Photo by Mark Walentiny


Champions On Ice - Raleigh, NC - January 26, 2001

Since North Carolina is my home state (Charlotte), and the COI Winter Tour seems to spend quite a bit of time in the Southeast, I've had the opportunity to see the Winter Tour 2-3 times each season. This year is no exception, though the Florence, SC, stop was canceled before the Tour began, so I get just two stops, one of which is the last one on the tour in Greenville, SC, on Feb. 9.

Last season, it was in North Carolina that Rudy became so ill he had to leave the tour. Although he wasn't able to do much in practice in Charlotte at that time, he skated quite well in the evening show, and was still able to be charming to all of us backstage, so I was encouraged.

The next day in Raleigh was a nightmare. He could barely skate halfway around the arena without stopping and leaning on the boards. In the evening, he came out to do his energetic Prince number, then had to wave and leave the ice about 40 seconds into it. (This didn't happen in Kansas as was reported in People, but poor Rudy probably didn't know where he was, he was so ill.

Raleigh this year was an opportunity to vanquish the demons, and Rudy certainly did. I was able to watch practice for over an hour, and he was on the ice all the time. It's hard to describe Rudy's skating this year. Never having seen him skate in person as an amateur, I don't know if it's different from his peak competitive shape, or if he really is in the best condition of his life. His body control is superb, whether in jump take-offs or landings or his movement on the ice--spirals, his Charlotte, a variety of spins, etc. He's quiet, fast, and his positions are correct, finished, and elegant. The whole picture is of beauty and effortlessness.

He worked on the Fosse and on the Prince number from last year, as well on anything Nicole played. They were such fun to watch. She also looks as slim and fit as I've ever seen her--fabulous. I'd love to see Nicole and Rudy let loose in something of their own creation. Wow! Victor Petrenko skated unobtrusively while Rudy and Nicole did their more noticeable things. Surya came out and skated the last part of the session. No one works as hard as she does.

The actual show was as enjoyable as ever. Each skater had a solo bit in the introduction, most to contemporary songs I've heard but don't know names. Philippe Candeloro wasn't there (home publicizing his own tour in Europe, I heard). Although I didn't particularly miss his skating, I did miss his energy. The only other disappointment was that Leonova and Kvalkho were not on the latter part of the tour, so not in Raleigh.

This is a large basketball style arena, and it was all but maybe 10% filled with a great audience. There were ticket applications for SUMMER TOUR 2002 on the seats!!! The Olympic tour!

Act I

Nicole led off with her Cabaret program featuring "Money" and "Mein Herr" and was pretty much on with her jumps, spins, and skating. I'm certain she did a 3T and a couple of double axels. There may have been more. She is such a treat to watch.

Dan Hollander was next with the Elmer Fudd routine. The younger kids love this. I was fascinated with the costume that allowed for switching from his hunter's hat and jacket to rabbit ears and a tail several times during the program. It had to be exhausting! He wasn't terribly secure with the jumps and may have done one 3T, but seemed well off his form as an amateur. I guess that's not what he's there for.

I won't say that Punsalan and Swallow's Dido and Aeneas number is my favorite since I loved their "Umbrellas of Cherborg" and the tango program, too, but it's one of their best. This is a difficult, but rich and full program choreographically, and they perform it exceptionally well. It was one of the high points of the show for me.

Nancy Kerrigan looks fit and seems to be skating quite well, although she doubled and singled some jumps in her Spiderwoman number. Nice form-fitting costume she wears well.

Victor Petrenko's "Love Me Tender"/"Jailhouse Rock" Elvis medley done in ill-fitting striped prisoner's issue isn't one of my favorites of his (and I loved last year's "Mambo #5" with partner). But he is known and loved by the audiences.

Dorothy Hamill did her slow number here--don't know if it was the Janis Ian or not, but the phrase "Sweet Rose of Summer" kept cropping up. It was lovely and pure Dorothy.

Katarina Witt was next with "Fever." I was curious about Dorothy and Katarina going back to back. Maybe with Philippe in the first act to liven things up, it would work better. There isn't a better double axel anywhere than Katarina's and she can definitely cover the ice as well as some of the men.

