Champion Families Take to the Ice
Huddled around the TV with our families, many of us watched in awe as champion figure skaters like Katia Gordeeva, Ilia Kulik, and Kristi Yamaguchi put on breathtaking performances at the Winter Olympics of the late 20th century. The skaters’ athleticism and artistic beauty made them magical to behold, and famous to households all over the world.
Ever wonder what former figuring skating champions are doing now? While many continue to perform and skate professionally, plenty of them are also doing what a good number of us are doing — raising kids and enjoying the fleeting time we have with our families.
On November 3, 2013, at the Musselman’s Apple Sauce Family Skating Tribute, hundreds of families gathered at Penn State University’s Pegula Ice Arena to watch close to a dozen champion skaters perform live with their spouses and kids. Country music legend and mom of seven Sara Evans performed a number of hits, including her latest release, “Slow Me Down.”
Be sure to watch the show air this Sunday, November 24, 2013, from 4 to 6 p.m. on NBC. Until then, enjoy these sneak peeks of what you’ll see.
Husband-wife duo and U.S. pairs champions Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman showed the crowd that even babies and toddlers can love ice skating and partake in their parents’ passion. During the first part of the show, Fontana and Zimmerman did what most parents do when they have a baby — they took turns holding Ava, their newborn daughter, as the other one skated. Big sister Sofia, meanwhile, age one-and-a-half, drew big cheers from the crowd when she kept her balance on ice.
Some families turned their skating renditions into fun, clever skits. Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie, performing with his wife and three young children, saluted the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia by acting out sports like bobsledding, skiing, curling, plus mom and dad’s favorites — figure skating and ice hockey.
Later, four-time world champion (and four-time Canadian champion) figure skater Kurt Browning pretended to dine in a restaurant with his wife, acclaimed ballet dancer Sonia Rodriguez, while their two sons, Dylan and Gabriel, played the part of the waiters.
Perhaps not surprisingly, a number of the kids and teenagers who skated alongside their parents are champion figure skaters in their own right. Gabriella Marvaldi, the 2012 U.S. juvenile pairs champion, had no trouble keeping up with her Olympian parents, Isabelle Brasseur and Rocky Marval. In a heartwarming mother-daughter duo, followed by a spectacular father-daughter duo, both Brasseur and Marval made it clear how proud they are of Marvaldi’s accomplishments.
Likewise, Liza Kulik, the daughter of Katia Gordeeva and Ilia Kulik, has skated competitively for years. The trio put on a fun, energetic performance in which Liza clearly held her own — even with her three-time Olympic gold medalist parents.
Instead of skating, Annie Mae Weiss, the daughter of three-time national figure skating champ Michael Weiss, sang her own song “Stay” to accompany her dad’s performance on ice. Though she had a tough act to follow (award-winning Sara Evans), Annie Mae hit every note, while her dad made it through every leap and bound. Check out Michael and Annie Mae’s performance on the Today Show as they promoted the the show.
Musselman’s Apple Sauce Family Skating Tribute featured several other not-to-miss performances by champion figure skaters and their families. Tune in to NBC this Sunday, November 24, 2013, from 4 to 6 p.m., and watch the whole show with your family.
Images courtesy of Brittany Evans and Disson Skating.