Stars on Ice
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International Skating Gala Review

Nottingham Ice Centre, Nottingham, UK

July 31, 2002

written by Rachel (icenut84)

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 went to the Nottingham Gala last night - it was BRILLIANT!!!!

OMG, it was so strange seeing all the skaters in real life. We were sitting pretty close, about 8 or so rows back! Great view.

Ok, start at the beginning. I was initially going to go with my sister, but she only started a new job on Monday and had to work. I asked my friend if she wanted to come, and she did. She loves watching skating, she hasn't followed it but she likes watching it. I showed her who everyone is before we went, using videos I have. I showed her Kurt Browning (Singing in the Rain, Nyah, That's Entertainment, Don't Fence Me In), Kristi Yamaguchi (Trust and Try), Sasha Cohen (Carmen), Steven Cousins (Tom Jones medley), Anissina & Peizerat (Suzanna, Spanish OD), Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze (Charlie Chaplin EX), Ilia Kulik (the one from 01 SOI where he starts off in a box). She was most looking forward to seeing Sasha.

An hour and a half later we got to Nottingham. I was expecting the traffic to be awful but to be honest it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was a bit slow in places, and there were a lot of cars, but it wasn't too bad. We parked and started to walk to the Arena, but we didn't really know where we were going so we got a taxi.

When we got to the Arena at just after 6pm, there was a really long queue round the building but it was moving very quickly so it didn't take us long to get in. They had those things where you put your bags through, for security, and then they checked our tickets and we were finally in. There was a really long corridor curving round, like you get in other theatres and ice shows etc. I bought a program, which was 7, quite thick and well made and it wasn't full of adverts! (FYI, the show costume designer was Jef Billings.) On the front is a picture of a pair of skates, and in the middle there's the order of skating and the music etc, and there's also a page of bios for each skater or couple. There's a two-page thing on Torvill & Dean, and they are written as "The inspiration behind the National Ice Centre" The pictures are from Bridge Over Troubled Water, I think. The Anissina & Peizerat pictures (2) were from their free dance this year. The Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze picture was from Meditation. The Kurt Browning picture is him doing an outside spread eagle with one arm up, wearing black leather trousers and an orange/bronze top with stars on. The Sasha Cohen picture is a really nice one of her doing a spiral with a huge smile on her face, wearing a blue and white dress. The Ilia Kulik one is a kinda faded one of his face only. The Kristi Yamaguchi one is in a pivot (BO I think), wearing a pink dress. The Robin Cousins one is one of his face only, and the Steven Cousins ones are from the Tom Jones medley (Zebra striped shirt, standing and looking at the side) and Higher (?) (from 01 SOI, red leather trousers and black top). When we went into the actual rink area, it was really nice! I think there are about 8000 seats in there. They'd covered the boards at the edge of the ice with blue material and there were gold ropes along it, held up every metre or so. It looked really nice. There was also a kind of tunnel in one corner coming onto the ice, covered in black material including the opening which was where the skaters came out from. There were some things written on the ice (like the Arena symbol) and the words "Our style is legendary"

Before the show started (it didn't start till after 7:45), there were different lighting effects on the ice and the Nottingham Symphony Orchestra (which were on a stage at one end of the ice - not over the ice, but next to it an the end of the rink) played music (Skaters Waltz, The Princess Elizabeth, Swan Lake - which made me think of B&S because the extract was the same as the one they used for their SP in 98, Coppelia, Dam Busters March, Overture Candide, Beatles Medley, Memory from Cats, Harry Potter Suite, Star Wars Suite). Also, there were a few other things going on on the ice between some of these pieces of music. First, Chris Howarth (Eurosport commentator who was helping out with the announcing/hosting) came on in skates with a microphone. I don't remember exactly what he said but he came on a couple of times, and he welcomed us etc. Then I noticed there was a man dressed up as a clown walking along the top of the barrier in front of me! He had wonderful clown shoes on and a red nose, and he was walking really wobbily along. I saw him... stared... my mouth dropped open and I said to my friend "Is that... I think that's... that's Kurt Browning!!" My friend didn't recognise him, because she doesn't follow skating, but I was positive it was him. He came on a couple of times, I don't remember exactly what he did each time but I'll write what I can remember. Chris Howarth noticed him as Kurt walked slowly onto the ice in his clown shoes, and told him he couldn't skate because he was a clown and they had all these Olympic and World champion skaters and he was only a clown. Kurt showed him he had a pair of skates, but Chris Howarth still said no and told him to go away, so Kurt drooped his head and started walking slowly towards the tunnel, pulling the lace of one of the skates as it was dragging on the ice (loud "Ahh!" from the audience), and the lace was really long and when it started pulling the first skate, the lace connecting it to the second skate was really long too. Later Steven Cousins came on and was talking to Chris Howarth with the microphones. Then after, Kurt came on again with skates on - and his guards still on! He came out to the middle with his guards on, and stood there proudly, till Chris Howarth pointed out that he still had his guards on. Kurt gave a shocked squeal and tried to skate but didn't go anywhere. Later he also creeped on again out of the tunnel with a black cord tied round his waist, the guards still on. He stood there, went onto one foot with his hands in the air and said "Ta-da!", and then the cord pulled him back into the tunnel (laughter from audience).

