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Stay smart, '98 gold medalist tells Olympic figure skating hopefuls

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Date: January 31, 2002
Author: Denice M. Santangelo

Russia's Ilia Kulik won the gold medal in men's Olympic figure skating in 1998 at Nagano, Japan, before he signed a professional contract and joined the Target "Stars on Ice" tour. In a recent telephone interview from Houston, Kulik talked to the Post-Dispatch about skating.

Q. Why do you think "Stars on Ice" continues to draw well each year?

A. First, the show is a quality production. Then there's good music, great choreography, lighting and costumes. Everything is so professional, it's just top-notch skating. It's an opportunity to see four Olympic and world champions.

Q. How do your numbers vary in the show?

A. Beside the group numbers, I have three solos. The first solo is Jean Michael Jarre's "Rendezvous." I chose this number to show my technical side. I do triple axels and other triples to keep my technical ability strong.

The second number, "Picking Up the Pieces" by the Average White Band, shows the other side of my skating, a fun side. There's a lot of footwork, dance and a lot of smiles. The final solo is "Oh Yeah, Rubber Band Man" by Yello. It's more unusual. I like to experiment with the style and a lot of stretching.

Q. How do you keep loose before shows?

A. I don't do anything too special other than try to relax. We just started taking the show out, so it's still very fresh and we still practice a lot. It's important to sleep and eat well so we can conserve our energy. The show has a lot of challenging numbers.

Q. Does it feel different without Scott Hamilton (a longtime member of the skating troupe) on tour?

A. It's been different. Sometimes it gets hard on the road. Scott could ease a lot of tension. He brought a lot of good advice and energy to the cast.

Q. With the Olympics just a week away, do you have any advice for the competitors?

A. My advice is to stay cool. Stay smart. Don't do stupid things - keep your concentration. Plan everything ahead and stick to it. Mentally, it's so tough. It almost comes down to who can handle the heat most.

Q. What worked for you during the event to keep you grounded?

A. I just tried to keep my technique straight and focus on the technical aspects. You can't be full of thoughts of what's going to happen; you have to concentrate of what you're doing that very moment.

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Target "Stars on Ice"

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Savvis Center, 1401 Clark Avenue

How much: $37-$60

Info: 314-241-8888, 314-421-4400 or 618-222-2900