As of this point, only Dan Hollander and Victor Petrenko have livened up the proceedings, and even I was ready for something stirring.

Out came Brian Boitano to do "Non Nobis Domine" and his speed and 'Tano 3Lutz certainly did that. The man can fill an arena. I'm glad he's experimenting with new styles and programs, but I'm pleased he still does stuff like this, too! Big audience reaction.

The finale to Act I--the cowboy number to the William Tell Overture--is ok, but not spectacular like Bolero. The costumes are colorful. I didn't care much for the cowboy segment of Stars on Ice either, so maybe it's just me!

Act II

Lucinda Ruh created a surrealistic atmosphere in which the audience witnessed her incredible spins. Her skin tight gold costume accentuated by the gold lighting almost makes it look like she's surrounded in a brilliant aura. She definitely adds a different dimension to the show and appears to have finally found a niche in which her specialty is welcomed. The number is one she did at World Pros.

Usova and Platov's version of "Desert Rose" is my favorite one so far (over Baiul's and Yamaguchi's anyhow). It's a nice flowing program for them and doesn't seem to have so many "forced" moves as some of their work does.

Surya didn't seem quite as "on" as I've seen her with a hand down on a jump or two. The number was from "Cirque de Soleil" and is quite nice. The audience loved her.

Rudy's Fosse begins in a very classy becrystaled black curtain out of which he emerges to the audience's applause. He's changed to a jumpsuit costume more suited for show performances than what he used in competition, and he has a Fosse style hat for a little while. As in almost every performance I've seen of this program, he manages to silence the audience enough that they can hear the dialogue going on before the music starts and are pretty much taken into the performance from then on. On this night he did double axel/double toe where he had done the triple axel in competition, triple flip, steps, triple toe, later on triple salchow/double toe, and a final long, strong spin sequence. Again, so many people remarked on how well he's skating, though it may also be that he's moving so well and skating so effortlessly. Anyhow, he enlivened the place.

Nancy Kerrigan's "Vienna" is a program with lots of opportunities to build, and she did this well, actually seemed quite passionately involved in what she was doing. Her jumps were better than in the Spiderwoman number, and she impressed me.

The acrobats probably got the best response of the night! They did the slow motion number, which I've seen a number of times, but it's always funny.

The Sugar Ray "Someday" program is a little less natural for Dorothy Hamill, but it was fun to watch. Some people around us didn't like it as well as her usual fare, but even the costume--black and quite short--was different and attractive.

Kazakova & Dmitriev's "Somewhere Out There" is wonderful--beautiful and expansive. They always look like one of the world's best pairs and don't seem to be afraid to try some difficult moves.

Katarina Witt came back with "The Case Continues," which, to me, is just a little too melodramatic for pure entertainment. Although it doesn't let you NOT listen, there were people around us that didn't get it.

Boitano finished up with "Blue," and he was a little off this time around doubling the lutz, but having a good time nonetheless.

I prefer the "Bolero" number this year. It seems less confusing and more planned. By next year they should have it perfect! There was a small taste of Rudy and Nicole interacting. Even without lifts, a duet would be fun!

Greenville, SC, February 9

Two weeks after the COI Winter Tour's visit to Raleigh, NC, which is about 2 1/2 hours northeast of my home in Charlotte, it visited Greenville, SC, which is a little under two hours to the southwest. Interestingly, the skaters stayed in Charlotte and bused to Greenville, probably so they could fly out of Charlotte after this last Winter Tour stop. The bus left only minutes before I could get my car and go on my way. Even driving well over the mostly 70mph speed limit, I only caught the bus as we exited in Charlotte. Those buses really move.

Although the large Bi Lo Center in Greenville was probably only about 2/3 full, the audience was very appreciative and responsive. Even the skaters remarked on it. The pre-show publicity for this year's tour seemed far less aggressive than in past years.

Following are some confirmations and different observations from Raleigh to Greenville. Philippe Candeloro was at Greenville, having missed Raleigh. I went with three people who attend only this one skating event each year and maybe see some on TV by accident. Their comments are always useful for seeing how the general public assesses figure skating.

