Stars on Ice
Kurt in SOI
Creative Team

Stars on Ice Review - Huntington, WV - Dec. 27, 2002

written by Nicole

Act I:

Opening Number: Ozzy Osbourne medley

Todd Eldredge took the ice first, and as the music built, launched into a triple axel (that had great height but an unfortunate step out). The audience still gasped in awe at the almost-completed move. Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman skated out and did the move where Kyoko stands on John's legs while he is in a spread eagle. Jenni Meno and Todd Sand came onto the ice and did a death spiral, and their signature star-lift with swoop-down exit.

Renee Roca and Gorsha Sur joined the others on the ice doing a lift on their own. Jamie Sale and David Pelletier arrived, soon joined by Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, and both pairs took turns doing lifts and other moves. Alexei Yagudin, Katarina Witt, and Kurt Browning joined the rest of the cast on the ice, but as I have written down nothing but their initials in my notes, I can't really remember what moves they did. I do recall that Todd and Kurt did double axels in synch in opposite directions. The way the intensity of the opening number rose as each new skater took the ice was entertaining.

Alexei Yagudin: "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf

Alexei donned a leather jacket to skate to this fun number. The elements included several knee slides, a split jump followed by a triple toe loop, and circular footwork. Overall, this was a cute program, but felt more like an Elvis Stojko-type exhibition number, not containing the usual difficulty or interest of an Alexei program.

Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman: "Bed of Roses" by Bon Jovi

The elements included side-by-side axels, a spread eagle by John with Kyoko laying on his skate boot, an inside death spiral, and their trademark candle lift. The program was skated well, but I felt the music wasn't as strong as their skating. It was still an enjoyable performance.

Jamie Sale and David Pelletier: "Come Fly With Me" by Michael Buble

I would have preferred the Sinatra version of this music, as this particular version seemed somewhat bland in comparison. Highlights of their program included a lift in which Jamie adorably pretends to be flying, what I think is a pendulum lift (where David swings Jamie between his legs to get the momentum to lift her), their signature death spiral, and a pairs spin. The mood and rapport of the program was cute, but overall it didn't have as much impact as most of their other programs.

Todd Eldredge: "Channel 1 Suite" by Buddy Rich

Todd's elements included a triple axel, a triple toe loop, what was either another triple toe loop or something else, a double axel, what Laurie calls his "slinky moves", a camel spin, barrel rolls, and his fast ending combination spin. The highlight of the program was the fast footwork performed thoughout and the sense of fun with which the number was performed. A highlight of the evening.

Gorsha Sur, John Zimmerman, and Katarina Witt: "Blues in the Night" by Quincy Jones

I liked the mood and attitude of this flirtatious number, but overall there was little in skating content to be seen. This felt like "filler" more than a creative collaboration for the skaters. I also felt that SOI covered this territory last year (and better) in Kat's duet with Steven Cousins.

Alexei Yagudin: "Ancient Lands" by Ronin Hardiman (Overcome)

The jumps included were a triple toe loop, a triple toe loop/triple toe loop combination, and a triple lutz (with a hard fall). You know the program is good when the skater is able to get right back into the character of it after such an error, and that's exactly what Alexei did. By the straightline footwork sequence, he had the crowd well in hand, and deservedly so, with this powerful performance.

Jenni Meno & Todd Sand: "I'm Your Man" by Leonard Cohen

I didn't know what to expect, having seen this music performed to previously by the always avante-garde Gary Beacom. Jenni and Todd aren't known for going in this type of quirky direction, but I'm glad they did! This number was very enjoyable!

The program began with Jenni skating onto the ice holding a rose. Since Alexei was leaving the ice after his program, she tried to give it to him, but he comically waved her off and ran away off the ice. Then Jenni began to hand the rose to an audience member, but changed her mind, showing that this also wasn't "her man", alluding to the song's title.

When Todd came onto the ice, he danced around trying to persuade her that he was her man, by doing silly things like pulling his shirt up over his head. Elements of the program included a throw double axel, a death spiral with Todd swinging Jenny around the rose, and the cute choreography throughout. The playful theme of this program was very successful with the crowd.

