A shared legacy: bringing Sun Valley ski history to our athletes

A shared legacy: bringing Sun Valley ski history to our athletes

In the last month, the SVSEF administrative team installed 16 canvas panels inside our yurt at the base of GreyhawkFrom the world’s first chairlift on Ruud mountain, to our current athletic stars competing professionally, the panels tell the history of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Sun Valley Ski Cluband skiing in Sun Valley. 


“The goal is to give the kids a sense of time and place within Sun Valley ski history, and within Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation history.” David Butterfield explains. Executive Director Scott McGrew recruited Butterfield and Heidi Schernthanner to help compile and organize a timeline of historical highlights from this valley’s lengthy and rich ski history. The final product is this: 16 twofoot by four-foot canvas panels depicting photos and facts from 85 years of Sun Valley skiing history. 



The panels reach back to the days before Union Pacific Railroad’s “Sun Valley,” when Ketchum-ites “coasted” around Knob Hill and Four Hills (above the Community Library). The panels then move through the history of Averell Harriman of Union Pacific Railroad, the building of Sun Valley lodge, and the world’s first chairlift; they also depict the history of the Sun Valley Ski Club, the Harriman Cup, the dawn of the valley’s cross-country tradition, and the golden athletic era of the 50s and 60s. The timeline then moves on to the founding of Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation in 1966, the introduction of “hot-dogging” in the 1970s (the precursor to freestyle), the introduction of World Pro Ski Tourthe advent of snowboarding, and the athletic success of Sun Valley athletes throughout this time period. The timeline begins to wrap up with the continued success of Sun Valley Ski Team athletes of the 1990s, with the likes of Picabo Street and the Crist brothers. The panels conclude with profiles of our current professional athletes.  



“It’s a winter wonderland we get to live in, and a lot of people don’t really think about the history behind that. It’s kind of fun to be part of this project, because it gives back at such a big level. It gives back by sharing the behind-the-scenes of what got us here, to where we are now. The wheels keep going because of what we don’t see moving, which is this aspect of legacy.” Schernthanner shared.  



The kids are standing on the shoulders of everyone and everything that came before them. Obviously, not every kid that sees this history is going to go on to be a legendhowever, the ones who do get up on the podium are standing on the shoulders of the other kids with them too.” Butterfield added. While not every athlete can go on to be a future feature on the history panels, every kid has contributed to the continuation of this Sun Valley skiing legacy; with this installation, the athletes get the chance to see exactly how.