Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stars on Ice


The Stars on Ice tour didn't come anywhere close to my city, so I took the easy two-hour flight to Chicago to see the show on May 3. It was so worth the trip! My friends and I got passes to the pre-show (thank you again, Hailey at IMG!!), so we arrived at the Allstate Arena around 4:00. A small line had already formed, and some of the little skater girls were freaking because they'd seen Charlie White in the parking lot.

About thirty minutes later, they let us into the arena, where some of the show's stars were on the ice warming up - Ryan Bradley, Josh Farris, Gracie Gold, Mirai Nagasu, Ashley Wagner, and Alissa Czisny. General pop music played except for a couple of skaters' program music. Not everyone practiced with their music. They all lightly warmed up and did a few jumps. Josh was trying the quad toe, but he didn't land any cleanly when I was watching. I spotted Gracie's twin sister in the audience.


During the ice resurface, Tanith and her and Charlie's dog DJ came out from backstage to watch the next group warm up. The next group included Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, Jason Brown (who received lots of screams from the local skater girls), Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, and Jeremy Abbott. Meryl and Charlie spent more time chatting with friends and family (and playing with DJ) than they did on the ice. Kim and Brent warmed up a bunch of their lifts and their headbanger. Marissa was practicing her double Axel and Salchow quite a bit. Jason's coach Kori Ade was there with her cutie pie baby daughter, and some of the skaters were playing with her rinkside.

Mirai came back onto the ice and was attempting throw Salchows with Simon. They got up to a double and looked great! We were hoping Jason would show us his throw triple Salchow with Simon, but it didn't happen.

We had an hour break before the show to grab food, and then the lights dimmed for showtime! The opening was beautiful and dramatic with Meryl and Charlie under a spotlight of snow. The cast regulars all participated in the opening to Hans Zimmer's "When You Are Not Saving the World," carrying large white flags. Meryl and Charlie spoke to the crowd for a few minutes to welcome us, and Meryl said we definitely sounded ready for the show!


First onto the ice was Jason Brown, and he thrilled his hometown with a modified version of his Riverdance long program. He nailed all his jumps and reminded me again how much I loved that program. After Jason, Ryan Bradley kept the energy up with his rock medley. I've been watching Ryan skate since he was a teenager at nationals, so it was neat to see him as a pro in Stars on Ice.

Alissa Czisny's Liszt program was gorgeous and exhibited all the most wonderful aspects of her skating. She did a double Axel, I think, but she's a skater that doesn't need to jump at all. Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre followed with a high-energy program to "How Do You Like Me Now." They looked so free and easy in their skating, and I could tell they've been performing a lot the past few years. They've become seasoned pros.


Gracie was effervescent in her "All That Jazz" number (with a cameo by Ryan Bradley). She was followed by Jeremy Abbott, who skated to "The Fear." He popped one of his jumps, but he's another skater who doesn't need to jump because his skating is about so much more than that.

Mirai Nagasu's "On Golden Pond" program was just as lovely as it was at nationals but without the tears that had made it heart-wrenching to watch. She had one little slip where she went down onto the ice and looked like she was going to do a push-up.

Meryl and Charlie's Rachmaninoff program lived up to all my expectations of seeing it live. I'd wanted them to skate to this music for years, so it was a dream to see the program. They looked so at peace and so in touch with the music and each other. Charlie was especially glowing with happiness.


Ashley Wagner brought the sass in her "Sweet Dreams" program. Girl knows how to project to the top of the arena and then some. Closing out the first act were all the guys in their group number to "The Walker." This was one of the highlights of the show for me. Josh Farris was too cute as the excitable guy who just wanted to keep dancing after the program was over. My attention went to him and Charlie for most of the number.


Act II began with the girls' group number to "Creep." I loved it just as much as the guys' number. It had a very So You Think You Can Dance contemporary feel, and my eyes went to Meryl in this one. She looked so fierce and exquisite, and I loved the part where she was hanging onto the underside of the barre.


Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir did their awesome "Royals" program that I'd seen at nationals. They rocked it out again and had the crowd gasping with their headbanger.


Kim and Brent's second number to "Another Story" was more romantic, and I was very impressed with their lifts, especially the one where Kim was in a Charlotte position while Brent supported her. Alissa followed with a sultry program to "My Kind of Love," showing her range of performance. 

