SVSEF Hires Cynthia Knight as Director of Development

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is pleased to announce that Cynthia Knight will be joining the SVSEF team as Director of Development, effective March 20. As it moves into the future with an eye on elevating each athlete’s experience, SVSEF needs to continue working towards programmatic improvements and venue upgrades. With Cynthia’s professional experience and depth of fundraising knowledge, the organization looks forward to making these goals a reality.
A graduate of Boston University and Golden Gate University School of Law, Cynthia has since garnered extensive fundraising proficiency, including an understanding of contractual complexities and estate giving. She comes to SVSEF with over 25 years of experience in educational, legal and business sectors; her roles have taken her across the country, as well as locally in the Wood River Valley. She was most recently a Major Gifts Officer at the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia, and has served in our community as president and board member of the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley and as a committee member on the City of Sun Valley’s Comprehensive Land Committee.
Cynthia has a deep understanding of the importance of snowsports within the community, having lived and raised her four children in the Wood River Valley. This appreciation for the unique culture of the valley is reflected in her comments when accepting the position: “the SVSEF mission spoke to what I believe in. I want to work with people who embrace the development of the whole child through snowsports. My family calls Sun Valley ‘home’ and all my children learned to ski at Sun Valley as youngsters and subsequently worked in the community. So, what could be a better fit than returning ‘home’ and working in a positive environment for something I truly believe in.”
Cynthia’s work with the organization will directly support over 675 athletes, ranging from second graders to high school graduates, as well as 22 full-time and 112 seasonal staff. All those involved with SVSEF support the organization’s mission of providing exceptional snowsport programs for the youth of the Wood River Valley, and Cynthia looks forward to becoming part of the team.
Executive Director Sam Adicoff spoke to the professionalism, energy and compatibility that the new Director of Development adds to SVSEF. “Cynthia brings a unique skill set to our organization: extensive professional fundraising and development experience, a passion for winter sports shared by her entire family, and strong ties to the Wood River Valley. We are lucky and excited to have her join SVSEF.”

Open a Free Checking Account with SVSEF Partner Washington Federal


SVSEF families are invited to open a Washington Federal free Simple Checking account; it only takes a $100 initial deposit to get going. There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements (you can have only one penny in the account and not get a fee), plus online tools and debit cards included as well at no cost. For more information or to sign up today, visit Washington Federal at 460 E Sun Valley Rd. #101 in Ketchum, or contact Jessica Juarez (208) 726-1300.

View the PDF here for more information.

November Newsletter

In case you missed it: the November 2016 parent newsletter.

Chuck Harris Signs On as SVSEF Alpine Men's FIS Prep Head Coach

Chuck harris2
Photo courtesy of

For the 2015-2016 season, the SVSEF Alpine Team restructured the way teams were broken down; instead of dividing groups by age, the team transitioned to an “event series” approach, with each team being managed and each group training according to their particular race series. This allowed for more options and potential growth for each athlete. To further specify and support the FIS Team going into the 2016-2017 season, the Alpine Team has further delineated the programming, and will be adding a Men’s FIS Prep Program. The FIS and FIS Prep teams are differentiated based on USSA points. With this new change, SVSEF has hired a head coach for the Men’s FIS Prep Program. SVSEF welcomes Chuck Harris to the program, who comes to us with over 20 years of coaching experience.
Harris was born in Portland, Oregon, and attended Eastern Oregon University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in History. He proceeded to direct and lead ski programs across the country, thereby gaining ample familiarity with various programs and with different approaches to coaching and FIS programming, specifically. From 1994 through 1999 he was the Men’s FIS Coach at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, and from 1999 through 2002 he coached both Men’s and Women’s FIS for Ski Club Vail in Colorado. He continued his travels westward, acting as the McCall Ski Racing Team Program Director for FIS/U16 from 2002 through 2014 in Idaho and the head U16 coach at Jackson Hole Ski Club in Wyoming from 2014 through 2016.
SVSEF is eager to have Harris on board. Commented SVSEF Alpine Program Director, Scott McGrew, “his attention to detail, adept technical knowledge, and commitment to athletic and character development will be a great value to our club and we are excited to welcome Chuck into our community.”

