LAKE PLACID - Stars on Ice kicked off its 26th annual tour Friday night in Lake Placid. Though a month later than usual and with only three days to practice, the show did not disappoint the crowd.
Featuring an all-star roster of national, world and Olympic champions, the theme for this year's tour was "Love 'n' Life." Among the performers, Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman, three-time U.S. national champions and world bronze medalists, wowed the crowd with their inventive tricks while skating to "Johnny Got a Boom Boom" by Imelda May. Kurt Browning, four-time world and Canadian champion, entertained with his performance to "I'm Yours" by Jason Miraz, as well as with his transformation into an old man for the group performance to "A Life Loved," from Pixar's animated feature film "Up."
More than 5,000 people were in attendance for the debut of this year's show. Among them was local businesswoman Mary Fry, owner of the Adirondack Popcorn Company in Lake Placid. She's an avid figure skating fan who moved to Lake Placid with her husband about six years ago from Michigan. Her mother was a former U.S. pairs silver medalist.
Stars on Ice in Lake Placid on Friday, Dec. 30
Photo courtesy of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA)
"I loved it," Fry said. "When we lived in Michigan, we used to drive four hours to see Stars on Ice. ... The show in Lake Placid is unlike any other around the country."
Fry has attended every Stars on Ice tour since the mid 1990s.
"I remember when Rosalynn Sumners and Jill Trenary skated in the show," she said.
She has not missed a figure skating event since moving here, and her store has been frequented by famous skaters including Sasha Cohen, who was featured in Friday's show.
Local skaters Karen Kan and James Gann, the 2008 and 2010 U.S. adult pair skating champions, were also in the audience. They found this year's show much more entertaining than in previous years. The appointment of Browning as director and choreographer did not go unnoticed by their discerning eyes.
"Browning has his own unique style," Gann said.
"It was back to how it used to be; it was more personable and more intimate." Kan said. "The skaters seemed happy, and happy skaters make a happy audience."
Kan's only suggestion was for the tour to "add more pair skating."
The tour's first performance was taped and will be broadcast as a one-hour presentation, sponsored by Smuckers, on network television. Meanwhile, the next stop for the Stars on Ice tour is Japan. After that they will return to the United States in February for nine performances in select cities.