Anyway, eventually the Queen arrived and there was an announcement, and everyone stood when she came in and clapped, and then they played the National Anthem, and she gave a short speech (I think) and they we all sat down. It went dark and the announcer (Chris Howarth I think) welcomed everyone, and said something like "Please welcome your hosts, Nottingham's own, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean!" They got a very big reception as they skated on (extra cheers from me ), and the spotlight came up on them. They were both wearing black, and Jayne had on a really pretty top that was sparkly and had sheer black sleeves, and she had her hair up. I don't remember everything that they said, I think it was along the lines of welcoming everyone and introducing the show and the new arena.

The first number was the opening, and all the international skaters. The music was "Adiemus", by Karl Jenkins. IIRC, they came on in this order - first Sasha Cohen and Kristi Yamaguchi, then Ilia Kulik, Steven Cousins and Kurt Browning, then Anissina (yes, her hair really is that bright) & Peizerat and Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze. They were all wearing the same or similar costumes. They were very similar to the red/orange/yellow one that Tara Lipinski wore for The Colour of Roses, and they were very nice. Sasha and Kristi came on first. Kristi has had her hair cut (don't know when though), it is bob-length. Sasha has a ponytail. Sasha did the spin where she lifts her leg up, and Kristi did a spin too I think but I was watching Sasha. Ilia, Steven and Kurt came out (Sasha and Kristi went back in), and did double axels and then Russian split jumps, IIRC. I have to say, I was drawn to Ilia! Now I know what people mean when they say how his jumps are so floaty light. It was amazing. Especially the split jump, it was so high!! Then Marina & Gwendal and Elena & Anton came out. (It was really unfair them coming out at the same time!! I didn't know who to watch!!) It was really surreal seeing them in real life, as I never have before. Elena had her hair up and it looked great. Marina had hers down like she did in SLC. Marina & Gwendal did the lift from the end of Suzanna where she lifts him and holds one leg and his legs are in split position. Elena & Anton did the thing where he does a spiral and she does a spread eagle with her back arched. Looked great. I think they did a lift too. It was amazing to see live! I can't get over how strong Marina is. Then Sasha and Kristi came back out. There was a sort of group number with all of them, I don't remember everything they did but it ended with them in a kind of bow to the Queen, knee bent like in a lunge and their arm out towards her, and they got a big ovation when they finished.

The second number was by a local skater, Constanze Paulinus. She came out with Chris (Dean), and Chris introduced her and said she was a bit shy but she had no need to be because there were only about (counts) 8,000 people here, and the Queen. (laughter). She got a lot of applause, and skated a very nice routine to music from "The Piano", and included a triple salchow-double toe loop combination.

The third number was by the British champions, who were Humphreys & Baranov (1st Dance), O'Connor & O'Dougherty (2nd Dance), Zoe Jones (1st Ladies) and Matthew Davies (1st Mens). Marika Humphreys is so pretty! They wore black and gold costumes IIRC, and skated a group routine to "Four Seasons" by Vivaldi, which was great. In the hosting by Jayne and Chris, I think it was the bit before the British champions' routine that they came out and Jayne started to introduce it but stopped when she realised Chris was holding a glass box (each side about the size of his hand) and waving it about mystically. She asked him what he was doing, and he said he was going to do some magic. He said "There's nothing in the box is there?", opening one side and shaking it to show there was nothing in there. Then he tapped one side, opened it again and took out a Union Jack flag and they held it up to lots of applause.

The fourth number was Steven Cousins, skating to "It's About That Walk" by Prince. He was wearing a purple shirt with white and multicoloured boxes and patterns on it (My friend didn't like it!). He skated a good routine, including a triple salchow, triple flip, triple toe loop, and double axel IIRC.

