Community April 4, 2013

360 Profiles

BY Erin Pfaeffle

Age: 17
School: The Sage School
Siblings: Younger brother Milo, 13
Styles: Artist of many mediums

There isn’t an art medium that Andrew Ryason can’t master. From his humble beginnings of drawing manga (a comic art form from Japan) with pencils during elementary school, to his recent creation of a leather and copper-riveted great helm (a medieval helmet), Andrew’s artistic ability is diverse and impressive. Sitting down to speak with him was like getting a semester’s worth of an art survey course in an hour. There is no doubt this young man has a colorful future ahead of him.  

Andrew Ryason

How long have you been an artist? 
I first started to draw in 4th grade when my parents gave me some step-by-step guidebooks for drawing manga. From there I spread out and did things on my own. I worked on my technique for a really long time, just continuously drawing, drawing and drawing.

How did you get into it? 
It really started with those manga books and since then I have taken numerous art classes, mostly through the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. When I was in middle school and high school at Wood River I would hang out in the art rooms and just draw.  

Where do you practice? 
I’ve had incredible opportunities to take classes locally, mostly through the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, and study with local and visiting artists. Otherwise, if I have a sketch book with me, I will sketch wherever I am. I also paint and draw in my room a lot, even though I get in trouble for that because I have carpeted floors!

What are the keys to being good at it? 
Pencil, paper, and tons of practice! Take classes as much as you can, absorb like a sponge and learn as much as you can. Try new mediums until you are comfortable with one and then keep doing it. 

What are your greatest achievements so far? 
My greatest achievement is that I am able to get my schoolwork done. With the help of a tutor I have figured out a system of how to learn using art forms for memorization. School is rigorous and you have to be engaged and I’m proud of actually doing something in school. 

Why is the Wood River Valley a good place for your skills & passions?
Art surrounds me, it’s literally everywhere. There are lots of artists willing to help you if you’re willing to ask them. It’s amazing what you can find in this tiny community—big opportunities with lots of interesting people to meet and learn from. 

Any tips to for people new to being an artist?
If you see a piece of art in this community that you like you can usually easily find out who created it. Call them up.  Ask them for help. 

Who iare your biggest influences? 
Currently the biggest influences in my life are spray paint artist Percy Fortini-Wright and local sculptor Tom Tiege.

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream? 
Salted Caramel from Seattle.

Who is your hero?
My family. They deal with me, help me through things and give me tons of support.

What’s your favorite “kids” meal? 
Mexican food and sushi.

Do you participate in any other hobbies/activities? 
In the summer I am part of the Belegarth group of foam fighters (a Medieval Combat Society) and in the winter I ski with the Sun Valley Free Ride team. 

Favorite movie?

Favorite book?
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Favorite musician? 
I listen to such a wide range of music that it’s too hard to choose. 

Place you’d most like to visit?


BY Margot Ramsay

Pets: Two dogs: Koukla (means “Dolly” in Greek), a Welshspringer; Layla, a yellow Lab
Company: Mindful Movement for Kids

Debra Drake is one of the most animated people that you will ever meet. Her long red hair and South African accent will immediately intrigue you, and after having a conversation with her you’ll realize why she has such a profound effect on the children in her dance classes—she is beyond passionate about promoting “healthy and whole child development,” and is most certainly a kid at heart.

Debra DrakeHow long have you been dancing and teaching?
Over 20 years.

How did you get into it?
I developed an interest and passion for the human body as a child when I helped my grandmother deliver babies in our small village in South Africa.  She was a doula and spiritual healer in the village and at the age four, I became her assistant.

Where do you teach?
Studio Move in Ketchum.

What are the keys to being good at it?
I am a kid at heart and have an incredible passion for children.  Being animated is very important, as is being able to deal with the chaos of classes filled with small children!

Who is/are your  biggest influences?
My grandmother and Christine Roberts, my mentor.

Why is the Wood River Valley a good place for your skill/passion?
My studio is very versatile; I use it for kid’s parties, exercise classes and anything else that works in the space. “The studio is a place for the very young and the very young at heart to come and play.”

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?
Rum Raisin

Who is yourhero?
My husband

What’s your favorite “kids” meal?
Lobster and macaroni and cheese

What’s your motto? 
To share my abundance of joy and compassion.

