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

Sun Valley’s Got Talent

The Sun Valley Pavilion became a rehearsal space this week for Aerial Ice, a skating act electifying America's Got Talent and starring skaters from Sun Valley on Ice

The Sun Valley Pavilion became a rehearsal space this week for Aerial Ice, a skating act electifying America's Got Talent and starring skaters from Sun Valley on Ice

Anyone who has attended a world-famous Sun Valley on Ice show in the past few years knows that ice dancers Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre and cast member (and skating aerialist) Joel Dear have talent. And they have it in spades. Now the rest of the country will know it, too, as our three skaters, along with aerialist Angela Kim and professional pairs skaters Tosha Hanford and Chris Trefil electrify the country with “Aerial Ice.” During tryouts in Los Angeles, Aerial Ice debuted on America’s Got Talent to a standing ovation from the judges and audience alike. America’s Got Talent, or AGT for short, is one of the most popular programs on television. Each season, AGT invites singers, dancers, magicians and acts of any and all persuasions to compete to win a cool $1 million prize.

Until this year, AGT had never had a skating act. Now they have one no one will ever forget. Aerial Ice, led by artistic director Jill Schulz, received a unanimous “yes” vote from judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B. and Howie Mandel to move through to the second phase of the competition in Las Vegas. Klum said the act was “nerve wracking, it was exciting, it was dangerous, it was spectacular. I loved it!” Click here to see the audition performance.

Though his preferred aerial apparatus is a hoop, Sun Valley on Ice skater Joel Dear makes easy work of the silks, too

Though his preferred aerial apparatus is a hoop, Sun Valley on Ice skater Joel Dear makes easy work of the silks, too

Skating to Krewella’s hit song “Alive,” the troupe performed on a large sheet of synthetic ice while Joel and Angela “flew” above the stage, performing beautiful choreography on dramatic “silks” that hung from the ceiling. During the audition it was hard to know where to look — every member of the group was so, well, talented.

During the Las Vegas week on AGT, the six skaters appeared onstage before the judges unsure of their fate as one-third of the acts that made it through the first round were sent home, one-third had to audition again and one-third were told they were going directly through to the big show – the stage at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Aerial Ice heard those magic word, “We’ll see you in New York!” —  one of 60 acts to make the finals. For the next few weeks about 12 acts will perform live during each episode that airs on NBC Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Aerial Ice was not at liberty to reveal the date of their performance, so we will all just have to stay tuned!

The Sun Valley Pavilion provides a pretty nice space for rehearsing and planning

The Sun Valley Pavilion provides a pretty nice space for rehearsing and planning

This week, however, the six performers have been practicing right in our backyard, in what Brent calls the “most beautiful rehearsal space in the world.” With Sun Valley’s support, Aerial Ice took over the stage at the Sun Valley Pavilion, working for eight hours a day on the program that will bring New York to its feet. A huge sheet of plastic ice dominated the Pavilion stage and technical experts rigged silks and other flying apparatuses from the rafters. The entire team, that also includes highly accomplished skaters Karen Kresge and Lisa Navarro, and everyone else that helps make the magic happen, came to Sun Valley. 

During long days of Aerial Ice rehearsals, Kim, Brent and Joel still found the time to walk a few hundred yards to the Sun Valley skating rinks to give a lesson or rehearse for this week’s highly anticipated Sun Valley on Ice show featuring Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek.

For Kim, the support of the skating community for Aerial Ice has been amazing. “So many accomplished skaters are on board, Tweeting about Aerial Ice and sharing their enthusiasm,” she said. Her ultimate goal with this project is to increase viewership of the sport and this evolving genre that is so beautiful and that she is so passionate about — to connect with the audience in a whole new way.

Two-time US Bronze Medalists Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre bring grace, elegance and daring to each performance

Two-time US Bronze Medalists Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre bring grace, elegance and daring to each performance

Be sure to buy tickets to Sun Valley on Ice to see all this talent for yourself, as well as the rest of the supremely wonderful, entertaining cast. Then, tune into AGT, call in your vote for Aerial Ice and cheer on the home team!

Congratulations to Brent, Joel and Kim for taking Aerial Ice all the way to New York! Stay tuned to this blog for updates on their progress.

–RES