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

Fire, Now Ice

After the stress and uncertainty of the past two weeks, it is probably safe to say everyone in the Wood River Valley could use a little entertainment right about now — preferably something cool after all the heat generated by the Beaver Creek Fire.

Sun Valley On Ice is the coolest ticket in town and this week it's free

Sun Valley On Ice is the coolest ticket in town and this week it's free and for a great cause

Sun Valley has just the ticket and invites you to be their guest this Saturday night, August 24, for the spectacle that is Sun Valley On Ice. These ice shows are synonymous with the resort and have showcased the finest figure skaters in the world for more than 70 years. If you haven’t been to an ice show for a while, or even if you have, be sure to come by on Saturday night when general admission is free. Seating in the bleachers will be first come, first served and it promises to be a night to remember!

Best of all, not only will you enjoy a wonderful evening of excitement beneath the wide expanse of Idaho’s summertime, nighttime sky, you will be supporting a great cause. In lieu of charging for entrance Saturday night, Sun Valley is asking that patrons donate to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation. Without the bravery and dedication of more than 1,500 firefighters waging war against the flames up and down valley this month, much of what we collectively cherish could have been lost. This is one way Sun Valley is thanking the firefighters for their efforts.

More than 1,500 firefighters protected the Valley from the monster Beaver Creek Fire. We thank them and raise money for them Saturday night. (photo Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1)

More than 1,500 firefighters protected the Valley from the monster Beaver Creek Fire. We thank them and raise money for them Saturday night. (photo Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1)

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, located in Boise, focuses on helping families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and assisting injured firefighters and their families. Head of Marketing Jack Sibbach said Sun Valley “honors and acknowledges past, present and future members of the wildland firefighting community,” and “wishes to bring recognition to wildland firefighters.”

We profoundly thank the wildland firefighters for putting themselves at risk day after day to protect this amazing place (photo Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1)

We profoundly thank the wildland firefighters for putting themselves at risk day after day to protect this amazing place (photo Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1)

 

Among Sun Valley’s core skaters, keep an eye on Joel Dear and ice dancers Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre who recently electrified the country with their eye popping Aerial Ice act on the television show America’s Got Talent. The threesome advanced to the final rounds with the rest of their ensemble at Radio City Music Hall before being told that they wouldn’t be moving on.

The only fire you will see Saturday night is in Ashley Clark's hot act (photo Bob McDowell)

The only fire you will see Saturday night is in Ashley Clark's hot act (photo Bob McDowell)

And you will see some fire Saturday night, but it will come from skater Ashley Clark. One of her solo acts this season incorporates her recent training as a fire dancer. It is truly mesmerizing.

Grab a blanket to sit on, come early for a glass of wine or a beer and be sure to bring a jacket for cooler evening temperatures. The suggested donation is $20, but that is by no means a requirement for attendance. The evening’s entertainment begins at dusk (around 9 p.m.) and doors open at 7 p.m.

If you’d like to make a real night of it and celebrate the growing containment of the fire, dinner and show tickets are available for purchase for $99 and include a wonderful buffet at Gretchen’s Restaurant terrace and a great view of all the action on the ice.

Sun Valley On Ice is one of the Resort’s longest-running traditions and a big part of what makes Sun Valley, Sun Valley. Come to the rink Saturday night to honor the firefighters, cheer on the skaters and enjoy what is sure to be a spectacular, and relaxing, late summer’s night. Once again, thank you firefighters.

–RES

Let us entertain you. The cast of Sun Valley On Ice performs beneath the stars earlier this summer.

Let us entertain you. The cast of Sun Valley On Ice performs beneath the stars earlier this summer.

The Skaters are Back in Town

Don't miss the magic of Sun Valley on Ice

Don't miss the magic of Sun Valley on Ice

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.”

Ashley Clark heats up Sun Valley ice

The one and only Ashley Clark heats things up

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.

Consummate performer Craig Heath puts a smile on everyone's face

Consummate performer Craig Heath puts a smile on everyone's face

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.

Tickets are available online, at the Sun Valley Recreation Office in the Village (208-622-2135 or toll free 888-622-2108) and at the box office the night of the show based on availability.

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.

Headliners, like Sasha Cohen, are usually happy to meet fans after the show

Headliners, like Sasha Cohen, are usually happy to meet fans after the show

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.

–RES