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Stars align in Lake Placid

January 3, 2018
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Stars on Ice has had a long, rich history in Lake Placid.

It all began with Scott Hamilton's decision to create the tour after his gold-medal victory in the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo. He envisioned a traveling show that would bring together the greatest skaters in the world to entertain audiences while pushing their artistic boundaries and growing as artists.

In 1986, Stars on Ice was born, bringing together the best skaters, costumes, choreography and music to redefine figure skating entertainment. Lake Placid became the tour's home base, where the show was assembled and practiced before the opening night, which was traditionally on Thanksgiving weekend. Now, they continue to return to the Olympic Center each year after Christmas.

Article Photos

Paul Wylie and Kristi Yamaguchi skate to “I Lived” during the “Stars on Ice — Legends” show Saturday, Dec. 30 in Lake Placid.
Provided photo — Christie Sausa

Two of the greatest legends in Stars on Ice are 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie and 1992 Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, and the veteran performers starred in "Stars on Ice Legends" Saturday, Dec. 30 at the Olympic Center to remember and celebrate their friendships, the tour and their history in Lake Placid.

Joining Wylie and Yamaguchi were Stars on Ice favorites Jeremy Abbott, a four-time US national champion, Ryan Bradley, the 2011 US national champion, reigning Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 1996 world champion Todd Eldredge, 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner, two-time US national bronze medalists Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, and 1994 world champion Yuka Sato.

In between performances, most of the skaters shared memories of touring with the audience and introduced their cast mates.

A theme throughout the show was the poignancy of skating together again to celebrate their shared histories and the great Stars on Ice performances over the years.

The cast opened the show with "I Lived," which Wylie and Yamaguchi identified as a uniquely meaningful song for the "Stars on Ice Legends" show and in which they skated partially as a duet.

"I Lived talks about living your life and experiencing everything you can," Yamaguchi said.

"The voice of that song is about what happens when life hits you and then hopefully you live through things and you grow," added Wylie.

At the end of Act 1, Yamaguchi skated with her daughter Emma Hedican to "Reflection" by Lea Salonga, a poignant program originally performed in "Kristi Yamaguchi's Golden Moment" show in September, which benefited her Always Dream Foundation.

"Emma has been skating for about seven years now, and I haven't really been performing but when I did come back on the ice a few years ago, we performed together, and she kind of helped me get back out there again for a benefit show we had done," Yamaguchi said. "We wanted to skate together again and in one of the shows, Lea Salonga, performed it live with us and it was an incredible experience to have and an honor for us to skate to, so we thought it was a shame just to do it that one time and that's why we are reprising this performance."

Yamaguchi's second elegant performance was a trio with fellow SOI alumni Yuka Sato and Kimmie Meissner, to an acoustic version of "Landslide." The skaters floated gracefully together in white dresses, bringing an ethereal quality to the performance.

"We did this in my benefit too but we're bringing it back here, and it's a program about friendships and being on the road together as 'touring sisters' you might say," Yamaguchi said. "And it's also special because it's choreographed by Renee Roca, who was one of our touring sisters as well, so it's a nice feeling."

Wylie reprised his program to music from "Schindler's List," which was one of his signature performances. The powerful program no doubt inspired fond memories in fans who remember the original.

"For those who remember the old one, it will not be the same. It's more of a nod to the past, and part of it for me what SOI was about was presenting a deep look at a piece of music and trying to bring a sense of story to the ice," Wylie said. "But I think that music is so simple and beautiful in its own way. It carries so much emotion, I just wanted to do something from the past that I thought was one of my favorite memories of skating here."

With their rich experiences on the tour and in their lives, Wylie felt that he and Yamaguchi have had a wealth of experiences to celebrate in this special tour.

"I feel like the beauty of it is that Kristi and I have this friendship that goes back more than 25 years and we've gone through so many different things including SOI and the first opening here 25 years ago," Wylie said. "At that point we were single, we had just come off the Olympics and life has had so many different changes for the both of us."

Both Wylie and Yamaguchi have indeed had a variety of experiences since their Stars on Ice days.

Wylie continues his involvement with "An Evening with Champions," an ice show at Harvard University to benefit the Jimmy Fund. He has also worked as sports commentator/analyst and coaches skating, including annual trips to Lake Placid in the summer to coach.

"My first trip to LP was four years before the 1980 Olympics, I have been coming here since I was 12 years old, and I've always loved how this town is like an intersection for so many skaters over the years and has so much history," Wylie said. "When you spend five weeks a year every year someplace, you really start to enjoy aspects of it. I made friends with Arthur Lussi and we would go cross-country skiing and mountain biking and hiking, so I really fell in love with this area and return every summer."

With their Stars on Ice family, both Wylie and Yamaguchi realize that they had many moments in Lake Placid.

"I was only with the show for six years, but that is 30 months in Lake Placid ... a pretty substantial portion of my life was spent here," Wylie said. "I think it's like a little secret garden so to speak, where we can grow and create a show. So many different things happened here that were wonderful and some that were tragic, and we went through it together."

"When we rehearsed, and opened SOI here 25 years ago and every year after that, it was always a special show, not only because of the Olympic history but also because of the significance of Stars on Ice having a home here; there is a standard and striving for excellence and it all kind of came together here," Yamaguchi said. "I think Lake Placid will always have that Winter Olympic vibe. It's amazing even looking at the posters around here, (there have been) so many moments."

The next skating event in Lake Placid is the annual Lake Placid ISI Championships Jan. 4-7. For more information, visit their website at www.riverdaleice.com/

 
 

 

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