© Glen Allison

The Janss Pro-Am Classic is, first and foremost, a celebration of the joys of skiing, community, the younger generation and costumes; all things that were championed by the late Bill Janss. Staged over the course of three days, the event featured an opening celebration and pro presentation at Michel’s Christiania, which was generously hosted by Dave Wilson and Trish Wilson, David Pyle and families, and Michel Rudigoz, two days of head-to-head giant slalom racing, a gala dinner and a closing party. This year’s theme for the 21st iteration of the event was “Jukebox Heroes: Songs You Know and Love,” and teams ran the gamut. From “The Lonely Goatherd” to “Thunderstruck” to “Baby Got Back,” teams tapped into a wide variety of generations and genres.
© Glen Allison

This event makes your standard college Halloween party seem vastly mediocre – Janss participants wear their costumes for a considerably longer period of time, through multiple ski races, multiple meals and multiple dance moves. They tend to adopt – whether on purpose or merely due to the duration of time spent in costume, I’m not sure – the mannerisms of their characters.
Walking into the Janss tent is a sight to behold. Over there sits the “Rock and Roll All Nite” team, who are putting the finishing touches on their all-black getup by applying with resolute focus that unmistakable KISS facepaint. Turn around, and here are the Beach Boys of team “Fun, Fun, Fun,” who have the tans and demeanor, to boot. Members of “Rhinestone Cowboys” walk around in their light-up hats and bedazzled jackets, sending glints of cheery reflections dancing around the tent. As you leave to catch the lift for your run, you do a double take; Elvis is here, and he’s chatting with Felipe Rose, some goats, a member of Devo (not without his energy dome and keyboard) and a large mass of blonde wigs, which you come to recognize as Poison. It’s all slightly confounding, but in the most wonderful way – which is the essence of the Janss, and a very special thing to witness.
Through snow flurries, racers tackled the dual giant slalom course on Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17. A total of 20 teams participated in this year’s event. The final four teams that vied for the Janss Cup were The Lonely Goatherd, Talk Dirty to Me, Jean Genie and Baby Got Back, comprised entirely of SVSEF female alumni. When the racing was over, Talk Dirty to Me, a first-year Janss participant, walked away victorious with John Vanderkloot, George Vanderkloot, Jeff Barber, Patrick McCain, Robby Cullen and pro Aaron Fabish. Jean Genie was second, Baby Got Back, sponsored by Freddy Johnson, third, and The Lonely Goatherd fourth.
The Most Inspirational award was voted on by participants and sponsored by Lee Gilman; John Lee and Mike Gilman have sponsored this award and participated in the Janss for six consecutive years. This year’s winners were Charlotte Gourlay and Liz Brown of Rhinestone Cowboy, and LeRoy Kingland of Jailhouse Rock. Also decided by vote was best costume. With 16 of the 20 ballots with votes to their name, Baby Got Back, sponsored by Freddy Johnson, was the overwhelming winner, followed by Whip It of Lee Gilman, who staged three costume changes throughout the weekend. I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite came in third.
© Avery Ardovino

Best role player (or living dramatically during the Janss) went to Sarah Schwing of Baby Got Back and Sam Herrick of Walk This Way. Best crash went to Amy Taylor of Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Paul Hoagland of Rocket Man and the fastest recreational racers were Charlotte Gourlay of Rhinestone Cowboys and KJ Savaria of Texas Tornadoes.
The Speed Cup champion for the third straight year went to Texas Tornadoes, a team comprised of SVSEF alumni and sponsored by Buddy and Shay Wilton. Carl Rixon (17 straight years on winning Speed Cup team), Hunter Storey, KJ Savaria, Sean Higgins, Austin Savaria and pro Biche Rudigoz clocking a combined time of 96.41. In second was Dancing Queen, who finished in 1:14.77, and the third fastest team was Baby Got Back, with a time of 1:18.03. All three Speed Cup teams were made up of SVSEF alumni, current racers and coaches, and, in the case of Jim DeWolfe, SVSEF board president.
The Janss could not be what it is without the support and generosity of its benefators, patrons and volunteers. Special thanks go to Robert Cimino and family, host of headquarters tent, the race crew of Brian Ros and Chelle and Baird Gourlay, race announcer Kevin Clarke, photographers Becky Smith, Avery Ardovino, and Glen Allison, and over 100 volunteers.
© Avery Ardovino

Thank you, as well, to our sponsors for helping make this event possible.
Double Black Diamond: Sun Valley Company, Jim & Barbara Cimino Foundation
Black Diamond: Stan and Kristine Baty
Platinum: Ketchum Chiropractic/Dr. Tom West, Lee Gilman Builders, the Connelly Family
Gold: Coca-Cola, That’s Entertainment, Pennay’s at River Run, John Demetre, Dave Wilson & David Pyle, Intermountain Eye Centers, Tom & Anne Warde, Davis Embroidery
Silver: Fits Socks, Patron, Clear Creek Disposal, Starbucks, Tabasco, Zenergy, Southern Glazers, Wills Toyota, Brass Ranch, Atkinsons’, Sue Engelmann/Sotheby’s
Bronze: Galena Lodge, Krispy Kreme, Sawtooth Brewery, Chums, Cirque, Windy City Arts, Beyond Coastal, Warfield Distillery & Brewery, 44° North, Chobani, RBC, the Spoor Family, Continental Floral Greens, Sun Valley Magazine
Contributors: Perry’s, Lutz Rental, The Cellar Pub, Quay Australia, Sushi on Second, Knob Hill Inn, Knob Hill Grill, Wrap City, Clif Bar, The Pioneer Saloon, The Elephant’s Perch, Pure, Eddie Bauer, Neecy’s, Sturtevants, Brooks Welding, Watkins Distributing, Bigwood Bread
Team Sponsors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shay and Buddy Wilton, Jr., Freddy Johnson, First Lite, The Conner Family, Robert Cimino and Friends of Puerto Rico.