IDAHO — Sun Valley's Ski Education Foundation is partnering with Soldier Mountain to bring more opportunities for speed skiers in the Intermountain West Region to train and compete.
"In general, other than in races across the country, it is becoming less and less likely to be able to train on stuff like this and that is why coming together and creating this opportunity is pretty cool," Will Brandenburg, SVSEF Alpine Director, said. "To grow the sport of skiing we have to grow access points and allow easy access to our sport."
Soldier Mountain and SVSEF hosted over 80 14-u youth speed skiers from the northwest last week and are hosting master speed skiers from the region this coming week.
"The u-14s had a blast," Brandenburg said. "We had a speed trap set up and the fasted clocked was 75 m.p.h going straight down the speed track, so you can tell a little 12, 13-year-old was going 75 miles per hour is pretty cool in a safe environment."
With the high speeds, these skiers reach the opportunity for them to find places to train is becoming harder.
"To speed ski, you have to go fast and a lot of our mountains with the general public going 70 m.p.h. is not something that a lot of mountains would like to do when they are open," Brandenburg said.
Speed skiers also need safe terrain to train on.
"Going 60 m.p.h. and learning how to press that air, when you are going that fast and are in the air any body movement in the wrong direction, can spell a big crash," he added.
On the western side of the U.S., Bradenburg said that speed skier's training opportunities are very limited to two mountains. Copper Mountain in Colorado during the month of Nov., and Mammoth Mountain in the springtime both have a speed center built.
"Working with Soldier on this and having the mountain be closed on those days is really allowing those athletes to go fast for the first time," he added. "And really use some of these speed elements that are really hard to train these days, so really long flights and stuff like that. It has been really cool and a lot of work."
Through this partnership, and the work they did to redo the terrain, these young athletes and future speed skiers have and will have a place to train, as they continue to try and grow the sport.
"In the years to come, we will see some more downhill races there but also some more training opportunities like this," Brandenburg said. "There is a lot of heart in skiing in Idaho, and now there is a really good collaboration, and it is fun to see where this is starting and where we are going to grow it."