Kurt Browning: "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" by Tony Bennett

Kurt's elements included a double axel, a triple toe loop, a jump I wrote down as "3 sal?", a camel spin, a sequence of two more triple toe loops, a spread eagle, and an ending straight-line footwork sequence. One thing I am always impressed by is the incredibly fast rotation that Kurt still gets in his jumps. The program was well skated by Kurt, but unfortunately, the music wasn't very engaging. As a result, the performance didn't bring the usual loudness of a Kurt ovation from the crowd.

"Sing Sing Sing" from the Fosse Soundtrack: Todd Eldredge, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikarulidze, and Jamie Sale and David Pelletier

The only elements I wrote down were a triple toe loop by Todd and a throw double axel by Jamie and David. I became too distracted trying to follow the meaning of the poem Todd narrated (by lip-synching to his own recorded voice, I think). I did catch the part about "standing naked alone in the spotlight", lol, but forget pretty much everything else he said, and just remember it had something to do with judging, but really didn't make a point that I could discern. Still, Todd did a nice job with the narration, even if what they gave him to say didn't really go anywhere.

I liked the two pairs skating together, and the audience enjoyed the elements they executed, but the two teams could have been better utilized than was done in this program. It would have been nice to cut out the narration entirely (sorry, Todd!), and just have had the two teams perform together, perhaps even switching partners for various moves. That would have been a much bigger crowd-pleaser. The crowd did enjoy when the two teams ended with what Suz is telling me she calls the "Go Team!" thing (when everyone puts their hands in a circle and then raises them up). It was a nice sign of solidarity between the pairs.

Act II:

I moved to an on-ice seat that Suz was kind enough to give me. Consequently, I stopped taking notes altogether, much too enthralled with having the skaters whizzing by my seat. Especially with the Act 2 opener, it would have been difficult to focus on note-taking of any kind.

The JXL remix of "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley

Alexei Yagudin, John Zimmerman, David Pelletier, Gorsha Sur, Todd Sand, and Kurt Browning

This program is the agreed upon #1 group highlight of the show (as decided upon by all females polled) ;). The guys take the ice wearing cowboy hats and tight jeans, to the delight of every woman in attendance. They skated around doing various fun moves, none of which I wanted to take my eyes off of to bother writing them down. They were having a blast out there and the crowd loved every minute.

There was a minor glitch when David was supposed to catch Kurt who was speeding by to stop him, but missed, and Kurt went down. David couldn't contain his laughter as he scraped Kurt off the ice and they caught up with the rest of the guys in the program. Even this only enhanced the sense of partying that they were doing out there, and it was a lot of fun to watch the camraderie between the guys. I felt guilty because after Suz gave me her seat, Alexei ended up doing his belly slide right to me! :)

Katarina Witt: "The Rest of Your Life" by Barbra Streisand

This was a pretty program for Katarina, but like so much of the evening, I felt she would have been better served by stronger music. She skated well and completed a double axel. (She had trouble with her double lutz, but we noticed that overall, the skaters had some shaky landings throughout the show, and wondered if the wonky ice that Kim was telling us about was the cause. Since the jump problems seemed to affect most of the cast, we guessed that it probably was). Suz and I particulary enjoyed Katarina's spread eagle, as we were trying to do that ourselves when we went skating earlier. Kat did a little better than us... :)

Todd Eldredge: "Miserere" by Andrea Bocelli & Locio Dalla

I don't remember the jumps except that Todd had some minor trouble with his triple axel and another jump. Overall the program was skated well, and suited his style of skating. However, the music cuts seemed a little off to me (unless the music just is that way and wasn't cut, lol), and it seemed to prevent the program from building to the usual climax that his programs normally do. Still, the program was skated well and appreciated by the audience.

Renee Roca and Gorsha Sur: "The Prayer" by Charlotte Church and Josh Groban

This was the program that Renee and Gorsha skated to at the Opening (or Closing?) Ceremony of the Olympics. Highlights were their smooth lifts and transitions and Suz enjoyed their pivots (inside joke, lol). This number is beautiful from start to finish, and it was the only "you could hear a pin drop" highlight of the show.

Kurt Browning: "Slippery Side Up" by James Cotton

This number is reminiscent of Kurt's clown program from a few years ago, but doesn't contain nearly as much skating content. Kurt spends a lot of time comically trying to get across the ice while wearing skate guards. This is a cute audience-interactive bit for Kurt, but I would rather have seen him do a full-out skating program instead of this type of number, since he only has two cold spots. The crowd, however, ate it up, and he got terrific applause for the performance.

