Rotarun Ski Area Invests in Community Winter Recreation with New Snowmaking Infrastructure

[et_pb_section fb_built="1" _builder_version="3.3.1"][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.3.1"][et_pb_column type="1_2" _builder_version="3.3.1" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_image src="" _builder_version="3.3.1"][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2" _builder_version="3.3.1" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.3.1"]Rotarun Ski Area has been a community endeavor from the start. After World War II, it was used by locals who boot packed up and skied down. 1948 Winter Olympian Ann Janet Winn began using Rotarun as a site to teach Hailey kids how to ski, and in 1941 a group of locals constructed a tractor-and-pulley rope tow out of old farm equipment, marking the establishment of the ski hill. The ski area formally became a nonprofit in 1964, when the Arkoosh family supported the foundation of Rotarun Ski Club, Inc. For generations, area individuals and businesses have pulled together to improve and preserve Rotarun Ski Area as a place for the community to celebrate winter sport. From its inception, Rotarun’s mission has always been to provide affordable access to locals. Fueled by passionate volunteers, local businesses,organizations, and donors, Rotarun has worked its way into the hearts and minds of generations of skiers and riders. In the spirit of Rotarun’s roots, the community is once again rolling up its sleeves and investing in Rotarun to maintain its place as our “little mountain with a big heart” for the Wood River Valley.  
[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.3.1"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.3.1" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.3.1"]Rotarun Ski Area is situated to undergo a number of long-anticipated improvements, intended to ensure its longevity and grow and develop its role in the community as a place to inspire recreation and access for youth and adults alike. Rotarun offers public skiing throughout the winter season, and the local nonprofit organization Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) utilizes Rotarun Ski Area as a venue to both introduce children to winter sports through its Rota-Rippers and LASAR programs, and hone the skills of its elite-level skiers and riders. 
Thirty years in the works, Rotarun is finalizing its initial phase of installing snowmaking. For the 2019/20 season, the nonprofit ski area will have snowmaking on the lower section of the hill, enabling Rotarun to establish a base of snow on the lower skier’s left of the mountain. There has been a significant amount of work done behind the scenes to ensure that the upcoming changes to the Rotarun property are appropriately scaled and engineered for the betterment of both the Rotarun Ski Area and the Sage Springs neighborhood.
[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.3.1"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.3.1" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_image src="" _builder_version="3.3.1"][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.3.1"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.3.1" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.3.1"]“Installing snowmaking at Rotarun has been a dream for our community for over 30 years. The aspect of the hill and its consistently cold temperatures make it an ideal location. The vision has been to create a system that is both efficient and aligned with the local spirit of the area.
Through the incredible generosity of the Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Heyward Foundation, The Janice Seagraves Family Foundation, generations of Rotarun board members, and a great many others, we are ecstatic that this incredible community asset will continue to provide a place for all of us to enjoy the winter in an authentic and inspired way, for generations to come. This is a magnificent step forward to further inspire our winter-loving community.”  
Other Rotarun Ski Area improvements include a design upgrade to the lodge, with a kitchen and bathroom remodel project to help with usability. McGrew is also working with The Hillside Ranch and The Sun Valley Garden Center to procure larger spruce trees, with the intention of placing them around the border of the property to improve overall aesthetics and better integrate the existing infrastructure.
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None of these endeavors would be remotely feasible without the generosity of time and resources from a number of community partners.  

“We cannot say ‘thank you’ enough to our local supporters who believe in this ski hill, and its role in our community,” said McGrew. “Lunceford Excavation and Webb Nursery provided incredible donations to help with the significant and costly work required to remediate a mudslide we experienced last spring. Wilro Plumbing, Wood River Electric, Levatan Appliance, BC Builders, Ferguson Supplies, Sun Valley Rug and Tile, Mountain Land Design, and Idaho Lumber and Ace Hardware have all leaned in to make this lodge improvement project come to life for our kids and community. We are beyond thrilled!”

Rotarun is planning its annual family friendly New Year’s Eve event and hosting free community ski and ride sessions throughout the upcoming winter. Visit for more information and details on calendars, and ways to get involved.
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2019 Gary Black Jr. Memorial Results

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SVSEF Warm Springs Parking Passes Available

Prime parking at the base of Warm Springs in plowed lot, directly across the street from newly renovated Warm Springs Lodge; good for the entire 2018-19 season.

Sun Valley Co. Season Passes

For the 2017-2018 season, SVSEF athletes will purchase Sun Valley season passes directly from Sun Valley Company.