My friends, who are among those to whom Candeloro's clothing removal/audience attack programs do not appeal, said the Sinatra number is the best thing they ever saw Philippe do. He hammed it up a lot in Greenville, really playing the age card.

Dan Hollander's Elmer Fudd and Bugs program was much crisper here than in Raleigh. The Costume changes were done instantly with a brush of his hands. Even his jumps were better, though I was surprised at how many of the skaters doubled and even singled jumps. Friends loved it.

Thankfully, Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow's wonderful Dido and Aeneas program was fully appreciated by the audience, and they received a very full round of applause and cheering from all sides of the arena. It was nice to see that. Ditto Friends. (In the postshow autograph session, one of the friends thought that Elizabeth Punsalan was the prettiest of all of the skaters.)

Nancy's Spiderwoman program is ok, but she seems much less careful with her jumps and moves in this one than in Vienna. Friends neutral about this one.

Didn't like Victor's Elvis medley any better than at Raleigh. The audiences liked it just as much. Just me, I guess. Friends know him from past shows and kind of like him. They mentioned liking his Michael Jackson and last year's Mambo #5 numbers.

Dorothy Hamill was very popular with the audience doing the slow Janis Ian program. Friends know her and love her.

Katarina Witt did "Fever" about the same as she had in Raleigh. Friends wanted to know if this was the geriatric section (they aren't spring chickens themselves). Between performing this number and the second act, Katarina did something to her ankle (it was in an ice pack during the post show), so she didn't skate "The Case Continues." No loss for me, but I had described it to my friends and they were curious.

Boitano's "Non Nobis Domine" number had my friends speechless with admiration. He performed it perfectly, which one might expect from Brian in his last performance on tour. Did both of his 'Tano triple lutz's perfectly for the evening (later in "Blue.") I think he did the hugest, fastest spread eagle I've ever seen.

The Cowboy/William Tell act I ending number seemed even more lackluster in Greenville than in Raleigh. There is something incongruous about such a rousing number and such methodical skating that doesn't connect. The skaters don't really seem to like doing this one either.

Lucinda Ruh was again enormously popular. Most of this audience had never seen anything like this. One friend, the realistic one, wanted to know if she ever threw up when she spun like that! They had other physiological questions in terms of spinning's effect on the body which I couldn't answer.

Usova and Platov made me decide this night that "Desert Rose" is meant to be performed by two people. Very nice.

Surya was the same as I think she is every night, and the crowd responded to her with the same very appreciative ovation.

Rudy was back to life after the Cowboy thing and was as sparkling as his curtain and costume. It's nice to see he did the same program jumpwise he did when he started the tour--2A/2T, 3F, 3T, 3S/2T. He always seems to add an embellishment, an extra stop at a section of the audience, etc. This was what the friends came for and they were thrilled.

Nancy Kerrigan's "Vienna" again impressed me again. This is her kind of expansive program. There is some really nice choreography in this one.

The acrobats were perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser. They again did the slow acrobats number and it  wowed the crowd.

Dorothy Hamill's Sugar Rae song brought one comment from one of the friends: The style and song just don't jibe. They didn't appreciate the effort as much as I did.

Kazakova and Dmetriev's "Somewhere" was as beautiful and impressive as in Raleigh.

Philippe's second number was the bullfighter mishmash with removal of his above the waist clothing. He must have done 6-8 sort of triple jumps (mostly 3T's) in it, none of which were landed cleanly, though all were on his feet. He stepped out, put a hand down, and took an extra turn on almost all of them. He did all of his gimmicks, much to the crowd's pleasure. Sometimes I feel like audiences only watch the going up and not the coming down. There were maybe three audience attacks. Friends lost the warm feelings they had from the Sinatra program.

Brian's Blue was better than in Raleigh with the Tano Lutz working just fine.

Bolero got a little raucous toward the end. When they are all crowded into the final circle, Rudy suddenly came bursting out of it, obviously given a hard push. He turned and raised his arms with an "I'll get you" attitude as he got back into the pattern, but, by then, the skaters were obviously ready to pack up and go home!

