Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sun Valley on Ice lines up a summer soundtrack

Nine shows, 15 headliners and a creative ensemble


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

Ice skaters Johnny Weir and Gracie Gold flank Sun Valley Ice Show regular Ashley Clark during a break from practice in Sun Valley. Photo by Willy Cook

Sun Valley on Ice in many ways provides the soundtrack of the beautiful Idaho summer at Sun Valley Resort—music, skating, athleticism, outdoor performances, glad faces and fun in the sun.
    The nine Sun Valley on Ice shows open Friday, July 4, with the traditional Independence Day holiday performance, complete with glow necklaces and post-show fireworks. After that, it’s pretty much every Saturday through Aug. 30.
    It’s no wonder that ice show director and producer Scott Irvine and choreographer Lori Benton have focused this year’s Sun Valley on Ice production numbers on the idea of having a soundtrack to your life.
    “As skaters, we actually get to have a soundtrack of our lives in our performances. It’s nice to have that soundtrack. And this summer, we’ll try to celebrate that idea with our group numbers,” Irvine said.
    For those who enjoyed director John Badham’s 1977 movie “Saturday Night Fever,” with John Travolta, there will be a medley of disco treasures that helped the Bee Gees win the Grammy for best album.
    If you like high-voltage and theatrical ballroom dancing, with a focus on energy, there will be skating to the popular “Burn the Floor” production dating back to 1999 that is still burning up the cruise circuit.
    And if you think that dancing and baseball are the same game, you’ll be treated to skating to “I Don’t Dance,” from “High School Musical 2,” with the focus on hey, batter, batter, bases loaded, do your dance.
    “We’ve got a bunch of baseball bats and we’ll add some acrobatics with them,” Irvine said.
    The nine summer shows, choreographed by former world professional skating champion Benton of McCall, feature 15 different headliners who will remind audiences of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
    Indeed, of the 15 headliners, seven competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics and one other, the estimable Johnny Weir, broke new ground personally with knowledgeable and well-received television commentary appearances in Russia.
    “Johnny branched out and became even more fabulous,” said Irvine. “People found his personality so entertaining.”
    Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White along with Evan Lysacek, Weir, Ryan Bradley and Alissa Czisny will lend years of international competitive and show experience to the weekly Sun Valley shows.
    Up-and-coming American competitors who are due as Sun Valley headliners include Gracie Gold, Jason Brown, Nathan Chen, Mirai Nagasu, Max Aaron, Josh Farris, Ashley Wagner, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.
    “It’s a fantastic lineup,” said Irvine about the headliners.
    Much of the ice show energy comes from a very talented ensemble company of skating entertainers that performs to audiences around the world.
    “Sun Valley on Ice has some of the most creative people in skating,” said Irvine. “They seem to reinvent themselves each year, and we encourage their artistic freedom.”
    Audiences enjoy the connection between ice dancers Kimberly Navarro, 33, and Brent Bommentre, 30, the 2008-09 U.S. ice dancing bronze medalists.
    The ensemble features the athleticism of Olympic bronze medalist Jozef “Jumpin’ Joe” Sabovcik, and the engaging talents of Craig Heath, Ashley Clark and Darlin Baker. They push the performance boundaries with everything they do.
Pairs skater Natalia Zaitseva returns with a new partner, Jonathon Hunt, the 2013 World Junior Pairs bronze medalist. Hunt has been with the Ice Theater of New York since 2011 and has been a principal performer in shows worldwide.
    Back for a third year is comic skater and longtime Disney on Ice showman Jason Graetz from Montreal.
    Returning to the summer ensemble is the July 12 headliner, 30-year-old Bradley who was the U.S. national king three years ago. He is joined in the ensemble by Salt Lake City figure skater Erin Reed, the 2008 University of Utah grad.
    Six of Sun Valley’s ensemble skaters are members of Ice Theater of New York, which will visit Sun Valley for its Residency Apprentice Program in September. They are Bradley, Reed, Hunt, Zaitseva, Bommentre and Navarro.
    Bradley and Reed have performed memorably together in the Ice Theater of New York “Unforgettable” number set to music from the award-winning movie “The Artist.”
    The Fourth of July show will start around 9:45 p.m. and include a spectacular patriotic finale with holiday fireworks. Since ice shows begin at dusk, by Labor Day the starting times will be about 8:30 p.m.
This summer’s headliners
