The Battle is Back

Even though Sun Valley On Ice concluded its star-studded season with a performance from the one-and-only Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek on August 30, things remain hot at the rink in September.

This year's contestants are in it to win it for the non-profit of their choice. Pictured L to R are Bob Polk, Zach Crist, Emilie duPont, Scott Slonim, Christine Davis-Jeffers. Chris Koch reclines. Not pictured are Maggie Acker, Megan Thomas and George Rizzo. (Photo James Bourret)

This year’s contestants are in it to win it for the non-profit of their choice. Pictured L to R are Bob Polk, Zach Crist, Emilie duPont, Scott Slonim, Christine Davis-Jeffers. Chris Koch reclines. Not pictured are Maggie Acker, Megan Thomas and George Rizzo. (Photo James Bourret)

Battle of the Blades … Bigger, Badder and Better than Ever” returns to center ice on Friday, September 5. This community fundraiser put on by the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club promises to again raise the proverbial roof. If you missed the sold-out events in 2011 and 2012, Battle of the Blades pairs nine local celebrity amateurs with highly accomplished figure skating professionals. Each competes in a professionally choreographed, fully costumed two-minute routine. A panel of celebrity judges provides 50 percent of the final score while the other half is determined by an audience applause meter. To further inspire community involvement, each contestant chooses a non-profit organization to represent. The top three finishers all win cold hard cash for the worthy organization of their choice.

Contestant Megan Thomas and partner pro Ty Cockrum make it looks easy during a rehearsal (photo Becky Smith)

Contestant Megan Thomas and partner pro Ty Cockrum make it looks easy during a rehearsal (photo Becky Smith)

This year’s contestants and their designated non-profits are (in alphabetical order): Maggie Acker for the Animal Shelter, Zach Crist for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Emilie duPont for the Flourish Foundation, Christine Davis-Jeffers for The Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Chris Koch for Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Bob Polk for Community School, George Rizzo for Camp Rainbow Gold, Scott Slonim for The Hunger Coalition and Megan Thomas for the St. Luke’s Foundation. The contestants are taking their preparation seriously. Many have limited skating backgrounds but have spent hours with their partners fine-turning programs that will be wildly entertaining.

Contestant Chris Koch hams it up with partner Stephanee Grosscup

Contestant Chris Koch hams it up with partner Stephanee Grosscup

The pros generously giving their time to the fundraiser are familiar faces from the rink. This years’ pros are (in alphabetical order): Darlin Baker, Brent Bommentre, Ashley Clark, Ty Cockrum, Joel Dear, Stephanee Grosscup, Jonathon Hunt, Kim Navarro and Natalia Zaitseva.

Sun Valley's golden girl, snowboard champ Kaitlyn Farrington returns to the event to inspire all the valley's children. Here, she is shown competing in Battle of the Blades 2012 with partner Eddie Gornik (photo James Bourret)

Sun Valley’s golden girl, snowboard champ Kaitlyn Farrington returns to the event to inspire all the valley’s children. Here, she is shown competing in Battle of the Blades 2012 with partner Eddie Gornik (photo James Bourret)

Sun Valley’s own golden girl, Kaitlyn Farrington who took the gold medal at snowboard halfpipe in Sochi will also be in on the fun. Kaitlyn skated in the 2012 installment of the event in between training sessions in New Zealand. Just back from more intensive training in Argentina, Kaitlyn will graciously return to the rink as a role model to all the children and an honored member of the community.

2012 winner Miles Fink-Debray takes a victory lap with partner Natalia Zaitseva in front of the sell out crowd

2012 winner Miles Fink-Debray takes a victory lap with partner Natalia Zaitseva in front of the sell out crowd (photo James Bourret)

The time-proven team of Lisa-Marie Allen and Gia Guddat are the show’s artistic directors and Nick Maricich acts as Prodution Manager. All three brings collective decades of experience to the endeavor. Additional coaching hours were volunteered by Lisa-Marie Allen, Judy Blumberg, Anita Hartshorn and Stefanie O’Neill and Dawn Peterson.

Battle of the Blades is definitely a community event, meant to generate money to get more children into the lifelong sport of figure skating.

Langely McNeal won gold during Battle of the Blades 2011 with partner Kelly Smith and some killer 80s music. She returns to the event, but this time in the judges chair

Langely McNeal won gold during Battle of the Blades 2011 with partner Kelly Smith and some killer 80s music. She returns to the event, but this time in the judges chair (photo James Bourret)

“After the first two Battle of the Blades, we were able to offer numerous group lessons for skaters of many abilities, all at an extremely discounted rate,” said SVFSC board member Peter Hendricks. “We were also able to bring children to the rink from the area’s elementary schools to take skating lessons during the traditional ski days. Figure skating pros and hockey players worked with students during these very successful afternoons. Our goal with Battle of the Blades 2014 is to continue and expand on these programs and to get kids on the ice who might not otherwise have the opportunity to skate.”

The amazing cast and crew of the 2012 event celebrate doing good and having fun

The amazing cast and crew of the 2012 event celebrate doing good and having fun (photo James Bourret)

This summer, the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club celebrated its 75th year, making it one of the most venerable and long-running clubs in the country and what better way to celebrate.

Surprises await at every turn and some of them are star-studded. Don’t miss the feel good fundraiser of the year. Tickets are only available online at sunvalleyfsc.com. Get yours today and don’t miss out on what everyone will be talking about Monday morning!

Let the battle begin!

–RES