Review: Ice Wars X
DEANNA AMORE , The Saratogian 11/15/2003
ALBANY -- It may not have been Salt Lake City, but there was excitement in the air at the Pepsi Arena Thursday night as a much-anticipated rematch took place between figure skating pairs champs Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze for the first time since the Olympic judging scandal in 2002.
This time, the skaters took to the ice for 'Ice Wars X: North America vs. The World.' The program, which featured other skating greats Brian Boitano, Kurt Browning and Nicole Bobek on the North American side and Victor Petrenko, Ilia Kulik and Oksana Baiul on the world side, will be aired on CBS Nov. 29.
The crowd, a mix of young and old, cheered, clapped, gasped and oooh'd and aahh'd at every jump, spin, stumble and fall. There was an intense energy that ran through the crowd.
You could feel those around you tensing up as the skaters prepared to perform their stunts.
It didn't matter if you didn't know the difference between a triple lutz and a triple toe loop, the show was quite a treat.
The program took place in two parts, with judges scoring each skater. At the end of each performance, the scores were read. At the end of the show, the scores were totaled and a winner was determined. (Beware, those of you who want to watch this on Nov. 29 to find out who won, there will be a spoiler at the end of this review.)
Browning took to the ice first, with a smooth performance that garnered good marks, but he was up against Petrenko, who was one of the fan favorites of the night. The crowd let the judges know they were displeased about the 9.5 and 9.6 marks given to Petrenko.
Next up was Boitano, who has competed in every Ice Wars event. He put on a private-eye/reporter persona for his performance. He tried to solve a murder mystery while jumping and spinning across the ice. Boitano continued this routine into Part II, complete with a desk and chair, typewriter and 'chalk' outline of a body on the ice. It was quite entertaining.
Another fan favorite was a very grown-up Baiul. She has come a long way since her Olympic skating days and the troubles that followed. She had a legion of fans who held up cards that spelled out 'We Love You Oksana Saratoga Springs.'
Clearly, though, the fan favorites were the Canadian pair Salé and Pelletier, who skated a beautiful program. They seemed to move together as one, flowing flawlessly from one move to another. At the end of their program, the crowd gave them a much-deserved standing ovation. Their infectious smiles made it hard not to love them. But when the judges gave their marks (six 9.8s and one 9.9), the crowd vigorously booed.
Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze, the Russian pair, skated a program that was in stark contrast to Salé and Pelletier's, but it was just as amazing. At one point, Berezhnaya did a split on Sikharulidze's back as he skated around the ice. The judges were impressed, issuing six 9.9s and one perfect 10. There were no French judges in the house.
After a brief intermission, the skaters took to the ice again. The contest was tight and points counted double in Part II. The match-ups were the same.
Browning's second program, a hip-swiveling, jazzed-up swing number, earned a standing ovation. He clearly was a favorite of the judges, getting plenty of perfect 10s.
Bobek, wearing the most beautiful outfit of the night, was no match for Baiul, who skated another smooth program. Boitano continued his private eye/reporter persona while Kulik, dressed in a button-down shirt, looked like he was heading off for just another day at the office. Their competition was a close one.
The pairs wrapped up the night. Salé and Pelletier, wearing matching outfits, moved together in an amazing display of unison. They once again got a standing ovation.
Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze's program was going fine until Berezhnaya took a spill. The crowd gasped, but she got right back up, almost without skipping a beat.
(WARNING: Spoiler coming up.)
In the end, even with the fall, the world team managed to edge out the North Americans by three-tenths of a point.
An added bonus was watching the young local skaters who came out to pick up the gifts that were tossed on to the ice for the skating stars.
In all, the skaters got high marks not only in the eyes of the judges, but also in the hearts of crowd.
'Ice Wars X: North America vs. The World' airs at 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29 locally on WRGB-TV Channel 6.
ŠThe Saratogian 2003