Champions On Ice Tickets for Sale

The Champions on Ice tour, which features some of the worlds most talented and recognized figure skaters, has added newly crowned U.S. men's champion Johnny Weir and ice dancing champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto to its lineup. U.S. bronze medalist Jennifer Kirk has also been added. This will her first full tour with Champions on Ice.

Weir left the crowd in Atlanta spellbound by his performance at the 2004 State Farm U.S. Championships last month. He effortlessly landed eight triple jumps to win his first U.S. medal on the senior level. Belbin and Agosto won their first U.S. title and dazzled the fans with their creative rendition to a medley of songs from "West Side Story" in their free dance.

The additions of such high talents as Weir and Belbin and Agosto increase the star studded power to an already electrifying cast. The tour also features Michelle Kwan, who captured her eighth U.S. title in Atlanta, as well as Sasha Cohen, a three-time U.S. silver medalist and one of the top stars in the international circuit this season. Kwan and Cohen are projected to be two of the top stars at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

Also skating in the tour are 2003 World champion Evgeny Plushenko, Olympic bronze medalist and 2003 World silver medalist Timothy Goebel, World silver medalists Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, as well as other champions from Olympic and World competitions including Victor Petrenko, Rudy Galindo and Philippe Candeloro. Other stars from the 2004 World Championships, which take place in Dortmund, Germany, in March, also will take to the ice with fresh new routines.

The Champions on Ice 2004 tour will visit cities from coast to coast and from border to border. And in true Champions on Ice tradition, all of the skaters will perform to original music and choreography of their choice. Selections help match famous names and faces with personality and style.

If you enjoy figure skating competitions, you will flip — maybe even do a triple Lutz — for John Hancock's Champions On Ice.

The 85-city Olympic Tour is now in its 24th season.

"This is very different because you can just let your hair down and be as wild or flamboyant as you want without having to worry about nine judges scoring you that night," said Rudy Galindo, the 1996 U.S. champion who is in his ninth season on tour. "It's great because you don't have to worry about your falls or how perfect you have to be. You don't have to be walking on eggshells all the time. You can just be yourself and have fun and interact with the audience."

The 2 1/2-hour show features 13 individuals and seven couples — 27 skaters in all — who have competed in the World Championships or the Olympics. All have won medals, and they come from around the world to participate in this tour.

Aside from the money the participants receive — remember, only amateurs can compete in Olympic skating — Galindo said most of the skaters enjoy being able to showcase their skills in an atmosphere that is more true to the art of ice skating than is a competition.

"You don't have to be as conservative," said Galindo, a Reno homeowner who also owns Sparky's Sports Bar & Grill with his family. "You can just have fun and be very playful out there. I'm really out there. I do a medley of the Village People. From ‘In the Navy' to ‘Macho Man' to ‘YMCA.'"

The show, which Galindo said features a tribute-to-America theme, begins and ends with choreographed numbers featuring many of the skaters. The middle and majority of the show belongs to the creativity of the individual skaters.

Each skater is encouraged to select music and choreography to match his or her personality and skating style. Each skater's set — also called a "cold spot" — lasts between three and four minutes.
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If that seems like a short time, consider the number of skaters and factor in the rigorous nature of ice skating. It may not be football, but it'll wear you down more quickly than a 300-pound linebacker.

"It's very aerobic," Galindo said. "You could do just a three-minute program and go out and you'll be dripping wet as if you'd done 30 minutes of cardio (exercises) on a high-pace level. It's very physical. If you did a 10- or 15-minute program, I don't think you'd survive."

The skaters' off-ice schedule is just as demanding. They must stay in shape while traveling from city to city for four months. Galindo said the traveling does get tiring, but it also has its benefits.

"It's fun to go to different cities and try to find the best sushi place," he said, laughing. "That's always exciting. The majority of everyone on this tour eats healthy, so they like their sushi, their raw fish. A lot of the younger skaters go shopping because they are new onto this scene. But the veterans have kind of cut back on that."

Galindo said the tour also allows the skaters to learn about each other in a non-competitive setting. And despite the language and cultural barriers, Galindo said, most of the skaters get along fine.

"Sometimes we'll go out to dinner together. That's always a nice icebreaker. Touring all these months together, you just kind of forget that you actually compete against them in the fall."

However, those competitive juices never go away. So expect to see some playful competition.

"Oh yeah, sometimes you'll see a skater perform in the show and they'll do something extra in a jump," Galindo said. "Then the next person will probably say, ‘I want to out-jump that.' So there is a lot of little competitive playfulness with some of the amateur skaters. But me, I just try to stay focused. I don't watch anybody at all."

Galindo said this year's cast is particularly talented and inspired.

"This always is a lot of fun," he said. "But this has been one of the best years. The skaters are incredible and with fireworks at the end and being that this is the Olympic year ... we've received standing ovations wherever we've gone."

For Galindo, who began on tour in 1989 as a couple with Kristi Yamaguchi, the tour allows him to stay in shape and practice the art he has loved for so long.

"You know, sometimes when the lights go on you don't feel like going out there," he admits. "But for some reason, when the spotlight hits you and the audience is cheering you on, you just feel really energized and really happy to be out there. It still feels great to perform in front of thousands of people."

And those fans range in age from toddlers to the eldest of elderly. All have an exciting time, Galindo said.

"This event is definitely a family show. But it's really a show for everybody young and old. You'll see some comedy and so many different kinds of acts. There are three or four that are just amazing. There's a hula hoop act, an acrobatic act where two guys do handstands and gymnastics on ice. That's great. That I love to watch. Then there's a guy dressed as a ‘South Park' character. And there are skaters who do sports skating and other fun things. It's a really fun show."