Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Sun Valley Nordic Season Gets Underway and It’s Expected to be a Big One
BCRD’s Nordic Trails were full of happy skiers and happy dogs on Sunday.
Monday, November 16, 2020


Only one person had made skate ski tracks on the Harriman Trail near the SNRA when a familiar figure appeared, double poling his way down the classic tracks.

At 94, Charley French reckons he has not missed opening day on the Nordic trails around Sun Valley in 45 years, and he wasn’t about to begin now.

“I moved here in 1970 and I skied a hundred days a year on the mountain. Then I realized ‘I’m not getting any better at skiing these moguls,’ so I tried cross country and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.

Charley French, who has competed at World Masters around the world, double poles down the Harriman Trail.

French was one of the last skiers to hang up his skinny skis last winter, skiing Lake Creek and other trails right up until the first of May when the Blaine County Recreation District stopped grooming. And, while he has no opportunities to compete at World Masters this year thanks to the COVID pandemic, he was appreciative of the opportunity to hit the Nordic trails on Nov. 15.

“Isn’t this great!?” he said.

The BCRD groomed most all of its trails Sunday, with the exception of Billy’s Bridge, the Lake Creek trails and the North Fork loop behind SNRA. Even Quigley Nordic in Hailey and the Wood River bike path stretching to Bellevue had gone under the groomer’s magic spell.

With 20 inches of snow—most of it in the past three days—trails were amply covered and yet firm enough that skis did little submarining into the snow.

Charley French, who fought in World War II and helped create the modern ski goggles, still appears to be a fountain of youth at 94 years of age.

“My dog was too little to ski when I first got her last winter,” said Carmen Finnegan as she watched the pooch frolic. “So, this is her first ski.”

Even Sun Valley Nordic has gotten in on the act. Groomers packed runs on Saturday and the Nordic Center informed skiers that it would soon be putting the finishing touches on the trails for what would be the earliest opening the center has had in at least 20 years.

“We skied the classic tracks they put in Friday and I told Nello it was just like the olden days,” said Jenny Busdon.

There are a few early season hiccups.

Jenny Busdon had to leave behind her husband Nello Sunday after he hurt his shoulder shoveling snow.

Someone plowed a new extended bike path along Trail Creek Road that has always served as a cross-country ski trail leading to the Boundary Loop.

A couple skiers said they had to educate joggers that it was time to stop running on the cross-country trails at Lake Creek. And Nordic skiers were reveling in corduroy on the Harriman Trail when a group of people began taking a Sunday stroll on it.

“We’ve got a lot of new people we’re going to have to educate,” said Busdon.

BCRD is preparing for a significant increase in Nordic skiers this winter, said Morgan Buckert, BCRD spokesperson. BCRD sold 1,900 adult season passes in the 2019/20 season, and it expects to sell as many as 3,000 adult winter passes this year, in addition to snowshoe passes, youth passes, dog passes and thousands of one- to seven-day passes.

It was T-shirt weather on Sunday.

“I think residents are gearing up for a winter of outdoor recreation,” said Morgan Buckert, spokesperson for BCRD. “This community resource is more important than ever. BCRD encourages residents to remain hopeful with our access to healthy, active, socially distanced outdoor recreation, whether it is skiing, snowshoeing or walking. For myself, I know skiing is one of the only ways I will get to see friends this winter.”

Discount Nordic passes are still available. Those who order online at  can save $50 on an adult BCRD pass and $144 off a BCRD/Sun Valley Combo pass.

Youth 17 and under ski free.


The snow continues to mount on Sun Valley Resort as it approaches its annual week-long ski racing camp, followed by a Thanksgiving Day operner.

After two feet fell at Bogus Basin, the ski area near Boise opened a hike park full of boxes, rails and tubes for skiers and boarders on Saturday. Nate Shake, director of Mountain Operations told KTVB he’d never seen so much snow this early in 32 years at Bogus Basin. The ski area, which received another 11 inches on Sunday may open before Thanksgiving.

Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area near Mullan, Idaho, opened Saturday. With that it became the first  ski resort to open in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. It was one of only 11 U.S. ski resorts this weekend and one of 17 in North America.

The resort had received 48 inches of snow at the base and 60 inches at the summit by Saturday.

All Idaho ski resorts plan to open before Christmas.

Sun Valley was ranked No. 1 among North America ski resorts by SKI Magazine going into the 2020-21 winter season.

Grand Targhee, which counts itself an Idaho ski resort, made the list at No. 28.

The current issue of the magazine also boasts a three-page travel feature about 2,900-acre Schweitzer Mountain called “Party in the Panhandle,” in which writer Paul Tolme called the Sandpoint resort the “biggest little resort you’ve probably never visited.”

Tolme also wrote a sidebar about five under-the-radar ski resorts, which included Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho. Silver, Tolme noted, has gorgeous tree skiing across its two mountains and few crowds to compete with.


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