Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gold medalist Lysacek tops SV Ice Show card

11-show summer season debuts Saturday


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

Michiganís Dan Hollander, 38, the 1996-97 U.S. bronze medalist and 11-year pro, has provided a wonderful comedic touch for many years as an ensemble performer in the Sun Valley Ice Show. Heíll be showing his stuff at the weekly ice shows this summer.

Many of the skating stars at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., Canada during February are on their way to Idaho for appearances in the 2010 Sun Valley Ice Show. It debuts Saturday, June 26 at Sun Valley Skating Center.

Biggest star in Sun Valley's summer galaxy is American Evan Lysacek. His brilliant long program lifted Lysacek past Russia's short program winner Yvgeni Plushenko for the gold in men's figure skating at Vancouver in February.

Lysacek became the first American to win the Olympic title in men's singles since Brian Boitano in 1988, and the first reigning world champion to prevail in the Olympics in 26 years (Scott Hamilton in 1984).

Also coming to Sun Valley are reigning Olympic and World Championship ice dancing silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White. At Vancouver the Americans placed second just behind ice dance gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

It's the 74th annual Sun Valley Ice Show, centerpiece of the resort's 74th Summer Skating School. Many of the school's highly trained skating coaches are veteran performers in the ice show—like returning coaches Gia Guddat, Frank Sweiding, Anita Hartshorn and Andrzej Dostatni.

The Sun Valley Ice Show is offering America's best in 2010, said ice show producer and Sun Valley Director of Recreation Lana Breazeale. The summer also includes a Canadian performer who pulled at the heartstrings of Olympic fans in February—Joannie Rochette.

Most of the top U.S. men are back on the schedule, starting with Lysacek and including Jeremy Abbott, Ryan Bradley and Johnny Weir.

Reigning U.S. women's champion Rachael Flatt will headline the July 3 show. Two-time U.S. women's champion Alissa Czisny is back. So are 2006 Olympic ice dancing silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, an appealing pair.

Well-known Sun Valley performers Boitano and Ukraine's Viktor Petrenko are returning as well. And 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen is headlining twice, the first time at the July 31 show and also in the Labor Day finale Sept. 4.

Each Sun Valley Ice Show from this weekend through Sept. 4 lasts about 75 minutes. Headliners make their entrances for a few numbers, but the show's full-time summer ensemble does most of the entertaining over the summer.

Breazeale is grateful to have a fine ensemble that includes newcomer Wolfgang Bientzle, eight-time world champion German wheel acrobat.

The Russian pairs team of Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko, 1999 and 2000 world professional champions, is back for the summer. So are globetrotting Sweiding and Hartshorn, the U.S. Open and world pro pairs skating champs who are some of the hardest-working performers.

Michigan's Dan Hollander, 38, the 1996-97 U.S. bronze medalist and 10-year pro, is back to offer his unique and wonderful comedic touch.

Familiar faces include Olympic bronze medalist Jozef "Jumpin' Joe" Sabovcik plus Darlin Baker, Ashley Clark and Craig Heath.

Olympic bronze medalist and two-time European champion (1985-86) Sabovcik, 46, is from the Czech Republic. He was third in the 1984 Olympics behind Scott Hamilton and Brian Orser. Known for his long-flowing blond hair and skating to rock music, Sabovcik has performed in the ice show longer than anyone.

Clark, from Denver, has 11 years of experience as a professional skater all over the world and is a two-time USFSA gold medalist in Freestyle and Moves in the Field. Like Baker, she teaches at Sun Valley.

Baker is a longtime Sun Valley Ice Show regular who has performed with The Ice Theater of New York.

Known for his crowd-pleasing spins and engaging personality, Heath, 42, was the last U.S. senior championship skater to win compulsory figures, in 1991. He completed 10 double axels in a row for performances of Disney's "Toy Story on Ice." Heath twice won professional bronze medals. He teaches spins, jumps and tricks at Sun Valley in the summer.

Ticket prices, dinner buffet

Sun Valley Resort will once again offer a traditional dinner buffet after a one-year experiment with a less expensive dessert buffet.

This summer, it will cost $98 for the dinner buffet and show. All tickets will be priced $5 higher for one show and one show only, July 3.

For the show only, this year's bleacher reserved seat prices range from $32 to $58 per person. Cost for the Sun Room Terrace (for the show only) is $62 per person.

Non-refundable tickets are now on sale at the Sun Valley Recreation Office, 622-2135. Tickets may be purchased online at seats.sunvalley.com. All seating is reserved and advance reservations are recommended. You can also buy tickets at the gate before the shows.

Day care at the Sun Valley Playschool during ice shows is available by advance reservation at 622-2288.

This year's headliners

Here is a list of 2010 Sun Valley Ice Show headliners. All shows are on Saturday evenings starting at dusk. There will be fireworks after the July 3 performance. In all, there are 11 shows on the schedule:

June 26—Kimberly Navarro, 29, and Brent Bommentre, 26, the 2008-09 U.S. ice dancing bronze medalists. Navarro hails from Santa Rosa, Ca. and Bommentre from Pennsylvania. Having placed fourth in the 2010 American championships and 14th at worlds, they are members of the summer ensemble for the first time.

July 3—Sun Valley's Independence Day show will feature Rachael Flatt, 17, the recent graduate of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, Colo. Flatt won the 2008 World Junior title, placed second in the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Senior national finals and captured this year's American national crown at Spokane, Wash. Jan. 14-24.

Flatt finished seventh in the 2010 Olympic ladies figure skating competition—the second-ranked American. She was ninth in the 2010 World Championships at Torino, Italy March 22-28. The 5-2 native of Del Mar, Ca. is a spokesperson for "Reading is Fundamental."