Alumni Address Building Success in "Life After SVSEF" Forum

Many young people grow up in the Wood River Valley living and breathing skiing and snowboarding. The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation offers a platform for these kids to achieve their skiing and snowboarding goals, and to become phenomenal snowsport athletes.
At the end of their high school skiing career, however, many of these athletes are left wondering where they can go with the sport. While a very small percentage of skiers manage to break into elite levels of competition, there are any number of ways athletes can incorporate skiing into their lives and careers.
To that end, SVSEF Academic Director Matt Leidecker has arranged the 3rd annual Life After SVSEF.   Leidecker takes advantage of the holiday season when many SVSEF alumni return home to organize an informal panel discussion between current and former athletes.
This year’s alumni panel will include a wide array of former SVSEF skiers and boarders, including alpine athletes Tanner Farrow and Harlan Collins. Farrow is currently competing on with the U.S. Men’s Alpine Ski team and Collins is finishing up a collegiate career on the USCSA college circuit with Rocky Mountain College.
Cross Country alum Mikey Sinnott, who competed for many years at the collegiate (captain of the Dartmouth College Division I Nordic Ski Team) and World Cup level, offers a great perspective on what it takes to continue competitive cross country racing after high school.
Current SVSEF athletes will have a great opportunity to learn from alums McKenna Peterson and Lexi Dupont. Both women competed on the Freeskiing World Tour and have continued to pursue a career in the industry. Dupont is a sponsored Eddie Bauer adventure athlete, and McKenna was recently part of an all-female team that produced a documentary called, “Shifting Ice, Changing Tides” about skiing in Greenland. Both women have made appearances in Warren Miller films.
Rounding out the panel are Wyatt Caldwell and Griffin Post. Wyatt grew up snowboarding for SVSEF and has competed at many different levels as the sport evolved. He and his brother Yancy are part of Stellar Media an “action adventure content solution” media company.   After leaving Sun Valley, Post established his position in the ski world with an impressive series of podium results on the Freeride World Tour between 2006 and 2009. He currently is a sponsored athlete, growing his brand through filming and writing.
The Life after SVSEF event provides an excellent opportunity for these alums to share their wealth of knowledge and experience in the ski industry with current athletes, their parents and general public. The format of the event is an informal Q&A where SVSEF members can seek insight and guidance from their older counterparts about how to incorporate skiing and boarding into their lives beyond high school.
The event will take place on Sunday, December 27th from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. in the SVSEF Engl Training Center at Warm, Springs. The forum is free and open to the public.

