Magic and Skating: A Russian Ice Show

Part I

By Vera Alexandrova

Photos © NPLana

 

It was the 5th annual Ice Show dedicated to the “Day of the City” as we call it here in St. Petersburg - the day of the city’s foundation, May 27.

Like the previous years, this year’s shows gathered almost all Russian figure skating stars – the headliners were 2005 World Champions Irina Slutskaya, Tatiana Navka & Roman Kostomarov as well as many other renowned skaters. It was a great (and unfortunately a rare) chance to see on ice, Olympic Champions Elena Berezhnaya & Anton Sikharulidze and Alexei Urmanov, who have already left the amateur sport.
It was a much anticipated show, since it was announced that three times World Champion Evgeni Plushenko would appear on the ice, the first time since his injury and withdrawal from 2005 World Championship in Moscow. Plushenko, an absolute favourite of the St. Petersburg audience, and his coach Alexei Mishin had promised to choreograph two quite special programs especially for this event. They kept their promise and justified all the expectations.

Actually, this year there were two shows, on June 2nd and 3rd. As those were special events and not a part of a tour, there were no group entries, however the organizers tried to think of something that could make the skating show look more unusual. As a result, the show combined skating with magic tricks, although it was questionably if that was a good idea.

The June 2nd show was more 'official', with many VIP guests (including St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko and The President of Russian Figure Skating Federation Mr. Piseev) who delivered speeches and presented awards to skaters, live singers (Nikolai Baskov and Zara) and some entertaining entries, like Baskov trying to skate (with Irina Slutskaya’s help) and Plushenko learning to sing.


The June 3rd show was more like an exhibition gala, but of course some features (like the magic tricks) of the previous show remained.
Although it was the second show, the 14-thousand Ledovyj Dvorets was full. Most people were attracted by a wonderful opportunity to see all their favourites in one event.

The event started with a short laser show (skater’s silhouettes and images of the city) and a short opening when all skaters did a trick - pairs & dance a lift, men 3T, ladies a spin.

Evgeni Plushenko, arguably the main star of the show, stepped on ice with help of a crutch and Alexander Abt. Sasha quickly went away leaving Plushenko alone with his crutch in the middle of the rink.
A few seconds of walking with a crutch (seemed to be more difficult than without it) then a hip hop program. At the end he broke the crutch showing his recovery.

Next on ice was Varya Timofeeva, a young and obviously talented girl who skated to “Kalinka”, people welcomed her with very warm applause. The presenter talked of her as a future star of Russian figure skating and then announced Viktoria Borzenkova and Andrei Chuvilaev. They skated a smooth and gentle program with some interesting lifts and a triple throw.

The assistants brought forth a box and Vakhtang Murvanidze seemed to appear from it. He performed a spectacular breakdance program, entertaining and funny. Then he performed some magic tricks (rather silly and trivial), and in one, Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov assisted him.
Julia and Sergei performed “The Wedding March”, the same program as they had skated at the Worlds 2005 Exhibitions. It was very energetic and difficult as always.


The public welcomed the next skater with special enthusiasm. This was Alexander Abt. No matter that he had finished his eligible career with fewer titles than other participants of the show – people love him a lot. And this gorgeous guy really deserves it! He skated to a club dance styled program by Benassi Bros’ “Satisfaction” with great power and energy. He was definitely enjoying his skating, flirting with the very responsive audience. It was a pity that he didn’t appear in the second half.
The show continued with Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov skating to “Ty darila mne rozy” (“You gave me roses”) – the same program as at the Worlds 2005 Exhibitions. As always it included spectacular lifts, two triple throws and their trademark - the breathtaking headbanger.

Next on the ice were Tatiana Navka & Roman Kostomarov, two time World Champions, who presented a brand new program to the music of a South American ethnic flute piece. Exceptional choreography (every beat of music was used) was combined with perfect performance. It was definitely one of the highlights of the show.

Alexei Urmanov miraculously appeared with a red cape and sword. This time the trick was appropriate and it was the only one that worked really well. He skated his old routine “The Phantom of the Opera”. It was a very solid performance with three triples. He is obviously in good shape and his participation in the show brought much joy to all his numerous fans.

This year's World Champion Irina Slutskaya skated to “Oops, I did it again”
She was cheery and her performance was vivid and energetic, as well as difficult, with two triples and 3+2 combo and, of course, gorgeous Biellmann spins and spirals. However it seemed like the public was a bit disappointed that she hadn’t chosen her Worlds exhibition “Catwoman”.
Then the presenter announced Elena Berezhnaya & Anton Sikharulidze on to the ice. Their routine “If I could” was just what everyone expected - elegant, graceful and artistic - even a few minor mistakes didn’t spoil the truly magical impression. Their act was followed by a trick which unfortunately didn’t work well. Nevertheless, people easily forgave them this messy idea – they are appreciated as skaters and not as illusionists.
The first half was concluded by St. Petersburg's synchronized skating team “Paradies” who performed their “Matrix” routine. Maybe it could (and should) be better. Their act was dynamic but they obviously lacked synchronism.

 

Go to Part II







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