While Sun Valley has turned out its fair share of Olympians, the games have eluded America's first destination ski resort. But finally the "grande dame" of the mountains will get her shot at hosting the games.
The 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games Organizing Committee announced this week that Sun Valley Resort will host two sports competitions for the 2009 Games, as well as for its prelude, the 2008 Invitational Winter Games in February.
The cross-country skiing and snowshoeing events will be held on the Sun Valley Resort golf course. Although Bogus Basin ski area near Boise was the original location for the events, technical aspects and space restrictions at the site forced a change. Bogus Basin, already approved by international standards, will remain the competition venue for alpine skiing.
The addition of the Wood River Valley as a venue allows the World Winter Games to better showcase the entire state of Idaho, since competition venues will now stretch from Tamarack Ski Resort in the north, through Boise, to Sun Valley in the east.
The visionaries behind the Idaho games were Pirie and Jim Grossman of Sun Valley, who spearheaded efforts to bring the games to Idaho for more than two years and remain on the board of directors.
"We are so thrilled that it's finally come around to this," Pirie Grossman said. "It just makes sense that some events happen here in Sun Valley, our hometown.
"Also, part of winning the bid was that the Special Olympics remembered how great the state games were in Sun Valley when Peggy (Grossman, Jim's mother) chaired those here in the late 1990s. There were 500 athletes. The community just brings their wonderful Sun Valley touch. It's just magic."
The increase in exposure statewide with the participation of Sun Valley will likely also enhance the economic benefit to the state, estimated to run in the $50 million range.
As well as the competition events, there will be many programs and receptions hosted in the Sun Valley area. This will likely also increase volunteer opportunities, allowing more Idahoans to be directly involved with the games and the Special Olympics movement.
"We are so fortunate to have such overwhelming support for our plans and what is best for the athletes in 2008 and 2009," said Chip Fisher, of Ketchum, CEO of the World Winter Games. "We are lucky to have such a willingness to accommodate our needs and have great partners in Bogus Basin, Boise State University, Idaho IceWorld, Qwest Arena, Tamarack Ski Resort and now Sun Valley Resort."
The 2008 Special Olympics Invitational Winter Games are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 25, through Thursday, Feb. 28, and will include approximately 495 athletes and coaches from 10 foreign countries and four U.S. states, competing in five sports. The 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games will host an estimated 3,000 intellectually challenged athletes from 85 countries. The events will run from Feb. 6 to Feb. 13, 2009.