Recently, I returned from Sun Valley, Idaho. My son and my dad and I had the best time ever there.
"I wish I had grown up skating in Sun Valley," my son Joel told me during our week there. "It is just so fun to skate here!"
My goal for our week in Sun Valley was to give my son the joy of skating big time, and of course, that goal was met. Who can't be happy when you can ice skate outside? Who can't be happy when everyone that skates with you is so very happy and is always smiling? Who can't be happy when there really is no driving time to the rink and no fighting over ice time? Who can't be happy when you are skating in a place that some call "Heaven On Earth?"
Joel's been traveling with Disney On Ice for five years and beginning his sixth tour now, so he hasn't had a chance to experience a skating vacation and I wanted him to have one.
During our trip, Joel got to work with U.S. Champion Ryan Bradley, ice show performer Ashley Clark, Olympian Jeremy Barrett, pair skater extraordinaire Natalia Zaitseva, and with trick ice skater Jason Graetz. He also had an amazing and inspirational lesson with the famed figure skating choreographer Douglas Webster.
Together, Joel and I, ice danced outside every day and even did a twilight ice dance session together under the stars since we were in Sun Valley for part of Adult Week. We made new friends and got to skate with some of the adults who came for Adult Week. During the Twilight Dance session, I got to do some dances with the incredible Brent Bommentre and with the wonderful Franklyn Singley and Joel was able to dance with the amazing Olympic ice dancer Judy Blumberg and with the former world competitor and ice dancer Kim Navarro. Joel enjoyed skating on the pro session every afternoon with the stars of Sun Valley's annual ice show. I skated patch and did figures every morning on the outside rink as the sun began to rise!
Also, the people in the Sun Valley and Ketchum and the Wood River area were so friendly. We mostly skated, but we did get to go on a fly fishing experience and of course rode our Razor Air scooters around the Sun Valley hotel grounds and up into the hills. We played tennis a few times too. I rode my scooter to the rink every morning. We went on a wonderful hike and went to one of Sun Valley's free outdoor concerts where the music of Gershwin was played. We attended some wonderful events with the Wood River Jewish Community. We went bowling! We ate out and experienced some of the good food in Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey, and Bellevue. We made a new friend, Adam Pennington, who took us on our fly fishing trip.
(I can't help but make a comparison:
My children were born and raised in Colorado Springs and I was their first skating instructor. I taught them every day at a rink in a beautiful mall in "the Springs" and they loved ice skating there. Beginning in 2006, when I signed my three children up for their first summer skate at the Ice Hall of the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, I just assumed that skating there during the summer would be like skating in Sun Valley or some of the other beautiful resorts with ice skating rinks that I had skated at when I was a child and teen. I was wrong. At an intense training center like the Ice Hall at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, the focus is training champions. There is nothing wrong with that, but all three of my kids, who are now grown up, tell me that the fun of skating was drained from them there. Others who have trained at the Ice Hall have had similar experiences and say the same thing. No one meant for that to happen, but I have come to the conclusion that figure skating training centers that only focus on elite figure skating are really not the best places to skate if you want to have fun skating. This makes me sad, but I am glad because of our past three summers in Sun Valley, that I was able to restore my children's joy of skating. Now, they all love to skate more than ever and I hope they can pass that joy of skating on to everyone they meet just as I have always done.)
I wish that my kids had grown up skating in Sun Valley or just been able to go there during their summers, but I'm glad they all got to experience the happiness of skating in Sun Valley later on. What is incredible is that Sun Valley's rink management and coaches are committed to giving everyone who comes to their rink a positive experience. It doesn't matter if you are a beginning or recreational skater, an adult, or an elite champion...everyone is treated with respect and encouraged to enjoy the skating opportunities there.
A big thank you to Sun Valley Ice Rink's manager, Scott Irvine, and his staff including Pam and Brent and Daisy for making Sun Valley, Idaho my favorite place to skate and thank you for all your hard work. Also, another thank you to Scott for taking the time to talk to Joel about your work there since you retired from touring from Disney On Ice. Also, thank you to Olympian and show skating star Frank Sweiding for spending some time talking to Joel. Thank you to every coach there for being so upbeat and friendly. You all have truly created an ice skating paradise!