Walking into Sun Valley’s indoor skating rink last week to pick up my daughters from their lessons, I noticed a change in the air. On the ice were the regulars — working hard on their jumps and spins — but out of the corner of my eye came a blur of speed that ended in a back flip. I did a double take. That was Ryan Bradley, 2011 US Gold Medalist, US Silver Medalist and the headliner for the first Sun Valley on Ice July 4. The skaters were back in town!
Ashley Clark, a core skater for the past eight summers said that the tight-knit group looks forward to this reunion every year. “During the winter, we all go our separate ways and it is always terrific to show up to that first rehearsal,” she said. “On some level we all consider Sun Valley home, so it is a homecoming for sure.”
This winter, core skaters from Sun Valley on Ice could be found, among other locales, in Philadelphia (Brent Bommentre), New York (Kim Navarro), Hong Kong (Craig Heath), Florida (Jeremy Barrett), Colorado (Ryan Bradley) and San Francisco (Ashley). Joel Dear could even be found performing an amazing aerial act on a cruise ship at sea.
“We join Darlin Baker and Natalia Zaitseva, who are in Sun Valley year-round, as well as Jozef Sabovcik and it’s game on! Usually, whoever is in town gets together for dinner and drinks even before the first rehearsal and it’s great to catch up on what everyone’s been up to,” Ashley said. “And this year, three new skaters are joining the show, including Ryan, which is exciting. Everywhere we go we hear, ‘the skaters are back!’”
Though dispersed nine months of the year, Sun Valley on Ice remains on the performer’s minds. For instance, during her time in California, Ashley worked diligently on this summer’s programs including one based on the fire dancing lessons she took over the winter. Yes, you read that correctly, fire dancing… on ice.
Overall, the theme of this year’s production is based on Broadway hits and will appeal to everyone in the audience. Choreographer Lori Benton has been hard at work creating eye popping, memorable numbers that will most likely leave you humming long after the show.
In addition to the performances by the core skaters, the biggest names in figure skating grace Sun Valley ice each week. This year’s all-star lineup includes: Evan Lysacek, Johnny Weir, Surya Bonaly, Ashley Wagner, Kurt Browning, Alissa Czisny, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier as well as the up-and-comers of the Junior world. Ryan Bradley will remain with the cast for the summer, as well. For a full list of performers, please click here.
I have probably attended more than 30 Saturday night ice shows over the years, and it is still a thrill to be so close to the world’s best figure skaters, beneath a broad canopy of stars. There is something magical about Sun Valley ice shows, something singular, something that can only happen in Sun Valley. Whether you are here for a week, the summer, or forever, no visit to Sun Valley is complete without spending a Saturday night at the rink.
In order to make your experience the best it can be, here is Sun Valley on Ice 101:
• If you purchase bleacher seats, bring a blanket or extra jacket to sit on.
• Layer up! When the sun sets the temperature really drops.
• For a sneak peek at the show, grab lunch on the Gretchen’s patio on a Friday. Chances are, you will see members of the show practicing.
• The pros are all very gracious and love to sign autographs and chat with fans following the show. Be sure to stay if you’d like to say hello to your favorite skater.
• Clap loudly and smile broadly. The performers in Sun Valley on Ice say one of the reasons they so enjoy this show is that they are so close to the audience. They feel and feed off of your energy and enthusiasm.
• If children are coming to the show (which they absolutely should!), a nap earlier in the day is a good idea. Shows begin at dusk, which early in the summer doesn’t fall until 9:30 p.m. or later. The shows last about an hour. Napping on show nights was always a ritual for everyone at my house!
• An extra special way to enjoy Sun Valley on Ice is to make a reservation for the lavish dinner buffet on Gretchen’s terrace before the show.
• Up the ante even further by enjoying a special Sun Valley room package the night of the ice show. You will receive tickets to the performance and a wonderfully comfortable bed, all while remaining at the center of the action.
If you or your children are inspired by the ice show, most core performers, as well as Sun Valley’s other accomplished pros, are available for private lessons. Many also teach clinics that run throughout the day and are appropriate to many abilities. A few laps around the iconic outdoor rink is de rigueur no matter what. Skates and helmets are available to rent and general sessions, open to all, take place throughout the day. There is no cooler place to spend a hot summer day.