Joining Flatt at the Fourth of July show will be Nathan Chen, 10, of Salt Lake City, Utah, who is the youngest U.S. Figure Skating competitor. He is 2010 U.S. Novice gold medalist.

July 10—Jeremy Abbott, 25, was the 2009 U.S. men's champion who repeated his title at Spokane in January. A native of Aspen, Colo., Abbott won both the short program and free skate at Cleveland in the 2009 national finals and placed 11th at worlds in Los Angeles. This year, he was ninth at the Olympics, the third American, and fifth in the worlds.

A singles skater for 10 years after also competing in pairs and ice dancing, 5-9 Abbott moved his training site from Colorado Springs to Detroit and is coached by 1994 world women's champion Yuka Sato. Like Flatt, he graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School, in 2004.

Abbott's short program music features Jeff Beck's "A Day in the Life." In April, he was ranked second in the world by the International Skating Union. Abbott performs in "Stars on Ice" during the off-season.

Young Nathan Chen will join Abbott for the July 10 show, as well.

July 17—Returning to Sun Valley ice is three-time European men's champion Viktor Petrenko, 41, the native of Odessa, Ukraine who was a three-time Olympian. In 1992, Petrenko while skating for the Unified team became the first-ever Olympic men's singles gold medalist out of the Soviet Union. He won the world championship in 1992 after taking the world silvers in 1990-91.

Fourth in the 1994 Olympics, Petrenko became a sought-after coach who guided Johnny Weir and Oksana Baiul, among others. He spent a record 20 years skating professionally for the U.S. company of Champions on Ice. Since his heyday, he's been a frequent Idaho visitor and Sun Valley Ice Show headliner.

July 24—Vancouver Olympic stars Joannie Rochette and Johnny Weir headline this show.

Rochette, 24, from Montreal, was the six-time Canadian women's national queen whose mother Therese died of a heart attack in Vancouver shortly after arriving at the Olympics to watch her daughter compete. Joannie skated with a heavy heart and won the Olympic bronze. The 2009 world silver medalist was given the honor of being the Canadian flag bearer for the closing ceremony.

Weir, 26, is the flamboyant 2008 world bronze medalist and three-time U.S. men's champion (2004-06) from Pennsylvania. After developing a fierce rivalry for U.S. men's skating supremacy with Lysacek since 2004, Weir faded a bit this season—finishing third at nationals and sixth in the Winter Olympic Games.

July 31—Sasha Cohen, 25, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist from Westwood, Ca. who won the 2006 world bronze medal. A two-time Olympian for the U.S., Cohen was a two-time world silver medalist in 2004-05 and a two-time Skate Canada gold medalist. She wrote her autobiography, "Fire on Ice," in 2005 and has toured with Stars On Ice.

Before coming to Sun Valley, the 2006 U.S. women's queen plans to join 2010 Olympic ladies champion Kim Yu-Na in a July 23-25 ice show at Goyang, South Korea alongside skaters like Michelle Kwan and Stephane Lambiel. It's been an eventful year for Cohen, who did not compete from 2007-09 and finished fourth in this year's national finals.

Aug. 7—Very popular at Sun Valley are five-time U.S. ice dancing champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the 2006 Olympic silver medalists. Ontario native Belbin, 25, and her Chicago-born partner Agosto, 28, won the world bronze medal in 2007 at Tokyo and were second in this year's nationals.

Headlining along with Belbin and Agosto is Alissa Czisny, 23.

A Bowling Green State University grad, the 5-4 Czisny won her first-ever U.S. title in her eighth attempt at Cleveland, Ohio in January 2009. She is a two-time U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating queen. Czisny settled for 10th place in the 2010 U.S. Nationals on the Spokane ice.

Czisny, known for fast spins and graceful spirals, prefers classical music and has worked as a model. She trains with the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Aug. 14—The big show features Lysacek, 25, from Chicago, who in 2009 become the first U.S. world champ since Todd Eldredge in 1996.

Competing at the Los Angeles worlds with a stress fracture in his left foot in March 2009, Lysacek won the free skate and placed second in the short program. The 2007-08 U.S. men's king, he is currently ranked #1 in the world by the ISU. Lysacek was fourth in the Torino Olympics in 2006 and went all the way to gold at Vancouver in 2010.

Quite different in his personality compared to rival Johnny Weir, Lysacek is coached by Frank Carroll and tours with Stars on Ice. Of Italian and Czech descent, Lysacek has become more well known since his Olympic gold by appearing as a "Dancing with the Stars" contestant on television. He was the silver medalist in this year's nationals.

Aug. 21—Meryl Davis, 23, and Charlie White, 22, currently the longest-running ice dance partnership in the U.S. They are reigning U.S. ice dancing champions, indeed, they also won the title in 2009.

Davis and White led the Americans with silver medals in both the 2010 Winter Olympics and this year's world championships.

Both Davis and White are from Royal Oak, Mich. They attended the University of Michigan. Having teamed up in 1997, they won the U.S. National Junior title in 2006 and climbed all the way up to fourth place in the 2009 World Championships.

Joining Davis and White is Missouri-born Ryan Bradley, 26, known for his backflips and triple axels. Bradley, the 2007 U.S. silver medalist who trains in Colorado Springs, was fourth in the 2009 U.S. Nationals and fourth this year as well. Bradley finished 18th in the world championships at Torino late in March.

Aug. 28—Brian Boitano, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion in men's singles in 1986 and 1988. The first American to land a triple axel, the 46-year-old Boitano is a World Figure Skating Hall of Famer and still one of the top show performers. He is a three-time Olympian and four-time U.S. king.

Sept. 4—Sasha Cohen.




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