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Target Stars on Ice

Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
Date: February 9, 2001
Author: Gwendolyn Freed

Kristi Yamaguchi is coming home to Minnesota. The 1992 Olympic champion and part-time Minnesotan is touring with "Target Stars on Ice," which makes a Target Center stop Wednesday.

Last July, Yamaguchi, 30, married North St. Paul native Bret Hedican, who plays hockey with the Florida Panthers. The pair has built a home on Gull Lake near Brainerd.

"We try to get up there as much as we can," Yamaguchi said last week. "We like to be there in the month of August, when it's nice and warm.

Yamaguchi "definitely" plans to see her in-laws next week. "Hopefully, we'll all have dinner one night," she said.

Tara Lipinski

She'll have to eat quickly. "Target keeps us on a busy schedule," she said. "We're on the road four to five months a year, visiting four to five cities each week. We do the same show every night. There's not the intense pressure of competition, but people want to see a good show and we have a high standard to live up to."

Which is not to say it's a grind. "Creatively, there's so much more we can give you in these shows than we can in competition," Yamaguchi aid. She will perform programs to Sting's "Desert Rose" and the Dixie Chicks' hit "Let 'Er Rip."

Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, another "Stars on Ice" performer, said, "I'm just trying to get through my programs without a lot of pain" after hip surgery three months ago.

"I can't push all my triples at this point. But I'm grateful to be on the ice at all after an injury like this," she said, referring to afflictions such as an expanded joint that, she said, went misdiagnosed for years.

Now three years since she became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold figure skating medal, Lipinski has no regrets about leaving competition behind. "I've been really happy, so glad with my decision to go professional," she said.

Having long since reached the top of her field, what goals does an 18-year-old set for herself? Lipinski's plans include acting; she's been taking lessons and has has an agent. She has no movie deals yet, but said she hopes to line something up by summer. Sports commentary is another thing she'd like to try. As for the coveted but elusive milk mustache: "Not yet," she says.

At the end of this tour, Lipinski, Yamaguchi and their tour mates, including Ilia Kulik and Kurt Browning, will bid goodbye to "Stars on Ice" co-founder, the Olympic champ Scott Hamilton.

"We will miss him so much," Yamaguchi said. "He's the heart and soul of the tour. He created it for us, the skaters. He's always been the big brother figure. In some ways I feel it won't be 'Stars on Ice' without him. This year is going to be a really special tour. Each show is like a blessing."

Hamilton said his emotions are varied and sometimes intense on this, his 15th and final tour. "It changes," he said. "At times, it's kind of bittersweet. But it's also great to know I've been able to do this as long as I have. It's not sad, really; it's more like a celebration."

Hamilton has no firm plans, and he seems to like it that way. "I'll be taking it one day at a time. I don't know, I've spent the last 16 years thinking about the the future," he said. "Now I am going to live in the present."

Hamilton, a cancer survivor, said he's deeply gratified that part of the "Stars on Ice" proceeds benefit Target House, a facility serving families whose children are undergoing long-term treatment for life-threatening diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

About the show

Who:Skating celebrities including Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Ilia Kulik and Kurt Browning.

When: 7:30 p.m. Wed.

Where: Target Center, 600 N. 1st. Av., Mpls.

Tickets: $33.50-$56.50. 612-673-1311.

Copyright 2001 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.