Do you participate in any other sports?
Hiking, biking, skiing, and lots and lots of dancing


BY Julie Gallagher

Ages: Eva Carlson, 10, Zach Deal, 12, and Mason Johnson, 12.
Team: Sun Valley 5B Swim Team

Despite being smack dab in the middle of a landlocked state, thanks to Sun Valley’s 5B Swim Team, the Wood River Valley has a pretty impressive history of producing top quality swimmers. So we decided to shine a spotlight on a few up and coming local swimmers.

Eva Carlson, Zach Deal, Mason Johnson

How long have you been swimming competitively?
Eva: Two years, since I was 8. But I started swim classes when I was 6 months old with my mom.
Zach: Since I was five, first with Wood River Dolphins in the summer, and the last two years with (Coach) Brian Gallagher and SV5B.
Mason: Five years. I started swimming with Magic Valley Dolphins at age 7.

What are the keys to being good swimmers?
Eva: Practicing a lot and listening to Brian!
Zach: Devotion, no slacking, making every training set worth it!
Mason: Consistency in training, attitude, effort and dedication…you get what you put into it!

Any tips for people new to the sport?
Eva: You have to try really hard.
Zach: You really need to like swimming and stick to it no matter how hard it is. Learn how to focus so you can do your best.
Mason: You need a lot of dedication and have to be willing to work hard … and your parents need to be super supportive.

Where do you train?
At the “Y” during the school-year, Harker Center in the summer.

Who is your biggest influence?
Eva: My dad who is a ski racer and mountain bike racer; and my mom who skis and mountain bikes too.
Zach: My mom who works hard to help me and my sister and my coach Brian, who is so calm and fun. He believes in me and encourages me.
Mason: My mom and dad who encourage me, my sister, Maddie,who’s so supportive, and my coach, Brian, who believes in me.

Favorite class in school?
Eva: I love my school and I like Math and Science; in English I read about Gertrude Ederle who swam the English Channel.
Zach: Language arts. I am a huge reader and am reading the biography of Lynne Cox, a long-distance swimmer who set records swimming both the English and Catalina Channels.
Mason: Math, science and art.

What’s your motto?
Zach: Never give up…and just keep smiling!
Mason: Do your best and NO SLACKING! I get kind of irritated when kids don’t try their hardest.

Favorite book?
Eva: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.
Zach: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Mason: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini and Lord of Chaos (Wheel of Time, Part 6) by Robert Jordan.


BY Erin Pfaeffle

Age: 17
School: Senior at Wood River High School
Siblings: Younger sister Natalie, 13
Pets: Kobe the Cockatiel
Role: Camp Counselor

Edwin Garcia believes that “anyone can help anybody at anytime, no matter how big the issue.”  When he was in 6th grade, Edwin attended the Blaine County School District’s Environmental Camp and it had such a positive impact on his life that he decided to pay it back (and forward) by being a counselor there during his junior and senior years.  It’s hard not to notice Edwin’s patient and caring nature.

Edwin Garcia

How did you get into being a camp counselor? 
My counselor when I was at camp was really cool, really nice. He gave me a different way to look at things. He showed me how to be helpful to others and how to show other kids not to look at things as being so dull or boring.  I discovered that I could help younger students succeed and become better people.

What are your greatest achievements so far?
Completing my Senior Project, I made and designed a long (skate) board. I’m also very proud that I have pushed through so many struggles in life, especially with family. I try to be someone my sister can look up to by being a great brother and a great person. Coping with personal struggles helped me open my eyes and realize I needed to change and be someone my sister could look up to.  I had to change for myself, but to also help my family stay in a positive place.

What are the keys to being a good counselor? 
Patience, first of all, and a willingness to help, to be caring, kind and not just be an adult figure, but someone the kids can have fun with. Being a good friend who the kids can trust and be honest with.  

Why is the Wood River Valley a good place for your skills & passions? 
There are so many things to do here, like the Idaho Drug Free Youth program.  It’s a great way to help kids get their minds off of things, a great way to spend time with other people, with lots of fun activities.  

Any tips for others interested in science or Environmental Camp?
Sometimes kids just need that one person to be their friend, to push them through, when they are sad or depressed.  It doesn’t have to be family. It can be anyone.  

