Ice and snow. They go together like winter and Olympics.
And nowhere is this truer than in Sun Valley. Snow skiing may be king, but it's a fact now that ice skating is queen. What was once a resort where stars came to be seen on skis is becoming a place where stars come to be seen on skates.There's more gold and silver on the summer ice at Sun Valley than in most banks. Skating this summer will be:
- Gold medalist Kristi Yama-guchi.
- Gold medalist Katarina Witt.
- Silver medalist Brian Orser.
- Gold medalist Scott Hamil-ton.
- Silver medalist Paul Wylie.
- Gold medalist Brian Boitano
- Gold medalist Viktor Pe-tren-ko.
- Silver medalist Elena Betch-ke and Denis Petrov.
- Silver medalist Linda Fra-tian-ne.
Not to mention bronze medal winners and past and current world champions. The Who's Who of skating checks in here.
It is, if you choose, a mini-Olympics minus the judges.
And the skaters love it, program coordinator Rainer Kolb points out, because of the receptive audiences - performances are typically sold out - and no pressure: "They come and skate more for the fun of it.
"Then they stay around and do the things other people do here in Sun Valley in the summer," he says.
One overriding feature, though, has set these events apart from all others. That is, they are held out-of-doors, under the stars, with the cool breezes blowing and leaves ruffling.
This, of course, was not always the case. Back in the 1940s, when Sun Valley began its skating performances, resort staff members were given skates and costumes and told simply to "move around."
The first rink, built in 1937, was a small slab 120 feet long and 60 feet wide. In 1955, the ice was enlarged to 180 feet by 90 feet.
Occasionally a big-name skater would drop by, such as Dick Button and Sonja Henie, and make a few spins and jumps for small audiences. Most of the shows, however, were more for good-natured fun than for watching great skaters.
Eventually the skating employees were replaced by visiting and local skating students. By 1970, shows were comprised mainly of children. In fact, the first competitive event for Bountiful's Holly Cook was on the ice at Sun Valley, when she was 6.
With the new wave of Olympic stars - Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, among others - came a new interest in the Sun Valley shows, notes Kolb.
"It used to be we had to invite the skaters to come to Sun Valley. Now, they ask if they can come skate here," he adds.
The ice shows have become a focal point of Sun Valley's summers. Audiences can either go for the famous Sun Valley buffet before the show, or move into general admission seating as the sun begins to set. When night dims the lights, the show begins.
Remaining shows this summer include: Aug. 22 - 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie and 1992 bronze medalist Nancy Kerrigan; Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 - 1988 gold medalist Brian Boitano; Sept. 12 - 1992 gold medalist Vik-tor Petrenko; and Sept. 19 - open date.