Stars on Ice
Kurt List

International Skating Gala Review

Nottingham Ice Centre, Nottingham, UK

July 31, 2002

written by Anthony a__nt@hotmail.com

Note from webmaster: The International Skating Gala was held as part of the Queen's Jubilee celebration, in honor of and in the presence of the Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The show was choreographed and MCed by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and was held at the Nottingham Ice Centre on July 31, 2002.

I attended the Jubilee International Ice Skating Gala tonight in Nottingham. I didn't take any notes so everything is from my (sketchy!) memory - if anyone else attended please feel free to fill in the gaps.

First of all I had a nightmare journey travelling from Manchester to Nottingham. I took the afternoon off work so that I could get there in plenty of time and as per usual was running so late that I only left myself 2 hours to make the 100 mile trip through windy country roads. Lots of phone calls to the ice centre asking if they really wouldn't let people in after 7pm despite the fact the performance wouldn't start til 7.45 and I was told that for security reasons as the Queen would be attending that police would seal the doors at 7! To my horror I arrived at 7.30 and was turned away from one door but managed to sweet talk one of the security people into letting me through a side entrance and luckily managed to get to my seat without any further problems - BIG sigh of relief I can tell you! This is the first time I have ever seen elite level skaters live and was just blown away and completely star struck. For some of the professional skaters it was the first time I have ever seen them skate at all!

Onto the skating. The first number was a group number by all of the international skaters (including Steven Cousins) was to Adiemus by Karl Jenkins. They were all wearing hideous orange and red costumes! I can't remember too many specifics but from memory sasha cohen and kristi yamaguchi came on and I turned round to see kristi landing a jump in front of the queens box (I had been watching sasha spinning) Ilia Kulik, Kurt Browning and Steven Cousins all came on and did side by side (by side!) double axels and then staggered butterflies. B&S came on and did lots of beautiful lifts and carries, she slipped on the exit to the final one.

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean compered the whole thing with token funny jokes and magic and were generally quite good without sounding too rehearsed!

The first skater out was a local Nottingham skater - Constanze Paulinus who skated to music from the Piano. I was very impressed with her skating as generally the ladies field in the UK is quite weak and I don't think she's ever really challenged at nationals. She landed a double axel and a triple sal/double toe combination and singled what I think was going to be a very flutzed lutz with an odd loop type entry.

The there was a group number by the British Champions - although I was disappointed that Andrew Seabrook & Tiffany (that is her first name right?) Sfikas weren't there. Matthew Davies, Zoe Jones, Marika Humphreys & Vitaly Baranov and the number two ice dance couple Pamela O'Connor and Jonathon O'Dougherty. All skated to the four seasons - each couple having a little solo within it and the singles skaters doing elements at the same time.

Then it was Steven's solo to It's about that Walk by Prince. He was wearing a really ugly purple shirt with a funny pattern on it! I was really pleased I saw him live as I never really liked his skating when he was eligible and also on tv but in person he seemed quite fast across the ice and had good flow. His jumps still look a little awkward but was very impressed that he landed a triple sal, a triple toe and triple flip. He did a sit spin really near to where I was sitting and it was completely on the spot!

Next was Sasha's turn and I thought she was wonderful. She skated with a gymnastics ribbon and used it really beautifully during spins - particularly one of the camel spins and her combination spin and also used it well while she did some spirals. I can't really remember the jumps she tried but she stepped/fell out of a triple toe and I think she landed a double axel. She looked so elegant and graceful and her spirals were AMAZING! I've read on this news group a lot about how the positions she gets are amazing but that she doesn't look too secure on the edges but tonight she looked very secure. A couple of things I would say is that I was amazed at the speed that everyone went (this being the first thing I've seen live) but she did seem quite slow compared to the rest. Also I was completely mesmerized by how high all the skaters jump, but again sasha's jumps looked quite small in comparison?I guess she is smaller than the others so maybe that explains it?

The National Ice Centre Skating School came out to a phil collins number. This was lots of the young kids from the skating school performing a group number. One of the older kids landed a double lutz in front of the Queen's box.