Ryan's second program to "Wake Me Up" was just as fun as his first. He splatted on a jump but made a great comeback with a triple toe after that. His signature back flip was so close to the edge of the ice that we thought he was going to flip into the audience.

Alissa and Jeremy's duet to "Piano Guys" was super cute and whimsical. They looked very comfortable playing off each other. Next was Mirai, and her "Demons" program was so heartfelt. I'd love to see her put that same kind of emotional intensity into her competitive programs. 


I'd been looking forward to seeing Josh's solo to "To Build a Home" since no one had posted any videos online, and it didn't disappoint. He takes so much care with each step. Not a finger is out of place. My favorite moment was his Ina Bauer that stretched across the rink. Absolutely gorgeous.


Josh and Jason slapped hands as Jason took the ice next. He got the crowd revved up with his "U Can't Touch This" program, which is always a winner. It's impossible not to smile when he's out there on the ice!

Ashley skated her "Young and Beautiful" program with a ton of power and beauty. Jeremy's second program to "Latch" was one of my favorites. It was like watching a modern dance show on ice. His ease of movement and body control are so special.


Gracie skated to "Let It Go" from Frozen before Meryl and Charlie came out for their second number, the revamped Scheherazade. It was wonderful to see their Samson and Delilah swoopy lift again and the dizzying Schez ending that has "Olympic gold" written all over it.

The finale to "Don't Stop Believin'" was a lot of fun. After all the skaters finished in a perfect line, "Happy" came on and they danced and did a couple of goodbye laps for the crowd. Meryl and Jeremy were so cute dancing together at center ice.

After the show my friends and I went to the Meet and Greet, and it was such a great event. The crowd was relaxed, and the skaters chatted with us at length. We went to Meryl and Charlie first since we knew they'd have a long line, and I gave them big hugs to congratulate them on their Olympic win. I've been so lucky to have visited with them at so many events the past seven years, and this was the longest I'd been able to talk to them. They are true superstars inside and out :)


We headed for Josh's line next, and I chatted with him about some songs he'd love to use for his short program if he ends up using music with lyrics. He's pretty much the definition of adorable.


Marissa and Simon were next on our list, and it's always great to talk to them. They've had such a crazy schedule but are finally winding down with their last show tonight. They said it was great to see some familiar faces :)


Jeremy and Ryan were hanging out together, so we talked to them next. They both wore some darn good-smelling cologne, so we went back later and asked Jeremy the name of his. He was very flattered and said it's Wonderwood by Commes des Garcons. So there's your tidbit of the event ;)

Ryan was as nice as I always remembered him being at nationals and Skate Americas past. He used to have us cracking up at practices back in the day.

Next we visited Jason, and he was hugging every single person who came up to him. He is truly the happiest person on the planet! I told him I hoped we'd see him at Skate America in Chicago later this year, and he crossed his fingers that he'd be there.


We talked to Mirai about the group numbers, and she confirmed Jeff Buttle had choreographed them. I told her I loved both! Alissa, Ashley, and Gracie looked a little tired (which was totally understandable!), but they were super gracious to everyone. It was great to see Kim and Brent again because I used to talk to them back when they were competing, and I always run into them at nationals now that they attend as commentators and spectators.

We were some of the last people to leave, and we told the Stars on Ice rep how amazing the experience was. From start to finish the entire event was awesome!

Here are the rest of my photos and videos from the show:  Stars on Ice Photos and Videos

My next skating show will be An Evening on Ice in Los Angeles on July 19. It will be my fourth year attending the show, and as always I'll have some photos and videos to share. The show has an awesome cast this year including Carolina Kostner, Adam Rippon, Ashley Wagner, Madison Chock/Evan Bates, Jonathan Cassar, and more!


3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the detailed account of your experience. We were at the Chicago show as well, but didn't get to enjoy all the before and afters like you did. Loved the vid of Charlie and their dog! I thought the show was really well attended and that was great to see! All the performances were entertaining and it really looked like the skaters had a lot of fun. (Also, love your screen name. I have been a Ben and Tanith fan as long as I can remember and miss them on the ice so much. I have thousands of pictures of them from various events and they always create such great memories when I look at them.) Thanks again for the wonderful review!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the show! It was a great crowd, and I think the skaters felt the energy :) I miss Tanith and Ben so much, too :( I was so happy to see them skate together last year in the Disson show.

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  2. Mirai looks so cute in the salchow video!

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