Here’s another one of my quirks: I’m absolutely nuts over ice skating! Watching it, not doing it. Trust me. When I was little, it was all about the girls in beautiful costumes…and the funny guys. Now, it’s all about the guys, funny and otherwise. And actually, still about great skating in beautiful costumes.
Every year, I look forward to the Champions On Ice tour coming to Southern California, and even travel to the Anaheim Pond to see them, when that’s the only available venue. But this year, we’re lucky enough to have them at our very own Staples Center.
This having been an Olympic year, the show is jam-packed with true stars of the sport. They even have SoCal’s own Michelle Kwan! That is so special because we didn’t get the joy of watching her compete in the Olympics, due to injury. But now she’s back healthy and skating just as magically as ever. (And I know--I’ve already seen the show in NY in April, when it was just starting out.)
I always regret that I never got to review her parents’ Chinese restaurant in the South Bay, back in the day. It was open during the period that my friends thought anyplace outside of Beverly Hills was a day trip! I’ve since broadened my horizons. (And my circle of friends!)
Having been fascinated with ice skating for so long, I could only dream that I’d get to meet ANY skater one day. Well, here’s my quick journey to having that actually happen.
One day, years ago, I got a surprise phone call from a fan of my show--Angie Dickinson! I couldn’t believe it! I thought it was a joke. Well, I’m proud to say that we subsequently became friends, and found out we had a lot in common. (And isn’t Mr. X happy.)
One of our shared passions turned out to be skating! And she, being the fabulous female that she is, was friends with Tom Collins, the genius behind Champions. Angie started inviting me to their shows, and over the years, I became pals with the tantalizing triumvirate of Michael, Marty, and Munch Collins, Tommy’s sons who all work on the show. (What a sense of pride it must be for him to have all 3 sons happily work with him, and do it brilliantly, I might add.)
So now, I actually meet them at different venues around the country because one time at Champions On Ice isn’t enough for me. And this year, I may actually go for 3!
Subsequently, I’ve met various skaters who have performed in the show, my 2 favorite being Phillippe Candeloro, (the one I always wanted to be friends with, and now I am!) and the most-stunning Peter Tchernyshev, the best ice-dancer who ever skated, in my opinion. They’re, unfortunately not on the tour this time out, but the cast has never been less than spectacular. This year is no different.
We get to see the exquisite Olympic Champion, Shizuka Arakawa and the young American, Kimmie Meisner, current World Champion, as well as Evgeni Plushenko, champion of EVERYTHING!
Thank goodness, for me, that the super-sexy Frenchman, Gwendal Peizerat, former Olympic gold medallist in dance with his partner Marina Anissina, is on this tour because I think he’s the only one of my fake crushes in the show this time. (One lap around the ice and you girls will know what I’m talking about.)
The only bad thing about him is that a few years ago, he asked me a question and I answered in French (always looking for that edge) and he asked me what language I was speaking! Seriously.
One of the highlights of the show, especially for people in this area, is U.S. National Champion, Sasha Cohen, who was born right here in Westwood. Her skating is truly the most gorgeous of all time. She seems to have mellowed over the years, too, and has become an athlete I root for. (This Thursday, Aug.10, you can hear me talk with Sasha live, as she’s limo-ing it to Dodger Stadium, to throw out the first ball. We’ll be on Sports Corner, hosted by Fred Wallin and Chuck Hayes, on www.CRNI.net Digital Talk Radio at 5PM.)
So, anyway, I guess you know I’ll be attending Champions On Ice this week-end. I’ll report on the backstage goings-on in next week’s column. But in only English.
Champions On Ice www.championsonice.com
Staples Center August 12
Arrowhead Pond Of Anaheim August 13