On a long weekend in July, there may not be a cooler place to spend a hot summer afternoon than on Sun Valley Resort’s ice rinks.
Yet the ice heats up when hundreds of aspiring figure skaters go blade-to-blade at the annual Sun Valley Summer Championships.
From Thursday through Sunday, July 24–27, athletes from all over the U.S. will gather in Sun Valley to perform their freeskate, artistic, interpretive and showcase programs in front of fans and judges alike.
Compulsory moves, spins and short programs will also serve to rank skaters and help them advance to meet goals at the 47th annual event presented by the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club (SVFSC).
More than 200 figure skaters are expected to lace up at Sun Valley, ranging from the youngest beginners competing at the Basic Skills levels, to Adult Ladies and Intermediate Men.
Whether they’re working on a basic scratch spin or a triple loop jump, everyone comes to do his or her best. And skaters will travel from near and far to take part.
This year, skating hopefuls from Colorado, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, California, Nevada, Florida and Minnesota are represented. More than 35 clubs are sending skaters to Sun Valley’s storied ice for the July weekend.
Coach Teri Moellenberg has been bringing skaters from Arizona to Sun Valley for 10 years and appreciates what makes the Sun Valley Summer Championships so different and so special.
“Skating is such a competitive sport and so many kids don’t have a journey with it,” she said. “I like to bring skaters here so they can be part of a bigger skating community where people are friendly and they feel positive and supported.
“And look at this place! This is a place where you can skate outside, skate in shorts, watch your heroes in a Saturday ice show and be inspired. This is a place they can return to and enjoy their whole lives.”
Moellenberg has even deeper Sun Valley connections as her daughter Shayna is a cast member in Sun Valley On Ice and has trained in Sun Valley for years.
This summer, the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary, making it one of the longest-running clubs in the nation.
Summer skating has an equally long history. For decades, talented athletes have trained at altitude in Sun Valley’s clean mountain air.
At one time, the summer skating program was so large, students were housed in special dormitories located near today’s Sun Valley Horsemen’s Center.
The tradition continues, minus the dorm, with groups of skaters training in Sun Valley throughout the summer with their own coaches and with the pros at the Sun Valley Summer Skating School. The pros offer numerous daily clinics and private lessons covering all the fundamentals of successful skating.
Nineteen judges, technical officials and accountants also come to Sun Valley for the championships from locales including California, Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Wyoming, New Mexico, New York, Colorado and Utah.
Many say it is among their favorite competitions of the year and something they always look forward to.
It is exciting for members of the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club to host the event. And it takes all hands on deck to make it happen.
Parent and skater volunteers dedicate countless hours to registration, awards, snack bar, ice monitoring and myriad other behind-the-scene tasks.
Spectators are invited to watch any of the events that will take place indoors in the very cool rink on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday, the action moves outdoors when individuals, small groups and large groups will perform the always fun and entertaining showcase programs.
This category often includes eye-popping costumes and props. It is enjoyable to stop by, have a seat in the bleachers and watch the country’s up-and-coming skating talent strut their stuff.
Sun Valley Figure Skating Club secretary Holly Wheeler said she is very pleased with the huge turnout at this year’s competition.
“This has always been a marquee event for up-and-coming skaters and everyone loves coming to Sun Valley to compete,” Wheeler said. Wheeler added, “Many skaters bring their whole family and enjoy an extended vacation in the area. They take advantage of our wonderful skating facilities as well as hiking, biking, horseback riding and even whitewater rafting. Our volunteers and Sun Valley Figure Skating Club members have worked for months to ensure a successful weekend for all.”
And, on Saturday night, the professionals take over the outdoor rink at Sun Valley On Ice.
The thrilling show July 26 will feature two-time U.S. women’s gold medalist and 2011 Skate America champ Alissa Czisny. She is joined by 2013 and 2012 World Junior silver medalist Josh Farris and Sun Valley’s talented soloists, ice dancers, pairs and core skaters.
Tickets are available at sunvalley.com.