Sun Valley Nordic Festival

This was the official website for the Sun Valley Nordic Festival.

2013 marked the fourth annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival.  It includes the longest running cross-country race in North America.

Content is from the 2013  & 2014 site's archived pages and other outside sources.

The Sun Valley Nordic Festival is a week filled with nordic skiing, demonstrations, races, seminars, and activies all culminating with the Boulder Mountain Tour.

A short 2010 web promo was produced to highlight various events at the annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival.

“For a tad over forty years the mountains of central Idaho that make the valley of the Wood River possible, have been the home of an ever increasing scope and variety of Nordic skiing. The winters are long here, consistently blanketed by that cold dry snow that inspires making first tracks at dawn on the corduroy of freshly groomed trails. The back country is an endless landscape of near perfect powder bowls and the springtime brings corn snow till the summer flowers turn adventure in a different direction. The skiing experience in Sun Valley has always been top notch and as time goes by it just keeps getting better

It wasn’t always Nordic heaven. In mid November 1971 Leif Odmark came to the Wood River High School in Hailey and gave a talk on a sport no one had even heard of. After the short presentation of pictures and equipment the five or six kids in the room were asked if they would like to start a cross-country ski team. For the members of the cross-country running team the choice between basketball, wrestling or this new fangled outdoor deal was a no brainer. The first Sun Valley Nordic Team was born. Every Saturday the team would follow Leif around the Sun Valley Golf course skiing in our own tracks until it was packed then the workout was over. There was only one race that winter, the Sun Valley Ski Club race but it was a mass start with 30 or so racers and everyone was hooked.

The following year Rob Keisel convinced the alpine only Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation to add a Nordic Team and along with assistant coach Bob Rosso presided over the training and racing of the 12 or 13 members of the team. Those were heady times, a snowmobile was procured to groom a track that even included a pole track, no more stuffing your pole all the way to the ground before some purchase was made. By the end of that first year Sun Valley had made itself known to the world at the McCall, Idaho Junior Nationals.

Since those first days the Sun Valley Ski Education foundation has grown by leaps and bounds. Today the team members number in the hundreds and range from very young novices to the top of the Olympic heap. The snowmobiles that broke almost everyone’s back with every new snow fall have been replaced by one of the best grooming setups in the world and wielded by the Blaine County Recreation District as well as Sun Valley Company.

All this progress has created a sterling Nordic skiing experience in the Wood River Valley and that brings us to the latest chapter in this ongoing saga. As much as we would like to we just can’t keep all this to ourselves. In the spring of 2009 an unlikely group of conspirators sat down and invented one more thing to clutter up our calendars. The Sun Valley Nordic Festival was born to try and tell the world what they were missing by not coming to Sun Valley to ski the nearly infinite kilometers of trails from Stanley to Galena to Lake Creek to Sun Valley to Quigley. It worked out great, the festival is everything Nordic and then some, highlighting the great opportunities and the world famous SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour. But that wasn’t enough. During one of the endless SVNF meetings, Rick Kapala and his fertile imagination interrupted whoever was talking with a bolt from above. “”We have to corner this”" he said, “”We have to do it before some else does”". The rest of the room waited with baited breath. “”Nordic Town USA™”" wagged Rick, “”We are Nordic Town USA™ and we have to tell the whole world that we are”". This zeal and dedication inspired local entrepreneur and Nordic supporter, Mike Landes, from JML Publishing, to invest his own time, effort and creativity in developing a portal that would fulfill the needs of the Nordic skiing community in the Wood River Valley and beyond. The result is™

Come here often to find out about everything from trail grooming and the weather to a schedule of events that are (somewhat) Nordic and everything else that is happening year round, but more importantly, get out there and ski.”

Sun Valley Nordic Festival Featuring WRAP & Paralympic Athletes 2013.






18 November 2013

NordicTown USA is the place to be!

NordicTown USA is home to the most ideal Nordic ski conditions in the country. With 250+ days of sunshine each year and immaculate grooming on the incredible 200km trail network NordicTown USA is the place to be.

If racing is your thing join the other ambitious athletes at the local races all listed on the events page and be certain to take part in the longest running marathon race in the United States, the prestigious Boulder Mountain Tour.

The Sun Valley Nordic Festival runs again this year from January 24 – February 2, 2014. The 5th Annual event promises another fun and varied lineup. This festival is not to be missed!

While skiing is the focus here, the Sun Valley area is a terrific place to spend your days. Enjoy the surroundings, the eclectic shopping and eat well. NordicTown USA is a stellar place to be!

