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Janss Pro-Am Features Fun and Games to the Max
Thursday, April 14, 2022


The Acker family kicked off their surgical scrubs and tugged on their ski boots this past week—all for the benefit of nearly 900 youngsters in the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

Veterinarians Randy, Mark and Amber Acker-Sanborn teamed up with Redi and Ryder Sanborn and Travis Jones for the 23rd annual Janss Pro-Am Classic---three days of fun and frolicking on Bald Mountain and other venues around town.

The main attraction: handicapped races down Lower Warm Springs.

“I wouldn’t call it racing. I’d call it getting to the bottom without getting hurt,” said Mark Acker.

“The first couple runs through the gates are petrifying. We were just trying to get around the gates. Then the competition ramps up and it gets exciting,” added three members of the Synchronized Scottish Swim Team: Dell-Ann Benson, Betsy Service and Heather Black.

The event was scaled back this year. But the important thing is that it WAS back after being cancelled for two years because of the pandemic. And many of those taking part, including Mark Acker, had never done it before.

“We’re three generations of Ackers,” said Amber Acker-Sanborn, who grew up racing for the SVSEF. “We love helping out.”

Tom Knudson on the Norwegian Biathlon Team was also taking part in the event for the first time, even though he’s lived in the Wood River Valley since 1974.

“I’m just an old ski racer. Get me out here and I’m living the dream again,” he said.

This particular Janss Pro-Am took fun and games to the max with a host of nonsensical games off the ski slopes.

One involved putting slinkies on one’s head and tossing that head until the slinky went in place. Another, called “Knoodling Around” involved rigatoni noodles. Still another game called “This is In-Tents”  challenged competitors to see who could put a sunshade tent back in its case first.

“It’s super fun to bring the magic back,” said Liz Brown, a longtime participant in the Janss Pro-Am.

Scotty McGrew, the executive director of Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, echoed her sentiments.

“It’s really good to be back celebrating the kids,” he said.

Rotarun Ski Area, which recently gained snowmaking provided an incredible venue this year for the growing numbers of SVSEF kids, he said.

“Rotarun is a step in the journey for many kids,” he said. “It’s an incredible way to introduce kids to the sport, and then it’s up to them if they want to go on.”

McGrew said this year’s Janss Pro Am also celebrated the success of SVSEF athletes in the Olympics and Paralympics.

Several SVSEF athletes toed the starting lines in Beijing, including halfpipe snowboarder Chase Josey, visually impaired Nordic racer and his guide Sam Wood, Paralympic alpine racer and Nordic racer Kevin Bolger.

Adicoff and Wood collected three medals at the 2022 Paralympics.

The SVSEF had nine athletes on U.S. National Teams during the 2021/22 season and distributed more than $360,000 in financial scholarships to its young up-and-coming athletes.

2022 Janss Pro-Am Classic Awards

Speed Cup – Dream Team – Miles Fink-Debray (Pro), Ben Erichson, Wes Fluechaus, Mark Masur, Carl Rixon, Ben Selznick

1st Place Team – Olympic Spirit – Charlotte Gourlay (Pro), Janet Appleton, Liz Brown, Julie Daniels West, Paige Lethbridge, Christy Luby Johnson

2nd Place Team – Original Olympians – Wes Powell (Pro), James Fisher, Mike Gilman, Tor Jensen, Josiah Rosser, Bill Shaw

3rd Place Team – Australian Surf Team – Erika Rixon (Pro), Jordan Fitzgerald, Laurel Holland, Buffalo Rixon, Katherine Rixon, Matt Walker

Spirit Award – Bill Cimino

Best Crash – Tie between Taco and Wes Powell

Best Costumes – Scottish Synchronized Swim Team – Jack Smith (Pro), Dell-Ann Benson, Tom Benson, Heather Black, Betsy Service, David Service

Most Elite-ly Average – Team ‘Merica – Amber Acker-Sanborn (Pro), Mark Acker, Randy Acker, Travis Jones, Reid Sanborn, Ryder Sanborn

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