Stars on Ice, an ice show consisting of elite figure skaters performing solos and ensembles, started in the US in the 1980s. It came to Canada for the first time in 1990 and has since indulged a nation’s passion for a sport that combines unparalleled artistry and athleticism. By that time, I was already personally hooked on this icy sport, patiently tracing my figures and falling on jumps in a cold small-town rink.
So when Stars on Ice came to Calgary on Mother’s Day weekend this year, I found myself sitting in a darkened stadium, eagerly awaiting the entry of some of the world’s greatest skaters. I feigned nonchalance, but wasn’t very convincing, knowing that Kurt Browning was back after not skating with the tour last year. (Kurt joined Stars on Ice in 1992, so it was hard to picture the show without him!) I’ve seen many ice shows over the years, but few have given me as much joy as this year’s Stars on Ice tour. The Calgary stop consisted mostly of Canada’s own impressive skaters, with a talented Russian skater, Evgenia Medvedeva, joining the cast.
This year’s tour exploded onto the ice with the upbeat and infectious song Born This Way. Such a celebration of athleticism and entertainment gave me goosebumps and I didn’t know who to watch, as skaters displayed their skills on all sections of the ice. There’s nothing quite like seeing this level of talent during a live show, as the speed of the skaters and the heights to which they jump is so much more impressive than watching it on television. As the skaters moved into their individual routines, the mood remained upbeat and then segued into a thoughtful and touching second half. Young energy merged with polished, experienced showmanship.
The first half of the show was interspersed with short and genuinely funny Kurt Browning videos, culminating in an entertaining and light-hearted clown solo from Kurt. We laughed out loud and the crowd clearly loved this skating icon. Kurt’s solo in the second half went in a completely different direction, as he skated to Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind. It was mesmerizing and moving and only served to showcase his fantastic power as a consummate entertainer, nearly bringing tears to my eyes. The performance ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.
Besides seeing Kurt Browning, the show was filled with many highlights. We loved watching Elvis Stojko’s lightning footwork and the breathtaking lifts of Megan Duhamel and Eric Radford. One of my daughters had her eyes glued to Kaetlyn Osmond, hoping to see a flying camel spin (which she did) and my other daughter was thrilled to see Kurt Browning pull out his trademark backflip during a group number.
The group numbers were completely engaging, whether a few of the skaters were on the ice together, or the whole ensemble was executing a well-choreographed number. We loved the retro music video theme during the first half of the show with playful performances to the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. (Perhaps I’m showing my age?!) The show ended with a rousing rendition of Let’s Get Loud and I regretted its ending even before the last note died away and the standing ovation finished. My girls bubbled over with their favourite moments as we left. I loved them all.
With another Stars on Ice show coming to a spell-binding conclusion, I just wanted to watch it all again. It was enchanting and inspiring. Now, with the echoes of Stars on Ice playing in my head, I can’t wait to grab my own figure skates and head to the local rink. Even more than the skill, determination, and hard work the Stars on Ice skaters demonstrate, I’m most inspired by the love of the sport and sheer joy they bring to the ice. We love you, Stars on Ice!
Stars on Ice is returning in 2020 for another spectacular tour. The schedule will be announced later in 2019.