Pittsburgh Tribune-Review SOI article

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By Kellie B. Gormly

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If you were glued to the television during the figure skating competitions in February's Winter Olympic Games, you now have an opportunity to see gold medalist Evan Lysacek and many of his fellow ice champions skate live in Pittsburgh.

"Smucker's Stars on Ice" returns to Mellon Arena on Thursday with several current and former Olympic medalists -- including the 2010 silver medalist ice-dancing pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White -- as well as champions from other worldwide figure skating competitions. The skaters will perform both group and individual numbers filled with the acrobatic, artistic and graceful ice moves that define their sport, including midair jumps, spins and more.

Performing for adoring fans Smucker's Stars on Ice is very different from performing for a panel of critical, scrutinizing judges in competitions, although great skating always takes intense effort, say three of the skaters.

"It's a nice change for us," Davis says. "We like competing ... but just entertaining the audience is a lot of fun. There's still some pressure. We want to make sure the audience is having a good time, but there are no judges giving us the scores.

"To do what we do is to have to have some sort of perfectionism in our blood, and a lot of us are very critical of ourselves," Davis says. "That's how we get to where we are."

Her skating partner, Charlie White, agrees.

"It's so nice not to have the pressure of competition," he says. "But obviously, we do love that aspect of the sport; it's what we train for year-round."

Davis and White haven't had much down time between the Olympics and Stars on Ice. They also earned a silver medal at the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in March.

"It's hard to have anything sink in, because we haven't had any time at home to live our normal lives yet," she says. "We're keeping busy.

"It's a lot of fun," Davis says about the show. "It's a very high-energy show. We're really just hoping the audience gets really into that."

White and Davis are joining the cast of "Stars on Ice" for the first time.

"We were really excited to be invited to do it this year," White says. "It's such an amazing cast and such a storied history. It's a great honor to be a part of it. ... I think it's going to be a great time."

Mirai Nagasu, the 2008 U.S. Champion, is joining "Stars on Ice" for a month as a guest skater, also for her first time with the show. She will be skating to music from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean."

One interesting aspect of "Stars on Ice" is the lighting factor: a dark arena, lit only on the ice area, compared to a broad-daylight skate during competitions, she says.

"When it starts, it's kind of like skating with your eyes closed," Nagasu says. She came in second at this year's U.S. National Championships, and fourth at this year's Winter Olympics. "It's good practice for us to skate in the dark with the tour. ... It makes you ready for any kind of situation.

"It's kind of like dancing in the moonlight, but darker," she says.

Nagasu says she loves the more laid-back, fun, supportive environment of performing for fans, as opposed to judges.

"What I really like about it is even if you fall, the audience just cheers you on," she says. "You don't feel really down about yourself. They don't really care. They're there to have a good time."

Kellie B. Gormly can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.


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