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'Stars on Ice' brings in cutting-edge skaters

Source: Detroit News
Date: February 11, 2000
Author: Wendy Case

Copyright 2000 The Detroit News, Inc.

AUBURN HILLS -- From the Winter Olympics to professional competitions in the United States and around the world, figure-skating stars have become celebrities. And no other event brings sought-after skaters together like the famed Stars on Ice tour coming to the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday.

This year's cast includes Olympic champions Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Ilia Kulik and Ekaterina Gordeeva, world champion Kurt Browning, silver medalists Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov and a host of other accomplished skaters.

Initiated by Olympic gold medalist Hamilton and his manager, Robert Kain, back in 1986, the Stars on Ice tour has grown into a traveling spectacle of lights, music, costumes and choreography. Though it's not a competition, a lot of hard work goes into the production.

"In Stars on Ice, we have six weeks of rehearsal, and we really put a lot into the show," says 17-year-old Olympic, world and U.S. champion Lipinski. "It's like a theater show with lights and matching costumes."

According to Lipinski, it's the variety and presentation that make the tour such a hit with fans.

"In skating now, there's so many competitions and they're all the same," she says. "The skaters go out and do a number and then there's another skater, and it's just that kind of format.

"This show is different every year. There's a flow to the show, and there are stories. It's really entertaining, I think, for an audience."

Debbie Johns, office manager at Bloomfield Township's Detroit Skating Club, where Lipinski used to train, agrees. "I've seen it for the last several years, and it's a fabulous show," she says. "It's all of the top-level skaters, it's choreographed well, and it appeals to all ages."

Though the tour is long and physically demanding, it definitely has its rewards, Lipinski says. "We're on the road for four months, and it's like a big family," she says. "Even off the ice we all hang out together."

"I like being with everybody and traveling around, and performing for an audience every night is amazing -- 18,000 screaming fans; it's pretty cool."

Stars on Ice is an interactive show that goes for entertainment value as opposed to the pressure-filled world of competitive skating, Lipinski says.

"I can tell you that it's not like skating that you see on TV," she says. "The adrenaline is always pumping, and we really connect with the audience and involve them. It's not just for ourselves. It's like a play, almost. It's fun!"

Skating Preview

Target 'Stars on Ice' with Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton and more

8 p.m. Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills

Tickets $ 60 VIP floor and reserved, $ 48 and $ 35 reserved

Call (248) 645-6666