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

Come Skate Away

On a brilliantly sunny Thursday afternoon, approximately 40 students from Ketchum’s Hemingway Elementary School clamored off the yellow school bus and into the Skate House at Sun Valley’s one-of-a-kind outdoor rink. There, they traded boots for skates and helmets and spent the next 60 minutes learning basic figure skating or hockey skills or simply enjoyed taking laps around the large rink with friends.

Local schoolchildren enjoy free skating and some lessons each winter on Sun Valley's iconic outdoor rink

Local schoolchildren enjoy free skating and some lessons each winter on Sun Valley's iconic outdoor rink

These children are a part of a four-week program that brings students from the nearby public school to Sun Valley to skate for free on Thursday afternoons. Sun Valley Company generously donates ice time, skates and helmets. The Sun Valley Figure Skating Club arranges to have a few of their amazing pros on the ice during the session to offer tips, lessons and inspiration. The local Sun Valley Suns hockey team always has a few players on skates, volunteering their time to work with students interested in hockey.

Sun Valley provides free ice time, skates, helmet and some lessons for young aspiring skaters

Sun Valley provides free ice time, skates, helmet and some lessons for young aspiring skaters

“It’s a great way for the kids to get on the ice,” said Sun Valley pro and former Olympian Judy Blumberg.  “It’s good for the kids, it’s good for the Resort, it’s a win-win.”  She added, while helping a young girl untie her skates, “This program gets kids to the rink who may never have gotten here otherwise.”

Hemingway teacher Caitlin Olson agreed. “For the kids who ski every weekend or are involved in different sports or activities, this is a terrific introduction to skating.” She adds, pointing to the rink, “This amazing facility is so close to school and they have a great time when they get here.”

Olympian and Sun Valley pro Judy Blumberg gives her own daughter, and all the skaters, a lot of great pointers

Olympian and Sun Valley pro Judy Blumberg gives her own daughter, and all the skaters, a lot of great pointers

Skating is one of the athletic programs offered to local students through Sun Valley, programs that also include downhill skiing on Baldy or Dollar or cross country skiing. There is never any cost to the student. Sun Valley offers these skiing programs to Blaine County elementary school throughout the Wood River Valley and they are something students always look forward to.  

The opportunity to lace up skates was added to this longstanding program three years ago when the Sun Valley Skating Club was looking for outreach opportunities to introduce more children to this lifelong sport. The fundraiser Battle of the Blades allowed the club to financially help make this a reality. With the tremendous support and input from Sun Valley Resort about 20 skaters showed up that first year.

Physical education class was never this fun when I was in school

Physical education was never this fun when I was in school

The doubling of interest among the children is a testament to just how much fun they are having on the ice and if smiles count as a measure of success, the first day of skating during the 2014 season was a huge success.

Pro Natalia Zaitseva works with an aspiring figure skater

Pro Natalia Zaitseva works with an aspiring figure skater

Who knows if the next Linda Fratianne, Nancy Kerrigan, Gracie Gold or Evan Lysacek took his or her first tentative strokes on the ice this week. Who knows if one of these young skaters will develop an interest in figure skating or hockey that will carry them through high school. What really matters is that they enjoyed a beautiful afternoon filled with exercise, fresh air and laughter all around.

–RES