Jump, Bounce and Soar

It’s obvious that the new Spider Jump in Sun Valley is big fun even before you see it. Shrieks of joy and “woo hoo” can be heard from quite a distance. When you do see the apparatus, located on the field next to the Recreation Center at the Sun Valley Village, the enthusiastic yelling makes sense.

On your marks, get set, jump!

On your marks, get set, jump!

The bungee spider jump consists of four large individual trampolines on which participants launch into the air wearing a harness that is attached to strong, springy bungee cords. A few big jumps in the middle of the trampolines and up you go, high above the Village. The next four minutes are yours to spend however you set fit. Back flips and front flips are a popular option as is just bouncing in the ether.

Front flip, back flips, big air -- it's all part of the Spider Jump experience

Front flip, back flips, big air -- it's all part of the Spider Jump experience

Last week I took three children, one nine-year-old and two thirteen-year-olds, over the Spider Jump to try it out. Immediately, they were greeted by the two boys who just finished their turn. “It’s awesome!” they advertised.

We were in line behind a family visiting from Washington, D.C. Their two boys, ages 12 and 14 were channeling their best freestyle tricks on the bungees, smiling from ear-to-ear.

Sign a release, step on the scale and off you go

Sign a release, step on the scale and off you go

After signing a release for each, the very helpful attendant Elilel weighed each child (important information in determining how many bungees to hook up to each jumper) and got them set up. The nine-year-old went first, happily stepping into the harness and connecting to the bounce lines.  With a thumb’s up, Elilel told him to start jumping and up he went, laughing all the way.

The girls were next and once they overcame a bit of self-consciousness that comes with the age, they were up in the air flipping and flying and laughing.

Show your stuff on the Spider

Show your stuff on the Spider

Nine dollars buys four minutes on the Spider Jump which may not sound like much, but this is a very active activity. Even my two competitive figure skaters and athletic fourth grader needed to rest during their turn (which means hanging in the air taking a few breaths). Jumpers use their arms, core and legs to keep the momentum going and to perform tricks. After four minutes, all three jumpers were breathing pretty hard.

The Spider Jump is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you weigh more than 30 pounds and less than 200 pounds, you’re in! Elilel said adults seem to like jumping nearly as much as the children. It is, however, not recommended for those with back or neck problems, heart problems, high blood pressure or other conditions that might limit robust activity. Another tip – loose t-shirts may fly up and longer pants and shorts look more comfortable than shorter ones because of the harness. Dress appropriately!

The Spider Jump is big fun in the shadow of the Lodge

The Spider Jump is big fun in the shadow of the Lodge

In between all the other wonderful ways to spend a Sun Valley Summer, from swimming and tennis, to golf and kids’ camps, hiking, biking and skating, make sure you try the Spider Jump. It is something new, it is really fun and it’s a kid magnet.

As Van Halen so eloquently sang, “might as well jump!” This is definitely true at the new four-armed, super springy, bungee-driven Spider in Sun Valley.

–RES

 

Spend your Summer at the Rink

When it’s hot outside (and it is definitely already getting there) there is no cooler place to be than Sun Valley’s iconic outdoor skating rink. The largest year-round outdoor rink in the country, it is also one of the prettiest. Views extend over Dollar and Bald Mountains and to the historic Sun Valley Lodge.

Everyone who is anyone has skated in Sun Valley and no summer stay here is complete without taking in the magical Sun Valley On Ice Saturday night shows

Everyone who is anyone has skated in Sun Valley and no summer stay here is complete without taking in the magical Sun Valley On Ice Saturday night shows

There is a well-known saying here that “everyone who is anyone has skated in Sun Valley,” and in the world of world-class figure skating, that is true, indeed. The legendary Saturday night Sun Valley On Ice Shows have drawn Olympic and world champions, top professional talent and up-and-comers for decades. No visit to Sun Valley is complete without taking in an ice show under the stars. This year’s high voltage lineup includes Sochi Olympic gold medal winners in ice dance, the magical Meryl Davis and Charlie White on August 23. The beautiful Gracie Gold, Olympic bronze medalist, kicks off the season on July 4 and fellow Olympic team member, 2013 US National Champion Ashley Wagner, will take center ice August 9. From Sochi to Sun Valley: It doesn’t get much better than that! Crowd favorite and Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek returns to Sun Valley August 30. Ryan Bradley and Johnny Weir are also among the featured skaters this summer making for quite a lineup. The talented and always-entertaining core skater favorites include Craig Heath, Ashley Clark, Darlin Baker, Jozef Sabovcik, Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, Anita Hartshorn, Natalia Zaitseva and Jonathan Hunt, Ryan Bradley, Erin Reed and Jason Graetz.

