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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 8 - 14, 2002


Kapala honored by governor

Coach receives award 
for promoting Idaho

Express Staff Writer

Rick Kapala has spent most of his adult life teaching and promoting Nordic skiing. So it was fitting that the 43-year-old Sun Valley Nordic Ski Team head coach was honored Friday for his work, particularly in association with last winter’s Olympics.

Rick Kapala


Gov. Dirk Kempthorne announced Kapala’s Outstanding Achievement Award at the Governor’s Conference on Recreation and Tourism in Nampa. The award is given for "developing, managing and promoting Idaho’s recreational resources," according to the governor’s office.

"Our beautiful outdoors and wildlife, our scenic rivers and streams, and the many recreation opportunities that Idaho offers attract tourists and first time visitors," Kempthorne said. "But the quality of the service, the friendly and caring attitudes that they exhibit, and the warm Idaho hospitality are the reasons that visitors come back. People make the difference."

Kapala has been the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s head Nordic coach for 15 years. The award was for his efforts the last four years to promote Idaho’s Nordic skiing facilities on the world’s stage. That effort culminated in February, immediately before the Olympics, when the world’s top athletes competed at the Sun Valley Gun Club in the Idaho International.

Luring skiers from throughout the world, Kapala was instrumental in bringing athletes to train in Sun Valley, including teams from Norway, Sweden, Canada, Ukraine, Italy, Spain and the United States.

"So, it was sort of this comprehensive effort over the past four years to promote Idaho through cross-country skiing," Kapala said.

Races were hosted each spring in McCall, Boise and Sun Valley the last four years. Though they were the result of many people’s work, Kapala had the original vision.

A lot of European teams were interested, because the races enabled them to travel to and race in the same region as the pending Olympic games. But for Kapala, it all seems to be a little simpler than organizing world-class events.

"From my standpoint, I’m trying to help our kids be better cross-country skiers, and, in a bigger way, promote the sport of cross-country skiing," he said.

Kempthorne also recognized Harlan and Barb Opdahl, owners of Triple O Outfitters of Pierce, with an Outstanding Achievement Award for their efforts to promote and protect the Idaho portion of the Lewis and Clark Trial. He also recognized the Opdals for their years of service on the boards of the Idaho Travel Council and the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.


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.