Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Growing up in El Paso near Hueco Tanks led Austin Rock Gym owner Troy Wilson to view rock climbing as a way of life. In order to open his own facility he merged his experience running youth climbing programs and gyms with that of his wife and coowner Erica—a Houston native who has spent years scaling New Mexico's rocky ridges. Specializing in bouldering, belaying, and lead climbing, the duo brings mountain terrain indoors at two Austin area locations. The north Austin gym's 30-foot bouldering wall and colorful climbing routes challenge visitors to traverse steep angles, and its top-rope routes let belayed crag clingers scale to the perfect yodeling height. At the south Austin gym, sculpted, 30-foot textured walls loom over a 10,000-square-foot facility, in which climbers can belay, practice lead climbing, or conquer a bouldering cave.
Veteran climbers at each location teach classes and private lessons for rookie rockers 4 and older. In addition to bouldering, lead climbing, and belaying classes, instructors lead women's only sessions and Powerhouse courses that focus on strengthening the body's core. Troy and Tracy's team of experts also guides groups to outdoor climbing venues and lugs a portable rock wall to construction workers no longer challenged by ladders.
Although Stewart Yaros has performed with numerous elite companies, including the Boston Ballet and the Basel Ballet in Switzerland, his true passion is teaching dance. Teaching allowed the University of Massachusetts and Martha Mahr School of Ballet alumnus to combine his finely honed dance expertise and his zeal for communicating with others via the "common language" of dance in particular and the arts in general.
That theme of unity and togetherness dates back to the early days of Dance International, circa 1991, when the now bustling center for dance tutoring consisted of three students, their devoted teacher, and an old player piano that played Chopsticks. Today, the organization has swelled into a hub for upbeat, accessible instruction from professional-level teachers and is well-known for organizing the Austin Ballroom Festival.
Part of the guiding vision for Dance International is a focus on community service, as well as promoting the arts by introducing music and visual forms into the dance milieu. True to its multidisciplinary ambitions, the Dance International empire recently achieved 501(c)3 national nonprofit status and will soon add art and music classes.
Three-time Masters Champion Jimmy Demaret states, “I simply followed the natural features of the land” to explain the genesis of his brainchild, the Onion Creek Club. Here 18 holes of championship golf—designed by course architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore—sprawl alongside tennis courts and a clubhouse with a fitness center and junior-Olympic-size swimming pool. The par-70 course’s claim to fame is having hosted the inaugural Senior PGA event in 1978, four years after the greens’ bermuda grass first whimpered under cleated feet. Its signature third hole invites golfers to play aggressively with their drivers in order to vault orbs onto a landing strip guarded by trees and a creek, or to grip their irons and aim for a narrow green that has notoriously uncommunicative air-traffic controllers.
In addition to the course and its accompanying driving range with 30 hitting stations, Onion Creek Club invites racket-wielders to take advantage of lighted hard and clay tennis courts. The clubhouse’s fitness center challenges muscles with Cybex strength machines, and its junior-Olympic-size pool allows 9 irons to slip into their bikinis and go for a splash.
At River Place Country Club, a championship golf course designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Kite, winner of the 1992 U.S. Open, invites golfers to launch balls over sand bunkers and twisting creeks that wend their way through the landscape’s hilly contours. The course’s superintendent draws on experience at Baton Rouge Country Club and Colonial Country Club, as well as a degree in Plant and Soil Systems, as he ensures that the greens and rolling Bermuda grass fairways are more carefully manicured than a prize-winning pet wooly mammoth. The course’s PGA professional instructors are on hand to improve individual games, and a driving range lets players practice at 15 hitting stations.
Adjacent to the course, eight lighted tennis courts abut a 40,000-square-foot clubhouse with an outdoor pool, fully equipped fitness center, and locker rooms whose dry saunas and whirlpools melt tension quicker than butter melts on the calves of a sprinter. The Grille invites clubgoers to sup on steak or seafood, and a pair of outdoor decks let guests drink in scenic views.
Course at a Glance:
"If you can see how beautiful your culture is," China Smith told Austin360, "you can see how beautiful you are." After eight years of teaching dance in East Austin schools, China realized how few opportunities there were to expose students to black art, something she believes is vital to the self-empowerment of her young students. This realization led her to found Ballet Afrique, a performing ensemble and dance studio that blends classical ballet and modern dance with African American culture. Ballet Afrique's team of artists aim to enrich the lives of performers, audiences, and students alike under the belief that expressive movement "transcends race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds."
In addition to their performances and lectures, the rhythmically inclined dancers also teach classes from their tranquil studio, drawing in pupils of all ages and experience levels. Young twinkle toes learn the fundamentals of ballet, modern, and African dance, and an all-male tap dancing class for ages 9–17 encourages bonding, mentorship, and new ways to communicate with the downstairs neighbors.