Wood River Women's Foundation Sun Valley Ketchum Idaho
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Rotaravens Join Rotarippers This Year

by Karen Bossick

Seven-year-old Bradley Marroquin isn’t quite sure what he’s getting into. But he sported a grin a mile wide as a ski tech at Sturtevants prepared to fit him for ski boots.
“You don’t need big heavy socks to ski,” Kaz Thea told him, as she noted the super duper heavy socks he had purchased for the occasion. “Ski socks are thin.”

Marroquin is among 150 youngsters ages 5 through 11 who lined up at Sturtevants in Hailey for three days last week to get outfitted for boots, skis and snowboards so they can learn to ski and snowboard at Rotarun Ski Area three miles west of Hailey.

Most are taking part in the Rotarippers learn-to-ski-and-ride program overseen by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. Fourteen are taking part in the new Rotaravens program for middle school students.

The program is provided free of charge, thanks to volunteer ski coaches and donations from groups like the Wood River Women’s Foundation and the Kids Youth Philanthropy, which was formerly known as the  W.O.W. Kids Project. Those donations enable the kids to lease equipment free of charge.

The program is designed to offer the quintessential Sun Valley mountain experience to children who could not afford to ski otherwise.

“I’m trying to try new things this year, and this seemed like a good one to do,” said seventh-grader Cristina Gonzalez, who will be among the Rotaravens.

The program is held from 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. Fifty skiers and 18 snowboarders are taking part in Rotarippers this month and another 50 skiers and snowboarders will take part in February’s sessions.

Fourteen middle schoolers are taking part in Rotaravens, which will take place over eight weeks in January and February.

Shawna Wallace said her 11-year-old daughter Jaeda had the opportunity to ski at Sun Valley Resort’s Dollar Mountain with her Bellevue classmates a few years ago in Sun Valley Resort’s school program and loved it.

“I don’t ski because I don’t like to get on ski lifts. But it’s so awesome that they have this for her,” Shawna Wallace said. “This is her thing—she’s the only one in the family that does this. She loves going downhill.”

This is the sixth year for the Rotarippers program. There were more children who wanted to take part in it than there was capacity, said Renee Shapiro, the community development director for Rotarun.

Thea said the program helps build confidence and other attributes.

“The teachers say the children who participate in the program become more engaged in the classroom,” she said. “It gets them outside and active, doing what we do here—that is, playing in the snow.”


Rotarun Ski Area offers free skiing from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays. It is also open for the public from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Lift tickets for those days is $15 for adults and $10 for children.

Lessons are offered on Saturdays and Sundays.