th-11Adventurer and skier McKenna Peterson

Photo courtesy of Shifting Ice

-Story by Matt Leidecker

Gilt Complex: SVSEF Racers Medal in IMD Opener at Jackson Hole

SVSEF coaches Rick Kapala and Tommy Smith took a group of 32 racers to the Johnny Curtis Memorial races at Trail Creek in Jackson, Wyoming, and zeal for skiing was as contagious as flu in February.
"It was such a good weekend as a team," Kapala wrote to his athletes. "(A) really solid job at Jackson to all of you. Lots of team support and enthusiasm and really big efforts. Thanks for getting us coaches so psyched!"
The Intermountain Points Series consisted of a three-kilometer classic with interval start Friday and longer mass start freestyle Saturday. The gauntlet was thrown on Friday with SVSEF racers taking 10 podium finishes. Throughout the series, SVSEF racers displayed their depth with 12 different medalists.
The U18 Junior Men's group flexed its muscle in the opener, sweeping the podium with Ben Brunelle leading the charge, winning in 9:06, followed by Leo Lukens second in 9:09, and Eli Jensen third in 9:14.
"Then we kept right on going with a total of 10 of the top 11 places," Kapala said, noting the finish placements of Peter Wolter-4, Carter Ros-5, Max Polito-6, Luke Breechen-8, River Vorse-9, Henry Raff-10, Keene Morawitz-11, Cooper Roquet-17, Jacob Truxal-18 and Oier Ibergallratu-21. 52 men finished the race.
Lukash Platil and Danny Graves went one-two in the Junior Men's U20 class with Platil winning in 9:03 - the fastest time of the day. Tim Regan was 7th. Loni Unser collected 4th in the U20 Junior Women's division.
Logan Smith captured the U14 (12-13) Junior Women's podium winning her class by 13 seconds. Kate Horowitz was 9th. Cash Dart was runner-up in the U14 Junior Men's class. Moving up an age class, Johnny Hagenbuch scaled the podium in first place in the U16 Junior Men's division. In a chock-full field of 53, Joe Hall finished a solid 19th.
U16 racers Sophia Mazzoni and Lily Brunelle were second and third in the Junior Women's class. Ella Wolter (6th), Kirsys Campbell (8th), Chloe Tanous (9th) and Eve Jensen (10th) joined their teammates in the top 10 in a field of 32 finishers. Laine Allison was 13th and Katherine Estep 17th.
"The U16 girls put together a very solid effort," Kapala said.
In the U18 women's class, Emily Siegel continues to build form and function after rehabilitating a torn ACL last season, skiing to 11th place. Teammate Ellie Polk was 13th.
Over a three-kilometer distance, Logan Smith repeated as U14 champion on Saturday and Cash Dart skated to second place. Kate Horowitz moved up to 6th place.
Over a 5k distance, Johnny Hagenbuch was the silver medalist in the U16 class and Joe Hall 22nd. Lily Brunelle, Ella Wolter, Sophia Mazzoni, Kirsys Campbell and Eve Jensen went 5-10 in the U16 Junior Women's division. The quintet finished between 1:08 and 1:38 off the first-place pace of Sydney Palmer-Leger of PCNSC.
SVSEF's U18 crop showed anyone is capable of winning on any day with Peter Wolter claiming victory and setting the standard with the fastest time on the day of 19:56 over 7.5k. He was the only racer to break the 20-minute mark at that distance, although teammate Max Polito came with a hairsbreadth, finishing second in 20.01. Eli Jensen was third, Luke Brecheen 4th, Ben Brunelle 5th, Henry Raff 7th, and Leo Lukens 10th. Also, Cooper Roquet-11, Keene Morawitz-12, Carter Ros-14, River Vorse-19, Oier Ibergallartu-21, and Jacob Truxal-33.
Emily Siegel finished 11th and Ellie Polk 21st in the U18 women's 7.5k.
Danny Graves and Luk Platil swapped spots as top dog in the U20 class with Graves winning the men's 7.5k in 20:08. Loni Unser was 4th.
Competitive racers will travel to Houghton, Michigan, at the end of this month for the U.S. World Junior Scando Trials.


SVSEF racers - great competitors and comrades. Cooper Roquet is cheered on by his teammates.

SVSEF, Sawtooth Mountain Guides Offer Avalanche 1 Certification

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is offering the first installment of its Mountain Adventure Curriculum in conjunction with Sawtooth Mountain Guides. The two organizations are teaming up to provide an Avalanche 1 Certification for youth athletes.
The educational opportunity consists of a backcountry skiing up to Williams Peak Yurt in the Sawtooth Mountains and spending three days learning backcountry safety and survival skills. Participants will leave early on December 19, head up to the yurt and spend the remainder of that day through Dec. 21, going through all the aspects of how to safely navigate avalanche terrain. The trip returns to the Engl Training Center around dinnertime on the 21.
Learning Outcomes

  • Understand key decision making concepts and how these affect our risk
  • Develop a trip plan and choose appropriate terrain before heading into the backcountry
  • Learn to make and record appropriate field observations
  • Work as a team to make good decisions and terrain choices
  • Practice safe travel techniques in avalanche terrain
  • Demonstrate effective companion rescue during realistic scenarios

This course is open to all SVSEF athletes ages 15 and up, and participants will be required to have alpine touring skis, and a medium sized backpack for each day. Food while at the yurt is included and avalanche rescue gear is available to use while on the trip. Estimated cost of the trip is $650. To register, go to "My Account" on SVSEF homepage and click on "Projects."
Additional details and a full equipment list will be provided closer to the trip.
Attached is Sawtooth Mountains Guide’s description of their typical AIARE Level 1 Hut Trip.

