Vail’s Ice Spectacular shines |

Vail’s Ice Spectacular shines

Vail Skating Festival’s main show highlights competitive athletes

Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily
Cast of Vail’s Ice Spectacular
Kimberly Nicoletti/Courtesy photo

At a lot of figure skating exhibitions, skaters tend to play it just a tiny bit safer, keeping a lot of triples out of their show routines and instead, focusing on fun, entertaining choreography. But playing it safe isn’t the name of the game at Vail’s Ice Spectacular, which has become a holiday tradition over the last few years.

These skaters pull out their best competitive routines — as well as a few holiday and “showy” pop music numbers — filled with masterful jumps, spins, throws and lifts.

Every holiday season, The Steadman Clinic and its partners bring some of the most elite competitive skaters to Vail for a series of free, 20-minute, outdoor weekly holiday shows and the crowning jewel: the indoor, 90-minute Ice Spectacular at Dobson Ice Arena.

With the U.S. Figure Skating Championships just a couple weeks away, the skaters are at the top of their game, and it showed through the energy, power and artistry they displayed Thursday night. Though the sound system was a little thin in terms of acoustics (which hasn’t been the case in previous years), the skaters made up for any lack in energy. And, after all, it’s about the skating, not music blaring through speakers.

Most skaters performed their competitive short routines during the first half, which meant lots of gorgeous doubles, triples, lifts (for pairs) and spins. Some pared down their programs a bit but still boldly pulled off their competitive jumps on truncated ice; on-ice seating shaved off each end and the sides of the normal size rink they’re used to training on, so accomplishing such feats took courage. Jordan Moeller even threw in a couple of daring backflips, and if you happened to be sitting at each end of the rink where he landed them, for a split second, it felt like he might just land in your lap.

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Two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu, one of the show’s stars, delivered a beautiful and slightly sassy “Mr. Grinch” number in the first half, followed by her powerful and emotional “Warriors” routine.

Tomoki Hiwatashi delivered his robust short in his typical crowd-pleasing manner, while Camden Pulkinen displayed his solid technique and soaring artistry throughout.

Joe Klein’s short program proved he’s one to watch as this year’s U.S. junior silver medalist.

Every performer stood out Thursday night, whether they took the ice as an innovative pair quartet skating to U2’s “Vertigo,” mesmerized the audience as a synchro team or dazzled as a single artist and athlete.

Local Vail skater Ariana Bruno kicked off the second half of the show, which featured a cast medley of a dozen routines that played out more like fireworks hitting the ice. One after another, skaters excited the audience with their choreography to popular songs, ranging from an uplifting “Hallelujah” to Adele’s “Rumor Has It” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love.”

Part of the absolute magic of Vail’s Ice Spectacular — besides the obvious: the high-level talent — lies in the venue itself. Dobson’s intimate arena allows for an up-close, personal experience of competitive skaters that you just don’t get anywhere else. As a bonus, they stick around for a bit after the show, completely willing to talk with audience members, take photos and sign autographs. It’s like a little slice of heaven for fans.


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