The venue is intimate and there are few places where you can get so close to your favorite skaters. The athletes all say they love to skate in Sun Valley because they can see and hear the audience and the energy is amazing. Many of the stars stay after the show to greet fans and even sign autographs if they have time. Get your tickets early (they go on sale May 15), be sure to bring blankets to sit on (if you get bleacher seats) and layers to add as the evening temperature drops and come out and enjoy this amazing ice show.

Gracious figure skating stars like Sasha Cohen often take time to talk with, and pose with fans, following a show

Gracious figure skating stars like Sasha Cohen often take time to talk with, and pose with fans, following a show

But you don’t need to be the best of the best to skate in Sun Valley. Throughout the summer, there are sessions available to everyone – from a first timer to a competitive skater. Children love to skate and take to it quickly. To make those first turns as enjoyable as possible, you might consider booking a group or private lesson for your child (or yourself!). Group lessons that teach basic skills are offered at the outdoor rink from mid-June to mid-August. This drop-in format teaches figure skating building blocks like stroking, skating forward, skating backward and that all-important skill, stopping. Classes are instructive, fun and affordable. With the help of a professional, you will see improvement in your scratch spins, swizzles, maybe even Salchow jumps!

Pros like Ashley Clark will wow you every Saturday night in Sun Valley On Ice and then are often available to give lessons.

Pros like Ashley Clark will wow you every Saturday night in Sun Valley On Ice and then are often available to give lessons.

For even more opportunities to improve, semi-private lessons are given for up to four skaters of similar level. Popular clinics are also offered throughout the summer season. The Sun Valley Skating School offers up to 20 classes a day on both the beautiful outdoor rink and the full-size indoor rink that is equipped with a ballet studio and a jumping harness. Clinics begin at 8:30 a.m. and run to 5:30 p.m. They include classes on spinning, jumping, stroking, performance, spirals, ice dance and more. Students can pre-register for the whole summer or pay by the week. Walk-ons are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For full information on available classes, pricing and registration, please click HERE.

If you don’t want a lesson, but just want to enjoy a spin around the rink, visit the skate house and select a package that includes ice time, skate rentals, even a helmet. Please call 208-622-2194 for a current schedule.

Skating is fun for the whole family. Rent some skates and try it!

Skating is fun for the whole family. Rent some skates and try it!

For my family, summer and skating are synonymous. My two daughters, who now skate competitively, first laced up skates as toddlers during our summer vacations in Sun Valley. I’m not sure if it was the great teachers, pretty dresses or beautiful setting, but they caught the skating bug and have committed to this sport for 10 years now. As members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club (celebrating 75 years this summer), they spend hours and hours each summer at the rink, participating in classes, working on skills, selling snacks at Sun Valley On Ice and being generally inspired by all the talented and enthusiastic skaters at the rink. It is a wonderful way to spend the warm weather months.

Come join us this summer to take part in a great Sun Valley tradition that is now nearly 80 years old. Skating is fun, it’s super exercise and it is a wonderful way to glide away an afternoon or evening.

–RES

And so it begins... my daughter Blake and her friend Alex, two future National Showcase Champions

And so it begins... my daughter Blake and her friend Alex, two future National Showcase Champions

Spooky Sun Valley

In Sun Valley, any excuse to dress up in a costume is a good one. We ski and ride in costumes on numerous occasions. We mini-golf around town in costumes. So when Halloween, the sanctioned costume event of the calendar year rolls around, the party is sure to last all week.

At my house, Halloween is only slightly less important than Christmas. We spend the second half of October transforming the living room, dining room and kitchen into a spooky, haunted, spiderweb-ridden, talking skeleton kind of space. Then, each year, my son hosts his entire class for a Halloween ruckus. And we are not alone. From costumed ice skating, to the Hailey Hoopla, to a party in Ketchum that starts out kid-friendly and morphs into one of the most fun grown-up nights of the year, we close the streets, put out the welcome mats and invite every ghoul and goblin, of every age, out to enjoy some big fun.

