Skaters dazzle for the fun, art of it Filled Arena treated to Olympic stars

April 12, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

There were no judges, no medals and no bone-aching falls.

This was like skating video, pure and simple. There were Prince on the sound system and plumes on the ice. American champions skated to show tunes. A Chinese teen-ager performed triple jumps to the theme from "Ghost." And a Ukrainian rocked the house.

The 1992 Tour of World Figure Skating Champions rolled into the sold-out Baltimore Arena last night. As usual, the Tom Collins-produced show had equal parts of Broadway and MTV, with a -- of Olympic spirit thrown in.

So you get U.S. pairs champions Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marval interpreting James Brown, and American men's champion Paul Wylie running through "Miss Saigon," and Canadians Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler doing throws while Bryan Adams sings, "There Will Never Be Another Tonite."

Would you believe Viktor Petrenko of Ukraine skating to Frank Sinatra?

That's the beauty of this show, which provides skaters with a chance to experiment, and just have fun.

Jill Trenary, a three-time U.S. champion who missed this year with injuries, has reappeared during this tour. She adds a maturity that the sport of ladies' figure skating now often lacks. Who else could pull off "Making Whoopee" with the flip of a shoulder and a smile?

Tonya Harding, known for drag racing, and an up-by-the-bootstraps blue-collar career, showed off her softer side while skating to Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen."

But in the midst of the show biz and the surprises, there was some awfully good skating --from Lu Chen of China, who performed three triples, to Russian pairs gold medalists Natalia Mishkuteniok and Artur Dmitriev, who vividly demonstrated their artistic and technical brilliance.

As usual, Olympic bronze medalist Nancy Kerrigan was enchanting, demonstrating that perfect line, guts and beauty can go a long way.

Petrenko, the men's Olympic gold medalist, is easily the sport's most --ing star. And he displays his sense of humor, bumping, grinding and driving the crowd into a frenzy during "Let's Twist the Night Away.

The featured player, of course, was Olympic ladies' singles gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi. After a two-hour buildup featuring nearly every top skater in the sport, the 20-year-old from Fremont, Calif., took her star turn, giving a poised and polished presentation to "Pretty Woman" and "America, The Beautiful."

Make no mistake: Yamaguchi delivered, appearing flirtatious one moment and quite serious the next. She is headed for a long, lucrative performing career. The only question that remains is if Yamaguchi will continue skating in "amateur" competitions leading up to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

For now, she dodges all discussions about her future. This month and next, she is a skating gypsy, on the road, performing, smiling, receiving standing ovations.

Stardom never looked so good.

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