An Evening With Champions 2006

This year I attended the Saturday evening show of An Evening With Champions, the annual Jimmy Fund benefit show at Harvard University. Once again, Paul Wylie was the host of the show. Paul seemed to be doing more ad-libbing of his introductions this year instead of just reading from the cards, with the result that I noticed him flubbing a number of details. Ooops.

This year's show featured a smaller cast than last year, more local skaters, and not much in the way of opening and closing numbers. I was also puzzled about why only about half the skaters in the cast participated in them; did the others not arrive in time to learn what minimal choreography there was?

The opening used the same "Ice Action" song that they always use at Ice Chips, the Skating Club of Boston's club show, to introduce the regional competitors. I was kind of groaning at this; talk about lack of imagination! :-P Mostly just skaters performing a solo trick as they were introduced.

The first skater we got was 11-year-old Amanda Marino, who Paul mistakenly introduced as "Kelly". She's obviously in the show because she's a cancer survivor, but she did an entirely respectable job with her skating, too. She skated to "Cabaret" with a lot of single jumps and decent spins.

The Harvard University Skating Club skated a group number to "It's Raining Men", complete with umbrellas. They looked like they were having fun, even the lone guy in the ensemble.

Kylie Gleason skated her competitive free skate to a medley of violin music including Rondo Cappricioso, "Thais", and a piece of a concerto I couldn't place off the top of my head. She started out strong but after a nasty-looking fall on a triple salchow she scaled back the rest of the jumps in the program. Hopefully she'll skate this better at regionals. She's quite a good skater.

Molly and Chris Schleicher, a local junior pair team, skated a show program to "Ease on Down the Road" in bright neon-colored outfits. For elements, I wrote down helicopter-type hip lift, 2ts, sbs spins, 2 twist, throw 2s, shoulder lift, forward inside death spiral into a swing.

Act I of Boston, the theatre on ice troupe from the Skating Club of Boston, came out and performed their Star Wars program. I don't have a clue what story they were trying to tell, but it looked like fun, and I always enjoy watching Justin Pekarek skate. Unfortunately, my enjoyment was once again somewhat diminished by the large piece of scenery they installed in front of me which blocked my view of a good-sized portion of the ice surface. Can't they do without scenery in a show like this where the audience is seated on all four sides of the arena?

Next, Juliana Cannarozzo skated to "The Prayer". The program was kind of a snooze, with a lot of stroking around, but she did land a nice double axel and triple loop, plus a triple lutz with a step out. I was never a big fan of hers when she was younger but she really has improved in the past couple of years.

The Haydenettes skated their new competitive short program to "The Last of the Mohicans". Synchro rules have changed this year to reduce the number on a team to only 16 skaters, and it seems like the emphasis has shifted from intricate shifting formations to doing incredibly difficult footwork with lots of twizzles, just like the dancers. It's still very early in the synchro season and I noted that they seemed a bit ragged all around in maintaining lines and unison, and that they slowed down whenever they had to twizzle, but it was impressive seeing them all doing choctaws and rockers at great speed. I thought their fluffy peach-colored outfits with dowdy long skirts were really inappropriate for the power of their music and skating, though. Can't synchro skaters wear pants or unitards now?

After an ice make, the Protopopovs came out to skate a version of "Liebestraum" with guitar and a screechy female vocal, and their usual Russian piano piece for an encore. They look great for their age but they are starting to slow down a little. Paul interviewed them briefly and Oleg said "skating here keep us young". :-)

Julia Vlassov and Drew Meekins skated what I guessed to be a modified version of their competitive short program, to a techno version of the familiar Handel Sarabande. Death spiral, throw 3s, lift, side by side 2s, a swing move, spirals, pair spin.

Scott Smith skated the same Michael Buble program he did at last spring's Ice Chips. He seems very comfortable with this look and really sold the performances. Jumps were solid as well, with 3r, 3t, and 3s.

Stephanie Rosenthal rolled out her "Rock-It" short program once again, at the specific request of the EWC organizers. She's had very little ice time since she started at Yale and scaled back the jumps to single axel and double toe, but the real difficulty in this program is in keeping up the energy level through all the dance steps and choreography, and she managed fine with that. She got a nice round of applause from the audience.

Morgan Matthews & Max Zavozin skated their new tango OD. I didn't get much of an impression of the actual dance because I was so distracted by how frighteningly thin Morgan looks now. Her arms and shoulders are so bony that she looks like a skeleton. I hope somebody can convince her that this is neither healthy nor attractive.

Matt Savoie was up next, skating the scat version of "Summertime" he'd used for shows in the spring. Jump-wise, it wasn't a great performance -- two clean double axels, a step out on the triple lutz, and a hard fall on the flip -- but something has finally "clicked" in Matt's head and allowed him to loosen up as a performer. Very nice to see that happen, at long last. I did wonder if this might end up being his last skating performance as I'm sure law school is going to keep him plenty busy now.

Emily Hughes skated to a concert recording of "Proud Mary", a welcome change from the usual GFB overdose at these shows. She opened with a double axel and spirals through the slow introductory part, and then upped the energy level to go with the faster music. She got in a 3t and 2s in there and at least a couple of spins.

Belbin & Agosto closed out the show, skating their new tango OD, too. I think we're going to hear a lot of Piazzola this season, which is fine by me. I'm glad the ISU has gone back to a single rhythm for the OD this year because it allows the skaters to do something with more of a consistent theme and viewpoint instead of just a hodgepodge. Anyway, they seemed to be still thinking their way through the choreography and it looked like Tanith had a little stumble at one point, but they had a spiffy new lift.

Finally, we got a mini-finale to "Copacabana" with only a subset of the cast. I enjoyed watching Ben Agosto bopping around at the end of the rink while all the other skaters were introduced for their bows. Paul Wylie made a feeble attempt at doing a scratch spin (it can't be easy to spin in a tux) before joining the rest of the cast in a group bow. So that was the show for another year. Overall, I had a good time, and unlike some other recent years, there weren't any performances I didn't enjoy in some way or another, or skaters who just seemed like dead weight in the cast.

A friend and I lurked around the skaters' entrance for a few minutes, but we were convinced to beat a hasty retreat after witnessing some pathetic middle-aged fan hyperventilating all over poor Ben Agosto. Ben handled it like a pro (I assume this happens to him and Tanith all the time since the Olympics), but yikes, people like that give fans a bad name. Anyway, it was enough to make me just want to get the heck out of there. :-P


Photos are Copyright (c) 2006, Sandra J. Loosemore, and are provided for personal viewing only except as noted in Skateweb's photo use policy.

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto: 1 | 2 | 3
Juliana Cannarozzo: 1 | 2 | 3
Kylie Gleason: 1 | 2
Emily Hughes: 1 | 2 | 3
Amanda Marino: 1
Morgan Matthews & Max Zavozin: 1 | 2 | 3
Ludmila & Oleg Protopopov: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Stephanie Rosenthal: 1 | 2 | 3
Matt Savoie: 1 | 2
Molly & Chris Schleicher: 1
Scott Smith: 1 | 2 | 3
Vlassov & Meekins: 1
Paul Wylie: 1 | 2

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