Lysacek, cast shine in Stars on Ice
The cliches about figure skaters gliding into town and burning up the
ice are true, as personified by the Smucker's Stars on Ice cast that
performed last Saturday at the Rose Garden.
||March 2, 2011|
The headliner was last year's men's Olympic gold medalist, Evan
Lysacek, a crowd favorite.
His first performance was a low-key balletic number that paired him
with previous Olympic gold medalists Jamie Sale and Ekaterina Gordeeva
about mid-way through the first half. Later, the threesome was joined
by Sale's partner, David Pelletier and three-time U.S. national
champion Michael Weiss. The group number was hauntingly beautiful and
followed an equally ethereal number by ice dancers Tanith Belbin and
Ben Agosto, featuring stunning lifts and partner work using a
transparent, floaty scarf as a prop.
The next skater on the ice was popular Kurt Browning, who first won
the world championship in 1988. Browning had opened the show with
narration about the event honoring the 25th anniversary of Stars on
Ice tours. He also chatted with Stars on Ice founder Scott Hamilton
via satellite link.
Browning, a four-time world champion, is famous for his precision
dance steps on the ice and his amazing jumps; the Guinness Book of
World Records credits him with landing the first quadruple jump in
competition at the '88 worlds.
And Browning did not disappoint, channeling Fred Astaire as he
performed a tap dance on ice to "Steppin' Out," featuring classic
props like a cane, top hat and a set of tails, lowered from the
ceiling. Because he is never content to just skate, Browning also
narrated his routine in a hilarious stream-of-consciousness voiceover
as he performed.
Following an act like Browning can be hard, but 2006 Olympic silver
medalist Sasha Cohen was up to the challenge. The tiny powerhouse
steamed up the arena in a spangly dress designed to show off her
curves. The queen of flexibility, she performed a layback spin with
her back at an impossible angle for most mortals, a flawless spiral
that covered the ice with speed and grace, and her signature spin with
one leg against her ear.
Next, 2002 Olympic gold medalists Sale and Pelletier wowed the crowd
with one-arm lifts and a huge throw jump that showed off the strength
of both the Canadian pairs skaters.
And finally, what all the squealing girls in the crowd were waiting
for — Lysacek in his solo number; and the man lived up to Browning's
description of him as having "no respect for gravity."
Early in his career, Lysacek was known for powerful jumps but little
artistry. Now, however, after finishing second on "Dancing With the
Stars" last year, he has grace, expression and charisma to burn. He
wore a stark black costume that highlighted his muscular, tall body,
and he performed with such speed that it seemed like his silent skates
were not even touching the ice.
And then it was time for a huge group rock-and-roll number featuring
Browning playing a prop piano. The female skaters, including 2010
Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette, pranced and danced in hot
pink and black costumes and "saddle-shoe" skates.
Six-time U.S. national champion Todd Eldredge led the male skaters in
several "bad boy" numbers that paired them up with the ladies at the
The crowd was responsive, the skaters sparkled and Browning summed up
the evening best, saying, "It took 25 years and a lot of sequins to
get to this spot — that is pretty special."