Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sun Valley ranked 7th best ski resort

Resort climbs 4 spots in annual Ski magazine survey

Express Staff Writer

Bald Mountain is the centerpiece of Sun Valley’s expansive resort facilities. Photo by Willy Cook

Sun Valley placed seventh in Ski magazine's annual report card of North American resorts, an improvement over the past four years when it was ranked 10th or lower.

Deer Valley, Utah, snagged the year's top prize, as it did in 2008. In 2008, Sun Valley was ranked 11th overall.

The rankings are published in the Colorado-based magazine's October issue, set to reach newsstands any day.

Carol Waller, executive director of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, said the resort's improved overall score can only mean good things for the community.

"Positive rankings and all that stuff always help," Waller said, later adding, "We consistently offer a great product, and avid skiers know that."

Ski magazine called Sun Valley a "classic, first-class ski town and ski mountain."

This year's gain for Sun Valley came amid the debut of the Roundhouse gondola, which shortens the trek from the River Run base area to Roundhouse into an eight-minute ascent.

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The magazine's 22nd annual survey named the continent's top 30 resorts. The rankings were decided by readers of the 400,000-circulation magazine. About 84 percent of Ski's readers are men, the readers' median age is 49 and the median household income is $127,000.

In the survey, Ski magazine readers rated resorts based on 18 categories having to do with skiing quality and amenities. Sun Valley made the top 10 cut in half of those, scoring second in service; third in on-mountain food, lodging, dining and off-hill activities; fourth in lifts; and seventh in grooming, apres-ski and family programs.

Last year, Sun Valley broke the top 10 in only six categories.

"The grooming is so smooth you barely notice when you approach terminal velocity on your 3,400-vertical-foot descent," Ski reported.

Just like last year, the resort didn't make the top 10 in ranking of terrain parks, scenery, access, weather, value, challenging terrain, snow, terrain variety or overall satisfaction.

Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley Co. public relations director, is pleased that others are acknowledging the positive changes to the resort.

"It's nice to see we've improved," he said.

Trevon Milliard:

Ski magazine's top 10 resorts:

1) Deer Valley, Utah

2) Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.

3) Vail, Colo.

4) Park City, Utah

5) Beaver Creek, Colo.

6) Snowmass, Colo.

7) Sun Valley, Idaho

8) Squaw Valley, Calif.

9) Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

10) Steamboat Springs, Colo.

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