There’s a feeling you get skiing Sun Valley Resort, as the morning sun catches the snow crystals floating in the air and the pressed corduroy purrs under your edges. It’s the feeling of perfection, really—and, evidenced by the sheer number of them lining the ski racks at the base, it’s best experienced with a pair of race-bred Stöckli skis on your feet.
Indeed, no other resort has such a strong affinity for one brand than Sun Valley does for Stöckli. And to cater to the diehard fans, the Swiss ski company will open its first-ever U.S. demo center and specialty store this season in the Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports store located in the Warm Springs Lodge at the base of Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain. The staff will be specially trained in all things Stöckli, and customers can rest assured that the skis on their feet will be tuned to perfection thanks to the ski resort’s state-of-the-art Wintersteiger Mercury tuning machine.
What’s the connection between this corner of Idaho and a high-end Swiss ski company? Well, Sun Valley is known for its passionate skiers—skiers who appreciate the precision and craftsmanship of a Stöckli, the brand that just swept nearly half of this publication’s “best in test” awards at the annual ski test. “Sun Valley isn’t on the way to anywhere, so the people who come here are here to ski,” says Sam Cochran, a 23-year Sun Valley local and the Brand Manager and Hardgoods Buyer for Sun Valley’s Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports retail stores.
“This is a skier’s mountain,” agrees George Couperthwait, president of Stöckli USA. “It has steep, long runs, and the demanding terrain is where quality shines through. Each pair of Stöckli skis takes 12 days to make. There are a lot of good skiers here, and they can feel the difference.”
Stöckli has been around since 1935, just one year before Sun Valley opened its doors to the public and started spinning the world’s first chairlift, and their skis are handmade right in the heart of Switzerland. According to Cochran, it’s fitting that the heritage brand is what the locals gravitate toward, because Sun Valley—which just won top honors in this publication’s Resort Guide for grooming, lifts, and service (in addition to taking home the overall no. 1 resort ranking for the second year in a row)—is America’s original destination ski resort. “There are a lot of similarities between the brands,” Cochran says.
The demo center and specialty store will sell exclusive Stöckli accessories like sweatshirts, t-shirts, ski bags, and ski poles, but the most important and unique aspect of it will be the full demo fleet available for guests to rent—just steps away from the world’s best ski-testing ground. The Challenger Express lift boasts the most vertical gain of any chairlift on the continent (3140 feet, to be exact), and demo customers can switch ski models and sizes throughout the day to figure out what’s best for them. “We have world-class skiing—literally the best groomers in North America—right out the door. No other shop can offer that,” Cochran says. And should you decide to take a pair home with you, the price of the demo can be applied towards the purchase.
So, if you already have Sun Valley on your bucket list (which, of course, every serious skier should), you might need to add a pair of Stöcklis as well. These handmade marvels of Swiss engineering feel, well, perfect for this place.