'Champions On Ice' Wows Crowd
Men In Tight Pants Make Us Scream For More
ce. Champions. Wigs. Need we say more? Perhaps not, but here's the whole story anyway.
We had some very nice center-ice penalty box seats at the Long Beach Arena for the Champions On Ice show which came to town on Thursday, July 11. The show, sponsored by John Hancock (isn't he dead?) was scheduled for 7:00pm. Of course, this is the world of ice skating shows, which never begin on time. At 7:15, we became antsy. Brian suggested that perhaps it was Michelle holding things up while she ran up to each of her fellow skaters and asked, "Excuse me, is my head too big?"
Let me tell you something. It's worth the price of admission to see men skating around in tight pants and to try to figure out whose hair is the real deal. Grandmothers love their figure skating. Nowhere else, other than inside the smoky Las Vegas casinos, can you have such a great time playing 'Wig or Not Wig?'
At 7:20pm, the lights went down and the show finally began. Whoopee! The theme music from the 2002 Olympics blared proudly and I began to wonder if the building had piped in some marijuana while I watched the Olympic Rings dance across the ice, along the walls, and across the ceiling. Trippy.
Each skating act came out onto the ice for their introductions. A booming voice (God, perhaps) called out their names as, one by one, they performed to a different current musical selection for 15-20 seconds each. After the enthusiastic introductions, the real show began. It is with high emotion that we list our most memorable skating programs of the evening.
Nicole Bobek, or 'bird woman' as we affectionately call her, was up first. She skated to music from the movie Moulin Rouge. Nicole interpreted music by that other Nicole singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Bobek's costume was highly colorful and sparkly, and I found this to be a good number for her. However, she needs to stop wearing those obnoxious bird feathers in her hair already.
The U.S. champion dance team of Punsalan & Swallow? Snore. There's three minutes of my life I'll never get back. After sitting through such an unbelievably boring number, we were saved by a delightful nice-looking man in tight pants, teen dream Michael Weiss. At the conclusion of his Rolling Stones program, Weiss showed us his street cred as he did the worm and some breakdancing on the ice.
One of America's little darlings, Sasha Cohen, skated to a ditty called "Hernando's Hideaway" in her pink dress with a fringe skirt. Wow, she's Christina Ricci on ice and she's fully posable! Ms. Cohen has great presence on the ice. My mom's favorite skater, Viktor Petrenko, performed to "Who Let the Dogs Out." I adore Viktor. Always have, always will. Petrenko's skate involved a stuffed doggie which was sewn into the sleeve of his costume. Silly boy! The program was one helluva crowd pleaser.
Long Beach Arena has very tasty hot dogs.
Surya Bonaly from France took the ice. Sorry to say, I took a potty break for this and therefore I have nothing more to report. I did return to my seat in time to catch proud American Rudy Galindo. He made the grannies scream for more with his popular "Village People" medley, dressed in his sailor outfit and sparkly sequined tank top. The crowd still adores him. How appropriate that we were in Long Beach, home of the Queen Mary. Salute!
I danced in my seat when my personal favorite Canadian professional pair team, Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, took center ice. The duo featured a strange and scary role reversal with Lloyd dolled up in drag while Isabelle sported a goatee, leather jacket, and 'do rag. Skating to the music of Bryan Adams' "She Ain't Pretty," they looked like a trailer trash couple of the year. "Come see them Saturday at the tractor pull!" Woo!
After the dreaded intermission, the lights dimmed and we gasped with anticipation. Yes! More skating! Taking the fresh newly-zambonied ice was an amazing athlete from Russia by the name of Irina Grigorian. She was far out, dude. The gymnast/skater worked her hula hoop magic on the ice, wowing everyone out of their seats. Grigorian began her routine with two hula hoops, showing her ability to multi-task. She then advanced to four hula hoops, then eight, and it multiplied from there as she swung hoops in circles using her ankles, wrists, and waist, all while gliding across the ice rink.
You would not believe the amazing acrobatic team which also performed. Two guys took the ice dressed in ballerina tutu's as the music of "The Swan" began to play. Slowly, Vladimir Besedin and Oleksiy Polishuk, from the Ukraine, skated hesitantly around the ice, appearing to be on skates for the fifth time in their entire life. As the music progressed, so did the wow factor. These guys have mad acrobatic skills. By the end of the performance, little dude was doing a handstand on big dude's head, using one hand and hoisting himself straight up into the air. Unreal. How does one practice this for the first time?
How would you like to have to follow such a brilliant performance? It would suck if your name is Timothy Goebel. America's hopeful and reigning Olympic bronze medalist was up next, following the enthusiastic applause which quickly faded away. Goebel skated lethargically to some Paul McCartney music, and he had no audience connection whatsoever. I began to wonder if I had left the iron on.
Taking the ice next was Evgeni Plushenko's nose, along with the rest of him. The Olympic silver medalist performed to the music of "Carmen" while flailing around excessively. Dude, you're not going to fly, so don't even try. One word: Beef. It's what's for dinner.
Of course, an ice show just wouldn't be the same without a big Olympic champion. America's newest darling, Sarah Hughes, was a treat to watch. Ms. Hughes was beaming ear to ear when she was introduced as the newest Olympic ladies figure skating champion. She's smiling because she gets to keep her gold medal.
Other skaters entertaining us on this fine July evening included ice dancers Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev, Philippe Candeloro, Dan Hollander, the ice team of Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, Elvis 'the Pelvis' Stojko, Irina Slutskaya, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, and America's other darling, Michelle Kwan. The entire cast of skaters joined each other, again one by one, for a patriotic finale complete with dancing around on the ice to a medley of American classics. The choreography during "America the Beautiful" was overdone to the point where it appeared that the skaters were doing Tai Chi. I did like the effect of the American flags dropping from the ceiling accompanied by explosive fireworks at the end of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Rock on, America!
You can read more about the cast of skaters or find out when the show is coming to a city near you. Skate on over to the official Champions On Ice site, but don't fall on your butt. That is embarrassing, and you look really stupid.