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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — March 19, 2004


the people’s ski hill

Features affordable and
night skiing for kids

Express Staff Writer

The best lift-serviced skiing in the southern Wood River Valley is found at Rotarun, a few miles west of Hailey out Croy Canyon. Among other things, it is the Wood River Valley’s answer to the exorbitant cost of modern skiing in America.

Ketchum-Sun Valley was recently described as being known "to have residents’ net worth statements boasting more zeros than there are bubbles in champagne," but that certainly does not describe the majority of Wood River Valley residents. Sun Valley, just a few miles north of Rotarun, is one of America’s premier ski resorts, but it is simply too expensive for the pocketbooks of many local working families.

Ski lift prices at Rotarun, however, run from $5 for 6 to 14-year-olds, $10 for anyone over 15 years, and a range of season passes from $50 for 6 to 14-year-olds to $200 for a family of 6 or more.

Rotarun has a Doppelmyr surface lift, a rope tow, a warming hut and restaurant and 475 vertical feet of skiing. It has lights for night skiing and offers the only night skiing within a three-hour drive.

It was first used as a ski hill in the late 1940s when Anne Jeannette Winn taught kids to ski by hiking up. A little later, after a rustic rope tow was installed, Jim Savaria offered lessons for $1 a week. The hill received a community boost in 1957 when Hailey dentist Dr. Art Richards worked with the Hailey Rotary Club to replace the old rope tow with a newer one, thus the name Rotarun. Also that year, the Arkoosh family of Gooding gave the Rotarun a 99-year lease on the land for $1 a year, thus the annual "Arkoosh Cup" ski race. In 1993 the property was deeded to Blaine County, with the original lease and mineral rights owned by Rotarun.

A great many local kids have learned to ski and refined their technique on the Rotarun slopes over the past 60 years. Among the best known are Olympic champion Picabo Street and Paralympic medallist Muffy Davis.

In 1964 the original J-bar to the top of the mountain and lights for night skiing were installed. The following year the first warming hut was built. Much of these and subsequent improvements were in the form of donated labor and materials. In 2001 a new Doppelmyr surface lift was installed at a cost of $180,000. Among the hundreds of people who have contributed to the continuation of this unique cooperative recreational facility are Jim Hurst, Sam Winn, Sid Worry, Jay Deering, Charles and Pilar Harris, Bob and Betty Logan, Dale and Leona Peterson, Floyd Patterson, Bob Riggen, Tom and Dorthy Ficka, George Rathke, Leo Starvos, John Holmes, Jim Savaria, Glenn Stelma, Ralph Cisco, David Lee, Joe Malea, Lee Schlander, Jim Koonce, Dick Anderson, Don and Linda Board, Sam Myers, Pete Vandermullen, Chuck Curtis, Vint and Linda Hughes, Anne Williams, Dean Dazell, Neil Patterson, Dick Fosbury, Robb Thomas, Bob and Tom Logan, Ed Cameron, Larry Flynn, Joe Cannon and Red Bloedel.

Bloedel, a retired aerospace executive, is heading up the current drive to keep Rotarun alive and flourishing, an interest he embraced because his grandson, Forrest Fleming, learned to ski there.

Rotarun is a community effort that was started, built and is maintained by the work of many volunteers, donations from many people and a few foundations, and a few fund raiser events. Saturday night’s Rotarun Bash at the Hailey Armory, featuring long-time Sun Valley resident and entertainer Joe Cannon, is the biggest of the year. It begins at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to Joe Cannon’s fine entertainment, there will be a light buffet, wine, beer and soda and both a live and a silent auction. Donations are accepted and "A Piece of the Mountain" certificates are for sale in amounts of $100, $500 and $1,000. Tickets are $30 each for the event and are available beforehand at Chapter One in Ketchum and at Sturtevants in Hailey.


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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.