24hrs with a Local, Winter

24hrs with a Local: Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Rick Kapala, February

In this monthly series, we check in with one of our adventurous locals to find out how they would spend a perfect 24 hours in Sun Valley.

Happy February! We hope you are out enjoying the spoils of this epic snowstorm that dumped 51” of powder on Bald Mountain and coated the entire Valley, from Bellevue to Galena Lodge, in a deep blanket of snow.

We are sure that one person taking advantage of this winter wonderland is Rick Kapala, the Program Director for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s (SVSEF) Cross Country Ski Team. Rick has worked with SVSEF since 1987, coaching youth athletes to some of the highest levels of competitive snowsport. 

SVSEF’s vision is to create the best junior snowsports development program in the nation. They offer coaching and skills development in cross country skiing (including their elite “XC Gold” team), alpine skiing, big mountain, Freeski, freestyle, and snowboarding. “We offer programming for close to 800 kids across different winter sports disciplines,” says Rick. “From little kids putting on skis for the first time to ski racers at the highest level, we help our teams develop skills and capacities for ski sports and for life.”

As for us, we never tire of the thrill of seeing one of our homegrown athletes from SVSEF competing on the world stage.

In this February edition of 24hrs in Sun Valley, we asked Rick to share how he’d spend a perfect February day in this beautiful mountain valley that we call home. 

What would you do first on your perfect February day?

The very first thing I do is to get my coffee started. It’s an everyday ritual for me to go outside for a few minutes while the coffee is brewing, take a couple of deep breaths, and fully wake up out in some fresh air. 

What’s up next?

I’d check and see if there’s a Cross Country World Cup Race on. When it’s early in the morning here, there’s often a race on in Europe. I’ll sip my coffee and watch that for a bit, especially if we had an SVSEF athlete racing. If that’s not on, I’ll read for a bit, maybe have a little breakfast. Then, I’d take my black lab for a walk in the neighborhood.

How would you spend the rest of the morning?

Almost for certain, on a February day I’ll be heading up the Valley to go cross-country skiing, maybe on the Harriman Trail or at Galena Lodge. February is such a great time to ski. Usually, it’ll be me, my wife Bridget, my lab, and maybe a couple of buddies.

We live in this Nordic nirvana here, and that’s my life.

Do you prefer classic or skate skiing?

I don’t have much of a preference between the two, though these days if I’m left to my own devices, I’d probably classic.

What’s your favorite Nordic trail?

I really like skiing North Cherry Creek and Cherry Ridge. It’s the bomb.

What would you do for lunch?

I’d hit Galena Lodge for lunch. There’s a Nordic nerd posse up that’s up there all the time. If we weren’t in a pandemic, we’d all hang out while we ate. Erin and Don (who run Galena Lodge) have an incredible menu; it’s perfect. 

It’s always a great day at Galena. I often say that a bad day at Galena is better than a good day anywhere else.

How’s your afternoon looking?

If I’ve timed it right, I’d get my butt back down the Valley and go fly-fishing on the Big Wood River for a few hours, with my lab in tow. Maybe I’d be with a buddy, or perhaps I’d go solo. 

Winter season on the Big Wood is really good. It depends on the day, but often the river is warmer then, and the day is warmer than it was earlier in the winter. I can look up from anywhere on the river and have this feeling of “I can’t believe I’m living here, doing this.”

Any happy hour for you?

It doesn’t happen all the time, but I certainly enjoy it when it does. Sometimes I’ll have a drink at home, or before we were in a pandemic, I’d meet up with friends at Power House for beers. I live in Hailey, so the Power House is my go-to-place. It’s low key and fun, and I almost always bump into someone that I know. Billy Olson (owner of Powerhouse) is a cultural icon in our Valley.

What would you do for dinner?

We’re choosing to not go out right now, but if we were, we might eat at Power House or go up and hit the Sawtooth Club. The atmosphere at the Sawtooth Club is so easy and downhome. It’s just got a great warmth about it.

I hope that soon we’ll be in a place where after dinner out, we could go grab some music somewhere, like The Argyros. It’s easy to forget how in a typical year, there’s always something going on at night, and I’m never disappointed with the music I find in town.

Anything you would do to finish up your perfect February day?

Bridget and I have an evening ritual of going for a stroll through our Old Hailey neighborhood. The stars are out, and sometimes the owls are hooting. We’re surrounded here by this tremendous natural environment. I mean, sometimes we see a moose walking around. 

It’s just a really special place, and the theme here is that it is all about being outside—skinning Baldy, backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, hiking. You don’t move to Sun Valley to be inside. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s what makes this place what it is. You can’t be bored around here if you lift your head up. If you are, it’s time to push the reset button.

24hrs in Sun Valley February Edition - Rick Kapala - SVSEF Nordic Coash

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