With the holidays right around the corner, we’ve all been inundated with countless messages of sales and deals. Today, we’re taking a moment in the whirlwind of it all to celebrate Giving Tuesday – a day that acknowledges and encourages the collective power of a unique blend of partners in our community to transform how people think, talk and participate in the giving season. #GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities by giving back to organizations that strengthen and improve the lives of those who live there.
50 years strong, the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is a cornerstone nonprofit organization in the Wood River Valley that exemplifies and promotes core values of excellence, good sportsmanship, passion, perseverance and teamwork through winter sports. Team members, ages 6-27, acquire tools for success to help them excel in any arena, be it athletic or academic, learn to set and achieve goals and see obstacles as stepping stones. SVSEF athletes and their families enrich our community, fortifying the economic sustainability and cultural vitality of our valley.
SVSEF currently serves 572 student-athletes offering instruction, training and competitive opportunities in five winter disciplines; alpine, cross country, snowboarding, freestyle and freeskiing. Our 9-12th grade student-athletes compiled a collective 3.45 GPA last season and of our 26 graduating seniors, 25 were accepted to notable colleges and universities with six deferring to take a post-grad year to continue competing.
SVSEF’s mission is to provide exceptional snowsport programs for the youth of the Wood River Valley, thereby enabling each participant to reach his/her athletic potential while developing strong personal character through sportsmanship, solid values and individual goals. For the 2016-17 season, SVSEF awarded $250,000 in financial aid, ensuring each child who would like to participate on one of our teams has the ability and access to do so. As tuition only covers half of SVSEF’s annual operating budget, outside donations bridge the financial gap between program tuitions and the true cost of delivering world-class programing.
Please open your email from SVSEF to celebrate #GivingTuesday with us, or consider donating today, here.

November Newsletter

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

Cross Country Gold and PG Teams Make Strides at Frozen Thunder Camp

Hundreds of truckloads of snow later, Canmore opened their “Frozen Thunder” trail to cross country skiers on October 22. The Alberta Parks Canmore Nordic Centre saves man-made snow over the summer and spreads it over 2km of trail each year. Among those who made the trek to Alberta were the SVSEF Cross Country Gold and PG Teams. Set against the striking backdrop of the Canadian Rockies, SVSEF skiers spent the week fitting in a high-volume block of training that was both technique and tactic intensive. The group made significant progress in their final preparation heading into the race season, with the advantage of early season skiing and a couple race efforts to cap it all off.
The first race of the camp took place on October 28, with a 7.5 km freestyle for women and 12 km for men. SVSEF Gold Team skier Mary Rose took sixth in the women’s event, and teammate Matt Gelso skied into second place, just 4.6 seconds out of first. Sarah Goble, a PG skier for SVSEF, had a strong showing with a second place finish in the junior women category.
The second event of the week was a classic sprint, which consisted of a morning qualifier followed by three heats in a “King’s Court” format. This unique style involves heats in which competitors are seeded based on their qualifier. In the heat races, the top two move up a bracket, while the bottom two move back. On Tuesday, heats went off every minute, which lent plenty of action and excitement to the day. Variable conditions, with two inches of fresh snow from the night before on top of the old man-made tracks, made for interesting waxing that went from hardwax to klister, with constant changes in between. By the end of it all, some competitors were opting to double pole in the final heats. Top SVSEF results came from Gold Team skier Kelsey Phinney, who took first overall in the women’s race. Teammate Mary Rose finished fourth, and Jack Hegman claimed third in the men’s event.
The teams head back to Sun Valley today to continue training before they head to West Yellowstone at the end of November. Following a tune-up race there on November 25, the first Super Tour races of the season will be in Bozeman, Montana, December 3-4.
(For a recap of the Frozen Thunder distance races, read the FasterSkier article here.)

Update from Alpine Fall Europe Camp



The SVSEF alpine contingent that is currently training in Europe has left the land of pretzels and brats to ski in the open air at Solden, Austria. GS training starts today for the 24 athletes and five coaches after a travel day Friday and an off day Saturday.
The team completed a four-day slalom block in Wittenburg, Germany, on Thursday. The block consisted of seven 2-hour sessions, and athletes were able to get about 12 runs each session, complete with drill work, drill courses and tall gate courses. The indoor ski dome features 0.33km stretches of very smooth, icy terrain. Said FIS coach Nate Schwing on training at the venue, “on a surface such as this one, athletes get immediate feedback if they are in our out of balance, on the inside or outside ski, and if their skis are arcing or sliding. The surface requires good form to be successful.”
The group’s energy has been high all week, and the athletes have been hard at work with busy days full of skiing, video, recovery and homework.
Concluded Schwing, “this indoor arena can challenge an athlete’s relationship with the sport and in the last four days we have had motivated and positive athletes. This makes for a very positive and productive group environment.”
We’ll be back with an update from Solden.[osd_social_media_sharing]

SVPN's Oct/Nov/Dec 2016 Issue Features SVSEF

Click on the image above for the full article

Race to the Top

SVSEF Gold Team cross country skier Matt Gelso drives it home to take third in the men's race division of the Baldy Hill Climb.

