Hughes isn't golden, but Stars on Ice shine
||Sioux City Journal|
||February 2, 2005|
||Bruce R. Miller|
Sarah Hughes didn't turn in a gold medal-winning performance during
the Smucker's Stars on Ice show Tuesday night, but she did exhibit
plenty of charm.
Perhaps more than a year away from the ice will do that to a woman
who used to spin like a top. During two solo numbers (one to
"Raindrops Will Fall," the other to a touching "Somewhere Over the
Rainbow"), she had plenty of artistic style but little more than a
jump or two in each. She was game for several of the group numbers and
even did some magic in the show's filler. But fans probably wanted to
see that come-from-behind pluck. Instead, Hughes offered up maturity
and suggested, in time, she may grow into a good ice show addition.
Now, she's still in her rookie year.
What fans probably noticed was that some of the most daring,
complex work was turned in by the skaters who didn't win gold -- Todd
Eldredge, Yuka Sato and Kurt Browning. The three had considerable
style on ice and did attempt those triples. Heck, Browning even did a
The real risk taker was gold medalist Alexei Yagudin. Not satisfied
with fancy footwork (his hallmark) he tried a little gymnastics with
Peter Gabriel's "Passion." Borrowing a page from Mel Gibson's film,
Yagudin hung from a piece of fabric, suspended from the ceiling. He
did an iron cross and enough flips and turns to qualify for Cirque du
Soleil. But his best stuff? Those flawless jumps on the ice. Clearly,
he deserved his gold. On his second number, "Shout," he pulled a
Phillipe Candelero and worked the women in the crowd with plenty of
poses and audience interaction. The crowd ate it up.
Pair skaters Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were great,
too, in both acts. The first found them doing those lifts that take
your breath away; the second dished up plenty of dance moves through
the ages. They appeared as disco dancers, rappers -- even wedding
chicken dancers -- in the medley.
Sadly, their fellow Olympic gold winners -- Jamie Sale and David
Pelletier -- didn't do their two solo spots, presumably due to
injury. They did participate in the group numbers. But last year, they
were clearly wowsers. This year: They were a reminder of what might
While some of the magic tricks (done to lead from one number to
another) were marginal, they had a better way of unifying the
show. Last year's "time" theme just ticked people off.
If there was a surprise in the show it was Steven Cousins. He did
well in the group numbers, then showed he knew how to do the triples
in his solo "Come Back to Bed."
While founder Scott Hamilton wasn't in this year's edition,
Browning -- his former rival -- more than filled the bill. He did two
numbers as a dad fooling around in his son's toy box. Browning had the
jumps, the turns, the footwork and the surprises to warrant his star
billing. He threw a football (well enough to qualify for the Bandits)
and jumped rope on the ice. He got tangled up during the number, but
redid the segment before his bows. "Wanna see what it was supposed to
look like?" he asked. Maintaining the Hamilton tradition, he even
yukked it up by pouring water on his Scott-like head.
A rain segment ended the first act (yup, it rained inside the Tyson
Events Center); "Mr. Blue Sky" opened the second one.
Yuka Sato did a beautiful job with "Amazing Grace" and she, too,
tripled around the rink.
In time, Hughes will probably be in the same league as her
But now, she's very much the student, attending school with some