Blending new energy with familiar performers and a brand-new sound system, Sun Valley on Ice is going to be faster paced and more vibrant for the season of 10 ice shows beginning Wednesday, July 4 at Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink.
You've probably seen the marketing—a dazzling photo of ice dancers Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre along with the crisp, new "Sun Valley on Ice" logo that promises a new spin in the 75th summer of the Sun Valley Ice Show.
And new is the word from ice show producer and Sun Valley Director of Recreation Lana Breazeale as well as ice show director Scott Irvine.
Irvine said, "We've added a new comic number. The sound system has been greatly enhanced. We've added an extra group number from our core skaters, so now there are three. We will bring in the new, top-tier young skaters and introduce them to the audience.
"We want to add variety. If you've seen the show in July, for instance, when you come back for an August show you'll see entirely new numbers. We've asked our core skaters to bring two different numbers and we'll alternate them. Everything will be faster paced."
The new comic performer is funny man Jason Graetz from Montreal, a 13-year entertainer who creates the illusion of rubber legs—resembling the hilarious antics of iconic ice show performer Gary Beacom. Graetz has delighted audiences all over the world and was a longtime Disney on Ice skater.
This year's series of 10 Saturday ice shows from July through September gets away from nostalgia in favor of new.
Fortunately, most of the core company is returning because they help make the 70-minute ice shows so enchanting.
The ensemble features Olympic bronze medalist Jozef "Jumpin' Joe" Sabovcik, plus Craig Heath, Ashley Clark and Darlin Baker. Pairs skater Natalia Zaitseva returns with a new partner, Jeremy Barrett. Olympian Barrett, 28, from Sarasota, shared the 2010 U.S. pairs title with Caydee Denney.
The summer core for a third year includes Navarro, 31, and Brent Bommentre, 28, the 2008-09 U.S. ice dancing bronze medalists. Back again is Russian pairs team of Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko, 1999-00 world professional champs.
Leonova and Khvalko will be gone for two shows Aug. 28 and Aug. 4 because they're performing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in England. Replacing them will be Russian pairs Fiona Zaldua and Dmitri Sukhanov, the married adagio pairs team who have been professionals for 16 years.
As far as headliners, the biggest name continues to be American Evan Lysacek, who will headline the July 21 and Aug. 18 shows. His July 21 show with U.S. ladies champ Ashley Wagner is one of the most appealing on the ice slate.
"It should be a phenomenal show—two great skaters during our competition week," Irvine said.
At Vancouver in 2010, Lysacek became the first American to win the Olympic title in men's singles since Brian Boitano in 1988, and the first reigning world champion to prevail in the Olympics in 26 years (Scott Hamilton in 1984).
Returning to Sun Valley over Labor Day weekend are reigning Olympic ice dancing silver medalists and 2011 world gold medalists Meryl Davis, 25, and Charlie White, 24, from Michigan. They are the four-time defending U.S. champions.
The Fourth of July show will start around 9:45 p.m. Since ice shows begin at dusk, by Labor Day the starting times will be about 8:30 p.m. Here is a list of this summer's headliners:
( Wednesday, July 4—Stars on Ice showman Ryan Bradley and Nathan Chen, with traditional resort fireworks.
U.S. men's champion Bradley, 29, from Missouri, is known for his backflips and triple axels. The three-time U.S. collegiate king now lives and trains in Colorado Springs.
A delightful addition to the Sun Valley Ice Show over the last two years has been 13-year-old Nathan Chen from Utah, now entering the eighth grade.
Youngest of five children, Chen won the U.S. Novice Men's championship in 2010 and 2011 and then, at San Jose, captured the 2012 U.S. Junior Men's title with seven clean triples—skating to "The Godfather" music. He thus became the youngest Junior Men's winner in recent memory.
( July 7—Jeremy Abbott, 27, the three-time U.S. men's singles champion from Aspen, Colo. Ninth in the 2010 Olympics and eighth in the 2012 world competition, Abbott recorded the highest-ever score (273.58 points) in winning the 2012 U.S. men's title at San Jose, Ca. He opened his free program with a quad toe and was the only man to successfully do a quad at nationals.
( July 14—Alex Shibutani, 21, and Maia Shibutani, 18, from Michigan, the 2011 world ice dancing bronze medalists. Also, Adam Rippon, this year's U.S. silver medalist.
Of Asian heritage, the brother and sister Shibutani team has competed for nine years and are the reigning two-time U.S. ice dancing silver medalists. Last year they became the first U.S. ice dancing team to win a world medal (bronze) as first-time seniors.
Known for his donut spins and his signature triple lutz, the 22-year-old Rippon from Scranton, Pa. was the 2008-09 World Junior champion.
- July 21—Evan Lysacek, 26, Olympic gold medalist and 2007-08 U.S. king, and Ashley Wagner, the 2012 U.S. gold medalist. German-born U.S. military brat Wagner, 21, won the free program and placed fourth at the 2012 worlds and thus secured two spots for U.S. women at next year's worlds. Unlike most skaters, the attractive 5-3 Wagner spins and jumps clockwise.
- July 28—Kyoko Ina, 39, and John Zimmerman, 38, three-time U.S. pairs skating gold medalists. Their 2002 world bronze medal in Japan was the last world medal by a U.S. pair. They have been Stars on Ice performers.
- Aug. 4—Johnny Weir, 27, the 2008 world bronze medalist and three-time U.S. men's king (2004-06) from Pennsylvania. And Gracie Gold, current U.S. Junior women's gold medalist.
- Aug. 11—Courtney Hicks, 16, the 2011 World Junior gold medalist from Chino Hills, Ca.
- Aug. 18—Evan Lysacek and Nathan Chen.
- Sept. 1—Meryl Davis and Charlie White are currently the longest-running ice dance partnership in the U.S. at 14 years and counting—and they're coming off one of their best competitive years capped by a world title at Moscow
Headliners for the Aug. 11 and Aug. 25 shows will be announced in the near future.
Ticket prices, dinner buffet
Sun Valley Resort will once again offer a traditional dinner buffet with the ice show. It costs $99 for the buffet/show.
For the show only, this year's bleacher reserved seat prices range from $39 to $59 per person depending on where you sit. For the lower five rows, cost is $59 for adults and children. For the top five rows, the cost is $39 adults and $16 for children ages 4-12. Kids ages 3-and-under are free.
Cost for the Sun Room Terrace (show only) is $69.
Non-refundable tickets are now on sale at the Sun Valley Recreation Office, 622-2135. Tickets may be purchased online at seats.sunvalley.com. All seating is reserved and advance reservations are recommended. You can also buy tickets at the gate before the shows.
Day care at the Sun Valley Playschool during ice shows is available by advance reservation at 622-2288.