18 November 2013

Sun Valley SEF – XC Gold Team Spenst Workout

// Post by Sun Valley SEF – XC Gold T

Early season pic

13 November 2013

by Matt Gelso, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team

While some are lucky enough to get on snow during the summer on glaciers in the US or Europe (since that is something that recreational skiers do all the time, I know) most of us are not. As such, it is very important to make sure your first few sessions back on snow are productive and worthwhile. Summer training is different than skiing, even rollerskiing does not exactly mimic the fine motions and balance associated with good skiing technique. So whether you have been biking, running, hiking, or even rollerskiing, it is a good idea ease your body back into skiing and remember that it is much more taxing than many other sports. Here are a few tips to get you through the first couple sessions:

1) Do not overdo it your first time on skis. This goes for both duration and exertion. Your body needs time to adjust to being on skis and everything associated with that. You won’t do yourself any favors by going out for too long or going too hard. Any technique gains you made over the summer will not be sustained as you get too tired. I have gone too long my first ski of the year and paid for it by being wiped out for the next two days. It is more beneficial for your body to adapt by doing a few shorter workouts with rest between them to recover.

2) Think about technique and skiing technically well. Make sure you are transferring any technique improvements from the summer or previous year by focusing on them on your first few skis. Try to remember and apply them on snow. Bring a friend so you can help each other. You can take video and watch yourself to see if you are skiing how you think you are- many times you think you made a technique improvement but you actually didn’t and video will show you that. A few minutes skiing with no poles and/or one pole will help with timing and balance.

3) Have 5-10 on snow ski sessions before doing intensity. If you have done intensity and rollerskiing in the summer/fall be around five, if not be around ten. Skiing is hard on your body, especially after six months not doing it. It is important to get your muscles attuned to skiing motions before asking them to go fast. This is not to say you can’t do intensity the first day on snow, but it will most likely not be very productive if you fail and fall into old bad habits with your technique. Take time to prepare your body properly so that your muscles, technique, and balance are all there for you to use to ski smooth, fast, and efficient. You have all winter to ski hard, give yourself the right preparation to do that.

Even as a ‘professional’ ski racer I still think about these three items during the first sessions on snow. The goal is to get your feet under you and set yourself up for a good season. Also remember not to get too serious, enjoy yourself out there! A new season is beginning with fresh snow and fresh tracks on the way!


11 November 2013

Gold Prospecting

Sun Valley’s new Olympic journey

by Tony Evans

A rare combination of factors has led to Sun Valley’s production of champions: optimum elevation, world-class coaching talent and 100-150 inches of fresh powder each year.

November swept in with the season’s first dusting of snow atop Bald Mountain just behind the headquarters of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. The building sits at the base of the mountain’s Warm Springs lifts on Picabo Street, which takes its name from Picabo Street, one of 18 Olympians who have been trained by SVSEF coaches since the organization was founded in 1966.

For nearly half a century, another 35 U.S. Ski Team members and many more national and regional champions have also risen through the ranks of the SVSEF. In recent years, Sun Valley has served as a training ground for Morgan Arritola, Simi Hamilton and Andy Soule, who was the first American to win an Olympic or Paralympic medal in the sport of biathlon.

A rare combination of factors has led to Sun Valley’s production of champions: optimum elevation for ski training, world-class coaching talent and 100-150 inches of fresh powder each year. The surrounding Wood River Valley also boasts 125 miles of groomed Nordic trails each winter, as well as 35 miles of paved bike trails for summer roller-ski training.

All of this added up to the long-anticipated announcement in October 2012 by the governing body of the U.S. Olympic Committee that the Sun Valley area would become an official Olympic/Paralympic training site for Nordic skiing, one of only 15 self-funded Olympic training sites in the nation.

The campaign to get the training site designation began several years ago, when former SVSEF Executive Director Don Wiseman and Wood River Ability Program Director Marc Mast recognized that the area was already operating as a suitable site, hosting important races and producing champions. The formal designation named SVSEF an official “operator” of the training site, in partnership with the Wood River Ability Program, the Blaine County Recreation District and the Sun Valley Company.

“This designation is huge for Ketchum and the Sun Valley Resort, as well as for the state of Idaho,” said Dick Fosbury, former track and field Olympian and inventor of the “Fosbury flop” high jump technique, which he used to win a gold medal during the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City.

Fosbury is a longtime valley resident and chairman of the Idaho Chapter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Association. He was also on the steering committee of the years-long effort to win the official designation.

“We have the best Nordic coaches in the country, excellent facilities, clean air and stars at night, and great people,” he said. “Now when visitors come here and see the Olympic rings, they will be reminded what a special place this is.”

