By now, regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my occasional adverb abuse. But honestly there’s a lot of truly, spectacularly amazing things to do in Sun Valley. Despite, or probably because of this, us locals occasionally fall victim to viewing the extraordinary as simply ordinary. Olympic ice-skaters? Hollywood movie stars? Pulitzer-Prize winning authors? Yep, they were all here last year too, and the year before that. Sometimes we take for granted that we live in many people’s dream vacation spot.
Such was the case for me with the Sun Valley ice shows. While I bundle the kids up for the (free) Christmas ice show every year, jostling for a good viewing spot alongside the literal hordes of people descending on the resort Christmas Eve, I had never made it to a performance of Sun Valley on Ice.
After happening across a blog post from a visitor that said “The Sun Valley Ice Show is an extraordinary thing to do. You should go. And I’ll just leave it at that,” I suddenly felt very silly for not having made the effort to attend something in my back yard that people travel across the country to see. So last night the Sun family opted to celebrate Independence Day at the first show of the season.
Well, it was an absolutely, truly, spectacularly amazing experience. The whole family had a wonderful time (helped immensely by actually having somewhere to sit). Little Sun gasped when Darlin Baker took to the ice as the first soloist, whispering in awe “Mummy, she looks beautiful.” Baby Sun could barely contain her delight, clapping and bouncing on daddy’s lap as Craig Heath performed his comedic routine. When Craig screamed in shock as a “shark” skated between his legs, she perfectly mimicked his cry, earning her a loud laugh from our bleacher (a reaction she then proceeded to try and elicit again and again until she eventually fell asleep).
Little Sun quickly followed his sister into slumber land, allowing Mr. Sun and I to fully appreciate the awesome athleticism on display. Headliner Ryan Bradley thrilled with his back flips (despite a few stumbles), but it was Nathan Chen who stole the show from the 2011 U.S. Champion. The eighth-grader is the 2012 Junior Men’s Champion and is the most exciting thing on ice right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything spin that fast – let alone a 13 year-old-boy on ice-skates. If you missed it, fear not, Chen returns to Sun Valley on August 18, where he’ll try not to upstage 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek.
Here’s a snippet I shot of Bradley’s brilliant back flip:
We almost woke the kids when the newest member of the ice show ensemble, Canadian Jason Graetz, started literally rolling around the rink during his solo (get a sneak peak of Graetz in action here). The hilarious stylings of the bendiest man on ice were only rivalled by the breathtaking skills of Jozef “Jumpin’ Joe” Sabovcik.
I’m a sucker for pairs though, and two-time World Professional Champions Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko were my personal favorites. The grace, beauty and incredible skill of their synchronized movements – and the terror-inducing sight of Elena’s blond hair millimeters from the surface of the ice as her husband swirled her around and around – had me leaping to my feet with enthusiasm.
From the patriotic displays by both skaters and pyrotechnics to the presence of resort owners Mr. and Mrs. Holding themselves, it was a signature Sun Valley evening. Mr. Sun hit the nail on the head as we drove home, saying “I’m so glad we finally got to cross that off our Sun Valley bucket list.”
Sun Valley On Ice continues every Saturday night throughout the summer, beginning at dusk (current and 2x US Gold Medalist Jeremy Abbott headlines this Saturday.) Tickets range from $39 to $99 (bleachers to buffet). Call 622.2135 or visit seats.sunvalley.com. Child care is available during the ice show by reservation, 622.2288.