The things the audience missed – a backstage look at the Antwerp SOI shows

Part III: Saturday & Sunday

by Mireille Geurts & Titia Tolsma & the rest of the "AS Antwerp Crew"

Photos © Absolute Skating


On Saturday there would be another practice, and then the dress rehearsal in the afternoon. Before we went inside the arena we met up with Joyce at the backstage entrance. Finally our ‘crew gang’ was complete. This day we had arranged for a little office backstage, so we could store some of our stuff there, charge camera batteries when needed and have a place to talk to the skaters!


The practice before the dress rehearsal didn't behold much; some skaters wanted to practice their moves again, "Treat me like a lady" got another runthrough and there was some time for the Belgian program"Sporza" to interview some of the people involved.

Igor Takacs (vice- president IMG)


The dress rehearsal started a little late, but besides the change in order for Ekaterina’s programs, it went quite well. The group numbers looked pretty cool, although some things were a bit shaky and we were hoping the skaters would be a little more synchronized during the show. The individual numbers look great with the right costumes, light and music! Even the dreaded “bee-sweaters” looked good! Kevin almost tripped over his own feet, but it was wonderful to see how all his jumps are coming together, including the quad.

The announcers tested the microphones, their places on the small stand and their introductions. We don’t know who supplied them with information, but when Margarita and Povilas were up, Sabine said “Pierre, I only know the names of this next couple, so if you have something else, please say it!”
Ilia had a bit of trouble during “Too darn hot” as his hat kept falling off. And speaking of head gears… Kevin wore the red bandana during his “Pirates” number, and all the little rhinestones seemed to stay on.
We truly had a great time watching it all. But it wasn’t just a rehearsal for the skaters, light & music people and the announcers, but for us too. Finding the right timing for pictures is of the essence, and during rehearsal at least you’re sure no people are sitting in front of you. Joyce and Emjo took full advantage of this.

After the dress rehearsal Katie came on the ice with Brian, again to practice some of the steps. What dedication!

We had some time left between the dress rehearsal and the show, so we went backstage to our office to arrange some things, which turned out to be quite a lot. So much actually, that most of us had to skip dinner in order to be in time for the show. We also talked to many people, so we advice you to keep an eye on AS in the next few weeks...
A funny detail was that Katie and Garrett often came to warm up right outside our office. So while conducting an interview, we didn’t close the door properly and suddenly we saw some legs crawling by. Try then to keep a straight face and seriously continue the interview!
Some security guys handed us a bag with some presents for Kevin and Ilia with the words “Can you arrange that they get this?” Before we could even respond they were gone. So people who dropped off these presents, thank Titia for the excellent delivery!

Some of the winners of the AS-PSOIgame were also in Antwerp and collected their prizes.


And then it was showtime!!!

For a complete review of the show, descriptions of every program and Joyces opinion on them, completed with pictures of every skater go here!


Mireille: "After watching so much of the practice sessions, I was actually a little nervous right before the show started. But that was absolutely not necessary; the group programs went perfectly fine! I am amazed that in just a few hours time, steps can become so synchronized! I was also surprised at how well the audience response was on both days; although on Saturday it seemed a bit more enthusiastic. You watch a show differently when having seen the practice, you know which parts were hard, so in a way you feel more involved. It was an awesome show; every program had its own merits. The only thing I felt was really not ok, was that on Sunday, Brian actually had to shout to the light people to turn the spotlights off when Kevin did his quad. They should have known that anyway! But the atmosphere was awesome, and the rest was very well arranged. The programs were mixed, beautiful and fun, so praise to the organization and skaters for an excellent show!"

"It had been a while since I was able to attend a major skating event, and these shows well made up for it. The huge gap between the ice and the stands was annoying, but the cast was awesome and such a friendly bunch of people!
Brian Orser
is an excellent choreographer, but I was very happy he skated in the show as well. He only got one cold spot though; I think he deserved two…
Overall, things seemed to go smoother this year, and several skaters confirmed that was the case. For AS this event rocked, as you will all soon see."

"My expectations were higher this year than last, AND they were fullfilled (I was especially happy to know that Susanna P and Eman were in the show .).
Since I have no favorite "skating style", I liked the mixture of different styles/types the skaters presented. The group numbers always turn out great (some skaters were unnecessary worried) I only wish the first row was indeed first row and not seventh. That’s my only complaint."

"Before I went to Antwerp I had different expectations of this year's show. The cast was a bit smaller than last year so I was wondering how the organization would fill in the ‘gaps’.
On the other hand, the cast was filled with big headliners, such as Emanuel Sandhu, Ilia Kulik, Kevin van der Perren and Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov. During the practices I saw the group numbers were quite long and very well choreographed. Also, every skater would skate two numbers so I wasn’t concerned about ‘filling in’ the show.


And during the show I was all excited and enthusiastic! Everybody skated the best they could. Lovely, elegant numbers, sparkling eyes and happy faces, it was all there on the ice! The skaters enjoyed it all and so did the audience. After the Sunday-show I wished it never ended and when I was back home, I downloaded most of the music to re-live it all over and over again!"


Right after the Sunday show, we (the crew, members and even family) gathered at the main entrance. Titia collected Franciska, the lucky winner of the meet and greet with Emanuel, and escorted them backstage.

She introduced then them to Emanuel and they started chatting right away, asking each other questions. Meanwhile Titia took some lovely pictures of the whole happening and Emanuel signed the picture of himself Franciska had brought. The meet and greet lasted approximately 15 minutes, then Titia directed them outside again.

Franciska: “ Yes, the meet and greet… It was amazing to meet Emanuel in real life. He is such a sweetheart! After waiting in the cold backstage with the other girls, Titia, my sister and I were invited to shake Emanuel’s hand and have a little talk.

First, of course, we took pictures to remember the meeting and we started chatting about everything, like his birthday, The Netherlands (Emanuel had only been to Schiphol and we found it a good idea that he would also visit other parts of the Netherlands) and about his performance in the show.
We congratulated him on winning the Cup of China, and he kindly reminded me that he also won Skate Canada ;) He was very chatty, sweet and talking to him was lots of fun!
Emanuel was so nice to sign the picture I took with me, the one where he is blowing kisses after the Cup of China. He adored the picture and found it so cute!

Before we left we got a big hug from him and hoped to meet again soon at another skating event. It was such a great experience! I am very thankful to the IMG and AS who made the meet and greet possible.”

And this concludes our behind the scenes story. We went back to the hotel and had a real dinner, the first hot meal in days, and spent quite some time chatting. Some of us had to leave on Sunday evening and some on Monday, but all of us left with only one wish in our hearts: to come back again next year!

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