Stars soldier on
Stars on Ice begin 2001-02 season in Lake Placid, their first without Scott Hamilton
||November 21, 2001|
LAKE PLACID - They are an elite team of professionals -
acknowledged masters of their frosty craft.
But it won't be the ice that will challenge the skaters of Target
Stars On Ice when their 60-date tour opens here Saturday. It will be
the absence of charismatic leader and co-founder, Scott Hamilton, the
1984 Olympic champion and one of the most recognizable figure skaters
in the world.
Although Hamilton retired last year from the grind of the
five-month annual tour he helped found, the cast remains peppered with
world champions and former Olympic gold medalists such as Tara
Lipinski, Kurt Browning, Kristi Yamaguchi, Steve Cousins, Katarina
Witt, Ilia Kulik Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov, Jenni Meno and
Todd Sand, Denis Petrov and Lucinda Ruh.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Target Stars On Ice.
WHERE: Olympic Center, Lake Placid.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday.
TICKETS: $35, $50.
INFO: Olympic Center box office, on-line at www.orda.org and at
all Olympic Center outlets. Phone charge:
523-3330. Group Information (20 or more):
Cousins is considered one of Hamilton's best friends, while the
35-year-old Browning is now the veteran of the cast and has crossed
friendly blades with Hamilton on the tour for four years.
"He is like a freakin' (skating) god," joked Browning. "We treat
each other like brothers who love to hate each other on Wednesdays. If
we haven't abused each other verbally at least twice a day, something
Turning serious, Browning said the tour is a top priority for the
1984 Olympic gold medalist.
"Scott is really, really very proud of Stars On Ice," he said. "It
is his baby. He changed the professional skating world and this is the
biggest way he did it."
Cousins agreed, saying the skaters must find their own way as the
"Definitely, without Scott, it totally changes the dimension of
the tour and the show," said Cousins, an eight-time British national
champion. "It's just totally different. There is not a bonafide leader
like we had before."
Hamilton, along with Image Marketing Group and Bob Cane, pioneered
the figure-skating tour industry when they launched Stars On Ice 15
"They sat down and decided to put this whole thing together," said
Browning, himself a four-time world champion and the first to complete
a successful quadruple jump in competition.
"Here I am playing 60 cities across the United States with amazing
lights, the best choreographers ... and it's all been set up," said
the Canadian-born Browning. "If the show can't go on with those
conditions ... I feel comfortable the birds can be pushed out of the
nest and move on."
Both were quick to acknowledge that Hamilton, 43, who continues to
produce the show and whose voice will be played on tape during the
performance, made his presence felt on and off the ice with skaters
and fans alike.
"I am going to miss Scott, mostly in the dressing room," said
Browning. "Scott is brilliant ... but he's also really funny and he's
a lot of fun and a really good friend. I am going to miss him in the
dressing-room and rehearsal atmosphere."
"He is one of my best friends," said Cousins, who now lives in
Ontario. "It is different for me not having him on tour. It's good for
him, for what he wanted to do. But it is exciting that tour is going
to start a new chapter.
"Everyone is really picking up the slack and stepping up to the
plate and hitting home runs," he continued. "It is very unique and
different than last year, the way we geared up for his farewell."
This year, the spotlight will shine more brightly on former
Olympic champions Lipinski, Witt and Yamaguchi.
"The main focus is on the girls this year, so it's a big
difference," said Cousins. "It has a bit of a show-girl atmosphere in
it, so it is different. ... It makes it good for the guys. We get a
chance to interact."
Cousins said he will be interacting with Witt in several
"All my friends are already calling me all kinds of names (for
having Witt as a partner)," he laughed.
Browning has two solo performances on the slate. One includes a
song written with Barenaked Ladies guitarist Ed Robertson.
"I'm calling it my art piece," said Browning. "It is art for art's
sake ... We wrote a song and this is the song. It's just Ed on the
In the meantime, the skaters practice daily at the Olympic Center
in preparation for the tour's opening night.
"Once the show is on, it's all business," said Browning. "It's
work, and it is very important for us to keep up."