There was a flurry of activity recently inside the SVSEF headquarters as construction crews, with an eye on the weather forecast, hustled to complete an extensive remodel and expansion of the decades-old facility, adding wide-screen TVs, meeting rooms, workout facilities and a second floor of offices. All of this is being built with private donations, said SVSEF Executive Director Rob Clayton, adding that the goal is to be ready for a grand opening of the training site by Friday, Nov. 22. Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Wood River Valley politicos, business leaders and local athletes are expected to attend the ribbon cutting.

“We will have the best facility in the country for winter snow sports,” Clayton told Boise Weekly. “Our main priority is to provide a high quality training venue for Olympians and aspiring Olympians. We will see a higher level of competition here.”

Clayton had just returned from his first assembly of the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, where he began networking with committee members and other USOC training site directors to leverage the new designation status into further success at placing local athletes at the highest levels of international competition.

That success will likely mean garnering support from a list of official Olympic corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola, General Electric and United Airlines, and a relatively new Olympic sponsor: Chobani Yogurt, which has a new manufacturing facility in nearby Twin Falls.

Clayton said he is only just starting the process of finding out what all this means as he works through the USOC to form partnerships with other organizations.

Clayton added the SVSEF is already in talks with Boise State University, hoping to enroll researchers and technicians to staff a planned human performance laboratory in Ketchum–the purpose of which is to expand the sports science research already under way. He said such research could grow with the help of USOC sports physiology researchers and may include the testing of athletes for maximum oxygen uptake levels and lactate testing for muscle endurance.

Of equal importance, according to Clayton, was getting more roofs over more athletes’ heads.

“Our next priority is to develop housing that is affordable for athletes who want to train here,” he said, adding that the new USOC designation should increase local Sun Valley athletes’ exposure to some of the the best cross-country skiers in the world, many of whom have already discovered the Wood River Valley on their own.

Newspapers took notice when Norwegian cross-country skier, 11-time World Champion and Winter Olympic gold medalist Petter Northug encountered a mountain lion while training on the 19-mile Blaine County Recreation District’s Harriman Trail, north of Sun Valley, several years ago. Northug’s Norwegian teammates have followed in his tracks. The Norwegian national team used the Sun Valley Resort as a training ground in 2010, just a few weeks before Northug won gold at Vancouver, B.C.

“National cross-country teams from Italy, Slovenia and Sweden have also trained here,” said Rick Kapala, who heads the SVSEF Nordic Program, ranked No. 3 in the nation. “We will be pitching the U.S National Team to come here. Right now, they are chasing snow in northern Canada.”

Kapala and his coaches will be busy from now through January 2014, coaching a group of local Nordic skiers at races leading up to the selection of the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2014 Winter Games, in Sochi, Russia. Kapala said all six of his best skiers have a solid shot at the team, but that his best candidates are Miles Havlick, who grew up in Colorado and moved to Ketchum to participate in SVSEF; Sun Valley native Mike Sinnott; and Chelsea Holmes, from Alaska.

Paralympic competitor Jake Adicoff also has a strong chance of getting on the U.S. Paralympic Team.

Kapala said his big dream would be to have weeklong, year-end competition of the four big winter snow sports at Sun Valley: Nordic, alpine, freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

“It’s never been done before in one place,” he said.

01 November 2013

Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center

The Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center is located at the 58,000 square-foot Sun Valley Club in the backyard of the...



Sun Valley Nordic Festival 2014
Schedule of Events
Photography by Nils Ribi

In only 10 days in Sun Valley, there will be over 25 Nordic events at the annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival. This year, the week-long winter celebration includes races, downtown jams, parties, lectures, educational classes, demonstrations, demo days, and a reggae music concert—capped off, as usual, by the famous Boulder Mountain Tour. With over 200k of groomed trails throughout Galena, Alturas, Sun Valley Nordic, and the new trails at Croy Nordic, Sun Valley is quickly becoming as much a Nordic ski destination as alpine. Pack up the skinny skis and tight suits for another round of "Nordic Town!" Below is a breakdown of all the happenings, so you can be sure not to miss a single event.



Opening Night Welcoming Celebration — Ketchum Town Plaza

+ Join the fun of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival as the “Opening Night Welcoming Celebration” kicks off 10 days of Nordic skiing, culture & sport in Nordic Town, USA (Ketchum/ Sun Valley, Idaho). Come to Ketchum Town Plaza to celebrate the best Nordic skiing in North America!

2014 Sun Valley Nordic Festival photo by Nils Ribi.


+ Sun Valley Intermountain Junior National Invitational — Galena Lodge