Bellevue's Haunted Forest is terrifying -- in a good way

Bellevue's Haunted Forest is terrifying -- in a good way

Starting in the South Valley, Halloween enthusiasts can prepare to be spooked and even scared out of their wits at the Bellevue Haunted Forest. On October 29 and 30, the Howard Preserve comes to reanimated life. At the site of the old town dump, Zombies and ghosts and spirits of all kinds will give a little scare before dark, but after the sun sets … all bets are off! This is a fun, safe, entertaining night that benefits the newly reopened, public Howard Preserve. Tickets are $7.50 and are available at The Bead Shop in Hailey, Splash & Dash and Mahoney’s in Bellevue and at the gate.

Little trick-or-treaters look forward every year to the Halloween Hoopla (photo: Suzanne Buchanan)

Little trick-or-treaters look forward every year to the Halloween Hoopla (photo: Suzanne Buchanan)

Hailey is Halloween central and on October 31, beginning at 3 p.m., Main Street rhymes with trick or treat. The 8th installment of the family-friendly Halloween Hoopla event lasts until 6 p.m. and takes place throughout downtown Hailey. Look for black and orange balloons outside participating businesses. Costumes are de rigueur and a costume contest at The Liberty Theatre will be awarding prizes for Halloween enthusiasts of all ages, all afternoon in half-hour intervals. Music, food and drink and a “spook alley” will provide affordable, family-friendly fare. Safe and fun even for the littlest trick or treaters, be sure to put this on your Halloween schedule.

In Sun Valley on the 31st, take your costume and your best moves to the ice. The Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink is offering a special skating package for those in costume from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For only $8, you get admission, skate rental and a beautiful day or night in the fresh fall air. Please call 208-622-2194 for more information.

Three gorgeous local ladies show just how seriously we take Halloween at the Nightmare on Main Street

Three gorgeous local ladies show just how seriously we take Halloween at the Nightmare on Main Street (photo Sonya Johnston)

The party continues into the night – well into the night – in Ketchum on Thursday. The annual Nightmare On Main Street begins at 7 p.m. and goes through last call, finally shutting down at 2 a.m. Main Street closes to allow revelers to take to the street and enjoy a wide assortment of food and libations. A kids’ costume contest takes place at 8 p.m. (best girl, best boy and overall). Later, at 10 p.m., the adults are judged for best male, best female, creepiest, sexiest, group and overall. If past years are any indication, Sun Valley is one creative place when it comes to homemade costumes. The group category is usually full of handmade, outlandish and hysterical ideas. Music from local DJs will keep the party going outside until 11 p.m.

Warren Miller's latest film is a treat after Halloween. Let the snow season begin!

Warren Miller's latest film is a treat after Halloween. Let the snow season begin!

Most years, Halloween also marks the change from fall to winter in this part of the world. Indian summer often hangs on with warm temperatures and sunny skies in late October before giving way in November to crisp days and hints of snow. Which is perfect, as Baldy is scheduled to open for an amazing season at Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving in Sun Valley is as peaceful and lovely as Halloween is crazy around here. The Resort invites guests to come, relax, ski or ride and enjoy a fuss-free Thanksgiving, all at special prices.

Join fellow snow lovers to count down to ski and snowboard season with a screening of Warren Miller's new action film at the Sun Valley Opera House. Winter officially kicks off Nov. 1 and 2 with Miller's Ticket to Ride

Join fellow snow lovers to count down to ski and snowboard season with a screening of Warren Miller's new action film at the Sun Valley Opera House. Winter officially kicks off Nov. 1 and 2 with Miller's Ticket to Ride

The change of season also brings with it the unofficial kick-off to the snow season when the latest Warren Miller action film comes to the Sun Valley Opera House. Skiers and riders anxious for the first flakes to fly crowd into the theater to enjoy Miller’s famous brand of filmmaking, as well as special promotions and prizes. This year, Miller’s latest movie, Ticket to Ride, will celebrate big mountain skiing and riding, the craziest tricks on snow and the highest peaks from Montana to Alaska; from Kazkhstan to Iceland; from Greenland to Switzerland. Nothing gets locals in the mood for the coming season like this annual event. There are three screenings of Ticket to Ride, on Friday, November 1 at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, November 2 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Enjoy a safe, spooky Halloween and the transition to early winter! Boo!