Who is your biggest influence? 
My mother. She has been through so much and has the will and strength to push forward and focus on the positive in life. She is strong and independent and pushes my sister and me to always do our best.  

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream? 
Cookies and Cream

What’s your favorite “kids” meal? 
I love food—that’s hard!  If I had to choose, it would be tamales, the sweet, sugary ones.  

What’s your motto? 
“Everyone dies, but not everyone lives.”

Do you participate in any sports? 
I play basketball for Wood River High School and pick-up soccer and football.

Favorite movie? 
The Avengers

Favorite book? 
Petey by Ben Mikaelsen

Favorite musician? 

Place you’d most like to visit? 


BY Morgan Buckert

Ages: 10 and 12
School: Kaia is in 6th grade at the Wood River Middle School. Anja is in 5th at Hailey Elementary.
Pets: A Labrador named Toffee and two fish, a betta named Dragon and a goldfish named Moustache.
Sport: Mountain Biking

Kaia and Anja Jensen, mountain biking machines and sisters from Hailey, have a full schedule maximizing their fun in the Wood River Valley. Between ski team practices, ballet and soccer practice and experimenting in the kitchen, these girls are shredding on local trails with their parents and in races. So watch out—they may pass you at any moment.

Kaia and Anja Jensen

How long have you been mountain biking?
We both started riding seven years ago with our parents, when we were three and five and we usually ride with our family.

Where and what do you usually ride? 
We usually ride out Croy Canyon (west of Hailey). Kaia rides a blue Stumpjumper and Anja rides their mom’s old Specialized S-Works.

What is your favorite ride?  
For Kaia it’s Fisher Creek (in the Stanley Basin) and Punchline (at Croy Canyon).  For Anja, it’s Forbidden Fruit (at Adams Gulch).

What are the keys to being a good mountain biker?
“Practice riding, have fun and have good snacks like granola bars and Stingers,” Kaia advised. “Good balance and good people to ride with like family and friends,” recommended Anaj. What are your greatest achievements so far?  For Kaia it was taking 3rd in the Wood River Cup. For Anja it was finishing the Galena Grinder and taking 4th Place at Nationals in 2012.

Why is the Wood River Valley a good place for your skills and passions?  
Kaia said, “It’s never really hot and there are lots of cool places to ride.”  Anja said, “There are lots of cool places to ride.”  They both said, “We have learned a lot at the Powerhouse Kids Mountain Biking Summer Camp.”

Any tips to for people new to your sport?
Kaia recommends, “Starting without much uphill and taking short, fun rides.”  Anja advises to, “Start with lots of downhill! Maximum downhill for minimum uphill is the best.”

What is your favorite ride?  
For Kaia it’s Fisher Creek (in the Stanley Basin) and Punchline (at Croy Canyon).  For Anja, it’s Forbidden Fruit (at Adam’s Gulch).
Who are your biggest influences?
Anja said her biggest influences are Anja Pearson (alpine skier) and Luma Randolph (mountain biker).

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?
Kaia said it’s her sister Anja’s “cardamom ice cream. She makes lots of great ice cream.”  Anja said it’s “Eggnog!” but “the weirdest ice cream I’ve made was green tea. It wasn’t a good idea.”

What’s your favorite “kids” meal?
Kaia prefers “salmon or any seafood, really,” while Anja likes ribs and steak.

Do you participate in any other sports?  
Kaia participates in ballet, soccer and on the swim team. She’s also a member of the alpine team for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF). Anja is a member of SVSEF’s Nordic and Alpine programs, and also plays soccer and is a member of the swim team.

Favorite movie?  
Both Kaia and Anja are fans of the Harry Potter series.

Favorite book?
For Kaia it’s the Inheritance series by Nancy Varian Berberick and J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  Ana is a fan of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Favorite musician?
Kaia likes The Lumineers.  “My ski team teammates sing a lot, too,” she said. Anja is a fan of Michael Franti.

Place you’d most like to visit?
For Kaia it’s “France because I’m taking French.”  And for Anja it’s “Anywhere I’m surrounded by water.”


