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Top skating talent sparks Arena show

Source: Connecticut Post
Date: April 5, 2002
Author: Phyllis A.S. Boros

"The thing with these professionals is that they make it look so easy."
Skaters right on target
Passionate performances provide elegance for fans

The ice may have been cold but the skaters were hot, hot, hot at Thursday night's performance of Target Stars on Ice at Bridgeport's Arena at Harbor Yard.

A behind-the-scenes look at the passions, loves and aspirations of a group of sultry "showgirls" was the theme of the nearly two-hour touring show that features some of the biggest stars from professional skating.

Headlining were former Olympic champions Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt and Ilia Kulik.

Songs such as "Black Betty," "Lady Marmalade," "El Tango De Roxanne" and "Elevation" provided the beat for four-time world champion Kurt Browning, Olympic silver medalist Denis Petrov, three-time U.S. National Pair champions and World silver medalists Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, and eight-time British champion Steven Cousins.

Also in Bridgeport were World Professional bronze medalist and "The Queen of Spin" Lucinda Ruh, and Olympic silver medalists and two-time world champions Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov.

Thursday's performance was the 52nd in a 62-stop tour throughout the United States that began on Nov. 24 and runs through April 20. It was the tour's final Connecticut stop.

"I can't stand up on ice skates," said Barb Liscinsky of Stratford, who attended the event with her daughter, Kelly. "But we just love watching them on television. And to see the skaters up close is really great. We're both really big fans of Kristi."

For Dottie Migliore of Bridgeport and Vincent Dalessandro of Trumbull, watching skating is like watching elegance in motion.

"It's just so beautiful," Migliore said.

Georgette and Lou Hamel of Stratford said they have followed amateur and professional ice skating competitions on television for years.

"It's the whole package -- the costumes, the music. And when you take into account all the work that has gone into the various competitions for these skaters, it's just amazing," Georgette Hamel said.

One of the most dramatic moments for the arena audience of several thousand came when a "surprise" guest was announced: Todd Eldredge.

Eldredge, a six-time U.S. national champion and 1996 gold medalist at the World Championships, joined the tour after competing in the recent Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. A crowd favorite, Eldredge skated seemingly flawlessly, earning the night's first standing ovation.

"That was unbelievable," Martha Thomas of Bridgeport said of Eldredge's lyrical performance. "That was spectacular -- I've never seen anything like it."

Thomas, an arena usher, said she was not a skating fan prior to joining the arena staff. "Now that I get to see it in person, it's nothing like on TV. I even love hockey now. The thing with these professionals is that they make it look so easy."

Stars on Ice was founded by Olympic champion Scott Hamilton and his manager, Robert D. Kain of IMG, in the spring of 1986. Last April Hamilton retired as a full-time touring member of the company, but continues to serve as co-producer.

This year's show was created with the cast in September during a three-week stay at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury; final rehearsals were conducted in November at Lake Placid, N.Y.

A portion of the price of every ticket sold on the tour will be donated to Target House, which provides housing for children undergoing long-term treatment for life-threatening diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.