By The Jaded Local

Extravaganzery? Extravagantilation? Something like that. Sun Valley rolled out the red carpet for their wayward Powder children, and the locals embraced us like long-lost brothers and sisters, loaned us skis, bought us drinks, and made out with us in dark corners. Dozens of ski legends converged on the birthplace of what started as an underground hippie ski magazine and has become, 40 winters later, an institution, a culture, a life.

Rachael Burks, back from injury and running on even higher-octane fuel than usual, won the event with a combination of sequined gown and Greco-Roman wrestling, narrowly beating out Jim Biebl, the 40th Anniversary cover star, and local phenomenon Gabe Schroeder for the title of Most… well, just Most.

It wasn’t without hearty competition—a crowd of over 500 showed for the party, and they came to Send It. Freak flags of all stripes were flown with abandon in the crisp high pressure Idaho sunshine and the luxury of the Limelight Room. The sprawling groomers were perfectly maintained, yet fast and crunchy enough to make damn sure you were awake by about turn three. Early season low-tide Sun Valley turns out to be totally sick.

For one thing, it’s frickin’ Raceville USA. Anyone that’s skiing on the hill right now is basically a racer, a coach, a race dept. employee, or an ex-racer. The bar where you go to apres-ski, Apples, is plastered in racing memoriabilia. When I confided to Hank, the owner, that all I was doing out there was hanging on for dear life, he loaned me a pair of World Cup-stock GS skis with a massive metal plate and razor sharp edges. My Sun Valley experience went from rattling death slides to silent precision hurtling and I could almost keep up with the locals who were skiing with their boots unbuckled and thinking about whether they had let the cat out or not while they gazed off absentmindedly at the majestic Pioneer Range.

The biggest pleasure of working for Powder isn’t the powder, it’s the people. On Saturday we had a crowd of skiers that was basically 75-percent legend or icon. All of them were skiing in jeans or hideous one-pieces and radiating pure uncut awesomeness from every pore. We cover a lot of Gettin’ Rad, but if there’s one thing that Powder is built on, it’s silly people having a good time. Going back to the roots of the magazine, shredding Sun Valley with Dave and Jake Moe, watching generations of different Powder People skiing together, hundreds of happy fools noodling together in corduroy vests and odd pants… despite (or maybe because of) the world’s increasing seriousness, the silly people having a good time are stronger than ever.

The appearance of Jimmy Biebl, the skier on the cover of our 40th special issue, was the story of the event (for some background on the cover, see here). Jimmy was not just looking good, he was looking like a million bucks—the man in the photo that inspired a generation of hippie freestylers and ski bums in the ’70s still lives in Aspen and skis all the time.

To be with people like Jimmy, the Moe Brothers, Mark Shapiro, Ace Kvale, Mike Hattrup, Sun Valley legends like Super G and the Crist Brothers in this classic ski town of classic ski towns… it puts the little stuff in perspective. For all that Powder has become, the mission has never changed, and all we can do is hope to live up to the standard of our founders, and the locals in Sun Valley.

To everyone who came to the party, past staff, photographers, writers, pro skiers, ski patrollers, lift ops, dirtbags… thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Cheers to Sun Valley, and 40 more.

Love,
Powder