BY Mike McKenna

Age: 42
Occupation: Program Director/Snowboard Coach for Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF)
Family: JaNessa, his wife, and their two kids, Angus and Olive.

Well known for his passion and enthusiasm as a snowboard coach, Andy Gilbert has a gift for turning regular riders into impassioned ones. Born in Sun Valley, Andy grew up in Portland, Oregon, as a ski racer. But after falling in love with skateboarding, he eventually took his boarding to the snow, returning to the Valley to coach the sport 20 years ago. Since then, Andy has been helping Sun Valley produce some of the best snowboarders on the planet.

Andy Gilbert

When did you learn to snowboard?
I grew up skiing. My great-grandfather was a ski jumper at Mount Hood and that’s where I was on the race team. But after I started snowboarding I just got hooked on it. There really wasn’t much snowboarding yet, so we had to piece our own gear together.

How long have you been coaching?
I was hired to work with the little kids, the young elementary school kids, in the winter of 1993-94 and I immediately loved it.

Where do you usually coach?
We try to utilize both mountains so we can create well-rounded, solid snowboarders who can handle any terrain. So we spend time at both Baldy and Dollar.

What are the keys to being a good snowboarder?
Fundamentals. Kids need to be able to carve a solid turn before they start hitting the park.

What are your greatest achievements in coaching so far?
The biggest achievement is helping kids become passionate, life-long snowboarders. Sure, you’re going to have the occasional break-through athletes like Kaitlyn Farrington, Wyatt Caldwell or Graham Watanabe who make it huge. But the real reward is when kids come back to town and stop by to say ‘Hi’ and you can see that snowboarding is still an important and rewarding part of their lives. That’s huge.

Besides Sun Valley, what’s your other favorite place to ride?
Jackson Hole.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Mint chip.

Who is your hero?
Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead.

Favorite "kids" meal?
Chicken strips and fries.

Favorite movie?
"Smokey and the Bandit."

Place you’d most like to visit?

Any tips for newbies to snowboarding?
Don’t be afraid. Give it a chance. It will change your life.

What is your biggest influence?
Skateboarding. None of this would have happened if I didn’t start skateboarding when I was 13.

What’s your motto?
It comes from an old coaching buddy from Vermont: “You know you got it. And even when you don’t got it, you got it.”

Other sports you like?
Skateboarding, soccer and horseshoes.

What makes Sun Valley such a great place for snowboarders?
The accessibility. How easy it is to access great terrain and parks as good as the stuff we ride anywhere in the country. It’s also just the culture of the Valley. The schools are supportive and SVSEF does an extremely good job. It’s just a really supportive community.


BY Margot Ramsay

Age: 12
School: 7th grader at Wood River Middle School
Siblings: 4 sisters and 1 brother
Pets: A pit bull named “Mancha” and 4 chickens

One look at Lili Gil riding her horse at Swiftsure Ranch and you’ll understand she truly lives by her philosophy, “be positive and don’t give up.”  Lily is a junior high school student whose arm was amputated at birth due to a deformity and she’s discovered that riding is more than a passion— it’s helped her realize her dream is to be a pediatrician when she grows up so she can “help take care of other kids.”

Lili Gil

How long have you been riding horses?
I’ve been riding for four years and ride every Saturday during the school year and two or three times during the week in the summer.

How did you get into it?
Sun Valley Adaptive Sports sent me information on skiing and riding and I decided to try riding horses.

What are the keys to being good at it? 
“Keep trying.”  I was excited and nervous when I first started riding. I loved it right away and want to keep doing it for a long time.

What are your greatest achievements so far? 
Switching from “neck reining” (controlling the horse with one hand), to using a specially designed “Rein-Bow Rein Loops” so I can use both arms.  Also, being able to assist in lessons and help other riders.

Any tips for people new to your sport?
Think positive and don’t give up!

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?

Who is your hero?
My older sister, Claudia who’s 20.

What’s your favorite “kids” meal?
Posole, which is like a soup made with corn, meat and chilies.

What’s your motto?
“Stay positive and don’t give up and you can do anything.”

Do you participate in any other sports?
Skiing and soccer.

Favorite movie?
“TheThree Stooges.”

Favorite book?
A Child Called “It” by David Pelzer.

Favorite music?
R and B.

Place you’d most like to visit?





This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.