Skaters Shine for an Eager Audience
When the best skaters in the world come to town to show off their considerable skills, it can be difficult to pick a favorite performance.
Was it the luminous beauty of the newest Olympic women's champion, Shizuka Arakawa ?
How about the dazzling footwork and triple jumps of the men's gold medalist, Evgeni Plushenko?
Or maybe the breathtaking lifts and throws of the reigning pairs champions, Tatiana Totmyanina and Maxim Marinin?
The answer was simple for one audience member at Sunday's star-studded Champions on Ice show at the Civic Auditorium. As the afternoon's final soloist began her routine, she was greeted by an enthusiastic yell that could be heard through most of the arena.
"You still shine, Michelle!"
Michelle, of course, is Michelle Kwan. For more than a decade she has been the most dominant name in competitive figure skating, by virtue of winning five world championships and nine U.S. titles.
Though groin and hip injuries prevented her from making a third try in February at that elusive Olympic gold medal (she won silver in 1998 and bronze in 2002), she remains a much-loved icon of the sport.
On Sunday, Kwan rewarded her fans with an evocative, emotional performance to the classic ballad "A Song for You," which could be taken as everything from a simple "thank you" to her way of saying "goodbye." (Kwan has made no announcements about her future career plans.)
On doctor's orders, she did not include jumps in her routine Sunday, but she truly didn't need them. The beauty of Kwan's skating comes from her fluid movement across the ice and her subtle artistry in interpreting each phrase of music.
Besides, the crowd already had witnessed a flurry of ever-bigger tricks from the array of skaters who preceded her. Highlights included the cha-cha-cha charm of U.S. ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the nonstop energy of former French champion Surya Bonaly and the inventive spins of U.S. singles champions Johnny Weir and Sasha Cohen.
Novelty acts also added a splash of fun to the show, even if these skaters never came close to an Olympic moment. Grabbing the most cheers, as usual, was Irina Grigorian, who skated while twirling an ever-increasing mass of silver Hula-Hoops around her body.