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Champions on Ice

A skating extravaganza

By Garry Maskaly and Karlene Rosera

associate photo editors

Every year in April, ice skaters from all over the world descend on Boston and the Fleet Center as part of the nationwide “Champions on Ice” tour. Olympic and World Champions, past and present, in both dance and pairs come for this celebration of ice skating extravaganza.

This year’s edition included world-renowned skaters Victor Petrenko, Michelle Kwan, Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow, and Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev.

Each performance had a unique feeling. Some skaters interacted with the audience, while others enriched their acts with emotion, making them much more than a series of jumps and spins.

Victor Petrenko, the Olympic and World Champion, skated energetically to Michael Jackson’s 80’s hits. Wearing a single white glove, he entertained the crowd with difficult moves, such as the famous “moonwalk.”

Three-time World Champion silver medalist Surya Bonaly executed her world-famous back flip and other complicated jumps with perfect timing and perfection. She enlivened the crowd with her upbeat performance and her never-fading smile.

Olympic gold medalist Oksana Baiul, on the other hand, gave an artistic and emotional performance. At one point, her expression conveyed pain as she contorted on the ice. She rarely smiled throughout the performance, never dropping the emotional facade that was quintessential to her act. Even while completing remarkable jumps, she never allowed herself to smile.

Other crowd pleasers included the sword-toting Philippe Candeloro, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, who astounded the audience with a fencing routine on the ice. He later discarded his sword to do a difficult series of jumps, finishing the performance to great acclaim.

Maya Usova and Evgeny Platov conveyed unparalleled emotion as they completed their dance routine. Having been paired for only a year, they recently secured a World Championship title. This would come as no surprise to the Fleet Center audience who was mesmerized by their fluid routine. Seeing the performers enjoy their skating without competitive pressure made the show an even greater treat.

The venue could not have been more perfect. The Fleet Center’s lighting and sound were outstanding. While watching the performance, one could feel the deep bass notes of the music.

While some seats are better than others (the ticket prices ranged from $35 for an upper balcony seat to $65 for loge seating), there are no obstructed view seats, making the show enjoyable for everybody present.

The first year we attended the show, we sat in the upper balcony missing out on details such as facial expression. This year we got seats in second row center-ice. At times, the skaters were no more than 5 feet away. We could see every aspect of the show including the details of the skater’s costumes and the scratches on the surface of the ice.

Photographers reading this and interested in shooting a similar event must know that although the Fleet Center is dark during a performance, the spotlights add enough light for pictures to be taken. Being photographers ourselves, we were elated that cameras were allowed into this performance and our seats could not have been better for getting some great shots.

For those of you who do not enjoy taking pictures, but still want photographic memories, a program is available for a costly $15. This includes photos of each performer and a short description of their accomplishments.

Acquiring seats close to the ice is not a trivial task. At each performance a form is handed out to those interested in tickets for the coming year. Last year we mailed our form on the day of the show and waited seven long months before, to our amazement, we learned that we had gotten second row seats.

We have already sent in our form for next year’s show and encourage all ice skating enthusiasts to do the same, as the show is best enjoyed from up close.

For those of you not interested in parting with $65 for a ticket, there is always the television. You will have the best view of the jumps performed, but not being there in person, you will lose out on the emotional aspects of the show. If you enjoy ice skating, you will not regret the expense and you will never forget the experience.