The fifth routine was Sasha Cohen, skating to "Aria" with a blue and white ribbon like a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon. I hadn't seen this routine before but I liked it. I tell you now, Sasha's spiral is even more amazing in person! Wow. I kept thinking the ribbon might get tangled when she was skating, but it didn't. It looked really effective during the scratch spin at the end, and when she came out of it it was round her legs, but came away easily. She did a triple loop I think (?) and a triple toe loop, but came out of it forwards after 2 1/2 rotations. It could have been a fall but she saved it, and came back strong almost straight away with a double axel that got a lot of cheers. Her spirals got a lot of reaction from the audience too.

The sixth routine was the rink Skating School (i.e. local skaters), doing a group number to "Trashing the Camp" by Phil Collins. The skaters included Tristan Cousins! (Robin Cousins's nephew). There were numerous triples and great spins from them all too.

The seventh number was Kurt Browning, to "Ragadin" in the clown costume. He came out while Jayne and Chris introduced him, still wearing his guards on his skates! Don't know how he managed to skate like that. Jayne and Chris were going back to the tunnel for him to start his routine, when he whistled to them and they came back, and he dropped onto his back with his feet in the air. Jayne and Chris took off his guards for him, one each, and Jayne said "Might help!" They he skated his routine. He did the thing he does in That's Entertainment, where he drops onto his stomach and then comes back up without using his hands, twice. He also did a spiral type thing I think and had his head turned to face the other way, making noises as if to say "Look at me!", before realising he was almost at the barrier and squealing, avoiding it. He then did a straight line spread eagle to the other side (almost directly in front of me!), doing the same (looking the other way), and then squealing when the barrier came up, and he fell into the audience onto a lady's lap! He struggled to get up, and moved slowly away on the ice rubbing his backside, looking back at her. Then he went back to her and took a red nose like the one he was wearing out of his pocket and put it on her, and she kissed him on the cheek. He also did a triple-double, and landed the double in an inside spread eagle! Wow.

After he finished his routine, Kristi Yamaguchi came out (in a red/pink dress with a slit down the front) and stood near the tunnel. He was staring at her and making high-pitched noises as she skated slowly over, and he looked up open mouthed into the audience (my side) and said "She's byootiful!" and then "It's Kristi Yamaguchi!" He then jumped back into the sound box, where he had come from in the beginning.

Kristi skated to "Smooth" by Santana (I really like that song). She skated very well, apart from making a mess of the double axel but everything else was really good, and she did an illusion spin which got a lot of applause.

The ninth number was the British Synchronised Skating team, which I was interested in seeing because I've never seen synchro before, not even on TV. It was very good. There was only one or two boys in it, and they skated to "Carmen Caprice", wearing reddish costumes.

The tenth number was hockey and speed skaters! It was great. the hockey players (about 6 of them I think) came out first, wearing the full kit and holding hockey sticks. They did various moves, whacking the sticks down etc, and then "Skaters Waltz" by E. Waldteufel came on. There was laughter, and they did various things like weaving in and out of each other and jumping over each other. Then four or so speed skaters in the British Team outfit came out and did some speed skating round the outside. It was very good, and they all got a lot of cheering after.

The eleventh number was Ilia Kulik, skating to "Rubberband Man" by Yello. I can't really remember his costume (blue?) but I noticed his speed and lovely jumps again. I never really noticed it that much from TV but it's very obvious in person. It was a good routine and he skated very well.

The twelfth number was Anissina & Peizerat, skating their Spanish OD from this season. I was never completely drawn in by it on TV, but it was great live. Marina started out sitting on the barrier opposite me doing something with something that looked like big playing cards. Gwendal looks just as gorgeous in person and they too skated very well. Marina had her hair up like she did in the OD competition, and Gwendal did too. Gwendal made a lot of whooping noises to the audience on some bits and got them back, including a wolf whistle I think. I think Steven Cousins got a whistle too. During their bows, someone was waving a big French flag. At the end, as they were going off and the audience had died down, someone shouted something to Gwendal (they said his name). Don't know exactly what it was, maybe something like "I love you Gwendal!"

