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`Stars on Ice' tour featuring Olympic medalists makes a stop in Atlantic City

Source: Courier Post
Date: December 29, 2001
Author: Cheryl Squadrito

The Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City will begin Feb. 8, but ice skating fans don't have to wait that long to catch gold medal magic.

The Stars on Ice show arrives at the revamped Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City Sunday featuring top skaters who have turned professional.

Olympic medalists Tara Lipinski and Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States, , Katarina Witt of East Germany and Ilia Kulik of Russia will be part of the entertainment.

The show, sponsored by Target stores, does not feature typical competition-style programs with individual performances. Instead, the cast of 12 skaters perform a themed show that incorporates twirling, dancing, spinning and - even rap.

"We do really cool group numbers in cool costumes and with great lighting," says Lipinski, who lived in Sewell until she was 9. "The show is more MTV or Broadway than Ice Capades. We do a variety of acts, and even `Lady Marmalade' from Moulin Rouge."

"It's more like a musical ... with lots of lights and costume changes," says cast member Lucinda Ruh, a two-time Swiss national champion.

Stars on Ice began its U.S. tour in Baltimore on Friday and will conclude April 20 in Portland, Maine. The skaters will visit 61 cities in 30 states.

Since it began in 1986, the Stars on Ice tour has featured a bevy of international talent who have turned professional. Professional skaters are not eligible to compete in amateur ranks, such as the World Championship or the Olympics.

Witt, who won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics, rejoins the show after a four-year absence.

New to the tour are Ruh and two-time world champions Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov of Russia.

Returning this year are three-time U.S. national pair champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand. Also returning are Olympic silver medalist and two-time world professional champion Denis Petrov of Russia and eight-time British national champion Steven Cousins.

LLipinski missed last year's competitions because she was recovering from hip surgery, but skated with the Stars on Ice Tour. She still has pain when she skates but says, "I'm lucky to be on the ice."

Lipinski is the youngest female skater to win an Olympic gold medal, which she did in 1998 at age 15 in Nagano, Japan. Two months later, Lipinski decided to go professional.

"I have no regrets. Four years later, I look back and think I was so lucky. I was so blessed. Now, I have a life I can really enjoy. Spending Christmas at home makes a difference," says Lipinski, who now calls Sugar Land, Texas, home.

She says preparing for the 1998 Olympics was tough because her father lived in Texas while she and her mother lived in Detroit.

"The training schedule was so rigorous with my parents living apart. Now, to see them back home and happy together, it's worth it."

Since going professional, she has acted, done volunteer work and scored a hefty list of endorsements.

She endorses Target, McDonald's, Minute Maid, Charles Schwab, Chevrolet, DKNY, Mattel, Campbell's Soup, Snapple, Limited Too and Capezio.

The 19-year-old filmed a scene for the Cameron Crowe movie Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz. Her scene was cut.

"I was visiting a friend on the set, and Cameron Crowe asked me if I wanted to be in a party scene," Lipinski says.

Lipinski has acted in a few episodes of the soap opera The Young and The Restless. She has appeared on Touched by an Angel and a few Fox Family films. Over the summer, she acted in the yet-to-be released independent film, Metro Chase.

"Acting is my next dream. I'm going to keep skating, obviously, but acting is something I want to pursue," says Lipinski.

Lipinski is the national spokeswoman for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. She's also a major financial contributor to Texas Children's Hospital and is a member of the Children's Circle of Care, for people who donate more than $10,000 annually.

While she's on tour, she stops by hospitals to cheer up ailing kids. Recently, Lipinski visited St. Jude's Research Hospital in Memphis where she read Dr. Seuss books to children.

"I like to take their minds off things for awhile. Those kids are so brave, I don't know how they do it," she says.

Earlier this month, Lipinski visited a 10-year-girl named Vanessa whose father died in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. The girl, from Virginia, wanted to learn to skate, so Lipinski gave Vanessa her first lesson.

"She's so sweet," Lipinski says. "To be on the ice with someone like her who has been through so much makes you realized how special they are."

For Ruh, the Stars on Ice tour is her first as a professional skater. She turned pro in 2000 and has the quickest costume change in the Stars on Ice show - 15 seconds.

Ruh is fast on the ice, too, which helped earn her the nickname "Queen of Spin." The 22-year-old is considered to be one of skating's greatest spinners because she can do as many as 270 revolutions in a minute.

"It's like you lose yourself in the spin," Ruh says. " Spins last longer than jumps or footwork."

Ruh was born in Zurich, Switzerland but has lived in cities throughout the world, including Paris, Tokyo, Toronto, San Francisco and Beijing.

Ruh and her mother moved to Lower Manhattan in August.

They were evacuated from their apartment Sept. 11 and not allowed back in for three weeks. "I feel like I was a part of history," Ruh says.

She's looking forward to touring with the Stars on Ice show and seeing new parts of the world.

"It's such a close-knit group. I love the show. I can't decide what my favorite part is."

If you go

Show time for `Target Stars on Ice,' with Olympic champions Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt and Ilia Kulik, is 7 p.m. Sunday.

The show will take place at Boardwalk Hall, Pacific Avenue and the Boardwalk, Atlantic City.

Tickets are $32 to $55 and can be bought by calling Ticketmaster (856) 338-9000.