  • For Blaine County students, season passes are $415.
  • Passes will be available at the River Run ticketing office beginning October 27, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Athletes will not be able to pick up passes during the weekend of Thanksgiving – please pick up by Wednesday, November 22.
  • Payment must be made before (you can call ahead) or at the time of pass pickup.
  • The waiver (downloadable version below) must be completed and turned in at the time of pass pickup. Parents with athletes under 18 years old must sign the form.
  • When picking up their passes, athletes must tell the ticket office that they are a SVSEF athlete.
  • PG and out-of-county athletes can purchase passes at the college pass rate of $469. These athletes must notify SVSEF prior to purchasing, in order to have their name on the list.


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Questions? Call the SVSEF office at 208.726.4129.

2017 Golf for Gold Recap

Originally slated for September 14 before a heavy downpour demanded postponement, SVSEF’s fourth annual Golf for Gold was held under sunny skies and prime conditions on September 28 at Bigwood Golf Course. The fundraising event drew fifteen teams of four to the green for a nine-hole scramble, followed by dinner on the deck provided by Bigwood Grill.
Taking home the win on the day was the team of Pete Atkinson, Riley Berman, Neil Bradshaw and Will Brandenburg with a 9-under 27. Along with the glory that comes with winning a championship, the team took home Vodka courtesy of Distilled Resources and SVSEF ball caps.
In an unprecedented three-way tie for second with a score of 29, the team of Rick Kapala, Yancy Caldwell, Chase Cleveland and Barrett Molter secured silver by way of a card off on the fourth hole, in honor of the event’s fourth anniversary.
Not wanting in fervor and enthusiasm, Chad Pringle, Brian Caulkins, Kirk Mason and John Shay took last with a score of 38. The team departed with vintage SVSEF caps and face shields. Boasting Longest Drive were Mimi Griswold and Chase Cleveland; for their efforts, they were awarded Sushi on Second gift certificates. Julie Potter and Will Brandenburg earned SVSEF Gold Team jackets for Closest to the Pin.
Thank you to Hank and Heather Minor, who reopened the restaurant for the event and provided a beautiful dinner on the deck, to staff Janet, Mike and George for their hard work and to Billy Weidner and his staff at Bigwood Golf Course. Our thanks also extend to contributors Matt Luck of Pride of Bristol Bay, Sushi on Second, SQN of Sun Valley Distilled Resources, Washington Federal and the SVSEF Gold Team.
Golf for Gold supports the SVSEF Cross Country Gold Team athletes, who compete at the elite national and international levels. This year’s team is comprised of Kevin Bolger, Rogan Brown, Matt Gelso, Jack Hegman, Cole Morgan, Kelsey Phinney and Mary Rose. If you would like to learn more about how to support these athletes in their endeavors, please contact SVSEF Director of Development Cynthia Knight (, 208.726.4129).

Click here for more photos from the event.

OEC Training and Certification Course to be Offered in October

Photo by IMD National Ski Patrol

SVSEF is offering an Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) training and certification course to the public during the month of October. OEC is considered the standard of training for emergency care in the outdoor environment. It is recognized by resorts and recreational facilities in all 50 states, and is the National Ski Patrol’s training program for patrollers.
The course will take place October 3-20, with classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The course combines online and classroom work, with classes held at the SVSEF Engl training facility at Warm Springs. A practical and multiple choice test will be administered the week following the course (dates TBD).
This course is free for SVSEF alpine staff (upon successful program completion) and $600 for all others.
If you have questions or would like to register, please contact Alpine Program Director Scott McGrew (208.726.4129,

2016-2017 Annual Report

Our 2016-2017 annual report is here – have a look for season recaps, stats, photos and finances.


The SVSEF Nordic Legacy Project: Sagewillow Roller Ski Trails and Roller Ski Treadmill Facility

Gold Team skier Mary Rose takes to the Dumke Family Sagewillow Campus Roller Ski Trails at Community School.

For cross country skiers, the dryland season is a critical time for training, when hours stack up and a foundation is built in anticipation of winter. SVSEF cross country skiers have it pretty good in terms of summer training opportunities – the valley is teeming with trails suited for long runs, and a substantial, well-maintained bike path system features heavily in roller ski workouts. Ask any New England skier who grew up bouncing along on old rough pavement with traffic zooming by, and you’ll realize how ideal this situation is. How does one build upon this and maximize potential? With the Nordic Legacy Project, SVSEF, in partnership with Community School, has taken the initiative to advance the athletic level of its programming. Critical to athlete progression is technical work, calculated fitness assessment and targeted training. Phase One of the Nordic Legacy Project has focused on these facets of the sport in the form of acquiring a state-of-the-art roller ski treadmill and paving a 1.5-kilometer loop, specifically for roller ski workouts. Both elements of the new roller ski facility are located at Community School’s Dumke Family Sagewillow Campus.
Coach Paul Smith gives the treadmill a test. Click on image for video.