Photos courtesy of Sawtooth Mountain Guides


Second Set of USSA Super Tour Races in the Books

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation welcomed a high-caliber field of nearly 200 competitors for USSA Super Tour races Saturday and Sunday at Lake Creek.

Classic was the discipline for sprint and distance racing on the Lake Creek Trail System, which was made possible by Mother Nature and the hard work of volunteers. SVSEF Assistant Program Director Kelley Sinnott remarked, “Visiting coaches and officials at the event were complimentary of the recently revamped 2.2k and 1.3k courses and were impressed that with the help of many volunteers and shovels SVSEF was able to provide such a high-quality course so early in the snow season.”
As expected, one of the nation’s leading sprinters, Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess of Bend Endurance Academy won the men’s sprint final over Reese Hanneman of Alaska-Pacific University. SVSEF Gold Team member Miles Havlick claimed the B Final, finishing seventh overall. Former SVSEF post-grad Kevin Bolger (University of Utah) was runner-up to Havlick. Gold racers Ben Lustgarten, Cole Morgan and Matt Gelso bowed out in the quarterfinals.
APU’s Becca Rorabaugh led the women’s sprints over Craftsbury Racing Project skiers Kaitlynn Miller and Caitlin Patterson. SVSEF Gold Team racer Deedra Irwin was seventh overall and the winner of the B Final. SVSEF alum Sloan Storey (University of Utah) and Annie Pokorny (Statton Mountain School) both cracked the top 20.
women's podiumIn the Junior Women’s sprint, SVSEF’s Annika Landis landed on the podium in third place – the same day she learned of her acceptance at Middlebury College. Lily Brunelle, a second-year U16, was sixth overall. Teammate Ella Wolter was 12th.
APU swept the top spots on the podium Sunday with former SVSEF Gold Team racer Chelsea Holmes winning the women’s10k in 31:29. She crossed the finish line .09.7 ahead of teammate Rorabaugh. Patterson was third. Once again, Irwin had a great day finishing 14th in 34:25. Storey was 11th in 34:05 and Pokorny 16th in 34:29.
Scott Patterson was a half-minute ahead of the field, winning the men’s 15k in 40:35. Colorado University’s Mads Stroem was second in 41:07 and Eric Packer (APU) third in 41:09. A trio of SVSEF racers cracked the top ten Havlick eighth in 41:54, Lustgarten ninth in 42:02 and Gelso tenth in 42:17. Rogan Brown was 12th in 42:36.
“Racers were greeted by another beautiful Sun Valley blue sky day and despite low snow conditions were able to compete on a well groomed but difficult hilly course,” Sinnott said.
Older junior racers competed over the same distance as seniors. Lukash Platil (33rd overall) stepped up on the podium in third place with a time of 45:48. Thomas O’Harra of APU won the race in 43:58. Max Polito was sixth in 47:26, Leo Lukens ninth in 48:06, Danny Graves 10th in 48:14, Eli Jensen 11th in 48:48, Carter Ros 13th in 49:36, Keene Morawitz 17th in 50:43, Henry Raff 18th in 50:45, Luke Brecheen 22nd in 52:58, River Vorse 24th in 53:35, Landon Nurge 28th in 54:45. Max Tanous did not finish.
Stratton Mountain’s Katharine Ogden won the junior class 10k in 32:37. Landis (28th overall) clocked in at 37-minutes flat to place seventh. Ellie Polk was 18th in 42:07, Loni Unser 20th in 43:10 and Emily Siegel returned from last year’s knee injury with a 21st in 43:13.
U16 racers competed over a 4.4-kilometer distance. Johnny Hagenbuch was second in 15:05. Joe Hall placed sixth in 16:04 and Aidan Burchmore seventh in 20:40. Lily Brunelle’s time of 17:30 vaulted her in to third place. Teammates Sophia Mazzoni (18:01), Ella Wolter (18:10) and Jenna Nurge (18:22) went 4-5-6.
SVSEF girls and boys swept the U14 2.2 kilometer race. With a time of 9:07, Anja Jensen led teammates Logan Smith (9:11), Luci Ludwig (10:16) and Elle Mann (11:14) placing first through fourth. SVSEF boys repeated the feat with Cash Dart (8:20) first, followed by Sebi Radl-Jones (9:53), Jake Gorham (10:12) and Alex Shafer (10:46).
“All in all it was a great weekend of skiing and competition at Lake Creek,” Sinnott said.