The post show autograph session found the audience creating a line from the back entrance to the bus. (It was a beautiful 70 degrees or so).  Rudy came through first and spent some time talking with us. I was sidetracked for a moment, and when I returned, he and the friends were speculating about commentary on television broadcasts, such as Nationals, relating to costumes. Now THERE'S a good idea...Rudy as special fashion commentator for major events!! Of course, I'd also like to hear what he has to say about the skating. He comes up with some priceless remarks about both. After he went through, Brian Boitano silenced the talkative friends, who were then in awe. Katarina came through with ice strapped to her ankle, but was gracious, especially to the child next to us. Dorothy Hamill was last. Tom Collins was hurrying the skaters onto the bus and came to Dorothy, who was taking her time having a picture made with a cute little girl. He started to tell her to move on, then said, "Oh, private bus."

Other COI shows - excerpts from fan reviews

Albany, NY

"Rudy Galindo: Fosse
2axel-2toe, 2flip - steps - 3toe, 3salchow, Y spin, scratch spin. As seen on TV, a nice performance of this program."

---Wayne Joy

Providence, RI

"Rudy Galindo did a very audience appealing number to "Hey Big Spender. His jumps look better than they have in years."


Hershey, PA

"Rudy and Phillipe were the crowd favorites(and mine too!).

"Rudy did the Fosse routine and he was very enetrtaining and his jumps and spins were beautiful. He did the split right in front of me!"


Columbus, Ohio

"Rudy Galindo--caberet medley..really entertaining....interesting???"

---Dennis Johnson

Grand Rapids, MI

"The highlight - my seat was front row right beside the skater's entrance/exit. They were all only about 6 feet away from me with only a railing between! I kept watching the skaters beside me and missed some of the show! I even got a little wave from Rudy."


"Rudy skated his Fosse number quite well, with only a couple of slight turnouts on jumps landings and he got a very good response from the crowd."


"Rudy- Fosse-prefer Colors of the Wind. Comes out with his own dressing room on. 2a2t, 3f steps 3t2t (turnout) 3s2t (turnout) Impressed he is working the combos on tour."


Topeka, KS

"Rudy Galindo, who recently announced that he is HIV positive, seemed stronger than ever Wednesday night. Galindo really knows how to work a crowd, and they love him for it. Who else could skate to "Hey, Big Spender" in a black sequin jumpsuit with glitter in his hair and have the crowd yelling for more?"

From the Topeka Capital-Journal, January 27, 2001
"Review - Champions Always Put On a Show," by Angie Allendorf Price

Raleigh, NC

See above

Macon, GA

"Rudy Galindo "Big Spender/Jazz" Fosse Medley
He had the best relationship with the audience. He is such a great performer. He makes sure he commnicates and smiles with and at every one of theaudience members. He also must be in the best shape of his professional career. he did two beautiful 3 toes, 2axel, and a few other jumps. He wore a black sparkly jumpsuit with a hat. He came out in a fabric booth on the ice which once he emerged was pulled off the ice by a string. Everyone just seems to love Fosse. i have seen Bobek, hughes, Baiul in past, Gordeeva, and now Galindo perform his music. Galindo might have been the best at keeping the charcter of the music."


Lubbock, TX

"Rudy Galindo skated his Caberet number-he was covered in Glitter from head to toe.
Double axle-2toe 3Flip turns into 3toe.
I noticed he seems to get a lot of power out of his crossovers, something that doesn't translate on TV. Also, he carries just as much speed out of his jumps and he takes into them."


From Blades On Ice, the April, 2001, issue (vol. 11, no. 4), Patricia and Dorothy Knoell's article on the Champions On Ice 2001 Winter Tour, "Galindo skated to Big Spender and Jazz from Fosse, wearing a new, more outrageous costume. His performances included the solid jumps that have become his forte this season and drew good responses from both crowds."

[More outrageous?? Than what? He wore black pants and a slightly sequined T-shirt for the competitions.]

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Last updated October 30, 2001