The Sun Valley Lodge boasts one of the most beautiful, unusual and iconic backyards in the nation. The year-round outdoor ice rink is the largest in the world and sets the stage for Sun Valley’s famous Saturday night ice shows, the crowd-pleasing Christmas Eve Nutcracker on Ice and competitions for skaters from all over the nation. As the old adage goes, everyone who is anyone in figure skating has performed in Sun Valley. Every Olympic medalist in recent history, world champions and the sport’s rising stars all love skating in Sun Valley’s intimate venue under the stars.
Last week, this huge slab of ice was also the platform to launch a lifelong love of skating for about 35 children participating in the first “Skate With Us” class of the year. This program, sponsored by the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club, invites youngsters to learn skating basics in a supportive group setting, taught by some of Sun Valley’s outstanding coaches.
Giggles, chatter and smiles prevailed as the mostly four to seven-year-olds wiggled while parents and caregivers wrestled with fidgety feet, lacing them into skate boots. When asked if they were excited, the answer was a resounding “yes!” and “skating is fun!” Josie Sarchett was one of the first on the ice, gliding confidently out to the middle, a seasoned pro in her second year of “Skate With Us.” Sporting the signature Sun Valley fall uniform of summer shorts with a puffy coat, a misplaced toe pick landed her on the ice. “Maybe I should have worn pants,” she laughed.
Skating is an integral part of most local kids’ childhoods. Many join the Figure Skating Club to learn to glide, spin and jump their way through either a competitive track or just for enjoyment. Countless others pick up a hockey stick and puck and play on the Resort’s indoor rink as a part of Sun Valley Youth Hockey. Skating birthday parties and get-togethers are wildly popular. And, why not? Where else can you skate, every day of the year, with the picturesque Lodge on one side, and views of Dollar and Baldy on the other?
The smiles on the little “Skate With Us” participants shone as bright as the Sun Valley sun as they extended gloved hands to a coach, anxious to get going. Who knows? Among this group may be a future national champion, a show skater or someone who simply will enjoy skating for decades to come.
As the mother of two competitive figure skaters and one aspiring hockey player, the Sun Valley ice rinks are my home-away-from-home. During the winter months, it is a certainty that we will be skating, collectively, at least four to five days a week. If you are looking for me, the rink is a good place to start! It has been wonderful to see the confidence, dedication and character my own kids have built through their time on the ice. Nothing like a few hard falls to inspire you to get up and get it right. I highly recommend a spin or two around the rink to any guest, local, or aspiring skater. The Sun Valley experience is not complete without it.