Stars on Ice
Kurt List

International Skating Gala Review

Nottingham Ice Centre, Nottingham, UK

July 31, 2002

written by Felicity

(RavenSinger83 at the Alexei Yagudin Discussions Group)

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.

One word: WOW.

And the longer version? I may have to do this in 2 halves, cos there was certainly some stuff happened I wasn't expecting. but first - the show! Warning: this isn't a technical review, at all. It is more of a description...LOL

I left my home town (Leeds) at 3pm. It's normally a 1 1/2 hour drive to Nottingham. Not yesterday though, as there was an accident on the motorway, but my friend Louise and I (and my dad, who'd VERY kindly agreed to drive for us) arrived at the arena at 5 to 6. My dad went off to see a film and stuff while we saw the show. That was the original idea, lol.

We were in our seats by 6.15, and the show didn't start til 7.45 (enthusiasm ) but there were some local skaters did some stuff before the main event.

At first I was a bit freaked out...the compere was none other than Chris Howarth, of very pro-Alexei British Eurosport commentary fame...he is older than he sounds on TV! Joining him to present, obviously, were T+D. The crowd absolutely roared when they came out. Great Britain may not be the figure skating capital of the world...but they are both national sporting icons and you could tell. They'd done the choreography of the opening and closing and, I assume, the ensemble numbers. The opening was with the elite skaters: Everyone was wearing gorgeous costumes (I really liked them anyway) that were mainly orange and yellow. Very sunny, and particularly suited Gwendal . There were a few group jumps and some synchronised stuff, but I suspect this was pretty standard. Fun though!

Next came a local skater I didn't know called Constanze Paulinus skating to music from The Piano - she was wearing a red dress, and it was a nice routine.

Then it was the turn of the best British eligible skaters at the moment, doing an ensemble number to Vivaldi's 4 Seasons (dunno which one, lol). This seemed mostly to involve Matthew Davies, Zoe Jones and the 2nd best British Pair (O'Dougherty and O'Connor) skating around the middle of the rink, whilst Marika Humphreys and Vitaly Baranov weaved in and out doing lifts and showing what they can do, as they are clearly the best British skaters we have just now. Not that anyone was bad, that was just the impression I got. LOL.

Next was Steven Cousins and he was soooo *up*! You could just see, he wanted to please the crowd, and I think it helped that he was in England. He was also wearing the *loudest* shirt you've ever seen in your life...! It was lilac with coloured bits and shapes all over it. He stepped out of one of his jumps, but he was so into it, smiling and getting us all involved that it didn't matter - he was brilliant. And his music was Prince.

Sasha Cohen was next up, and her routine I really enjoyed, partly because I like her skating anyway, but her programme was really inventive. She did most of it with a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon in her hand, so she was twirling that while she was skating and spinning. She's so elegant anyway, but the effect was...mesmerising. I didn't think her jumps were quite "on" tonight, but it really didn't matter for her either.

After that some of the young skaters from the ice school at the new centre performed, to a Phil Collins song. That went down well and everyone clapped along.

Next it was Kurt...who was completely AMAZING! I never realised he was this good!!!!!! (He was eligible slightly before I started seriously paying attention to skating but obviously I'd heard him placed in the "Skating God" category!) His jumps are SO HUGE! And he nailed EVERY single one of them last night. He was awesome. Aside from that he also cracked the entire audience up right from the start because he was doing the "Ragadin" clown routine. I've always known it to be true that you can only act doing something badly well...if you can do it well already, if you see what I mean. Kurt proved my point on that! His acting was priceless. The audience had actually been primed ready for him, because they got him to come on as if he was just messing about and not really in the show at all. First he came on not wearing any skates. Next there was this fantastic interplay with Chris Howarth where he was wearing skate guards still on his skates, and that ended with Howarth dragging him off stage by his ankles. Finally T+D unmasked him ("Isnt that...Kurt Browning, 4 times world champion??") and eventually we saw his full piece. He was so with the music all the way through. I loved his act so much.

After Kurt finally skated, Kristi came straight on, and he introduced her in his silly squeaky clown voice, saying "oooh, she pree-eety" and stuff (she was wearing this gorgeous pink dress). Then he announced her as "Kreeesti Yama-guuchee" and the whole auditorium laughed more...in the end she *did* get to skate (once we'd all stopped laughing) and did her Santana routine - because of her I have that song in my head today!! She was really elegant, and the routine was actually quite funky with some good dancey moves in it (me at my most technical )

Next it was the British Synchro skating team, doing a number to Carmen, and I thought "never heard this music before" !). Nah, they were good too. Everybody was good! But possibly the next number was the weirdest... Ice hockey players from the local kids team and 4 speed skaters who we assume train there did a hilarious routine to a waltz piece! It was hysterically funny! They were weaving in and out of each other and slapping their sticks on the ice in time to the music...! Maybe you had to be there for that. anyway...

Ilia was next. He was wearing black trousers, a white shirt and...um...red braces. Which I couldn't quite figure out, but he was lovely . He skated to Rubberband Man - Yello, again I didn't know the music. I never realised from watching on tape and tv how fast he covers the ice. The same is true of Kurt. I rememer turning to Louise and saying "His feet move so fast!" and really meaning it, even though it was a stupid thing to say. I've also now had my first experience of Russian Stroking, even if it wasn't Alexei's . The other thing I noticed about Ilia was how massive his death drops are!! And he did a couple of jumps out of absolutely nowhere and I was sitting there with my mouth open going "where did that come from?" So I enjoyed Ilia...LOL

And *then* it was Marina and Gwendal. Who I thought were fantastic too, and I'm completely ignoring the story that's broken today in saying that. They did a spanish dance (I LOVED Marina's costume, this red and gold dress thing, it was beautiful.). Gwendal got to do flamenco-ey tap dancing moves on the ice which were rather, um, fun . They are also so completely together when they skate, and they impressed me more than I thought they might at first. The other thing about them is they are such a striking combination on the ice, with their dramatic hair...both of them have such dramatic hair, lol.

After that was, um Robin Cousins. But he, er SANG. Yes, he sang, because he has an injured knee...that was amusing. But he's not got a bad voice, at all! He sang to what he was down to skate to and it was funny because he was adlibbing in all the instrumental bits, telling us to imagine that he was doing a spin in one place, and a backflip, etc...

Immediately after that were Elena and Anton (who was, for some reason, credited in the programme as "Anton Sikharulid"...can anyone shed any light on this for me? They did their Charlie Chaplin programme, which was about the only one anyone did that I'd seen before. I loved it before and I love it even more now! Their lifts are so light and airy, I mean I know she's small, but wow they were impressive! And the programme idea is so cute.

The finale was done to "Let It Be" and was just a big coming together of all the skaters we'd seen (including an adorable little girl who couldn't have been more than about 4 who waved to the queen and did a little spin...). The whole show was absolutely sensational and I wish we could have them more often!!!!