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New York Times Writer Lauds Sun Valley’s DNA
Friday, February 3, 2023


It had a curious title: “You Don’t Go to Sun Valley to Party.”

And, while Sun Valley garners newspaper, magazine and online stories every day, this article in the New York Times caught the fancy of Wood River Valley residents this week with the buzz starting on the chairlift at Baldy and extending to Sun Valley City Hall, which sent residents an email telling them to read up.

The article’s author, Amy Tara Koch, said she sought out Sun Valley after tiring of the Madison Avenue-in-the-mountains vibe. After learning that it no longer took 10 hours or more to get to Sun Valley, thanks to direct flights from Chicago, she booked her trip.

“Friends raved about its terrain, which ranges from wide-open bowls to tough mogul runs, and the groovy town, where dressing to the nines means sporting a flannel shirt with time-worn Wranglers,” she wrote.

Koch added that Ketchum’s two-stoplight 10-street center is lined with locally owned businesses, save for a Starbucks and tiny Lululemon store. Noticeably, no high fashion boutique, but it does have the quaint Sun Valley Village, she added.

Lack of a party scene is one of the resort’s calling cards, she said: “That’s ironic because starting in the 1930s, Harriman used celebrities to generate publicity for his newbie resort…”

Even though there’s no disputing that Sun Valley is a magnet for the rich and famous, these days kowtowing to celebrities is not in Sun Valley’s DNA, which explains why so many of them like to ski here, she went on.

“Unlike Aspen, Vail or St. Moritz, this resort does not wear its wealth on its proverbial sleeve. The Sun Valley Lodge has retained its original Tyrolean style with red-patterned carpeting, chunky, anti-minimalist furniture and framed black-and-white photos of luminaries…lining the walls,” she wrote.

“The resort offers no white glove services that make snowboards and skis magically appear at the foot of the gondola….The most happening apres is at Grumpy’s, known for 32-ounce schooners of beer.”

Koch lauded the hillside ordinance that prevents building on hillsides to prohibit on-mountain mansions and protect the natural scenic character of the area.

And while she found skiing Sun Valley a bit daunting for a nonexpert like herself, she reveled in the fact that Boise is a 2.5-hour drive away, meaning there are no day skiers or crowding at the lifts. And, with time, she found herself relishing her lonely schuss through snow-kissed Douglas fir on runs like Kaitlyn’s Bowl, “a thigh-quaking 768-foot descent back into the valley.” And she even tried Upper Limelight, one of the steepest pitched groomed runs in the country.

“Sun Valley aficionados cite the vibrant no-nonsense town and the locals who power it (90 percent of businesses are locally owned) as the resort’s secret,” she wrote. “Any night of the week you can find John Kerry, Clint Eastwood or Jamie Lee Curtis eating along locals and former Olympic and World Cup skiers, all hoping to talk about the day’s powder conquests with owner Michel Rudigoz, a former U.S. Olympic Alpine Women’s head coach.

“When Rodrigo Herrera heard 20-somethings from Harper Woods, Mich., had tied the knot that day in the snow and were splurging on a commemorate dinner at the six-table Vintage…he comped the meal. Just because…”

Once she heard that that proceeds from movie stars’ high-ticket items at the Gold Mine Consign benefitted the Community Library, Koch said shopping felt like a public service.

“Sun Valley’s sense of tradition, I discovered, had an extra perk: It warded off influencers, throngs of selfie-snapping non-skiers who flock to glamorous alpine destinations in the name of content creation,” she added. “Here there was no party and no fancy-pants scene to entice them. I hope it stays that way.”

To read the entire article, here is the link courtesy of the City of Sun Valley:

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