Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A magical summer at the rink

Skating away at Sun Valley


Performing on the renowned Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink is a huge treat for kids in the summer skating programs. Express file photo

There is something magical about gliding gracefully around the ice on a hot summer day, surrounded by green mountains, manicured lawns, cascading flowers and fresh air.

This experience is available to anyone, from the absolute beginner, to a competitive skater, just by showing up at the famous outdoor rink outside the Sun Valley Lodge.

The iconic piece of ice is the largest year-round outdoor rink in the world and a summer in Sun Valley is not complete without a turn or two around its historic surface. It is a one-of-a-kind, can't miss experience for visitors and locals alike.

Ice skating is synonymous with summer in Sun Valley.

An outdoor rink has been a part of the resort experience for 76 years, as long as there has been a Lodge. The ice has served as a focal point for thousands of photos publicizing Sun Valley and films featuring the resort. It has fed countless memories for generations of skating enthusiasts.

Both the training ground for thousands of aspiring skaters and the stage for the world's best athletes and performers, the rink is part of what makes Sun Valley, Sun Valley.

For children, the pull of the ice is powerful. They see it and they want in on the action. Thankfully, the Sun Valley Summer Skating School makes this possible for everyone from the absolute beginner to the accomplished competitor.

For those new to skating, getting on the ice is as simple as showing up to the quaint skate house, renting a pair of skates, lacing them up and taking to the ice.

Beginners, don't forget a helmet! There are many sessions throughout the day that are open to the public. And don't forget a darling skating dress for the little girl in your life. The full-service pro shop at the skate house has a beautiful selection of skating clothes.

If your budding skater would like to learn some basic skills, group lessons are available during the summer session, which runs from mid-June to mid-August.

This group format accommodates beginners, teaching figure skating building blocks like stroking, skating forward, skating backward and that all-important skill, stopping. The classes are usually taught by ensemble skaters from the world famous Summer Ice Shows and are both instructive and fun. Prices are very affordable: $20 per child for a 25-minute lesson including skate rental and admission.

Skating can be as big a commitment as a child desires.

Hundreds of competitive skaters flock to Sun Valley each summer, from as far away as Hong Kong, to train with the best professionals in the industry. Private coaching is available to all and can be arranged through the skate house.

The Sun Valley Skating School also offers up to 20 sessions 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. Dates for summer clinics are June 18—Aug. 17. 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 first-come, first-served basis. More than 20 of the world's top coaches teach the clinics.

For full information on available classes and pricing, and to download registration forms, log onto

At the height of the summer skating season, the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club hosts the Summer Championships, bringing approximately 200 aspiring skaters to center ice.

The event runs from July 19-22 and offers events from Basic Skills to Senior in Compulsory, Free Skate, Artistic, Showcase, Improvisation and Group Production. A highlight of the weekend is the Showcase competition that takes place on the outdoor rink on Sunday, July 22, and is popular with skating fans and passerby alike.

For detailed information on general skating sessions or to schedule lessons, please call 622-2194.

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