Stars on Ice tour turns competitors into family
||April 4, 2002|
It's not easy being a heartthrob.
It's even harder when you don't admit it.
By many standards, British award-winning figure skater Steven
Cousins is the heartthrob of the current Target Stars on Ice touring
show, but it's doubtful that he'll tell you that.
"It's very flattering," he said, " but you can only be who you can
be on the ice."
Tell that to his fans. His many, googly-eyed, adoring fans, who
leave mushy declarations of love at his many fan-based Web sites.
New Hampshire will get its first state of Cousins when Target Stars
on Ice comes to the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester on Sunday,
One of the reason Cousins holds this kind of status may be
attributed to one of his Stars on Ice routines: a tongue-in-cheek Tom
Although he came up with the idea about two or three years ago, it
didn't really seem to fit into the show, he said. It wasn't until
this year that the choreographer asked him to make it a part of the
The only thing he was asked to do for the medley, which includes
"It's Not Unusual," "What's New, Pussycat" and "Thunderball," was to
make it as fun as possible for the crowd.
This is Cousins' fourth year with Target Stars on Ice, which he
came to after the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
"I skated as best as I could in 1998, and skated clean in the
European Championships," he said.
Since Cousins did well as an amateur but didn't win any medals, he
said it was a natural progression to get into something like the Stars
"I knew that I had reached my max, and I turned professional," he
said. "I've always appealed to the crowd more than the judges," he
Cousins said ice shows are a big change from competition because
they are a different kind of event.
The shows approach skaters, looking for people who can work in a
"The bigger the name the better," Cousins said.
Packed with past champions, these events are become "theater on
ice" with a lot of interaction between the skaters.
Another aspect of the shows that differs from competition is the
skaters' freedom to use props.
One number Cousins is part of includes depends on props, in this
case, three vanity tables.
"It's totally interactive," he said. "It was interesting and
difficult to learn. It is a challenge to get that right."
Cousins, who lives and trains north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario,
said the style of this tour sets it apart from any previous show.
Not only is it more theatrical, but it also is - in parts - very
"There are so many different styles, and the skaters mesh together
for a team effort," he said. "The show reflects that, and it doesn't
single out one person."
Speaking of other skaters, you might think it would be intimidating
to skate with your former rivals.
Not for Cousins.
"Each male skater I perform with I competed against," he said.
"It's an interesting dynamic of the tour. We were always friends, now
With such similar agendas, many of the skaters have gone through
the same situations and now find they have a lot in common. This
creates a special bond, Cousins said.
"We've come through unscathed," he said.
Besides, with billions of people watching them on TV, it's nice to
be able to share the day-to-day stuff with someone.
On an average day on the tour, the skaters head to the rink around
3 p.m. for practice. Dinner is usually between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.,
with the show running from 7:30-9:30. The skaters are out of the
building and at the airport at 10:30 p.m. to fly to the next stop on
the tour, making it to the hotel around 1 a.m. The wake-up call for
breakfast is at 10 a.m. The stars perform around four or five shows a
"It's relatively pressing. You're physically exerting yourself,"
Cousins said. "But I've never complained. It's a dream come true."
And if that isn't enough, Cousins also has a hobby - writing. Last
year, he kept an online diary of the tour so fans could keep up with
their favorite skaters. This year, however, he is doing a weekly
series of interviews with his fellow tour-mates.
Cousins has never written professionally, but you might not have
known. His interviews are thorough and interesting.
Plus, he's learning quite a bit about the people he spends the most
The most interesting thing he said he has learned came from an
interview with Canadian champion Kurt Browning, who shared with
Cousins what one of his favorite numbers in the show is.
Cousins said it really surprised him.
He was too modest to say what it was, but a quick trip to the Stars
on Ice Web site, www.StarsOnIce.com, revealed that Browning's favorite
part of the show includes Cousins' entrance in the finale.
"I'm learning about heroes and idols and the things they've gone
through," he said.
Maybe he's also learning a little about himself.
Target Stars on Ice donates 50 cents from every ticket to Target
House, a home away from home for children and their families as they
undergo treatment for life-threatening illnesses at St. Jude
Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Tickets are $32-$55 and
are available by calling 868-7300 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.