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The Skate Aid show
This show last night was absolutely the most fun I've ever had at a skating event -- until the next one!
This show was organized by Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, and by Merrie Parr, Ben's girlfriend, to raise money in aid of the victims of the tsunami disaster last month. They were able to line up sufficient sponsorship for expenses that 100% of the gross went to the Red Cross Relief Fund. And they got a wonderful response from their circle of friends in the skating world, who came from near and far to perform. The camaraderie among the stars was evident throughout the evening, especially during the warm-ups. Johnny Weir and Orscher and Lucash entertained the crowd with a series of side-by-side-by-side triple jumps.
The event was held at a local minor league hockey rink (capacity about 3000). This gave the feel of an intimate club show, while at the same time featuring some of the best skaters in the country. I counted the house at 1648. (That’s what math teachers do while the Zamboni is preparing the ice. There were eight central sections, almost completely full, each with 12 rows of 18 seats, LOL -- plus a few people on the ends to make up the difference.) My guess was pretty close, because at the end they announced that they had raised $35,000 (tickets were $20 apiece), including the proceeds from food concessions and a silent auction.
Guess who was standing right next to us, where we were sitting? Aaron Parcham! He had been commandeered into working the spotlight. What a friendly and down to earth person. He said that Marcie had had surgery for her knee last Thursday. She was doing OK -- at least they didn’t find anything worse than what they already knew. He was disappointed that they wouldn’t be able to do Four Continents, but they thought it was better to get her the treatment that she needed immediately.
Aaron mentioned that they were fortunate to get the bronze at Nationals. (That was a little awkward moment in our conversation, because in my mind the only thing I could think of to say was, “Yes, you were,” which didn’t sound right. So I mumbled something about, “Well you gutted it out, so that’s the main thing.”)
He also gave all credit to Tanith and Ben. He said he didn’t know how they could possibly have done all this organizational work while dealing with the stress and the physical and emotional exhaustion attendant to doing Nationals. He said he was glad to be a part of the show, even in this small way, because, “We have so much” and it is great to have an opportunity to give something back.
Tanith, BTW, did the majority of the announcing, welcoming the audience, thanking everybody, etc. She was very natural at the microphone. I predict she will be the next Suzie Wynn, commentating on ice dancing, after her performing career is over (20 years from now, LOL).
Tip: Come early, the warm-ups were as entertaining as the performances. Inoue and Baldwin stayed out there a long time and did pretty much a complete walk-though of their program (maybe blocking it on the ice ?). The skaters wore black warm-up suits that showed off their bodies really well. These young athletes are just incredibly fit. I especially noticed Tim Goeble and Fedor Andreev. Slim Tim was definitely in fighting trim. He must have hopped a quick plane from New York, because he had appeared on the Today show that same morning.
Fedor is bigger, very muscular, and looked terrific. I can see why he is so often mentioned as a potential pairs partner for various ladies. Both he and Weir are quite a bit taller than most skaters.
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Alissa Czisny. The ladies were way outnumbered by the gentlemen, with only Alissa and Amber Corwin in the mix against 5 men. But they made up for it by quality, LOL. Alissa was gorgeous. her strength, IMHO, is her spins, which are fast and well centered, and which display an interesting variety of positions. She is young enough and flexible enough to look good doing a Bielmann!
She missed her opening triple Lutz (it looked to me like she was going too fast and got too close to the boards), but hit a fine double Axel and another triple jump, as well as nice spirals and moves in the field.
Scott and Dulebohn Very dancy upbeat number. They did a lot of crowd pleasing adagio lifts, ending with a one-hand Detroiter. But the highlight was a kind of head-banger, where the only support is, she is holding on to his neck with her feet. It made me want to sign the petition for making pairs skaters wear helmets!
Gems on Ice This is a local novice ladies synchro team. After seeing thir performance, I thought, if this is novice, what will the seniors do! (I was about to find out, later in the program.) Marvelous choreography and thoroughly entertaining.
COI and SOI are missing a sure bet by not including a synchro team in their shows. Maybe it would be too expensive because their are too many skaters. But they could invite local teams from the cities that they visit. This would be a cool addition, if they are looking for something that we don;t get to see very often.