Robin Cousins was supposed to be next. Jayne and Chris came on and I noticed Robin climbing the stairs at the side up to where the orchestra were, with crutches, and sat on a white stool. Jayne and Chris said unfortunately he wouldn't be able to skate tonight, and Robin said it was because he had had to have "unscheduled knee surgery" last week. Chris asked him if he had a note, and he took a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to him. Chris read out "Dear Jayne and Chris, please excuse Robin from skating tonight as he has a bad knee." (laughter and "Aww!" from audience) "Signed, his mum." (laughter). They said he could sing a song though, and asked the audience if they wanted him to, and got a loud "Yes!" and he did. Jayne and Chris left (I think) and Robin belted out "Strike Up The Band" by George Gershwin, the song that was listed in the program as his music to skate to. He substituted lyrics to mention the Queen's Jubilee, and at instrumental points he described what would be happening in the program if he was skating it. "Spin..." twirling his finger round, and also mentioned the backflip and said to close our eyes and imagine it! He is a very good singer, and has a powerful voice, and got a lot of applause at the end.

The next number was one of the ones I was looking forward to most - Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze. The program said their routine was "Charlie Chaplin", and it was the exhibition number they did this year. It was great! Elena is so tiny! They got a lot of applause all the way through (including when they were introduced, which was nice). They changed a little bit of it - on the bit where they do the throw triple salchow, they did spirals first, so the next chunk was slightly later on in the music than at SLC. When they did the throw (a triple loop) my heart was beating really hard! She landed it, and the audience went bonkers. The rest of the programme was great too, and got a huge reception after. They stayed in character from beginning to end, and Anton hugged Elena at the end of it.

Then it was time for the finale, which was to "Let It Be" by the Beatles. The skaters were wearing light blue costumes. The local and national skaters came out first, then they were around the sides as the international skaters came out. Ilia Kulik did the move where he does a kind of squat spread eagle in a line and leans back so far that he is almost horizontal from his knees to his head, which he also did in his solo and which got a lot of applause. Marina & Gwendal did the lift from Carmina Burana where she lifts him on her side, him facing outwards with one leg up, if that makes sense. Amazing. Elena & Anton did a lift where she was upright, sitting on his hand. I don't remember what they all did. Then as they were all facing the Queen, Jayne and Chris skated out, went through the middle of them to the front and bowed. Everyone did bowing, and the whole audience gave them a standing ovation.

Then an adorable little girl in a white dress who can't have been more than four or five skated out, really slowly and did a couple of bunny hops and a sort of 2 foot spin! Cue loud "Aww!" and loud cheers from the audience, and the skaters were clapping her (I noticed Marina Anissina looking at her with a really wide smile as if to say "How cute!")

After that, there was an announcement for everyone to please remain in their seats as the Queen was going to meet some of the performers. Among the skaters lined up were Elena & Anton, Marina & Gwendal, Sasha, Kurt, and Kristi. I don't remember if Ilia or Steven were there - though they probably were. Plus there were some of the local/national skaters, a few official looking people, and the little girl in white.

Chris Dean was introducing each skater as the Queen got to them, and she talked to each one. When she talked to Sasha (I made a point of watching this after everything everyone had said about Sasha meeting the Queen!), Sasha did a little curtsey like they all did, and clutched her skirt like a shy little girl while they were talking, lol. Cute! Didn't try to nick her tiara or anything . Sasha also was talking to Kurt a lot, and Kristi was too. And during the time they were all standing there in the line, she couldn't keep still! She was moving her feet loads (just like I do, lol), and holding her hands behind her back. (It shows how small the Queen really is because I think she was even shorter than Sasha!)

After the Queen left and there was another round of applause, the skaters in the line skated down the (other) side, waving, and also did some kind of thing where they all (including Jayne and Chris) did a couple of backward crossovers and then a BO glide, waving, and then went into the tunnel. Jayne and Chris were near the back of the line, holding hands with the little girl in white in between them as they skated down, waving a lot and getting a lot of applause and cheers. Then they did one final bow and went into the tunnel as the music faded out and the lights dimmed (then came up, as it was the end). Most people started to leave, we stayed for a few minutes and then went down to the front row to see what it was like down there. You could see the mist above the ice really clearly. Actually I realised I was sitting exactly where Kurt had fallen onto the old lady! lol. Shame it wasn't me sitting there before! It was right next to the sound area too (where Kurt had come from), and I kept checking in case any of the skaters came out (I wanted some autographs! lol) but none of them did. Actually I thought I saw Steven Cousins at one point but it wasn't him. Oh well.

It was a great night! And it was amazing to see all the skaters so close up. I wish shows like this, like SOI and COI, would come to the UK more often! (Or at all.) Had a fantastic time though!!