An Evening With Champions 2007

This year I attended the Friday night show of An Evening With Champions, the annual Jimmy Fund benefit show at Harvard University. The show was quite late in getting started and there were a lot of empty seats in the arena. Too bad, because this this was one of the better shows in recent years. Anyway, while I was waiting for things to get started, I spotted the show's founder, Misha Petkevich, hanging out in the next section over from where I was sitting.

Paul Wylie was once again the host. According to the program, this is his 23rd year with the show!

There wasn't much of an opening number this year, just introductions of the skaters while they each did a trick at center ice while some thumping percussion music played in the background. Dan Hollander flipped, Juliana Cannarozzo spun, Vlassov & Meekins did a death spiral, etc. Curiously, not all the skaters participated or were introduced.

As usual, the show started out with some younger local skaters. Harrison Choate, an intermediate man, skated his baseball-themed free skate that I'd seen recently at the Boston Open. He did a nice double axel and a bunch of other double jumps.

Then the Harvard Figure Skating Club did their group number to a Madonna medley. I'm guessing that the club includes some skaters from a synchro background this year since their choreography included some rudimentary block and wheel formations.

Kate McDermott & Colin McManus, a local dance team, did what is surely their free dance, to disco-type music. They were OK.

Next we had Molly & Chris Schleicher, a junior pair team; he is a student at Harvard and a member of the EWC organizing committee. They had a crash on a lasso lift (fortunately, she wasn't hurt) and generally struck me as being pretty scary. They were skating a show program to "You'll Never Walk Alone".

Juliana Cannarozzo skated a show program I'm sure I've seen before; last spring's Ice Chips, probably. This was a big jump up from the previous performers in terms of speed, ice coverage, and overall performance quality. Her program included a triple loop and double axel.

After this, Sinead & John Kerr skated to techno music (including a lot of percussion, a female vocal, and snatches of melody from "O Fortuna") in matching blue/black/silver unitards. This must be their new free dance for the season. Their outfits and robot-type movements drew some sniggers from the crowd as they got started, but overall the program was quite effective and enjoyable, one of my favorites of the evening. The choreography included a lot of angular poses and the costuming was effective in some of their gender-bender moves much like the Duchesnay's infamous "Reflections" program. Folks who are squeamish about brother/sister dance teams have nothing to worry about here. I'm still not entirely sure what the theme of the program really is, but it's definitely not romance!

Act I of Boston, the ice theatre group from the nearby Skating Club of Boston, was next, skating to a "Graduation Ball" theme with music that will forever make me think of Toller Cranston. I missed a good part of this number as I had to take a bathroom break.

Julia Vlassov & Drew Meekins skated a show program to "It's All Coming Back To Me Now". She fell on the throw, and overall there wasn't anything particularly memorable about the program. Eh. I'm not a big fan of pairs.

Scott Smith has a new show program to some angsty male vocal (sorry, my pop music identification skills are lousy). It started out with a whole lot of similarly angsty posing, but once he got going Scott did a flying camel, triple toe, big spread eagle, and triple salchow.

Melanie Lambert & Fred Palascak were the sleeper hits of the evening. Their program was similar to what I've seen them do in previous performances -- their usual collection of adagio tricks like a head-banger somewhat randomly strung together while bouncy big-band music played in the background. In spite of being more or less no-name skaters, I think they got the biggest crowd reaction of the night.

Oksana Baiul skated to Swan Lake, yet again, but this time dressed in a sleek black unitard with some red trim. She looks to be in fabulous shape and really moves over the ice and attacks her jumps with a ton of speed -- she did a triple toe (two-footed) and double axel (stepped out), and some spirals and spins. OTOH, this program also had a ton of just standing around posing and trying to look dramatic. And, being Oksana Baiul, she wouldn't merely take her bows and leave the ice at the end, but had to drag Paul Wylie out, too, who ended up asking her to do a spin for an encore while the Haydenettes were already in position and ready to be introduced.

Finally the Haydenettes got to skate. They performed what is surely their free skate, set to what seemed to be to be a random collection of jazzy/latin-flavored music, kind of like the old ice dancing medleys from the 70's and 80's. Technically I was much more impressed by the quality and difficulty of the footwork they were individually performing -- big swoopy rockers and choctaws and lots of twizzles -- than by the effect of the formations or unison. Many of the girls on this team are high-level dancers. Anyway, they seemed very smooth and covered the ice well.

