Stars on Ice
Kurt List

2001 Mariposa Gala Review
August 9, 2001 - Barrie, ON

written by Judy Lindeman

Can anyone else think of a better way to spend time during a heat wave than hanging out at an arena, rinkside? After 5-6 straight days of hot, hazy, and humid record-breaking temperatures, I was more than ready to see some ice (and I was practically sitting on it!). So off to Barrie we went for the 12th Annual Mariposa Charity Gala evening on Thursday night. The heat wave even broke at the end of the show with some spectacular real life thunder and lightning, and much needed rain, that we haven't seen in ages. The power in the arena even went off, but luckily the show was over. The heat wave did wreak some havoc on the ice as it was a little wet and sloppy, especially during the second half when everyone was spraying water (including Takeshi who sprayed the crowd a couple of times with his skates).

Paul Martini was the host for the evening, announcing that Josee Chouinard wouldn't be skating tonight. I had heard she had boot problems from people at the arena, and I've now read this on some of the boards. We did see her at the reception afterwards. Wirtz & Wirtz were also no-shows, but weren't included on the final program, although their names were written on the front ad. A 12 year old local singing talent sang "O Canada".

The group intro (choreographed by Steven Cousins to U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name") featured all the skaters, including Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko who skated out together at the end. Steven opened the show with his SOI number "Higher", wearing the usual burgundy pants and black tshirt. He did a double lutz, double axel, and a triple flip or toe with a step out. That didn't dim his enthusiasm as he reached great height in his split jumps. Crowd loved him as usual.

Next up was Adrianna Descantis, a 13 year old from the USA who trains at the Mariposa (7th in US Novice Championships). She bears a passing resemblance to Sarah Hughes, before her shag haircut. She had a win last week in Ottawa, according to Martini. She wore yellow and orange and skated to Katrina and the Wave's "Walking on Sunshine" (also done by Tara Lipinski in the past). Landed 2 axel, fell on the lutz, and landed 3 sal. Great spins including a low, fast sit spin, and she skates with good confidence.

Danielle Selders & Andrew Wernham, the 2001 Novice Dance Champs of Canada, were next in red and black, skating to tango music, parts of which sounded like "Mask of Zorro". The program still seems a little rusty, resulting in a fall from her, but will improve over the season. Martini mentioned how the Mariposa is starting to become very successful in ice dance.

Matthew Davies, the 20 year old bronze medallist of Great Britain, skated to "Iris" by the GooGoo Dolls wearing all grey. He stepped out of a 2 axel, landed 3 sal and 3 lutz (according to my notes). His spins were very well done.

Next was Tugba Karademir, who was 5th in Canadian Junior ladies last year, but now will skate for Turkey. On the ice she bears a strong resemblance to Jennifer Robinson, from her long brown hair in a pony tail to her makeup, costume, choreography, and height. In fact, we thought she was Jennifer in the opening number, until the real Jennifer came out. Tugba skated to "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend/Material Girl" wearing a silver sparkly dress with elbow length dark grey gloves. She landed 3 sal, 3 flip or toe, and 2 axel. A little bit of humour as she interacted with the crowd and someone's drink.

Jeffrey Buttle, who was 7th at last year's Junior Worlds, skated next. He's another Canadian cutie to look out for. He skated to a song I didn't recognize (male singer), landing a 2 axel, 3 toe or flip (I can never tell them apart), and 3 lutz. His spins are amazing with lots of interesting positions, including a pancake-type spin.

Jacinthe Lariviere & Lenny Faustino, who were 5th at last year's Canadians, skated to the Mary Tyler Moore theme "Love is All Around", both the original version and the Joan Jett version. He wore a shirt and tie and she wore a yellow skirt and bright pink halter top, and besides a throw 3 sal and a double twist, they threw in a lot of tricks that left us gasping! An aborted Detroiter was then successfully completed, and the first swing of the head banger went a little wonky (I think Jacinthe had to put her elbow down). They also spun with her skates behind his head a la Brasseur & Eisler. At the reception afterwards I told Lenny how much I enjoyed his online reports, and he apologized for not doing one lately. I hope that means he'll continue once the competitive season starts.

Markus Leminen from Finland did a bizarre number. I didn't recognize the music at all. He landed a 2 axel and 2 lutz, and then disappeared through the skater's entrance as the music started cutting between loud and soft. After a break he came back out dressed as a woman with a big black curly wig on. His pants were rolled up under his skirt but were visible under the skirt. Later on he took the skirt off and finished the program with his pant legs rolled up at different heights. Since the music wasn't anything discernable, I'm not sure what the point of the program was. Anyone else know?

Next were Tara Doherty and Tyler Myles, the 2001 Junior Dance Champions of Canada. I didn't know the name of the music but iskater.com says it's "My Drag" and is a portion of their free dance. They had interesting lifts and showed good polish.

Paul Martini introduced a group of young Japanese students who are training at the Mariposa this summer, and they stood up wearing colourful Japanese costumes. Takeshi Honda skated after their introduction, skating to what appears to be his short program this year "Sing, Sing, Sing", wearing all black. Perhaps Brian Orser had a hand in the music choice? :-). He landed 3 triples including the axel and lutz. If this is his competitive music, I can't wait to see the competitive program on full size ice. He seemed very confident throughout the evening.

Jennifer Robinson was next skating to a jazzy saxophone number, wearing a black dress with white and black polkadot skirt. Iskater.com says it's her new short program "Street Scene". She two footed the 3 lutz, stepped out of 3 toe(?), and landed 2 axel.