Complete results may be found at

Know Before You Go: SVSEF to offer Wilderness First Aid Course

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is offering a Wilderness First Aid course for all athletes ages 15 and older. The course is administered through Wilderness Medicine Institute and part of SVSEF's Mountain Adventure Curriculum. 

"This course has been very popular and sold out the last two seasons," SVSEF Alpine Program Director Scott McGrew said. "This is knowledge all athletes and outdoor enthusiasts should have. Every activity we do has the potential to become a situation requiring medical assistance. The information in this course can help you make the right decision when necessary."

Athletes who are younger than 15 and are interested in the course need to contact McGrew before registering. The Wilderness First Aid certification is good for two years and the course can also be submitted to most colleges for one credit. For more information on WMI visit

The course will be staged on Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1 with students meeting at SVSEF's Engl Training Center at 215 Picabo Street at Warm Springs. Classwork will take place inside and outside. Sessions run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with registration beginning at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday. The cost is $175. Additional details and registration are available online through the SVSEF website via the following steps: 

  • Log in to your SVSEF account under "My Account" 
  • Click "Events"
  • Click "Wilderness First Aid"


SVSEF and Rotarun team up to present LASAR Program for area youth

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and Rotarun Ski Area are excited to announce they will join forces this winter to present the SVSEF LASAR Program for the youth of the Wood River Valley.
“The LASAR (Learn Alpine Skiing and Racing) program was launched nearly a decade ago by SVSEF veteran alpine coaches Adele and Pat Savaria. It was designed to provide an after-school program for kids who couldn’t ski due to financial constraints or the logistical challenges of getting kids to Baldy or Dollar. LASAR has had an incredible and positive impact over the years and affected hundreds of children along the way,” said Scott McGrew, SVSEF’s alpine program director.
For the coming 2015-16 winter, the SVSEF alpine program will deliver the LASAR program, providing a professional coaching staff, support, and content in line with the SVSEF Athlete Teaching System. Instruction for 6-11 year olds will take place every Wednesday and Friday after school, 3:30-5:50 p.m. at Art Richards Mountain (Rotarun) west of Hailey. It will begin in January and run for eight weeks through the end of February, covering 16 sessions of instruction. The cost for LASAR is $150, which includes a season pass for Rotarun.
Jesse Foster, president of Rotarun BOD remarked, “With the newly-formed partnership between Rotarun and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the LASAR program is going to be even better than ever. Kids who attend school in the south valley are going to get outstanding and consistent coaching - all with the convenience and safety of skiing at Rotarun after school. Members of the LASAR program can translate these newfound skills and confidence to the slopes of Baldy.”
McGrew concurred, “I’m really excited to be partnering with Rotarun Mountain to help deliver this program to our community. Rotarun is an incredible teaching venue that provides the ideal classroom for introducing and refining fundamental skiing skills. Having a place for kids to go after school, and to be learning from our incredible devo team staff is a great opportunity. My hope is that kids will emerge from this program with a deeper love for the outdoors and the sport of alpine skiing.”
Iconic assets to the greater Wood River Valley, SVSEF and Rotarun are dedicated to engaging kids with the great outdoors and winter sports.
“In my mind, every kid who grows up in this valley should have the opportunity to cultivate a love of skiing. It is what this community is about and this program is designed to celebrate and inspire that vision,” McGrew said.
If you would like to sign your child up for the LASAR Program, please visit and click on “My Account.”
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