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Ice-skating stars dazzle and delight at the Key

Source: Seattle Times
Date: January 7, 2002
Author: Misha Berson

Are oldies by Tom Jones and The Carpenters, and tunes by the Swiss synth-pop group Yello, music to skate by?

Yes indeedy, in the touring Stars on Ice revue that just visited KeyArena.

Packed with top figure skaters (including four Olympic gold medalists), this year's ice spectacle featured an ensemble tango motif, a lot of soloing to gooey pop ballads, a Carpenters finale, and some charming novelties with skaters "partnering" vanity tables, lighted arches and high-beam flashlights.

As usual, the whole shebang was gilded with splashy lighting (by Roy Bennett), spangly costumes (by Jef Billings), and the charisma and athletic prowess of skating superstars.

In the absence of beloved Olympic champ Scott Hamilton (who retired from performing last year but is the show's co-producer), popular Canadian blade whiz Kurt Browning had a larger role in the program.

Browning took a few tumbles during one solo. But he also demonstrated the expressive, muscular form and good humor he's prized for. And his fancy footwork and triple axels triumphed in a splendid routine to Ed Robertson's "Guitar."

You'd never guess that petite dynamo Tara Lipinski struggles with chronic hip problems, from her flawless multiple jumps and exquisite grace on her "Color of Roses" solo.

Fellow Olympic champ Katarina Witt has hit her mid-30s (up there for a pro skater), but her sensuous appeal and innate musicality on ice have not diminished a whit.

A third Olympic queen, Stars on Ice vet Kristi Yamaguchi, shone in modes elegant ("Gold") and playfully sexy (to Janet Jackson's "Trust a Try"). And Kristi reclaimed her roots as a pair skater, in a lovely duet with Russian blader Denis Petrov.

American duo Jenni Meno and Todd Sand impressed, in a tricky tango for skaters and rolling chair (choreographed by Christopher Dean), and a pas de deux to Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," marked by eloquent lifts and gliding embraces.

Boyish 1998 Olympic champ Ilia Kulik remains an amazing corkscrew jumper - and an uneven choreographer. Best were his rock-out "Pick Up the Pieces," and "Rubberband Man," where Kulik became human elastic.

Swiss blader Lucinda Ruh flaunted her spinning skills. British champ Steven Cousins had cocky fun with "What's New, Pussycat?"

And if a Native American-themed duet by Russian team Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov was a bit kitschy, it yielded some very inventive lifts - with the aid of peace pipe.