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Vail Ice Spectacular features former Olympians and world champion skaters

The Vail Ice Spectacular is a 90-minute show with skaters of the highest level performing a variety of disciplines

The Vail Ice Spectacular features all of the skating disciplines, including soloists, pair skaters, ice dancers, and synchronized skating.
Camara Photography/Courtesy Photo

This Thursday evening, the 2021 Vail Ice Spectacular will be taking place at the Dobson Ice Arena in Lionshead.

This is the fourth year that Vail is hosting the elite skating exposition, which features multiple Olympians and world champions performing creative programs of their choosing before a live audience.

Among the skaters performing are two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu, the first US woman to ever land a triple axel at the Olympic games; Olympian and six-time Canadian medalist Vaughn Chipeur, World Junior Champion; and two current members of Team USA: Tomoki Hiwatashi and Camden Pulkinen.



The Vail Ice Spectacular was created by Edwin Shipstad, owner of Shipstad Entertainment. Shipstad is a world and master-rated skating coach whose family has been putting on traveling ice shows around the country for generations.

“My grandfather started the first-ever traveling ice show,” Shipstad said. “I’m definitely continuing over 75 years of ice entertainment with my company.”



The Ice Spectacular is a 90-minute show that includes all of the skating disciplines.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we have every discipline in our show this year,” Shipstad said. “We have male and female soloists. We have two great pair teams. We have ice dancers, and then we also have a team called Denver Synchronicity.”

The first half of the show will feature the skaters performing their short programs, a number of which will be competed at the Olympic Qualifying US National Championships in Nashville in January.

Tomoki Hiwatashi is a current member of Team USA. He will be performing his short program at Vail before competing in the Olympic trials in January.
Shipstad Entertainment/Courtesy Photo

Shipstad said that while the Ice Spectacular is not a competition, it provides the skaters with a valuable opportunity to practice their programs in front of a live audience before it really counts in qualifiers.

“The audience in Nashville will be big, because it’s an Olympic year, and I think they want that last time to perform their programs in front of a live audience,” Shipstad said. “We don’t get to train that way — we train with no one in the stands — and so if they can have the opportunity to get out and perform, even though they’ll be in spotlights and the ice is a little smaller because of the flooring of the ice, they are really excited about this opportunity to skate in front of the Vail crowd.”

Celebrated Olympic medalist Mirai Nagasu will be performing in the show, and she emphasized how important the live performance opportunities are to the skaters.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished — whether you’re an Olympic champion or starting out at your first competition — the adrenaline and the nerves are going to be there,” Nagasu said. “The more you practice with them, the better you get at knowing what works for each individual athlete. I always say: ‘If you can do it in spotlights with the lights blinding you, you can do it when it counts.’”

Vail Skating Festival athletes perform at a free outdoor show at the Solaris Ice Rink in Vail on Saturday, December 18.
Sean Naylor/Vail Daily

In addition to the solo and partner programs, synchronized skating group Denver Synchronicity, which consists of over a dozen skaters from all across the state, will perform a high-level routine at the show.

“Everything is done in unison, and it’s very exciting to watch on the ice because there’s a lot of movement together,” Shipstad said. “Even the sound of the skates on the ice is such a different aspect to what a normal audience gets to participate in.”

The second half of the show will be a fast-paced, high-energy set of back-to-back short programs from 15 different skaters. For 35 minutes with no announcements or interruptions, the crowd will get to watch skater after skater perform two-minute programs to popular music such as Adele, U2 and Dua Lipa, among others.

Shipstad hopes that the exciting display of some of the top skating talents in the world will introduce more people to the sport and the beauty of ice skating in all of its disciplines.

“I love to have new fans,” Shipstad said. “You don’t have to be a skating fan to come out and see some great family entertainment. It is a power-packed show, and I think everyone will leave going, ‘what a great sport, what a beautiful sport’. When we can gain new fans, that’s where I really find so much joy in what I do.”

Mirai Nagasu is the first US woman to ever land a triple axel at the Olympic games. She will be performing in the show this Thursday.
Shipstad Entertainment/Courtesy Photo

Nagasu expressed a similar sentiment, and particular hopes that the show will inspire younger generations to get on the ice themselves.

“I hope that there are more future generations in skating,” Nagasu said. “With technology ever-evolving and instant gratification becoming something that is the norm and the standard, sport in general has taught me that I have to work for the things that I want to achieve. I mean, not all kids are going to skate all the time and with as much intensity as I have, but I hope that they can experience even a little bit of the joy and freedom I feel on the ice.”

Tickets for the show are available online now at vailskatefest.com. Prices are $20 for bleacher seating and $40 for on-ice seating, a rare experience that Shipstad offers at Dobson Arena.

“Nobody gets that opportunity unless it’s this kind of a setting,” Shipstad said. “Seeing a split triple twist, or seeing somebody do a backflip when you’re ice level with them, you can physically feel the skater hit the ice.”

The show begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23. For more information about the show, visit vailskatefest.com.

IF YOU GO:

What: Vail Ice Spectacular

When: Thursday, Dec. 23 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Dobson Ice Arena in Lionshead

Price: $20 for bleacher seats, $40 for on-ice seating

 


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