Warm Springs is about to turn into a giant costume party as the annual Janss Pro-Am Classic rolls into town. This fundraiser for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) signifies spring in these parts like nothing else, bringing together teams of pros and amateurs for some good-natured gate running, a lot of partying and some pretty elaborate costumes, on the slopes and off. This year, the event will grace Warm Springs and the Sun Valley Resort from April 4 – 6.
Named for Bill Janss, the beloved former owner of the Sun Valley Company, this year’s event is expected to host nearly 500 enthusiastic participants for Giant Slalom racing and free skiing, cocktail parties, an awards banquet in the Limelight Room, hosted breakfasts and lunches, and of course, costumes!
The 2013 theme, “Let the Games Begin,” is a nod to both the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (where SVSEF hopes to be represented), as well as an invitation to play in the spring sunshine.
“While the theme is inspired by the Winter Games, everyone is invited to make it their own,” explained SVSEF Events Director Kate Berman. “For instance, Dr. Tom West, a chiropractor, is part of team “Operation” after the board game. A group of freestyle skiers are dressing as the “Sorry!” game – as in “Sorry! We’re freestylers! Our teams are always so creative and I love seeing what they come up with.”
Everyone is invited to watch the 32 teams race on Lower Warm Springs on Friday and Saturday, April 5 & 6 at 10:30 a.m. Speed isn’t the ultimate goal for the amateurs (consistency is king), but the pros on board usually can’t help but go fast. Among this year’s impressive names are locals including: Ski Cross champ Langely McNeal, former Olympian Jonna Mendes, X-Games star Zach Crist and SVSEF’s very own Doran Key.
“Christin Cooper once said the Janss is the biggest reunion for former US Ski Team members around,” laughed Kate. “Everyone looks forward to getting together on Baldy’s amazing runs with old friends and new for such a terrific cause. It’s very popular, one of the most fun events of the year in the Valley.”
And it’s just as much fun for the amateurs. Karen Holzman who is organizing team “Greek Goddess” this year with Langely as her pro, always looks forward to this event. “We support the Janss because SVSEF is at the core of what’s special about our community. They contribute and have contributed so much to training local past and future Olympians, as well as some pretty amazing lifelong recreational skiers,” she explained. “It’s a great weekend because of the costumes, spirit of competition (who in Sun Valley isn’t competitive?), you can have family and friends on your team and just generally, a lot of laughs!”
This, the 16th Janss Pro-Am Classic marks Kate’s final party as the woman who makes it all happen. After 13 years as Events Director (and before that volunteer mom and board member for SVSEF), Kate is turning over the reigns to the very capable Sarah Crowley on April 7. After committing literally thousands of hours to the health well being of the organization, she said she feels she is leaving SVSEF when it is in a very strong position. “This is the biggest Janss we have seen in years,” she smiled. “SVSEF is doing amazing things. I’m really proud of all the work we have done and excited to see what comes next.”
Her only request? That no one makes a big fuss over her at the Janss’ events. Speaking on behalf of the rest of the community, I hope they do.