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Sun Valley on Ice

A history of hosting Olympic skaters

Evan Lysacek is a favorite at the Sun Valley on Ice skating productions. Photo courtesy of International Fiigure Skating After one of those horrendous airline travel mishaps, Zach Donohue, the bronze medalist at the 2012 US Figure Skating Nationals, finally arrived for his first time to Sun Valley. After Scott Irvine, Sun Valley’s rink manager, gave Donohue a quick tour of the outdoor rink, a glance at the glow of the mountains and a first step into the indoor rink, Irvine can still remember Zach’s tired face transform into a smile as he said,
“I think I just found where I want to retire.”

Sun Valley’s year-round indoor and outdoor ice facilities have attracted Olympic and world-renown skaters since its famous summer ice shows began in the 1930s. The Summer Ice Shows have hosted numerous Olympic skaters and the list of the best-of-the-bests whose blades have hit the ice during their prime is never ending and, quite frankly, jaw-dropping. It includes Dick Button (1948 and 1952 Olympic gold medalist), David Jenkins (1960 Olympic gold medalist), Dorothy Hamill (1976 Olympic gold medalist), Brian Boitano (1988 Olympic gold medalist), Evan Lysacek (2010 Olympic gold medalist), Scott Hamilton (1984 Olympic gold medalist), Kristi Yamaguchi (1992 Olympic gold medalist), Katarina Witt  (1984 and 1988 Olympic gold medalist), Viktor Petrenko (1992 Olympic gold medalist) and Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin (2006 Olympic gold medalists in pairs).

So, how does Sun Valley attract the relentless list of World Champions and Olympians? Irvine beams that, “Sun Valley is one of those magical places that once you get here, you just keep wanting to come back.” The Sun Valley Ice Show series are famed among the professional ice skating community for being fun and unique opportunities to train and perform, while simultaneously enjoying the beauty, the delighted audiences and endless amount of other recreational opportunities the Valley has to offer.

The Sun Valley Ice Shows are one of the only places that you can see Olympians up close and personal—not to mention doing so while enjoying fine dining and fabulous fireworks on an outdoor terrace. The shows also offer an incredible opportunity for local skaters. The next generation of Idaho skaters performs in the ensemble casts and, in some cases, literally gets to skate alongside their heroes.

 Countless Olympian and National Champion ice skaters now coach in Sun Valley and call it home as well. The list of Sun Valley skating transplants includes 1980 Olympic team member Lisa Marie Allen, four-time consecutive US Championships gold medalist (1977-1980) and 1980 Winter Olympic silver medalist Linda Fratianne, and Sonya Klopfer Dunfield, the 1951 US National Champion (at age 15) and 1952 Winter Olympian. Dunfield, whose husband Peter is also a world-class skater and coach (and worked at the Sun Valley Lodge as a bellhop in the early days), explains that she and her husband “have fallen in love with Sun Valley and that’s why we live here now … and because we know if we’re here, our sons will come and visit.”

 No matter what first gets you to the splendor of Sun Valley’s ice rinks, there is no doubt you will be back and enjoying the parade of World and Olympic Champion skaters, because … well … that’s Sun Valley’s magic for you. -Kira Tenney










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