–RES

Happy Halloween from my two favorite blobs!

Happy Halloween from my two favorite blobs!

Christmas Eve on Ice

Backstage at teh Christmas Eve Ice Show

Backstage at the Christmas Eve Ice Show, party scene girls are ready for their spotlight

It’s hard to remember the exact year, but two or three holidays ago, while I helped backstage at the highly anticipated Christmas Eve Ice Show, it started to snow. The grand production was well underway and dozens of talented skaters spun and leaped around Sun Valley’s famous outdoor ice rink (the largest year-round outdoor rink in the world). Spotlights captured the falling snowflakes as they began to land on the skater’s lashes and vintage costumes, on the hats and scarves of the full-to-capacity audience. Quickly, the pace of the storm increased, and thick, heavy flakes, that looked like they might have been created in Hollywood (cue the snow), began to fall in earnest. The skaters were veiled in the snowy mist, their jeweled dresses sparkled in the lights, skate blades cut through the accumulating powder. It had been a light early snow season that year and this gift on Christmas Eve was on everyone’s wish list.

Some of the older members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club rehearse their number

Members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club practice until it's perfect

The Nutcracker on Ice is a tradition that always has an element of magic, whether it comes in the form of snowfall, the appearance of an Olympian among the local skaters, a shooting star streaming across a crisp Idaho holiday sky. It is a tradition that my family has embraced now for six years. As the mother of two figure skaters (and their little brother who always got the role of a mouse because I needed them all in the same place), I have enjoyed the pleasure of a behind-the-scenes perspective on this show – a favorite of guests and locals alike.  When the girls were little, I volunteered backstage, as the “quick-change” helper. This meant I was supposed to assist the skaters out of one costume and into another for the next scene. Allow me to tell you, though, there is nothing “quick” about changing little girls who are in ice skates out of their party scene dresses and into a candy cane costume, but these nights were filled with camaraderie, high excitement and a great deal of fun.

Skaters with props

Local skaters practicing with their props

Two years ago, I moved out of my role of backstage mom and watched the production in full for the first time. Seated shoulder-to-shoulder with the entire Wood River Valley and guests from all over the country and the world, I happily sipped cocoa, waved to friends and was amazed by the skaters I see every day performing the charming choreography professionally and flawlessly. They practice a lot and it shows. When the Sun Valley Carolers arrived by sleigh, setting the performance in motion, the large crowd collectively inhaled before bursting into appreciative applause.

From this vantage point in the bleachers (which are unreserved and first-come, first-served for this show), I was again able to enjoy the traditional torchlight parade featuring ski school instructors, torches held aloft, navigating the face of Dollar Mountain. As far back as 1987, my family drove up a nearby hill and watched this stunning parade of fire before we went home to open gifts. Oh, and did I mention the fireworks that follow? Spectacular! As much as I liked being in the skate house, taking in the entire experience from the vantage point of the audience was magical, indeed.

The kids cast of the Christmas Eve Ice Show

The children's cast for this Monday's performance

The Christmas Eve Ice Show is something that all members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club and local skating community look forward to each year as much as the audience does. As the children grow, so do their parts and responsibilities. My little girls of six years ago are now the big girls, helping the little ones navigate their first ice show. The show’s choreographer, Gia Guddat said she loves to watch the skaters grow from party scene girls, to Candyland sweets, to snow angels. And everyone involved enjoys performing for the huge audience, giving this gift to the community.

At 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the place to be in Sun Valley is on the Lodge Terrace enjoying cocoa and a snack, then onto the bleachers (bring a blanket to sit on and bundle up) to enjoy the sights and sounds of a Sun Valley Christmas on Ice. The show is sure to become a tradition for your family, too.

–RES

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

My daughter as a cake

My daughter's smile says it all at the end of last year's show. It is a wonderful night

Skating Away!

They can't wait to skate

Finding a little support at the rail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Poised for greatness

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.

– RES

Here's how it's done!

Josie during a warm-up lap