Then came my second favourite performance on the night - Kurt Browning doing a clown number. It was fantastic. Obviously I've heard a lot about him but being quite young and not having really gotten into skating until about 1995 so I had never seen Kurt before (I didn't even know what he looked like I couldn't have picked him out of a line up!) this performance was fantastic. Funny beautiful the crowd loved it. One of the opening things was a step sequence right down the centre of the ice with a double axel that i just didn't expect at the end. That jump was very big! The whole character of the performance and every little comedy detail was just fantastic and I'm very honoured that I got to see him perform. He landed another double axel and a triple toe/triple toe combo. I think the second one was a triple but he sort of stepped out of it and kind of held a spread eagle type position which covered it up well!

Kristi was next, and again I have never seen her skate even on tv. To be honest I was a little disappointed. She skated to Smooth by Santana and Rob Thomas a song that I really like and there seemed to be lots of head grabbing and shaking but not much else? Let me know if you disagree but I just didn't really feel a whole lot about this number. She landed a double flip and a triple toe but fell on the double axel. I think her spins travelled quite a bit too but my memory is a little hazy (forgive me I'm tired and have had to drive a 200mile round trip this evening!)

The British Synchronised skating team skated next to Carmen. I know absolutely nothing about synchronised skating so cannot even begin to comment but I enjoyed watching it.

Then there was a group number by Nottingham Lions hockey team and the Great British Speed Skaters which was just excellent. The hockey skaters came out and skated around very fast then they all lined up against the back end of the rink and a classical waltz came on and they all looked at each other and shrugged then all skated out in unison and did lots of cool tricks together in synchronized skating style! They finished with this great thing where one skater lay on the ice then the one behind jumped over him and then lay on the ice and the next one jumped over both then lay on the ice and so on and so on until the end! I thought it was great that they had the hockey guys and speed skaters out there as well because the nottingham ice centre is such an incredible facility to have in the UK and they are all part of it and go towards making it a success.

Ilia Kulik was next and I was absolutely amazed. Again I was never a big fan of his skating on tv when he was eligible but he was amazing. He was so extremely fast. He started the program at the back end of the rink, with three or four forward skulls he had covered the entire length of the rink and completely out the blue wham did a huge double axel right in front of the queens box! The rest of the program was really great - lots of edgey stuff and spread eagles, a triple toe and I can't remember if he did any other jumps and also an incredible cantalever spread eagle from one end of the rink to the other!

A&P then skated to Spanish Dance and they were incredible. Gwendal is really a very strikingly attractive man in person and they really seemed to look out into the crowd the entire time they skated and really conveyed/projected a lot of emotion out through the entire piece (as kurt did also!) they were very fast too and looked just perfect out there.

Robin Cousins then limped up to the stage with a walking stick and talked to T&D for a while - I think he was genuinely planning to skate but he said that imromptu knee surgery last week meant that he couldn't so he sang Strike up the Band by gershwin substituting lots of lyrics for mentions of the Queen's jubilee! I was very impressed with his voice and during the instrumentals he commentated on what would have been going on in the program had he been skating. He joked that in a particular bit he would have done the back flip "close your eyes and imagine it how I did it when I was younger!"

Finally it was B&S's turn?I was absolutely star struck and in complete awe of their skating - I would pay HUGE sums of money to see them again because it was just amazing. Words really cannot describe how much it meant to me to see them live. They did a Chaplin Program. He came out with the chair and laid something on it then took it off and sat on it and right from the word go he was in character and she also came out in character and they never lost it once. He was very attractive in person, and she had her hair up in an unusual style and looked fabulous! They too were very very fast across the ice and the lifts and positions they held were breathtaking. The golden moment of the night was when they did a throw triple loop right in front of me - WOW it was HUGE both in height and in length and feel so privileged that I got to see it that close in person. Everthing about their performance just came right out to the audience and they really projected the characterisation really well. She particularly seemed to be looking out at the crow the entire time - it was kind of like the mona lisa's eyes - I felt like she was looking at me the whole time! Everyone loved it. For me this was definitely the highlight of the night.

There was a final number with all the skaters back out on the ice. And at one point a tiny little girl who couldn't have been more than 4 years old came out to take a bow too!

They all then queued up at the end to talk to the Queen and Duke of York. Ilia made me laugh because he was in the centre of the line and the Queen started at one end and the Duke at the other the Duke got as far as Ilia but Ilia didn't look at him and kept looking at the Queen who hadn't got down that far yet so the Duke walked off and Ilia held out until he talked to the Queen!!!!

Sorry I cut it a bit short at the end but I am really tired and need some sleep before work! If you want to know more specifics ask me and I may remember! Apologies for spelling errors too I haven't spell checked!