Kyoko Ina, John Zimmerman, Jenni Meno, Todd Sand, Renee Roca, and Gorsha Sur: Something SOI calls "Love on the Rocks" (I'm not sure if that's the actual title of the song), by Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams

I remember very little about this program except that it struck me as being "filler" (the third time of the night I felt this, with the other times being Katarina's program with John and Gorsha, and even Alexei's "Born to be Wild", to a lesser extent). It would have been nice if one of these "filler" spots had instead been used for a second cold spot for Elena and Anton or even Renee and Gorsha.

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze: Something SOI calls "Mme. T After Hours" by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe

I was looking forward to seeing this program, and enjoyed it for the most part. A highlight was when Anton threw off the blanket covering him and the audience could see him in the Elvis jumpsuit. He did a fabulous job with the Elvis moves and was a lot of fun to watch.

Unfortunately, the edits of the Marilyn Monroe song spliced into this when Elena was unveiled kind of marred the program. Both Anton and Elena skated well, but the jarring cuts of "Boo Boo Be Do" in the middle of Elvis songs was not the best idea. The audience screamed enthusiastically for all the Elvis parts, only to be confused by the sudden Marilyn interruptions.

It probably didn't help that Elena's hair wasn't styled to look like Marilyn's, so I'm not entirely sure people watching even realized that's who she was supposed to be (although the dress was a good hint). Most of us agreed that the program would have been better as what Suz suggested, an Elvis and Priscilla number! That way, they could just stick with the Elvis music that the crowd was enjoying so much, and eliminate the weird interruptions from the Marilyn song.

Still, it was great to see Elena and Anton skating to this type of fun, upbeat number, and they did a good job with it! Anton was particularly impressive with his Elvis impersonation. Who knew he had it in him?

Jamie Sale and David Pelletier: "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" by Journey

This is the number they skated for their interpretive program at the Hallmark Championships, and it was fun to see again. This program better showcases the playful fliratious quality they have on the ice than their earlier performance. The elements included a successful throw triple something, and Suz reminded me that the highlight was Jamie doing a handstand in the palm of David's hand! From my now on-ice seat, I was able to officially confirm the following: Jamie IS that cute!

Alexei Yagudin: "Racing" AKA "Formula One" AKA "Played-A-Live" by the Safri Duo

Alexei did several successful triple toe loops throughout the program, but jumps are not the main feature of this number. Alexei exuberantly performed his fun, fast footwork to the utter delight of the screaming (mostly Suz) crowd. People were clapping along from the beginning of the program (I see I have been accused of starting this in an unnamed person's post, and that may well be true, but the point is, everyone else joined in!). This performance was arguably the highlight of the individual cold spots in the show, and many in the crowd were standing at the conclusion of Alexei's performance.

Closing Number: Music by Will Smith

It was fun to watch the skaters doing hip-hop dancing (as much as figure skaters can do hip-hop, lol). I mostly watched Todd just for the novelty of seeing him dance, but Alexei also did a great job with this and it looked as if the whole cast was having fun with it. The opening and closing numbers with the entire cast were much stronger than the smaller "filler" type of other group numbers in the show.

At the end, the skaters go to the front row of the crowd shaking hands. I got to shake hands with Kyoko and John, Suz and Yoko got to shake hands with Todd and Renee, Kim got to shake hands with someone who I've now forgotten, but it wasn't Alexei, lol. With four of us sitting on the ice in three different places, he managed to elude us all! ;) Suz at least got her revenge for me having Alexei slide in front of me earlier, as she got Todd to shake hands with.>:( :) Seriously, I thought I fared pretty well with John and... whoever that is he skates with... ;)

It was a fun show, though overall not as strong as I expected with this cast. (I preferred the days of SOI when they closed Act I with an entertaining cast number that showcased everyone in the cast, rather than just a program featuring only few skaters). It was super-nice of Kurt to come and pose for pictures and sign autographs for the crowd outside in the cold. It was also good to see Kim, Yoko, and Suz again! (I got to HEAR Suz quite a bit too, any time Alexei took the ice! :) ) Thanks for a good time, you guys! :)