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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 20 - 26, 2002


Skier numbers experience rebound

Local sales taxes slip

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley skier numbers are on the rebound after getting off to a slow start this fall when the resort failed to fire up the lifts for its traditional Thanksgiving Day opening.

Sun Valley Co. reported last week that it is quickly making up for missed skier days following a slow autumn start. The Presidents’ Day weekend crowd took advantage of warm temperatures and sunny skies and flocked to Baldy. Express Photo by Willy Cook

Presidents’ Day weekend, by available accounts, was exceptional for local businesses, although full numbers are not yet available.

For the month of January, 88,617 skiers and snowboarders shuffled and schussed down Bald and Dollar mountains. Last year January gleaned 85,735 skier and snowboarder visits.

"We got off to a slow start not being open Thanksgiving weekend," Sun Valley Co. spokesman Jack Sibbach said. "(But) the phones have been ringing. We’ve been doing a lot of advertising in Utah, and it looks like we’re doing well with it."

By preliminary numbers, however, it doesn’t appear that Sun Valley’s impressive visitor count means additional shoppers and spenders for city of Sun Valley and Ketchum businesses.

Year-to-date sales tax collections through December show both cities down about 11 percent from the previous fiscal year. December was very low in both cities: down 13 percent in Ketchum and down 20 percent in Sun Valley.

But Warm Springs business owner and Ketchum Councilman Baird Gourlay pointed out that the Christmas holiday ended in January, with New Year’s Day falling on Jan. 1. Businesses, like his, may not have closed week-long accounts until well into the new year, he said.

January’s numbers won’t be tabulated for another two weeks.

That said, business has been good, said Gourlay, who owns Paul Kenny’s Ski and Sports.

"With the mountain not being open for Thanksgiving, we were playing catch-up all the way through Christmas, but Christmas turned out being really good," he said.

Sturtevants Ski and Sports owner Rob Santa said this isn’t a record breaking year, but is better than he anticipated.

"If there was ever a year we needed snow, this is it," he said. "The skiing conditions are outstanding, so we would expect things to roll right along."

From owner and manager reports, downtown bar and restaurant business has been good, too.

"I think January was busier than last year," Whiskey Jaques Manager Kristin Derrig said. "Overall, I think business has been up."

Lodging properties may be suffering more than other businesses.

Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce Communication Coordinator Amy Olson said some of the larger companies reported numbers as much as 10 percent down from last year.

Chamber Executive Director Carol Waller agreed, but said the business community should be pleased.

"It could be a lot worse," she said.

Gourlay was optimistic.

"The skiing is great. The snow is great," he said. "Quality wise, we probably have the best snow in the West. The spring business could be phenomenal. I know the skiing’s going to be great."


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.