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Men win Ice Wars

Top skaters compete in Battle of the Sexes at Carver Arena

Source: Peoria Journal Star
Date: November 18, 2005
Author: Jennifer Peryam

Twelve-year-old Caren Petefish of Canton has always wanted to be a professional skater, and now she's seen the best.

She was among the thousands of ice skating fans who attended Thursday night's "Ice Wars: Battle of The Sexes," featuring eight of the world's top Olympic skaters at the Peoria Civic Center.

"I wanted to see what it's going to take to be a great ice skater like these skaters," Petefish said.

"Ice Wars" has featured team competitions since 1994, but this was the first time teams were divided by gender. The show was taped by CBS for a prime time broadcast Dec. 10.

The men's team consisted of Olympic gold medalists Brian Boitano and Alexei Yagudin, four-time world champion Kurt Browning and two-time Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko.

The women's team featured Olympic gold medalist Oksana Baiul, Olympic silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan, 1999 world champion Maria Butyrskaya of Russia and world champion Yuka Sato.

Each skater performed two artistic pieces, skating for individual scores in the first half then skating against gender in the second half. In the end, judges gave the win to the men.

"We drop the glass walls in the arena and the skaters are literally right in front of you," said Marc Burnett, director of sales and marketing at the Civic Center. "The audience can see the speed and perspective of how high the skaters can jump, which is a truly special experience."

Stojko, the first male skater to perform, was welcomed with applause and screams.

"It's tough being the first skater, but this crowd makes it easy," he said afterward.

Baiul, the first female skater to perform, wore a gold sequined top and pants she said she had created.

Audience members screamed, "We love you, Oksana," during her performance.

Browning was another favorite and joked with the crowd.

"I like putting pressure on the girls," he said. "I really don't want to lose."

Audience members said they just enjoyed watching.

"It's neat seeing the skaters, their bright outfits and listening to the music that goes with their performances," said Claire Vonachen, 12, of Peoria.