“For a tad over forty years the mountains of central Idaho that make the valley of the Wood River possible, have been the home of an ever increasing scope and variety of Nordic skiing. The winters are long here, consistently blanketed by that cold dry snow that inspires making first tracks at dawn on the corduroy of freshly groomed trails. The back country is an endless landscape of near perfect powder bowls and the springtime brings corn snow till the summer flowers turn adventure in a different direction.
The skiing experience in Sun Valley has always been top notch and as time goes by it just keeps getting better It wasn’t always Nordic heaven. In mid November 1971 Leif Odmark came to the Wood River High School in Hailey and gave a talk on a sport no one had even heard of. After the short presentation of pictures and equipment the five or six kids in the room were asked if they would like to start a cross-country ski team. For the members of the cross-country running team the choice between basketball, wrestling or this new fangled outdoor deal was a no brainer.
The first Sun Valley Nordic Team was born. Every Saturday the team would follow Leif around the Sun Valley Golf course skiing in our own tracks until it was packed then the workout was over. There was only one race that winter, the Sun Valley Ski Club race but it was a mass start with 30 or so racers and everyone was hooked. The following year Rob Keisel convinced the alpine only Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation to add a Nordic Team and along with assistant coach Bob Rosso presided over the training and racing of the 12 or 13 members of the team. Those were heady times, a snowmobile was procured to groom a track that even included a pole track, no more stuffing your pole all the way to the ground before some purchase was made. By the end of that first year Sun Valley had made itself known to the world at the McCall, Idaho Junior Nationals. Since those first days the Sun Valley Ski Education foundation has grown by leaps and bounds. Today the team members number in the hundreds and range from very young novices to the top of the Olympic heap. The snowmobiles that broke almost everyone’s back with every new snow fall have been replaced by one of the best grooming setups in the world and wielded by the Blaine County Recreation District as well as Sun Valley Company.
All this progress has created a sterling Nordic skiing experience in the Wood River Valley and that brings us to the latest chapter in this ongoing saga. As much as we would like to we just can’t keep all this to ourselves. In the spring of 2009 an unlikely group of conspirators sat down and invented one more thing to clutter up our calendars. The Sun Valley Nordic Festival was born to try and tell the world what they were missing by not coming to Sun Valley to ski the nearly infinite kilometers of trails from Stanley to Galena to Lake Creek to Sun Valley to Quigley. It worked out great, the festival is everything Nordic and then some, highlighting the great opportunities and the world famous SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour.