Deseret News (Salt Lake City) SOI article

Published: Saturday, May 22, 2010 5:42 p.m. MDT

The 2010 Winter Olympics may be over, but there's still an opportunity to watch some of the world's most renowned figure skaters — live and all in one place.

Olympic and world figure skaters are joining together for this year's production of Smuckers Stars on Ice at the E Center. The national figure skating tour will bring a star-filled cast to Utah for one night in a collaborative — rather than a competitive — performance.

Several of the production's athletes took home medals from the 2010 Winter Olympics just months before joining the tour. Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, who emerged from retirement to claim a gold medal for China, will perform, as well as Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who skated off the ice with a silver medal for the United States.

"It's a completely different experience for us than competing at the Olympics," Davis said in an interview with White from Los Angeles.

"Our goal is to make sure the audience is having a good time. It's a very different feeling, but I enjoy both."

For their performances at the E Center, the two athletes won't be waiting to see their score after finishing their numbers together.

"It's been a great change of pace, and a break from skating in front of the judges," White said. "When you're competing, you're really focused on yourself, but with this show it's a group project we're doing. It's very important to be aware of everyone in the cast and also to be aware of the crowd."

After being decorated with silver medals at this year's Olympics, Davis and White decided to be a part of the tour rather than stepping out of the limelight for while.

"It's a great opportunity for us to join the cast," White said. "It's an honor to be invited, and we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity."

In describing the feel of this year's production, Davis said that it has a lot of energy, in addition to being a performance the whole family could watch and enjoy.

One of their performances together was inspired by a chance look inside a store, when their coach stumbled across an Indian scarf. Afterward, she told Davis and White about the idea of an Indian folk dance, the two athletes did research and decided the performance would fit them well.

"Participating in the show also helps keep our personality alive on the ice, which is really important," White said. "We've been learning so much from all the other skaters, too."

The show has brought together a slew of champion figure skaters, who work together rather than attempt to outdo one other in an intense competition like the Olympics.

"We're getting more and more into it, and the cast has more and more chemistry," Davis said.

The show also will include other prominent figure skaters including 2006 Olympic silver medalists and 2010 Olympians Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, two-time reigning U.S. national champion and 2010 Olympian Jeremy Abbott, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen; world champion and six-time national champion Todd Eldredge, two-time world bronze medalist and three-time national champion Michael Weiss, world champion and two-time Japanese Ladies Champion Yuka Sato, and 2009 U.S. national champion Alissa Czisny.

Each figure skater will add individual style to a diverse choreography created by Renee Roca. Agosto will combine the skills of ice skater and musician — playing the guitar while cutting across the ice. In a white, fluttering costume, Sasha Cohen will skate to the solemn tune of Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah." Other performances will include elements such as swing-style costumes and moves inspired by the Paso Doble.

The music for the production is just as diverse, and taps into a wide range of genres and artists such as Leona Lewis, Queen, Elton John and Claude Debussy —just to name a few.

The tour — founded and produced by Olympic medalist Scott Hamilton — has expanded since its beginnings in 1986. This year the cast will visit 40 cities and will end with a final performance in Portland, Ore.

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