“Whoa,” my big sister Krissy muttered as Sasha Cohen lifted her leg into its natural position, slightly past 180 degrees.
I watched closely to gauge Krissy’s reaction. At this point I had decided I had no proper compass for appropriately reacting to the phenomenon that is Smucker’s Stars on Ice, which we saw at the Xcel Energy Center on March 13. It’s like American Idol—campy, oddly entrancing, and based on a talent that I have no clue how to professionally analyze. While I did have a short stint on a synchronized skating team (unfortunately named “Team Expression”), I was less than passionate about ice skating and frankly, I sucked at it.
My sisters, on the other hand, were hardcore ice skaters, both of them even becoming speed skating captains in high school. In 1994, they dressed up as Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan and went trick-or-treating together with a sign around Jenny’s (Nancy’s) neck that said, “Why me?” To them, skaters truly are stars, and that’s how we wound up at Smucker’s Stars on Ice in the first place.
I decided to review the show according to Krissy’s reaction instead of my own when Kurt Browning began a routine that featured a voiceover of his “thoughts” while skating. “I like hats!” he said as he put a hat on his head on ice. I couldn’t decide if the whole thing was kind of meta, like, “Do you ever wonder what’s going through their heads while they skate? Here it is!” or if I just wanted him to shut up and keep gliding along. But Krissy was laughing. Krissy dug it, I think, and she is more the proper demographic for this kind of thing.
“What didn’t Krissy like?” you might ask. Good question. For one, she thought that the screens that accompanied the show were just too literal. “Does it physically have to show an animation of a star, bouncing around on ice? We get it, Smucker’s.”
The one moment when Krissy really sat back and seemed to say, “Really, Stars on Ice? Is that for real?” was when a set of pair skaters engaged in a very sexually-charged routine set to “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. The climax involved taking a purple scarf and playing what can only be called “romantic peekaboo” in a very solemn way. Krissy and her husband Matt looked at one other like, “WTF?” and then later mockingly reenacted the whole thing.
“Evan Lysacek [whose name my iPad changed to “Lice Check”] is like a long-legged spider on ice,” she told me in the car as I was furiously taking notes on the way home. “Write that I said that.” So, she also thought that.
All in all, I think Krissy found Smucker’s Stars on Ice to exceed her expectations. She whooped. She cheered. She looked past the soundtrack that made it feel even more like watching American Idol. When a voiceover reassured the crowd that we were “simply the best” and then the skaters broke into a finale routine to that very song, I said, “Krissy, will we ever be world champions?”
“Yes,” she responded. After thinking about it for a second, she leaned over and added, “World champion nose pickers!”
NOTE: I could also have chosen to write this review according to the reactions of my boyfriend or my 3-year-old niece. Here is a short preview of what each would look like:
BOYFRIEND: Wow, that really made ice skating seem not gay.
3-YEAR-OLD NIECE: This is too loud!
Photo by Paul Harvath, courtesy Smucker’s Stars on Ice