As far as Program Director Rick Kapala knows, SVSEF is the only club in the U.S. with its own treadmill at its disposal. There are other treadmills around the country, but they are associated with university testing labs – meaning that club skiers may be able to use them for training, but they are not necessarily readily available.
A primary benefit of the roller ski treadmill is that it enables coaches to effectively assess fitness improvements. As a controlled environment, where speed, incline and length of time can be monitored, the treadmill allows accurate comparisons to be made when looking at an athlete’s fitness over time. Kapala noted that SVSEF has done things in the past like running assessments on normal treadmills, but this sport isn’t running; it’s skiing, and it employs the upper and lower body simultaneously. Therefore, the best way to get a measure of progress during training is to utilize testing protocol on a roller ski treadmill, which most accurately represents the movements made on snow.
Another advantage of the treadmill is the immediacy it brings to focused technique work. On the wall in front of the treadmill is a large mirror, meaning athletes can watch themselves and their body positioning in real time. As a stationary piece of equipment, coaches can now stand beside their athlete and give constructive feedback more effectively. Instead of instantaneously trying to keep up with the athlete, avoid people and cars and dogs, and assess the athlete’s form as they’re wont to do on the bike path, coaches’ attention is solely on the athlete. The adjustment features of the treadmill also make technique work more effective, as parameters may be set; a skier won’t run out of hill while focusing on V1 technique on the treadmill.
A third benefit of SVSEF’s new equipment is the ability to do specific kinds of workouts. Kapala gave the following example:

Let’s say somebody wants to work to improve his or her aerobic threshold. We can put them on a treadmill at exactly the speed and incline that they need to be at to work that particular heart rate zone and develop the capacities they’re focusing on. When you're in an outdoor setting, the terrain is always changing. So it’s a lot easier to dial in exactly what we want to work on.

Kapala and his coaches have already seen the positive effect of having the treadmill for athletes with injuries. As it’s a very safe, flat, reliable surface, athletes on their way to recovery from injury can utilize the treadmill for workouts, both for rehabilitation of that injury and to stay on track. Whereas he or she may not be cleared to train outdoors, the treadmill adds a dependable alternative.
The cross country program is hoping to eventually develop the treadmill in concert with a robust sports physiology testing lab. Kapala explained that, “it will not only benefit our own team in terms of more accurately assessing aerobic and anaerobic development, but also may allow us to provide service to the community. By being able to partner with a university such as Boise State University, we can engage a level of expertise as a resource, and we really think that can help us down the road.”
In addition to the treadmill, the Sagewillow Campus now features roller ski trails; 1.5 kilometers of paved road, with limitable access to cars in order to provide a safe setting for roller skiers. Without the distractions related to the bike path; namely, other users, dogs, cars at road crossings and unpredictable conditions, athletes and coaches are able to optimize their effectiveness with training. SVSEF, in conjunction with Community School, has already used the loop to this effect; the 2017 Cross Country NNF/U.S. Ski Team National U16 Camp was just hosted in Sun Valley, and featured workouts at Community School’s Dumke Family Sagewillow Campus. Coaches were able to execute high velocity training sessions with a large group of athletes in a safe setting, and were able to conduct some really great workouts. On top of that, the program is seeing that it’s not only the older, experienced athletes who are benefitting from the paving of the new roller ski facility. Said Kapala, “it’s a perfect place to take younger skiers to work on their roller ski skills. The pavement is super smooth, the terrain is very forgiving and there are a lot of terrain elements there that allow coaches to be able to work on V1, work on V2, and have it all be so close that it’s really easy to organize practices there.” He explained that, “it’s hard to manage younger kids on the bike path. With the loop setting at Sagewillow, they are constantly going by. The effectiveness of coaching goes up, because the facility lends itself to this looping, where you get a chance to work with kids in a variety of terrain, frequently.”
Even with the new loop, athletes still utilize the bike path for training, for variety and for specific workout goals. The proximity of the bike path to the athletic complex allows for flexibility; you can pull right out of Sagewillow, and you're on the Elkhorn system. All in all, Kapala believes that the roller ski facility “really lends itself to creative and effective training design.” In looking forward, he noted that there is potential to do additional paving in future phases, which would only broaden the possibilities for that creativity.
Upcoming phases of the Nordic Legacy Project include renovations to the interior of the Lake Creek hut, which hasn’t seen any such improvements since building completion in the early 2000s. Another aim is to purchase both transportation and trail maintenance vehicles. If you’d like to learn more about the Nordic Legacy Project, or if you’re interested in contributing, please contact Rick Kapala (, Cynthia Knight ( or Sam Adicoff (
SVSEF would like to thank everyone who has helped make this project a success – from the donors, to the Community School​ Board of Directors, the SVSEF Board of Directors, and to all of the local businesses – thank you so much for your contributions and support.