Sun Valley Awaits Olympic Designation, Introduces Athletes

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Olympic and Para-Olympic hopefuls are introduced to the crowd at the 6 for Sochie Celebration in Ketchum.
  • Matt Furber
  • Olympic and Para-Olympic hopefuls are introduced to the crowd at the 6 for Sochie Celebration in Ketchum.

Delayed paperwork has held up official designation as a training site for the U.S. Olympic and Para-Olympic teams until fall, but that didn't stop the celebration of the Wood River Valley's Olympians and would-be Olympians.

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation hosted its second annual 6 at Sochi Celebration on Aug. 16, at Ketchum Town Square. Local Ketchum personalities were plunged into an icy dunk tank as part of a fundraiser during the event that resembled a festive Olympic village in the center of town.

The foundation’s Gold Team athletes and para-Olympians were introduced and remained on hand to sign autographs and talk about their athletic dreams and successes. Executive Director Don Wiseman reiterated the organization's goal of sending six Gold Team athletes to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Dave Poole, a Para-Olympic hopeful, was also on hand to talk about the support he has received from skiing organizations, including the Wood River Ability Program to train.

“There is a lot of competition out there,” Poole said, explaining that as a non-military-funded competitor, he relies more heavily on community support to pay for his food, travel and equipment. “If I was military, I would have plenty. I sleep in the back of my truck. I eat Ramen and I travel cheap.”

The celebration had loads of local food and drink, and featured live music from Cow Says Moo, Moe Dixon and Safety Orange.

Elephants Perch owner Bob Rosso gets wet in the dunk tank.
  • Matt Furber
  • Elephant's Perch owner Bob Rosso gets wet in the dunk tank.

Ski Education Foundation Cross Country Program director Rick Kapala and Wiseman said the paper train that will lead to Sun Valley getting highly anticipated Olympic training area designation is all but complete. They expect a formal announcement before the snow flies.

“We’re happy with how things are proceeding,” Kapala said. Wiseman added that the foundation has signed the application and some last-minute edits are being made to address the unique character of the Sun Valley site.

“We’re pretty much through the vetting process. The last thing I heard is, once these guys get back from London, it will be all hands on deck.” Kapala said, standing near a steel banner in the Ketchum Town Square that lists Ketchum Olympians through the years.

He added that the Nordic skiing designation would have a spin-off to Alpine skiing and many other sports, including a centrally located human performance lab that anyone could use for testing.

“This is a place that celebrates ski culture. There is no idea that we’re going to stop with a little focus on the cross-country designation. Like an athlete, the first question you have to ask is, 'is it possible.' Then you have to chart a roadmap,” he said.

Kapala said if an effort was undertaken, for example, to host World Cup finals on Baldy, it would have a lasting impact for decades.

“I’m into skiing,” he said. “I’m just trying to see how many people I can take with me.”

Mark Bathum shows off his silver medal from the downhill in the Vancouver, B.C.,  Para-Olympics.
  • Matt Furber
  • Mark Bathum shows off his silver medal from the downhill in the Vancouver Para-Olympics.

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