Friday, January 6, 2012

Foresight better than luck

There are plenty of people in the Sun Valley area who lived through the famous winter of 1976-77—or the lack of it.

It snowed not a flake before January and nary a cloud appeared in the sky. The little snowmaking that existed on Bald Mountain was so pitiful that "I skied Squirrel" bumper stickers became the triumphant statement of skier survival.

The drought year devastated the local economy. Some businesses held on by the skin of their teeth and lasted until summer bailed them out. Many workers were forced to leave town in search of jobs. By the end of the season, Sun Valley Co. owner Bill Janss had had enough and sold out.

Things are better today in a season in which snowfall has been far below normal. This is no accident.

With January here, the fact that skiing on Baldy is about the best in the West is because of Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding's foresight in investing in one of the most extensive snowmaking systems in the world. With this system, it snows every night on most developed runs on Bald Mountain.

Coupled with state-of-the-art grooming machines, skiers and boarders enjoy famously smooth corduroy on runs so well covered with snow that hazards are few. The added benefit of the season: sunshine.

Skiers and boarders and the newspapers, magazines and websites that write about them should quit griping about the season. Sliding is the point and sliding here is great. They need to cheer up, pack up and get themselves to Sun Valley.

And, when they leave, they should send a note of thanks to Earl Holding and the Sun Valley Resort, whose foresight has turned out to be better than luck.

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.