    Here are the headliners for the 78th summer of the Sun Valley Ice Show. Each show lasts about 70 minutes, doors opening at 8 p.m. each show.
    l Friday, July 4—Youthful energy will be on display with headliners Gracie Gold and Jason Brown, both U.S. Winter Olympic skaters at Sochi in February. They were members of the U.S. team skating Olympic bronze medalists in 2014.
    Gold, 18, a Massachusetts native who trains in California, placed fourth in the Olympic women’s singles event and fifth at worlds. She performed with Stars on Ice after this season, helped start the Indianapolis 500 in May and was nominated for the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Award as Best Female Athlete in June.
    Pony-tailed Jason Brown, 19, from Highland Park, Ill., was this year’s U.S. men’s silver medalist in Boston. Brown, who trains in Colorado Springs, was a popular Olympic skater at Sochi. He placed ninth in men’s singles. Brown is known for his high-energy version of “Riverdance” on ice.
    Returning to Sun Valley on Ice for the fourth year is 15-year-old Nathan Chen from Salt Lake City, Utah. This year’s Junior World bronze medalist in Bulgaria, Chen is a four-time national winner, in 2010-11 as a Novice skater, and 2012 and 2014 as a Junior.
    l Saturday, July 12—Ryan Bradley, 30, the 2011 U.S. men’s champion and three-time U.S. collegiate king, is known for backflips and triple axels. The natural showman retired from competitive skating three years ago after competing in three world championships and earning a U.S. silver in 2007.
    l Saturday, July 19—Mirai Nagasu, 21, of Arcadia, Calif., became the first American woman in 70 years to win the U.S. junior and senior titles in successive years when she captured the national title in 2008 at St. Paul, Minn. Known as a great spinner, Nagasu placed fourth in the 2010 Olympics, at age 16. Her parents are Japanese immigrants who operate a Japanese sushi restaurant.
    Appearing with Nagasu will be Max Aaron, 22, from Scottsdale, Ariz., the 2013 U.S. men’s gold medalist who started out as a hockey player. He opened his gold medal-winning free skate last year with a quad jump, to “West Side Story.”
    l Saturday, July 26—Alissa Czisny, 27, the Bowling Green State University graduate and winner of U.S. national titles in 2009 and 2011. Known for spins and graceful spirals, Czisny placed fifth in the 2011 world championships.
    Joining Wagner is Joshua Farris, 19, from Seattle, the 2013 World Junior gold medalist who trains in Colorado Springs. Farris placed fourth in both the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Senior Championships.
    l Saturday, Aug. 2—Making their first Sun Valley appearance are reigning U.S. pairs skating silver medalists Felicia Zhang, 20, from New  Jersey, and Nathan Bartholomay, 25, from Pennsylvania, who train in Florida. A team for three years, they placed 12th at the 2014 Winter Olympics and 14th at the world championships in Japan.
    l Saturday, Aug. 9—Two-time defending U.S. skating queen Ashley Wagner, 23, is the German-born U.S. military brat who placed fourth in the 2012 world championships and seventh in the 2014 Olympics, her first Olympic skate. Nathan Chen will join Wagner.
    l Saturday, Aug. 16—Johnny Weir, 29, the 2008 world bronze medalist and three-time U.S. men’s king (2004-06) from Pennsylvania. Weir is joined by Nathan Chen, making his third appearance of the summer’s nine ice shows.
    l Saturday, Aug. 23—Two-time world champion and six-time U.S. winners Meryl Davis, 27, and Charlie White, 26, from Michigan became the first American ice dancers to win Olympic gold at Sochi.
    Partners since 1997 on the ice, they announced June 6 that they won’t compete in 2014-15, although they will perform in ice shows. Subsequently, White announced his engagement to U.S. ice dancer Tanith Belbin.
    l Saturday, Aug. 30—The Labor Day weekend finale stars Evan Lysacek, 29, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist and 2007-08 U.S. king. He was the world champion five years ago.
Ticket prices, dinner buffet
    Sun Valley Resort will once again offer a traditional dinner buffet with the ice show.
    For the show only, this year’s bleacher reserved seat prices range from $49 to $69 per person, plus taxes and fees, depending on where you sit. Bleacher tickets for kids 12-and-under are $29 plus fees.
    Sun Valley Terrace tickets start at $79 plus fees for adults, $20 for kids 12-and-under. The buffet dinner and show is $105 plus fees, or $95 for children.
    Non-refundable tickets are now on sale at the Sun Valley Recreation Office, 622-2135.
    Tickets may be purchased online at sunvalley.ticketfly.com. All seating is reserved and advance reservations are recommended. You can also buy tickets at the gate before the shows.
    Daycare at the Sun Valley Playschool during ice shows is available by advance reservation at 622-2288.




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