Evan Lysacek Evan did his exhibition number (Dance with me). He had his Gene Kelly mojo workin’, for sure. I think he is the best entertainer on the scene, among eligibles. He did a spectacular triple Lutz right in front of where we were sitting. (Wish he could have talked Jenny into coming with him, LOL.)
Wing and Lowe A number of the performers were training partners with Tanith and Ben at the Arctic Circle. They did a beautiful, lyrical , romantic ballad-style dance. The music was “Crazy” by a male vocalist (not Patsy Cline).
Fedor Andreev This is the first time I have seen Fedor live. He makes an impressive presence on the ice. He skated to a classical guitar flemenco-y thing. A grand and commanding performence.
Punsalan and Swallow These local favorites were introduced as new parents. They did a lovely pax de deux to a haunting orchestral version of Song of India (with the violin soloist taking the Tommy Dorsey part, LOL). He wore a Japanese style black karate outfit and she had on a striking pink kimono over black pants. The performance featured some very creative sustained positions, both singly and together.
Team Elan This was the senior ladies synchro team. Now it was easy to see the difference between the novice and senior levels. This team not only had intricate team choreography throughout, but they did a lot of twizzles and steps and footwork. They even did lifts! (All ladies -- they must have got that idea from Annisina and Peiserat, LOL). They skater to a medley of all kinds of music, from March With Me to the Can-Can.
Intermission last chance to bit on the autographed items in the silent auction. According to the write-up in today’s paper,
this was run by Tanith’s parents and grandparents. I tried to bid on something, but it was so crowded I didn’t get through.
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Dan Hollander He did his coach potato trying to do exercises routine. Along with all the comedy, Dan has serious skating skills. He did a triple jump, many doubles in sequence, lots of other real skating. The music was “Maniac,” and he was. The finale was the always popular back flip.
Amber Corwin Amber always lives up to her billing as one of the classiest ladies in the sport. She looked super in a flowing yellow outfit. Nice skate from a perennial crowd favorite.
Inoue and Baldwin
Here she comes, just a-walkin down the street,...♪
She looks good!♪
She looks fine!♪
And I nearly lost my mind!♫
What can I say? She looked good ! Very cute, plus they didn’t hold back on the technical. A successful throw triple (slight hand down), great lifts -- one with a spectacular and dangerous-looking sommersault dismount -- and wonderful unison on their straight line footwork.
Tim Goebel A busy man, flying here and there all day. Rocket man. Tim has come a long way as a show skaters from the long ago days where his programs between the quads were refrigerator breaks. Nice flow throughout.
One problem I have with that routine is that the music just fades away at the end -- just when the choreography is building to the big ta-da scratch spin final. It would be better if the music ended with a bang like the program does.
Orcher and Lucash The new champions claiming pride of place, skating last among the pairs. They didn't water down the tech. Hit some great pairs spiral positions.
Johnny Weir OK, guys. If you do not like Johnny Weir yet, I just don't know what to say. This kid was born to skate. He cast a spell over the audience (Unchained Melody) that can only be described as Kwan-like. He is one with the music, one with the ice. His best move was his catch-foot back spiral into a triple Lutz. So fast and smooth. Perfect choreography, matching his elements to the music. Standing O!
The only thing I can possibly nit-pick about Johnny's programs is I don't care so much for his two doughnut spin positions, especially the one with his hands pointing downward. It looks a little contortionist for my taste.
Anyway, Johnny will be the greatest American men's skater since Brian Boitano before he is through (sorry, Todd fans )
Belbin and Agosto The lady and man of the hour! Their gypsy free dance. 6.0s across the board. Standing O, as much for the whole show as for the individual performance.
Final bows Everybody came out and did a spin or something and took a bow. The highlight was Inoue and Baldwin. They came out and had a little jumping contest. First John went, but he had a wild landing and had to put a hand down. Then Rene was going to be all big and bad and show him how to do it -- but she fell, too. I don't think it was part of the act, it just turned out that way, LOL.
A super show. I hope they will find a way to keep it going, and make this an annual event. Not that there will be a tsunami every year (God forefend), but there will always be charitable causes in need of support. I take my hat off to Tanith and Ben, and to all of the skaters -- good on ya, kids.
Last edited by Mathman; 02-05-2005 at 06:21 PM.