SVSEF Assumes Rotarun Ski Area Operations

© Glen Allison

Since its inception in the early 1950s, the nonprofit Rotarun Ski Area in Hailey, Idaho, has been geared toward building community through engagement in affordable alpine skiing. The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) will continue to foster this initiative through its recent agreement to take over the management of ski operations for the 2017-2018 season. The organization will manage grooming, staffing, lifts and maintenance in order to continue to offer public session skiing, as well as SVSEF after-school alpine programming with a primary focus on providing affordable learn-to-ski programs for south valley residents.
Jesse Foster, president of the Rotarun Ski Area board of directors for five years and a member of the board since 2011, explained how the two organizations have a symbiotic relationship beneficial for a transition at this time. “Rotarun is the perfect venue for SVSEF to achieve its mission. Without SVSEF participation and programming, Rotarun is not able to complete its mission of providing a community-based seasonal activity facility and offering affordable day and night recreational activities and educational opportunities for people of all ages.” In introducing new programs and increasing participation, SVSEF looks to develop the sustainability of the venue. Said Foster, “SVSEF held its LASAR program at Rotarun last year, and while it was only two days a week for about two thirds of the season, it counted for over half of Rotarun’s skier days.”
SVSEF will be doubling access to south valley youth with the introduction of Rota-Rippers, an additional alpine after-school program. Much like LASAR, the Learn to Alpine Ski and Race program that saw a successful 2016-2017 season, Rota-Rippers is a developmental entry-level ski program for kids starting at five years old. The new Rota-Rippers program will be particularly focused on entry-level and first generation skiers.
SVSEF Alpine Program Director Scott McGrew described the benefits of expanded programming. “We believe that every kid in the Wood River Valley should have the opportunity to engage winter sport, build confidence, and establish a lifelong relationship with the mountains around them. The ability to provide after-school winter programming is a critical role that Rotarun, and its programs, play. For families who are looking to have their children participate in a professional and high quality program, at an affordable cost, this is an amazing opportunity.”
Both Rotarun and SVSEF are eager to maximize the venue’s potential. McGrew continued, “In an effort to keep Rotarun vibrant, financially viable, and culturally impactful, it is critical that the programming is inspired and meets the needs of our lesser-served community. Replicating what is already in place cannot be the vision; rather, leveraging Rotarun’s unique characteristics to expand the spectrum of opportunity for all is the overarching aim.” Foster echoed these sentiments, saying, “The knowledge that SVSEF offers is derived from the fact that they understand what is needed at this location; from how a surface should look, to what makes a hill safe when kids are ripping down the mountain.”
In continuing Rotarun’s mission of serving as a community hub and encouraging a healthy outdoor lifestyle through snowsports, public session skiing will be available with the purchase of a season pass through SVSEF. Community events such as the Arkoosh Cup will continue to be held at Rotarun, with an events schedule and public session skiing hours to be released later this fall.
SVSEF has created the First Turns Initiative, a donor funded scholarship program to help young athletes afford team fees and gear. The First Turns Initiative has a simple one page application process and is specifically geared toward Rotarun programs. If you would like more information about how you can contribute to the success of Rotarun Ski Area and the programs offered by SVSEF, please contact SVSEF Director of Development Cynthia Knight (; 208.726-4129).
To purchase a season pass or find out more about Rotarun objectives and SVSEF programs associated with Rotarun, please visit or call the administrative office at 208.726.4129.