I arrive at the bottom of the mountain in a hot pink one piece, ski boots and leather chaps … only to find that I am a tad underdressed. It is the 15th Annual Janss Pro-Am Classic on Baldy and the costumes and props are over the top.
The first person I see is Langely McNeal dressed as a Twister™ board game and moving in a sea of red, yellow, green and blue dots. Langely is standing next to her teammate, who is decked out in striped thigh-highs beneath a colorful minidress (bare-legged on a ski hill, as far as I can tell) and a blue wig with a lollipop hat, in what I can only imagine as the Candyland™ game. Their team theme is “Vintage Games”—to match the “Vintage” theme for this years 2012 Stifel Nicolaus Weisel Janss Pro-Am. Langely is joined by the rest of her teammates, which include Monopoly™, Barrel of Monkeys™, Mr. Potatohead™ and Operation™. Brilliant. They end up sweeping the costume contest award at the end of the weekend, followed in close second by the 10th Mountain Division, and the Gender Benders, with Honeymooners and Tinseltown as Honorable Mentions (be sure to check out the photo galleries below).
The Janss Pro-Am is probably one of the most spirited and lively annual fundraisers in the Valley. It features three nights of hosted parties and revelry sandwiched between two days of dual Giant Slalom racing on lower Warm Springs—in costume and with an announcer to heckle you (if you take yourself too seriously)—all to benefit the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) and its training programs for youth skiers, boarders and Nordic athletes.
The competition is fierce, but good-hearted. And the teams of six include one pro racer from the ranks of Olympic, World Cup and Pro Tour atheletes (nearly all of whom had their start with SVSEF), and one junior pro SVSEF athlete, combined with four “citizen” skiers/riders of all ski levels who compete for prizes and titles.
Each team dresses in costume in honor of the race theme and in the spirit of the event’s namesake—former owner of Sun Valley Resort, Olympian, SVSEF supporter, and ski and costume party enthusiast: Bill Janss.
“Everybody who knew Bill [Janss] knows he loved a good costume and loved having fun,” said SVSEF Executive Director Don Wiseman at the Welcome Celebration on Thursday night at Michel’s Christiania, as he encouraged race participants to get in the groove, have fun and loosen their knickers.
It didn’t seem to be a problem for anybody involved.
Photos by Amy Taylor, Craig Wolfrom, and Amanda Stelling
Ski Racing Photos
It was a sold out event and the 30 teams participating (the 2nd largest field in Janss Pro-Am history) were all in costume—and in character. There was a “Downhill Racer” team, complete with vintage downhill suits, as well as mini skirts, furs and moonboots that looked like their were straight off the set of the classic 1969 Robert Redford film. Other teams included Bill’s High Speed Hippies (with a solid representation from all of Glenn Cooper Janss’ children), Sun Valley Serenade, Tinseltown (I swear I saw Marilyn Monroe racing down the course), Team Retro, Soul Train and smattering of Tyrolean Schussers, with lederhosen and blonde wigs and braids, and many others.
One of my favorites was Team “Gender Benders” who were dressed as famous vintage sports heroes such as Billie Jean King (complete with tennis racket), Babe Zaharias (with a costume that included a set of golf clubs), Danica Patrick, who had a full size NASCAR cardboard cutout of herself as a prop, and Julie Krone, who was dressed in complete jockey racing silks WITH a horse.
The official Janss Cup went to the Sawtooth/Roosevelt Winos with a team theme dedicated to vintage wine. The Speed Cup went to Kipp Nelson’s Team Retro and the Best Crash was awarded to both Royce Rheinschild, and Hank Minor of Apples (whose Team “I Ski” still managed to grab a close 2nd place finish for the Speed Cup and third overall for the Janss Cup).
Our team pro, Ben Verge, a former SVSEF ski racer turned half pipe coach (now mentoring a slew of rising stars such as Wing Tai Barrymore and Brita Sigourney) arrived in his red one piece with lime green stripes (straight off the Winter 1991 Sun Valley Magazine cover) and proceeded to beat half the field in both runs of the day. He was racing on twin tips with a broken boot, which just proves that you can go really fast and have a lot of fun at the same time.
All the money raised by the Stifel Nicolaus Weisel Janss Pro Am goes to help support the 500 youth snowboarders and alpine and Nordic skiers on the SVSEF’s teams.