Olympic champions headline Stars on Ice
||January 22, 2002|
Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - This year's Stars on Ice tour has
plenty of star power.
The show features - at least for a couple of weeks - the reigning
men's and women's Olympic champions.
It also boosts of being the first ice show to feature on one bill
figure skating's three most glamorous Olympic champions: Tara
Lipinski, who won the gold medal in 1998, Kristi Yamaguchi, 1992, and
Katarina Witt, 1984 and 1988.
But for Colorado skating fans, one very familiar name will be
missing at Wednesday night's show: Scott Hamilton. After 16 years,
Hamilton, a part-time Denver resident, retired last year from the tour
he co-founded in 1986. His absence, plus the aftermath of Sept. 11,
weighed heavily on the cast and crew as they kicked off the 61-city
tour on Dec. 28 in Baltimore.
"We were a little more than nervous," said Kurt Browning, a
four-time World champion. "We are doing OK. I expect there are going
to be cities that are pretty empty, and then we will have our old
faithfuls, like Madison Square Garden, where we do quite well."
He also said he expects to see a large crowd for the Denver show at
the Pepsi Center, which is the 15th stop on the tour of one-nighters
that lasts until April 20.
"We have done 10 shows and basically we are pretty happy," Browning
said. "When something good is on autopilot, you can take elements of
it away and it still will be fine. And I think that is what we
are. . . . Scott is a very, very smart businessman and to put one
person's name on a show limits its ability to survive. And I think he
knew that. It is kind of like push the baby out of the nest and off we
Browning's comments came in a telephone interview from his home in
Toronto, Ontario, which he gets to visit about once a month while on
This is his seventh time with Stars on Ice. While the travel
remains grueling, he remembers how much worse it was before skaters
started flying from city to city via a charter DC-9.
"We really don't have to do anything until 11 o'clock in the
morning, and we use to have to get up at 7, put your bags out at 7:30
and leave at 8," he said.
The show's lighting, costumes, props, sets and sound systems travel
on three packed tractor-trailer trucks, tour director Dave Hoffis
Tonight, the show is in Albuquerque. Within three hours of the
final bow, Hoffis' crew of 10 stagehands and 25 local hires will have
the trucks reloaded and pointed toward Denver.
They plan to start work at the Pepsi Center by 8 a.m. Wednesday, he
"It takes about four to five hours to get everything in and set
up," Hoffis said. "Then, the crew spends about two hours going through
and focusing lights . . . The skaters come in at 4 o'clock. They take
two hours to warm up. . . . Then an hour for the doors to open and get
the audience in."
Browning said it would be nice to do more than one show in each
city, but noted this is not the type of skating performance that can
be repeated eight or nine times over four days, as some ice shows are.
"It is a different style of show," he said. "We have Olympic and
world champions, mostly. The style of skating we are doing - and I
don't care what people write in the newspaper - is hard. We are
challenging ourselves. Kristi Yamaguchi does a triple flip, triple
loop and triple lutz in one show. Expect for axel, those are the three
"We have Ilia Kulik, who for the next couple of weeks anyway is the
reigning Olympic champion. Right now he is doing two triple axels in
his first number. This is the stuff that wins the Olympics."
Olympic gold is a major theme of this year's show, which revolves
around the three women champions and what they gave up to be
successful and what it has brought them.
While this is the first major tour that Lipinski, Yamaguchi and
Witt have taken together, also it could well be the last.
"This might be Kristi's last year," Browning said. This is
Yamaguchi's 10th Stars on Ice tour.
"In fact I think it is. She hasn't been saying that it is because
we just did that last year (with Hamilton retiring)," he said. "I
think Kristi is downplaying it, and there is the slightest chance she
will come back, but I don't think she will."