After the Zamboni break, the Protopopovs skated a lovely program to a Russian song that Paul said was about Oleg's love for Ludmila and chrysanthemums blooming in the garden. (I don't quite see the connection there....) They're definitely slowing down from where they were a few years ago but it's obvious they still love to skate and aren't ready to quit yet.

Margaret Wang skated what seemed like a competitive short program with watered down jump content (only a double toe, double salchow, and single axel), to a piano arrangement of the Pachelbel Canon. Margaret used to skate out of the SC of Boston before moving out to California for the past few years, and now she is back as a student at Harvard and is apparently not competing any more. She did make it to Nationals as a senior lady last year, and it seems like moving on to college was a smart move for her.

Dan Hollander skated his "Tappin' with Bob" program which I've heard about before but never seen. The "music" consists of various percussion sounds, and Dan skates right to them instead of through them. It was very cool choreography, with a lot of footwork and nifty edge work. His jumps were a double toe, double axel, and double salchow, plus another back flip.

Michelle Boulos skated her competitive short program to music that sounded a heck of a lot like Philip Glass to me; kind of a strange choice for a show where most of the skaters were doing lighter programs to upbeat pop music. She went for the triple lutz, too (under spotlights?) and fell on it. She's an interesting skater who I normally enjoy watching, but this program and performance didn't really work. BTW, last year Michelle was being coached by Josh Figurido, a favorite Boston skater of mine from years past, but this year she's joined the Mark-and-Peter camp.

I'm totally blanking on what Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig skated to, and didn't write it down, but I think it was a show program since I recall various adagio-type lifts. She hung on to land the throw triple salchow they attempted. Like I said, I'm not a big fan of pairs.

Matt Savoie was the highlight of the show for me. He skated to that vocal Bach piece he was using a couple years ago, beautiful music for beautiful skating with deep edges and effortless speed. He seems more secure in his performance than I'd ever seen him before, and very well-trained for someone who is no longer either competing or touring; he landed a triple lutz, double axel, and triple flip in this performance. Law school must agree with him.

Melissa Gregory & Denis Petukhov skated a show program that started out with lots of lying about on the ice before Denis finally dragged Melissa off. To tell the truth, I was so distracted by Melissa's bizarre outfit, with stiff ruffles stuck randomly all over it, that it was hard to appreciate what the program was all about.

Emily Hughes skated the "Proud Mary" program I've seen a couple times before. Her jumps weren't really there (double toe, single axel, double axel, and some split jumps) so I'm wondering how trained she really is, now that she's a student at Harvard herself. Incidentally, Paul mentioned that he had been waiting 20 years for another Olympian skater at Harvard, pointing at Misha Petkevich in the audience, then himself, and then at Emily.

Finally it was time for the closing number, which had only marginally more choreography than the opening number. I'm always amused to see Oleg Protopopov boogying to whatever fun pop music they choose; he seems to get more into it and have more fun than any of the younger kids. Some of the skaters seemed confused about whether they were supposed to do a trick or just take their bows at center ice when their names were read off. Paul did a spread eagle and a scratch spin; I'm not sure how much he's skating nowadays, but it's obvious that he can't do much more than that when dressed up in a tux.


Photos are Copyright (c) 2007, Sandra J. Loosemore, and are provided for personal viewing only except as noted in Skateweb's photo use policy.

Oksana Baiul: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Michelle Boulos: 1
Juliana Cannarozzo: 1 | 2 | 3
Harrison Choate: 1
Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig: 1 | 2 | 3
Melissa Gregory & Denis Petukhov: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Harvard FSC: 1
Haydenettes: 1
Dan Hollander: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Emily Hughes: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Sinead & John Kerr: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Melanie Lambert & Fred Palascak: 1 | 2 | 3
Kate McDermott & Colin McManus: 1 | 2
Ludmila & Oleg Protopopov: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Matt Savoie: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Molly & Chris Schleicher: 1 | 2
Scott Smith: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Julia Vlassov & Drew Meekins: 1 | 2
Margaret Wang: 1
Paul Wylie: 1 | 2 | with Baiul | with Protopopovs
Misc: Empty seats | Misha Petkevich | Cast bows

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