The Champions on Ice skating extravaganza is one of the most dazzling and beautiful athletic performances open to the public. Not only does the audience get to experience the sheer talent of the World Olympic Champion figure skaters, but the show also features exquisite costumes, music, lights, and special effects. Skaters like gold medalist Michelle Kwan, bronze medalist Sasha Cohen, Olympic medalists Irina Slutskaya, Time Goebel, Elvis Stojko, and many others hit the ice in a display of strength, skill, and grace.
Champions on Ice did not start out as the star-studded show that it is today. The tour started out in 1969 with only 15 shows and US Champion pair skaters JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelly, Russian Olympic Champions Ludmilla and Oleg Protopopov, and US Champions Tim wood and Janet Lynn. Their beginnings were humble and their crowds sparse. In 1972 Ice Capades hosted the event. By the third touring year, 1975, the show had nothing more than a shabby banner and mediocre recorder to play music off PA systems in ice rinks. Despite the challenges, champion skaters like Dorothy Hamill and John Curry joined the line-up. By 1980 the show had picked up a following and was being mentioned in the press. The success of skater Tom Collins pushed the tour to new heights.
By 1984 the show had more than doubled its number of performances as well as skaters. World Champion figure skaters were vying for the few spots left on the tour. The show went all over the United States and Canada to cheering crowds. Skaters from the 1984 Olympic Games were flooded with praise and admiration, not to mention flowers. The tour featured Scott Hamilton, Katarina Witt, Rosalynn Sumners, Tracey Wilson, and Rob McCall. Four years later the Champions on Ice were filling the seats in huge venues in every state. More than 15,000 tickets were sold for each performance. Tom Collins decided it was time to make Champions on Ice an annual event.
Over the years many more World and Olympic champions came and went, skating challenging routines in front of packed stadiums. Famous names like Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding, and Nicole Bobek. Michelle Kwan joined the tour in 1994, still young and fresh in her skating career. The popularity of the tour had increased so much that Collins decided to split the tour into separate seasonal events in order to please more audiences without endangering the skater's health. The summer tour now features Olympic eligible skaters and the winter tour is strictly for professionals. By 2002 the show was traveling to 85 different cities a year. A book, Champions on Ice: Twenty-Five Years of the World's Finest Figure Skating, has been published. The tour continues to pack stadiums and venues across the country. More and more skaters are joining as the company tours more and more venues every year.
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