Elvis Stojko wore black pants and a black and red shirt, skating to "Unintended". He landed 3 lutz, 3 toe, and 2 axel. This is a slower piece full of skating. The crowd, of course, went wild.

Next was a Barrie synchronized skating team: Ice Lightning (maybe they brought on the thunder and lightning?). They are the 2001 Junior Silver Medalists of Canada.

The second act opened with another group number choreographed to Steven Cousins, this time to John Lennon's Imagine. Not all of the skaters were included this time. Josee Chouinard was scheduled to be the first skater for this set, but since she was out of the show we went right to Chantal Lefebvre and Justin Lanning, the 5th place Canadian Dance team. They skated to a female ballad which I'm not sure is a new program since it follows the type of program they had last year.

Next was Yoshie Onda, the 2000 Japanese Ladies Champion. The ice was getting slushie by the second half of the show, and Yoshi wasn't able to land any jumps without falling. But she never lost her smile and had nice spins. I didn't note what the music was.

Jeff Langdon, who has recently turned pro, skated to yet another version of "Summertime" (just how many are there?) wearing blue. He landed 2 sal, 2 toe(?), and 2 axel. Good footwork and spins.

Jennifer Robinson came out again and wore a nice light blue dress, carrying a bouquet of sunflowers. The music was Bjork's "Oh So Quiet" (Kristi Yamaguchi used it a few years ago in SOI). Jennifer starts off carrying the flowers, saying "shhh" as she puts her finger to her lips. The song goes back and forth between soft "shhh's" and loud screaming, causing Jennifer to throw her flowers up in the air a few times. She landed a 2 axel, 3 lutz, 2 sal, and did the splits on the ice. Despite the song being so familiar with Kristi, I did find this program worked well for Jennifer with the different moods and tempo. She seemed to have a lot of fun.

Steven Cousins skated to "Belfast Child" and did a great job. I was so into the program I didn't write down the jumps, but iskater.com says he landed a 3 flip and two 3 toe loops. He really performed emotionally and powerfully and got a great ovation.

Megan Wing & Aaron Lowe, the current Canadian Dance bronze medallists, skated in burgundy and black to an upbeat instrumental piece. It was a fun program with a lot of side by side dancing.

Takeshi Honda returned skating to Led Zeppellin's Bonzo's Montreux. It sounded slightly different than Kurt Browning's 1993-94 version. He wore a black shirt and red pants which makes me wonder if that's the official colour scheme for Bonzo's Montreux :-). He landed a big 3 toe (don't think it was a quad), 3 axel with step out, and 2 axel. He had fun with the crowd, spraying them with ice. Of course I'm so used to Kurt's version that all I look for is footwork, but this was a show, not a competition so I shouldn't compare the two. I'm not sure if he's using this music competitively.

The next skater was a real treat, as I didn't expect to ever see her skate in person. After a glowing introduction from Paul Martini, Midori Ito started her program laying on the ice under a purple veil that matched her costume. She skated to a female ballad and slowly came out from under the veil, skated with the veil for a bit, and then skated without it. She did a 2 axel which was absolutely huge (she did one in the opening ensemble number too), and landed a 3 toe as well. Each jump was landed with a big grin. She skated beautifully with lots of speed and grace. The program ended with lots of smiles and waves from Midori, in some ways she hasn't changed a bit. Paul Martini mentioned her lighting the torch in Nagano as she left the ice. Afterwards at the reception I was struck by how tiny Midori actually is. At 4' 9" she's the same size or tinier then the young Japanese students visiting the Mariposa. She was very personable and never stopped smiling the entire time. I hope my photos turn out.

Next was Jenni Meno & Todd Sand doing their "Baby Did a Bad, Bad, Thing" number.I've seen them skate this so often in person that I didn't really pay attention to what was landed. I do like this program for them as it incorporates some different lifts and moves than the usual syrupy love songs. Paul introduced them emphasizing their love story.

Elvis Stojko returned in black pants and blue shirt, skating to Van Halen's "You Really Got Me". I'm still not sure why he's pulled out this old number this year, but it serves as a point-and-wiggle program with a triple axel and triple lutz thrown in for good measure. At the end of the evening everyone was ready for a program like that from one of Mariposa's "stars". Standing ovation at the end.

Last, but not least, was Kurt Browning. First Paul Martini had Elvis stay on the ice with Kurt, as he talked about Kurt and Elvis' contributions to the advancement of skating, especially in the technical area. Kurt and Elvis goofed around at centre ice while Paul talked about them. Then Elvis left and Paul started Kurt's introduction, which went on for awhile. Kurt finally took a seat and started eating someone's popcorn waiting for Paul to finish. I should mention that perhaps it is the current heat wave that's made Kurt shave his hair off, leaving just stubble. He looks even more like Scott Hamilton now. It certainly surprised those around us when he first took to the ice during the opening ensemble.

Much to our delight Kurt skated to "Nyah", one of his SOI programs. During the part where the music stops and Kurt starts the audience clapping, Tara's music "Dance With Me" kicked in. Kurt had to stop the music and start the audience clapping again. He ended with lightning fast footwork as the clapping increased in speed. Another standing ovation.

Everyone came out to take a bow and the show was over for another year. By then the rain was pouring outside and the weather was finally cooling down as we headed to the reception in another part of town.