It’s a beast of a thing, to book it straight up the side of a mountain, with little to no variation in grade that might grant one a moment of reprieve. A total of 172 competitors determined to tackle Baldy by foot, and 24 by bike, for the 38th annual Baldy Hill Climb on Saturday.
Although there were no new course records set on Saturday, the fields were competitive across the board for the 1.86 mile, 3,140 foot climb. The SVSEF Cross Country Gold Team swept the podium in the men’s race division, which had a field of 59 competitors. Newcomer Jack Hegman hammered to the top of Baldy to take the win in a time of 35:31. He was 27 seconds off the record of 35:04, set by former SVSEF Gold Team cross country skier Miles Havlick in 2004. Teammate Rogan Brown was in second with a time of 35:55, and Matt Gelso rounded out the podium with a time of 36:05.
In the women’s field of 38 racers, SVSEF skier Mary Rose claimed the overall title with a time of 44:13. Rose is a repeat champ, having last won the race in 2014. Second-year Gold Team skier Deedra Irwin was the second woman to finish, with a time of 46:01. SVSEF Cross Country Comp Team coach, Kristen Monahan, took a break from her normal role to jump into the fray; Monahan had a strong showing with a third place finish in 46:46. Gold Team skiers Kelsey Phinney and Annie Pokorny finished fourth and fifth in 47:34 and 48:17, respectively.
The Cheeso Double had an impressive showing this year with 18 racers opting to hoof it to the top twice. Racers competed in the bike race first, which wound up the Cold Springs trail, took a momentary breath on the chairlift, and then ascended the mountain again on foot in the race category. Sawyer Kesselheim won the men’s Cheeso Double in a combined time of 1:44:49. Second was Eric Chizum (1:47:32), and Bill Nurge was third (1:51:48). Naty Nurge took the win in the women’s event with a combined time of 2:21:21; she was followed by Isabella Smith in second (2:33:19), and Muffy Ritz in third (2:35:55).
There were some repeats in bike podiums from the Cheeso Double; Eric Chizum won the men’s race (1:05:38) and Sawyer Kesselheim was second (1:05:43). SVSEF alum Reid Pletcher crossed the line in third (1:08:44). Naty Nurge won the women’s bike division (1:26:09), Muffy Ritz cruised to second (1:32:58), and Isabella Smith finished third (1:34:17).
A big thanks to our sponsors ­­– Sun Valley Resort, Sturtevants, The Elephant’s Perch, Backwoods Mountain Sports, Sun Summit, Durance Cycleworks, Salomon, Perry’s Restaurant, Apple’s Bar & Grill, Johnny G’s Subshack and Lefty’s Bar & Grill, and to our volunteers; we couldn’t put on this event without your help and generosity.
Kinder Climb
Hiker, Overall
Hiker, by Gender
Men’s Race
Women’s Race
Race, by Age Group
Cheeso Double

SVSEF Welcomes New Staff to the Team

Chuck Harris
Chuck Harris

Chuck Harris, Alpine Men’s FIS Prep Program Head Coach

SVSEF welcomes Chuck Harris to the program, who comes to us with over 20 years of coaching experience. Harris will fill the new role of the Alpine Men’s FIS Prep Program Head Coach. To further define and support the FIS Team going into the 2016-2017 season, the Alpine Team has conscientiously delineated programming, and has added a Men’s FIS Prep Program.
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. SVSEF Alpine Program Director Scott McGrew remarked, “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.”

New Snowboard Team Manager, Pat Lee.
Pat Lee

Pat Lee, Snowboard Team Manager

Pat Lee, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is stepping into a new role for SVSEF as Snowboard Team Manager. In this position, Lee will oversee the Snowboard Team operations, as well as coach within the program. The position is embedded in the entire Pipe and Park Program, which is under the leadership of Tyler Conway. Lee attended Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe where he earned his bachelor’s degree in international business. Lee has been a competitive freestyle snowboarder for over a decade. His enthusiasm for winter sports has resonated with his prior occupations; Lee has been a Smith Sport Optics athlete, a member of the operations crew for Prospecting Idaho (a Smith Optics web series/private snow cat operation) for four years, and has worked for the U.S. Snowboard Team in Grand Prix events operations and as head of operations and branding for the Rev Tour. Lee was a coach for SVSEF in 2008, and is looking forward to rejoining the program. Said Lee, “I am truly excited to join the SVSEF snowboarding program, and look forward to working with the talented kids and staff. I am fire up to help the athletes set goals and work towards achieving and developing the skills necessary to exceed their expectations. I love snowboarding and feel it is important to pass the tradition down to future generations.”

