Linking Turns: New Sun Country directs, kids turning to the outdoors and crushing 90,000 vertical feet in a day

Midwest Ski Journal likes to highlight a few pieces of skiing internet worth your time in Linking Turns. Find the best, most important, least important and otherwise links here each week.

This week, we look at Sun Country’s new flights to our favorite mountains. Then, we look at data showing American kids trending towards individual, outdoor sports in lieu of team sports. Plus, how a man logged 90,000 vertical feet in one day at Beaver Creek.

TURN 1: Sun Country adds direct flights to Jackson and Whitefish (Sun Country Airlines)

Minnesota-based budget airline Sun Country announced last week that it would be adding direct flights to the skiing hubs of Jackson, Wyoming and Kalispell, Montana.

Jackson, the airport closest to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and Kalispell, the closest airport to Whitefish and Glacier National Park, are currently serviced by other airlines out of Minneapolis-St. Paul, but not always direct and not always affordably.

Sun Country’s new routes include Kalispell and Jackson, putting Midwesterners in the heart of some of our country’s best skiing. (Sun Country Airlines)

The news of Sun Country adding these destinations comes as a nice surprise. While Sun Country has some restrictive bag and seat fees that I almost always try to avoid, giving Delta a little competition on those routes will only benefit the consumer.

This likely won’t bear out until next ski season, but let’s hope the competition gets us out west a little easier and cheaper.

TURN 2: Team Sports Are on the Decline. And That’s OK. (Ryan Van Bibber/Outside)

This is a fascinating story that deserves your attention.

What this story from Ryan Van Bibber shows is that kids had to find other pastimes without their team sports during the pandemic, but that the trend took hold well before COVID-19.

From 2008 to 2018, the participation rate of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 dropped from 45 to 38 percent, due largely to the increasing costs, time commitments, and competitive nature of organized sports leagues. And in the wake of most athletic programs getting shut down last spring, three in ten children who previously played team sports now say they’re no longer interested in doing so, according to a study from the Aspen Institute.

Ryan Van Bibber/Outside

This year, bicycling became the third most popular sport for kids (up from 16th), according to the Aspen Institute. Yellowstone saw more visitors in July 2020 than it did the previous year. State parks have seen a surge, too, as more families got outdoors but stayed closer to home to do so; some parks even ballooned past capacity and had to turn people away or issue warnings and direct visitors to lesser known sites. 

Ryan Van Bibber/Outside

The above paragraphs, based in data, outline what will be an interesting trend to follow over the next decade. Was this a pandemic mirage? Or are kids really ditching ball sports for the outdoors?

TURN 3: How this skier got a cool 90K vertical at Beaver Creek in one day (Ross Leonhart/Vail Daily News)

The writer of this story once skied a 70,000 vertical feet day at Beaver Creek and inspired a reader living at the mountain during the pandemic to beat it.

The guy, an east-coaster by way of Texas, rode the Birds of Prey lift at Beaver Creek 39 times in one day to reach the 90,000 feet threshold.

More impressive: Zero bathroom breaks, one frozen camelback and a pocket lunch.

He credits the record to his grandpa’s old saying.

“He always said a good day of skiing is when he could get it down to 10 cents a run,” Boblitt said following the feat at Beaver Creek. “That may no longer be possible, but I did my best.”

Ross Leonhart/Vail Daily News

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