There are many names associated with skiing in Sun Valley's long and rich history. Many of these influential athletes and pioneers have become associated with ski races and events over the years. Bill Janss, Sigi Engl, Lane Parrish, Lane Monroe, Lonnie Basolo and Allan Patterson are on this list.
Laura Sharpe Flood is on this list, too. Flood grew up in Sun Valley. She learned to ski on Bald Mountain, excelled as a part of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, attended Community School and skied at the University of Colorado. A tragic accident, where Flood lost control on an early morning training run on an average Tuesday in April of 1989, cost the 19-year-old her life.
"Laura was a pretty unique girl," according to her sister, Heather Flood Daves, a Sun Valley native and very accomplished skier in her own right. "She was very independent, super athletic, happy and full of energy. She had a joy for life that was infectious."
To ensure that Laura Flood's deep love for and commitment to skiing will always be remembered, the Flood family approached the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation about holding a memorial race in Laura's honor, beginning in February 1991.
"What I hope people take away is that Laura was pretty full of life, even though her life lasted only 19 years," said Daves. "In doing this race, we choose to honor a loved one in a way that has real meaning for our family."
To keep Laura Flood's vibrancy and determination alive for the next generation, the Flood family founded the race and donated a perpetual trophy, "a real beauty" according to SVSEF head alpine coach Ruben Macaya. The names of the winners of each race are also inscribed on a plaque on the trophy. The winner of combined points for the weekend receives a huge silver plate, also donated by the Flood family.
"The trophies are really nice," said Daves. "They mean something."
The race has evolved over the years. It began as a two-race weekend for both J-1 (17, 18 and 19 year-old) and J-2 (15 and 16-year-old) boys and girls and was sanctioned by the United States Ski Association (USSA). The boys ran Slalom one day while the girls ran Giant Slalom, and the next day they traded.
Four years ago, however, the Intermountain Division decided to turn the Flood Memorial into an FIS (International Ski Federation) race. Therefore, it is now a qualifying race to accumulate points in international standings and is sanctioned by FIS. This evolution and distinction lends the race renewed prestige and clout.
This year, the Laura Flood Memorial will be held on Saturday, Jan. 22 and Sunday, Jan. 23 and will attract about 90 boys and close to 60 girls from many regions and even other countries.
The Giant Slalom is run on Hemingway and the Slalom on Cozy on Bald Mountain.
"In every ski region there are the stalwart ski families," said Macaya. "The Floods are one of ours. A memorial race is a great way to keep the names around." He continued, "The beauty of the Floods is that they embraced the sport even though it took away a daughter. They know the value of what skiing instills."
At the awards ceremony, Heather or brother Randy, normally say a few words to let the skiers know about who Laura was and how much skiing meant to her. "It's very uplifting," said Macaya.
And the Flood family continues to be actively involved in skiing in Sun Valley. Daves currently has two children in the SVSEF program, while Randy is the head coach of the C-Travel team. His toddler son is probably destined to find joy on Baldy when he is just a little older.
So while our top racers fight the elements and their nerves while they race the courses at the Laura Flood Memorial, it is a gift to her family to know her legacy lives on.
"It's an inspiration to me, to see the kids working so hard and racing this weekend. It lets me carry her with me," said Daves.
Laura Flood's dedication, commitment and joie de vivre are readily apparent in many of the young people skiing in her name.