Chris Mallory, Cross Country Gold Team Head Coach

Chris Mallory returns to SVSEF and the Wood River Valley after a three-year hiatus, during which time he coached for cross-country powerhouse, the University of Vermont. Mallory will be replacing fellow Vermonter Colin Rodgers as head coach for the SVSEF Cross Country Gold Team, as Rodgers is returning to Vermont to assume the role of Green Mountain Valley School Cross Country Program Director. Mallory grew up racing first out of Colchester, Vermont, and then for the University of New Hampshire. Rick Kapala, SVSEF Program Director, said of Mallory’s hire, “We are really excited to have Chris returning to our SVSEF Cross Country program. Chris has a track record of demonstrated success at every level and he brings the depth of knowledge combined with a high energy work ethic that is critical for success at the Gold Team level.”

Erika with her husband, Carl.
Erika with her husband, Carl.

Erika Rixon, Director of Academics

Erika Rixon is transitioning from the role of Alpine North Series Head Coach to the SVSEF Director of Academics. In this position, Rixon will act as a liaison between SVSEF and the local school systems to better support athletes in balancing school and SVSEF athletics. Rixon will work with school counselors to develop programs that allow athletes to get adequate training while at the same time keeping up with their credit requirements for graduation. Rixon is no stranger to the other side of the equation, with a background in coaching since the 2007-2008 season, and having been a successful student-athlete herself. Rixon grew up skiing in the east before she attended the University of Colorado and the University of Utah for her undergraduate degree in sociology, during which time she also raced for the NCAA Alpine Ski Team. Rixon earned a M.A. in sport and performance psychology in 2012 from the University of the Rockies. With SVSEF, Rixon was an assistant coach for the U18-U21 program, before moving into the position of Head Women’s FIS coach. In the 2014-2015 season she traveled the World Cup circuit as a coach for Hailey Duke, before returning to SVSEF in her role as North Series Team Head Coach. Said Rixon on the importance of this program, “I watched so many kids phase out of skiing after years and hours of commitment and dedication for various reasons, but one is often times that school is hard to manage with how much is missed. Therefore, I look forward to the opportunity to make sure that the kids are getting the best of both worlds, education and ski, while recognizing that their ski career can be involved in their lives even after SVSEF.”

September Newsletter

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

2016 Golf for Gold Recap

The winning team of (L-R) Tom Van Hamerlyck, John Iosonides, Marc Reinemann and Keith Reidy with their trophy.

Although golf is fundamentally a competitive sport, it was a leisurely and genial Tuesday for SVSEF Golf for Gold participants at the Bigwood Golf Course in Ketchum – the focus of the day was on having a good time and raising funds for the SVSEF Gold Team. The event drew 19 teams of four, who competed in a nine-hole scramble. In a scramble, all players tee off, choose the best shot and continue to play in that manner. The score consists of the lowest number of strokes on each hole.
The winning team this year with a score of 27 was comprised of Marc Reinemann, Keith Reidy, Tom Van Hamerlyck and John Iosonides. The competition was tight, as the team consisting of Jack Dies, Mike Connelly, Jamie Hjort and Hanley Dawson came in second place in a card-off. In third was the team made up of Jamie Everett, Mark Eshman, Scott Lucas and Scott Harris. Hanley Dawson and Suzanne Walsh harnessed power and strength to earn the Longest Drive Award, while Chris Edwards and SJ McNichol won Closest to the Pin.
The Golf for Gold tournament, which just saw its third go-around, is a recent reinstatement of one of SVSEF’s original fundraisers, the John Harker Memorial Golf Tournament (1981-1991). Proceeds benefit the SVSEF Gold Team, which was formed in 2005 to financially support our elite athletes who compete on an international level. Present at the tournament this year were Gold Team athletes Jacob Beebe, Wing Tai Barrymore, Chase Josey, Cole Morgan, Jack Hegman and Rogan Brown. The evening ended with a buffet dinner with fresh Alaskan salmon thanks to Pride of Bristol Bay and steak prepared by Bigwood Grill. Thank you to Edwards Builders and Washington Federal for sponsoring the event, to Bigwood Golf Course for hosting, to Silver Creek Ford and Goode Motor for the potential hole-in-one prizes of trucks, and to Kelleher Family Vineyard, Pioneer Saloon, Pride of Bristol Bay, Sun Valley Company, The Valley Club, The Cellar, Sushi on Second, Kirk Anderson, Bigwood Bar & Grill and Bigwood Golf Course for their sponsorship and support. A big thanks as well to all of our volunteers and participants; the day was a huge success and we look forward to teeing off with you again next year!
For KMVT's story on the event, click here.

August Newsletter

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