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For the week of July 24 - 30, 2002

News

Snowboard halfpipe contemplated for Baldy


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Co., in response to requests of the local ski and snowboarding communities, has drawn up plans for a halfpipe on Bald Mountain.

Sun Valley Co. earlier this month submitted plans to the Sawtooth National Forest to build a ski and snowboard halfpipe on the lower portions of Race Arena, near the Warm Springs base of the ski area. However, the terrain feature might not be built this year because of federal environmental regulations and a lengthy approval process. Express photo by Willy Cook

Earlier this month, Sun Valley submitted preliminary plans to the Sawtooth National Forestís Ketchum Ranger District to build a halfpipe on lower Race Arena, near Baldyís Warm Springs base. Sun Valley Co. General Manager Wally Huffman and Spokesman Jack Sibbach could not be reached for comments this week, but the Sawtooth National Forest confirmed that it had received the drawings.

The plans, which are under review by a U.S. Forest Service engineer, indicated that only a halfpipe installation is anticipated at this time, Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson said. He added that lower Race Arena appears to have been chosen because of its proximity to snowmaking, its mellow pitch and because it is out of the way of most ski traffic patterns.

Nelson said that, because Sun Valley anticipates moving dirt to help form a halfpipe mold, the proposal will have to go through a full federal environmental study process. That could take more time than is available before the coming winter.

"Itís certainly something the communityís been asking for, but the middle of summerís a difficult time to work on it, because of a short planing time," he said.

In the 1998-1999 winter, Sun Valley Co. built a halfpipe on Dollar Mountain. It was popular among local snowboard team members for training, but was inconveniently located far away from Bald Mountainís expert slopes.

After a year, Sun Valley stopped spending the time and money to maintain a feature that wasnít getting the use the resort had desired.

Since that time, the resort has hosted an annual big air exhibition that features "new school" style and moves on skis and snowboards. But Sun Valley tricksters wishing to participate on the cutting edge of the sport have, up to now, had to travel.

Halfpipes and terrain parks, which are popular among both disciplines, are commonplace at resorts across the country. Even nearby Soldier Mountain, a small ski area near Fairfield, had a relatively impressive terrain park last winter.

"I think it would be fairly well received in the community," Nelson said of Sun Valleyís proposal.

Nonetheless, he said the Forest Service, which administers the ski areaís permit to operate on federal land, must study the proposal accordingly, and finishing by this winter is not a certainty.

"We donít want to get peopleís hopes up," Nelson said.

 


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.