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Smucker's Stars on Ice hit a skid Tuesday

Source: Des Moines Register
Date: March 18, 2004
Author: Amy Lamar

Ames, Ia. - Monday's record snowfall may have prevented figure-skating fans from attending the Smucker's Stars on Ice 2004 tour Tuesday evening. The crowd of 3,882 only filled about one-quarter of the seats, but at least Jackie Newbury could see the performers this time.

"Every seat is full, and we're usually way up there," the Greenfield woman said as she pointed to Hilton Coliseum's nosebleed section. "I always wondered what their faces looked like."

Newbury, who was with her son, Scott, daughter-in-law, Brandi, and granddaughter, Natasha Newbury of Waukee, had been to two other ice shows at the arena. Memories of the 2002 event brought tears to her eyes.

"They dropped this big flag down and it was really moving," she said of the Sept. 11 tribute during a Champions on Ice show.

It had been more than 10 years since the Smucker's Stars on Ice tour was in Ames, which may have contributed to the low attendance, said Sara Barr, Iowa State Center director of marketing. She added that the weather and spring break may have also been factors.

Laughter was prevalent at Tuesday's performance, however, thanks to funny antics from skaters such as four-time World Champion Kurt Browning. He purposely fell into fans seated on the floor during his first number, which was skated to "Moondance" by Michael Buble. As he waved with an apologetic look on his face, a downpour suddenly fell above his head from the ceiling. Lucky for Browning, a skater came out just in time with an umbrella.

"Timing is everything," a voice said.

Similar interludes throughout the rest of the show were intended to communicate its theme of "time," although they didn't always produce the desired effect. Among the more obvious was a performance titled "Working Time" by world champion and six-time U.S. national champion Todd Eldredge; 2002 Olympic pair champion David Pelletier; 2002 Olympic gold medalist Alexei Yagudin; and world bronze medalist and three-time U.S. national pair champion John Zimmerman.

One of the most crowd-pleasing numbers was by Zimmerman and Kyoko Ina, who skated to "Look at Little Sister" by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Zimmerman's macho image was made complete by his T-shirt and tight jeans, as well as when he pretended to play piano and guitar. One lift that placed Ina's head on Zimmerman's shoulder had her legs at nearly a 90-degree angle.

Receiving standing ovations were Eldredge's complicated jumps to "When You Come Back to Me Again" by Garth Brooks and Browning's fancy footwork to "Ding Dong Daddy" by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

World and Olympic champion Oksana Baiul failed to gain an enthusiastic response, however, which can be said for several aspects of the show.

"It didn't have the pizazz that the other two did," Newbury concluded.