had called and demanded more information.  “What was the fire chief doing on my blog during the middle of the day anyway?” I wondered. The Avenue of Sheeptown is littered with charred dreams   Seven years later and the Hailey FD as well as the majority of the Sun Valley area has embraced the Sheeptown Drag Races.  It’s a fairly simple event: fill up a single elimination bracket for head to head drag racing on bikes.  The bikes tow logs.  The logs are soaked in diesel.  It’s free to enter and literally no clear rules exist.  Once you make it to the round of 16 the logs are lit afire and the crowd begins …

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Arts & Culture, Summer

Not Bad. Friends Who Make Art and Other Awesomeness

Chatham Baker (L) and Andy McCabe (R) Twist and Pout outside Ochi for their "Not Bad" exhibition.   Around these parts you can get a lot of action in before the sun sets for the day. It was a dream-like Friday and it felt like we all had senioritis all over again.  Staring out the window at work, the 5 o'clock whistle could not come early enough.  When it rang we went straight to the garages, grabbed the dirt bikes, geared up and took off. Within four hours we had covered half of Blaine County's trails and found ourselves walking into Ochi Gallery for our buddies', Chatham and McCabe's, Gallery Debut. Nate Farrell (Smith Optics Snowboard Team Manager) and the infinitely entertaining Chris Johnston   DJ Zeb? Anything is possible, my friends continue to amaze me.   Walking into the gallery the world could not have changed more dramatically in the matter of a few steps.  From the woods to the refined space of Ochi Gallery, it was like taking a shower in light and art. Zeb was spinning (I didn't even know he had yet another talent) and outside an unlikely group of troubadours picked endlessly through a broad …

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Arts & Culture, Bucket List, Spring

The Greatest Golf Tourney On Earth – The Ketchum Wide Open

The official score card of destiny         Harley’s for hangovers, Banks Gilberti must still be looking for his passport. It began nearly a quarter century ago as a way to pass time during spring slack season at a time of year when the tourists are not on tour and the locals are getting a little restless.  It’s a basic yet brilliant concept: the bars and restaurants in town rally together and each creates a mini-golf hole to try and befuddle even the savviest golfer.  Athletes congregate in teams of two and play a round of ultimate mini golf. Bonuses are awarded for various actions and everyone tries to make it all the way around town before the closing bell rings.   Costumes are taken seriously in Sun Valley and the KWO as it is affectionately known brings out the best of the best. The Vikings and the Americans battle for the title.   It’s no joke and if there was ever a winter of preparation to get ready for this event Sun Valley has got it. Spend hours upon hours at apres and you are the finely tuned machine who will come and represent. The Mutant Turtles …

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Skiing & Snowboarding, Spring, Winter

Rain or Shine Closing Weekend Will Always Go Off

If there are two truths to be said about Sun Valley over the years, one is never trust what the weather man tells you. The second: if you give any local a reason to dress up, they most definitely will. The weather report rolling through the weekend was anything but favorable for dressing up. Yet from most everyone I talked to, that was not going to deter them from hitting the Goldmine, pulling out their vintage gear, busting out the margarita machine, or breaking out the fire pit and camper for a blowout of a last weekend on the hill.

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Skiing & Snowboarding, Spring, Winter

Orage Masters, This Really Did Happen In Sun Valley

The Orage Masters mascot for 2013. Surreal entry to a surreal event. photo: G Randolph   They call it the anti-comp.  “They” being more specifically the French Canadians and their international brand of irreverent entertainment, vices, and ski apparel bearing the name “Orage”.  A battle royale for the ages.  Visually disorienting; competitively uncompetitive.  And yes, “It” really happened in Sun Valley. Back flipping Pizza? Check. Or is it pizza you’ll flip for?   Thought not an entirely novel concept–get crazy and party your brains out at the end of the year– the Orage Masters returned after a two year hiatus from the anti-competition circuit bringing a flare of end-of-the-year revelry that caught the Sun Valley locals a little off guard.  Accompanying their traveling gong-show was some heavy local talent with Collin Collins, Banks Gilberti, and Karl Fostvedt back on home turf to represent. I was stoked to bring my young, impressionable pre-teens to see them rip and they did not disappoint. Visual chaos might be the most appropriate way to describe the Orage weekend. photo: G Randolph   The notion is fairly simple:  get together all of your best buds after a season of traveling, competing and filming where the …

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Skiing & Snowboarding, Winter

Profile – Olympic Halfpipe Coach and Local Shred – Ben Verge

If you don’t know the coach for the US Olympic Halfpipe Rookie Team, Ben Verge, it’s really no surprise. He for the most part has lived a skiing career in Idaho off the beaten path or radar of anybody looking for someone like Ben. Although he may have graced the pages of a few magazines over the years, his story is like that of many other skiers that chose where they want to ski over the best place for a ski career. Ben is one of those guys that likely stood a good chance of being a professional, but that just wasn’t his goal. The guy lives it. He skis every day despite conditions, and when they are unfavorable, chances are he knows every tree to bonk, every roller to butter, and every obscure stupid hit to have fun off of, and he will. In turn, if you are skiing with him, so will you.  With parks and pipes spoiling freestyle skiers, it’s hard to find people with that much instilled creativity and the ability to make the best of any condition. Honestly, Ben does, and it wasn’t until years after being washed up as a ski bum construction worker he would finally find his professional career – as a Coach.