Introducing young children to the sport of cross country skiing – an activity that is quite demanding and can have a steep learning curve – takes a special character. Enthusiasm is arguably a key quality. It also doesn’t hurt to have a great deal of patience. Martha Pendl took the reins of the Cross Country Devo North squad for the 2018-19 season, following Dave Bingham’s retirement from the program, and she has fit the role quite naturally. Although this is her first season as head coach, she isn’t in unfamiliar territory. Martha grew up in Sun Valley – her father was the original baker for the Konditorei when it opened in 1967, and she and her sisters spent their youth cross country skiing. She coached for SVSEF from 2000-2003, and recently relocated back to the valley after living in Driggs, Idaho, with her family. With two children in the cross country program and a lifetime of experience and enjoyment in the sport, Martha seems at home at the helm of Devo North. Read more about Martha, her background and her outlook on skiing and life below.

A nice Lake Creek day for the annual Devo Triathlon

What is your earliest memory of skiing?

Crust cruising with my family up Lake Creek Canyon…I was around 4 or 5.  Sunny spring days, mohair skis, some nicely mirrored 70’s sunglasses, and yes, knickers. My parents would pack a Euro snack & some tea, then kick us out of the VW Van for a couple of hours of skiing.


Can you give us a brief background of your time(s) with SVSEF?

There was no Devo XC when I was in elementary school, so we skied with Liza Wilson & Janet Kellam in the Bill Koch Ski League at Bigwood Golf Course. My two older sisters were on the XC Team and the “hut” was in the garage of the old golf shop.  I’d see the big kids skiing around Bigwood while I was in Bill Koch and they were SO cool. By sixth grade I loaded myself in the back of the ski team van and didn’t get out until I graduated from WRHS in 1990. It was a great ride. Coached SVSEF 2000-2003, returned to coach 2018.



Martha, left, with her sisters back in the day

Did any aspects of skiing help prepare you for college/work/etc?

Endurance training applies to everything.


What stands out to you in terms of difference, between when you were in the program, when you coached prior to moving to Driggs, and now?

The program has grown significantly in participation, facility & success. Becoming one of the best junior programs in the country during that time is truly a remarkable feat.


Has having your own kids on SVSEF teams changed your perspective or approach to coaching in any way?

Yes!  Many of us have been SVSEF athletes and SVSEF coaches, but when we have a turn as an SVSEF parent, we become a member of the SVSEF community in a completely different way. We become a customer instead of participant or provider, and that reveals a fresh, invaluable perspective.


What values do you most want to pass on to your athletes?

Integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

Daughter Eloise, a Prep Pro athlete for the 2018-19 season, with Martha

What do you feel like you get out of skiing personally?  

Freedom of movement.


What are the challenges inherent in cross country skiing?   

Getting through your first three weeks on snow — gliding on toothpicks while wielding swords in your hands with any glimmer of grace is no easy task. After that, the learning curve is fantastic!


A skier or person who heavily influenced you/made you want to be a coach?   

Kapala.  He’s the kingpin of the Coaching Mafia.  


What other job would you be doing if it wasn’t what you do now?

Hmmm, leading family adventure trips around the world  titled “Will Walk for Great Food.”


What have you found most challenging after your first season back? Most rewarding?

The SVSEF program is a well oiled machine, filled with fantastic athletes, parents, volunteers, and incredible local support.  The challenge and the reward is to jump into the car while it’s roaring down the road and be sure to enjoy the ride at the same time.


Why do you coach?  

1000 reasons….but  mostly, it’s the right thing to do, even when no one is looking.


How do you define success?

Having the opportunity to say yes, the courage to say no, and the humility to say I don’t know.

Other interests/hobbies:

Baking is kinda my thing. Trying to master the Ukulele. Gardens, trees, native landscaping.

Favorite podcast or book or movie:

Currently fascinated by my son’s voracious reading of Percy Jackson novels

Favorite pre-ski meal:

A Glory Bowl from Pendl’s Bakery:  Steel cut oats, apples, peanut butter, toasted coconut, chia,  chopped almonds, & steamed milk!

What gets you out of bed in the morning:

A cacophony of 5 alarms, all chiming within 8 minutes of each other, set by each member of my family

Best risk you’ve ever taken:

Being a Mom