Sun Valley’s 3rd annual The Gathering brings top pros to Idaho
Flying into Freidman Memorial Airport, Sun Valley’s closest airport can be hectic at times. With only two commercial airlines servicing SUN – Alaska Airlines and Sky West Airlines – your options are limited. From Salt Lake City it’s about an hour flight, that, depending on weather conditions, can be one hell of a ride, and this trip was no exception.
After a four-hour layover working from a small table in the corridor of SLC, I found myself wondering if we would make the flight due to the current forest fires sending blinding smoke south from Washington. Two flights had already been canceled earlier that day as the visibility was too minimal to manually land a plane at SUN. The other option would be to fly to Boise and take a three hour bus ride to Sun Valley, sotmething I wasn’t looking forward to. But as we boarded the plane the captain assured us we would make an attempt, a sign that the pilot had a huge set of cajones.
After an hour ride in a CRJ 700, a two-prop plane that feels more like an old wooden roller coaster than a comfortable jet, we landed at Friedman Memorial where terrain park manager Brian Callahan quickly picked me up to get me to the Beretta gun range for our first activity.
The Gathering may be a film and music festival where top pros come together to celebrate another successful season of shredding, but it’s so much more than that. This year Sun Valley set up all sorts of activities to get you stoked for the season, from shooting Beretta’s 2013 line of new guns to a skate jam and a charity golf tournament, Sun Valley had it on lock.
If you’ve ever been to a demo day at your local hill filled with next year’s line of boards and bindings to test out, then picture the same thing but every snowboard being a pricey lineup of shotguns.
Once we signed the waver that basically said that we weren’t responsible for you shooting your faces off, we went to town on some clays. If you’ve never shot a gun before or have been to a range, put it on your bucket list – it’s an adrenaline pumping activity that will surely have you wanting more.
Once we finished blowing shit up we headed off to the skate jam next to the Opera House where all the film premieres would go down. Skaters put on a quite a show as Sun Valley set up a good sized round rail and two boxes for riders to show their skills and win some prizes including a limited edition PBR skate setup with had a bottle opener built into the bottom of the deck.
Once the skate jam finished it was off to the Opera House for the showing of this year’s top Gathering Amateur Film Competition contestant videos, Smith’s Prospecting Idaho and Jeremy Jones’ Further which would leave the crowd awe struck by the beautifully shot movie and insane skills of Jeremy Jones and his crew of riders as they braved life-threatening conditions to shred peaks no one has ever rode before.
The after party was hosted at Whiskey Jacques, a local favorite in town, where we kicked off with YES.’ YES It’s a Movie Too followed by Jonathan Warren & The Billy Goats, an upbeat bluegrass band that rocked the crowed all night long.
You could say the next morning was a rough one but that would be a lie. With the PBR Ski Bum Pro Golf Scramble – a charity golf tournament benefiting the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation – kicking off at 10:30 am pros and fans piled in for a hosted breakfast at Big Wood Grill and some much needed bloody marys and PBRs.
The entire day went off in typical charity golf tournament fashion as a large cooler of PBRs and jello shots was strategically placed at the first hole where you could donate cash and snag as many beers as you wanted. It most likely helped as you could hear groups cheering their teammates on from afar when they sunk a birdy put, chipped in for eagle or perhaps finished a tallboy shotgun before teeing off. Once the tournament ended everyone gathered together back at the grill and awards for closest to the hole, longest drive and overall winner were handed out.
Our team finished in third place with a solid score of 5 under par and snagged longest drive and closest to the hole where we received two 20 day passes to Sun Valley. Soon after the clock had struck 4pm and it was time to announce the winner of the amateur film contest and watch Burton’s premiere of 13 then head to Whisky Jacks for another night of dancing and drinking.
It would be Yancey Caldwell who would take first place for their time laps video A Taste of Time that captured Sun Valley and the surrounding area in proper fashion. Smooth cuts and an invigorating soundtrack sent chills down your spine as you watched the snow pile up and Sun Valley take shape for the winter season.
Once the lights went up it was time for Burton’s premiere of 13, which, in my opinion, is one of its best movies yet. Introduced by Burton team manager Kevin Keller and riders Jeremy Jones (not the big mountain one, obviously) and Jack Mitrani, the movie began and the crowed cheered on in support.
Once the films wrapped up it was off to Whiskey Jacques and a live performance by Boulder’s Whiskey Blanket, a sort of new-age classical rap group that was surprising really good. The crowd busted into dance as members played instruments like the violin and cello while creatively rapping in three piece suites normally found at weddings. The entire night was one to remember (or not) as everyone present had the time of their lives closing down another year at Sun Valley for The Gathering.
If you couldn’t make it this year, we suggest you keep it on your radar for next September. It’s an industry even that will have you coming back year after year for great films, fun events and killer parties.