Meissner to appear in Christmas Day special

Bel Air native worked with a "hall of fame" of skaters to celebrate the season

December 22, 2010|By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun

Figure skater Kimmie Meissner, the 2006 world champion and 2007 national champion from Bel Air, will be performing Christmas day in an NBC special, "A Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating."

The program highlights 60 years of skating and includes appearances by Olympic gold medalists Dick Button, Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi, Brian Boitano, Evan Lysacek, Sarah Hughes and Tenley Albright. The show was taped on Dec. 11 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

"It was amazing. It was groundbreaking having them all together," Meissner said of the show, which will air at 4 p.m. "I was so honored to be included. It was like being back when I was 15 and being in awe of everybody."

Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic winner, said during the taping that the show reminds the public of the rich history of U.S. skating and thanks athletes such as Button and Albright for setting a high standard.

"Anything we do today is worthless unless we appreciate where it came from," said Hamilton, who was world and national champion four times.

Meissner skated to "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World," a song made famous by James Brown and performed at the 2007 Grammy Awards by Christina Aguilera.

"It was a lot different than what I usually skate to. It was kind of bluesy," she said. "This one I really had to think about."

She also opened the finale, an ensemble performance featuring Lysacek and skated to "America the Beautiful."

Meissner, 21, hasn't skated in competition since 2009, when a severe knee injury forced her to the sidelines.

But the University of Delaware sophomore skates almost every day at Ice World in Abingdon and trains with coach Chris Conte. And she has remained active in ice shows and charity fund raisers, such as the Baltimore-based "Cool Kids" campaign that aids young cancer patients and their families.

Meissner won the U.S. novice and juniors titles before catapulting to prominence in 2005 by taking the bronze medal at the U.S. Championships and becoming only the second American woman to land a triple axel in competition. A year later, she finished second at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team — its youngest member.

Returning from Turin, where she finished sixth, Meissner stunned the field by landing seven triple jumps and winning the world championships. The following year, she completed her set of national championship medals with the gold.

Meissner said the NBC show was a great opportunity to catch up with her heroes and former competitors.

"When you're at a competition, you're so focused and you don't really have a chance to talk. Like I hadn't seen Evan since he won the gold medal in February," she said.

She sat at dinner with Albright, the 1956 gold medalist and two-time world champion, hung out with Yamaguchi, the 1992 Olympic winner ("I've looked up to her forever") and watched Ice Follies and Ice Capades legend Richard Dwyer, now in his 70s, "doing axels left and right."

"It was a hall of fame," Meissner said. "I didn't want it to end."

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