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Scott Hamilton puts snowman Snowden on ice again

Source: Buffalo News
Date: November 22, 1998
Author: Jay Bobbin

Copyright 1998 The Buffalo News

Scott Hamilton may be a snowman's best friend.

The figure skating star narrated and co-produced last year's special "Snowden on Ice," about a wintry creature's effect on a dejected skater. The latter role was played by Ekaterina Gordeeva, who reteams with Hamilton for the new CBS sequel "The Snowden, Raggedy Ann & Andy Holiday Show" at 8 p.m. Friday on Channel 4.

As the title indicates, two of the most beloved characters in children's lore join the snowman for a rink-bound fantasy. Also helped by his friend Doc (played by Hamilton), a ballerina (Gordeeva) and arguing siblings (fellow skaters Kurt Browning and Josee Chouinard), Snowden tries to fulfill youngsters' wishes by taking them through a mirror into a holiday wonderland.

Hamilton was a founder of the "Stars on Ice" touring show, so veteran variety producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion sought the Olympic gold medalist's expertise for the first "Snowden" special.

"They know the television business, but they were just coming into the skating business," Hamilton says. "I was flattered that they invited me to come in and consult with them, but I've just tried to stay out of their way more than anything else."

The first "Snowden" telecast was received well, but there was no guarantee of a second. "After anything that's a first," Hamilton reasons, "you go back and look at it and think, 'If only we'd done that a little differently.' Now that we know, we can do it a lot better the second time around. Research showed what viewers did and didn't like, and all of that input was applied without ego or hesitation. The result is a show that's more humorous and more colorful."

As co-producer again, Hamilton made casting suggestions. "Kurt was a given, since he's arguably the best professional skater in the world right now. His versatility really lends itself to this type of show. Also, there's a lot more acting and dialogue, and Kurt's very experienced in front of the camera. Josee came in last year and wowed everybody, so she was an automatic choice.

"I've always felt skating is unlimited as an entertainment entity," Hamilton adds. "When it's competitive, you can only reformat certain things because there are expectations athletically. In entertainment terms, there are a million facets to skating. You can do things on ice that you can't do off it, so as long as you keep an open mind, you can push the envelope and really make a difference."

Through the "Snowden" specials, Hamilton is linked to the Target department store chain, which plans to open its Target House for cancer patients and their families next May. "It's great to be with an organization that has that kind of civic involvement," he says. "That also goes for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, where they're learning to cure children's cancers. There's another breakthrough every day, and it's pretty amazing to be a part of that."

Hamilton survived his own bout with testicular cancer in 1997, and he reflects, "You can never compare two years. The year I was sick was unbelievable, but I was able to go back out on tour without missing too much. This was also an Olympic year, which was brutal because I was covering the Games for CBS. You're not al-lowed to skate during that, so just as I was getting back into really good shape, I had to spend a month off the ice.

"I got pretty burned out during the second half of the ('Stars on Ice') tour, plus I was fighting an ankle injury that I recently had repaired surgically. Because of the ankle, a slightly torn stomach muscle turned into a full-blown injury. Also, I turned 40 this year, which can be a psychological barrier if you let it. I'm getting through it pretty well, but there's always a challenge. It never ends."