Wednesday, December 22, 2010

E!'s Inside Look At Ice Skating

Back during the skating boom, E! took a look at skating during one of its transformative seasons.  The '98-99 season was the beginning of the death or pro skating once Dick Button sold Candid Productions.  While that was going on, Tara Lipinski left the world of amateur skating to join the cast of Stars On Ice.  The skating world anticipated that Kwan would emerge from Nagano as the Olympic Champion. It was not to be. IMG reacted by wooing Lipinski away from Champions On Ice by signing her to one of the most impressive contracts ever afforded for a rookie on the tour.  While the other skaters were originally encouraged by her energy for the first two seasons, it was the beginning of an acrimonious relationship that left the tour without a signature female star.

From the start, the SOI creative team sought to incorporate an incredibly broad age group of skating stars into group numbers.  While resorting to clowns is often a cringeworthy moment, it wound up being the best of the group numbers on that year's tour.  The opening and closing numbers were decided misses.  Tara's first year on the tour can be thought of as a clusterfuck.  Unsure of what to do with a teenage champion who looked twelve, her handlers packaged her an Olsen Twin wannabe.  It was an incredible regression for the Olympic Gold Medalist.

Sadly, Ilia Kulik's 'Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk' program was never televised aside from the clips included in this documentary.  Lord knows I've searched for it.

Following a record of junior success and an impressive senior debut at US Nationals, the Stieglers were the hope for the future of US Skating.  Tiffany's overabundance of charisma emerged over any of the creepiness of them skating to every ballet love story ever told.  Armed with their father's deep pockets, they had the best of everything money could buy.  If you're wondering where you've seen their choreographer before, Elena Tcherkasskaya ultimately went on to transform Angela Nikodinov into the stunning skater we choose to remember her as.   Tiffany and Johnny both suffered issues with growth spurts and numerous injuries.  He eventually lost interest and she wasted too many years attempting to find a suitable American pairs partner who was tall enough and good enough to skate with.  While she eventually became an impressive ice dancer, she remains one of the best skaters to never have found her niche.

Given that TV cameras were present, Roz Sumners readily appeared as a talking head.  My apologies in advance.  Not that she mentions that as a skater, "she could handle the beading."  Understatement of the century.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


  1. I remember that E! special!! I loved the Stieglers- well, just that one time I saw them... He really didn't even have any good double jumps, nevermind a triple. And she grew to ice dancer height pretty fast. But they sure did generate a lot of attention for never actually getting top 3 at Nationals.

  2. I'll never forget seeing the Steiglers perform at Champions on Ice. This was back in 1995 (Anaheim, CA show) when they were really, really young kids and before they had made a name for themselves. I guess they had been asked to perform as a one time thing. They were pretty impressive, doing such big tricks for such small fries. At the end of the show, we were in the parking lot and this tall, gorgeous, blond guy taps me on the shoulder. He whispers to my sister and me that standing over there are the kids that performed earlier, and could we go over and ask them for their autograph and compliment them on their performance to boost their confidence? We obliged him because he had asked so nicely. He had asked a bunch of other people in the parking lot too, so we went over to the Steiglers and told them how great they were. It wasn't until next year that I realized the blond guy was none other than John Zimmerman, who was paired up with Stephanie Stiegler. I thought he was so sweet to look out for the little ones.

  3. AW, cutest story :)