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Olympic skaters, including Rochette, to perform in Tampa

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: July 11, 2013 at 03:18 PM

There's a 24-year-old saying that goes something like this: Champion ice skaters must join "Stars on Ice."

Since 1986, when Scott Hamilton originated the touring figure skating show, world-class athletes have spun, jumped and spiraled on rinks across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. This year, on the heels of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the "Smucker's Stars on Ice" tour comes to the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

Following in the footsteps of Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi and Katarina Witt, the new superstars set to appear in selected shows in April include 2010 Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, Sasha Cohen and many more.

Canadian Joannie Rochette will perform in the first four shows only, which includes Tampa.

The Canadian won a bronze and hero status performing two days after her mother died unexpectedly in February. Her willingness to compete in the face of tragedy epitomized the spirit of the Olympics and the adage "the show must go on."

Also appearing in Tampa will be Cohen, Abbott, Belbin & Agosto, Davis & White, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, Todd Eldredge, Michael Weiss, Yuka Sato, Mirai Nagasu, and Alissa Czisny.

Participating in the Olympics may be an athlete's boldest dream, but being asked to join "Stars on Ice" signifies a strong toehold in the world of sports.

For Ocala-born Denney, who paired with Sarasotan Barrett to win the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and place 13th in Vancouver, the invitation completes the training-competing cycle of a figure skater on the rise. They too, will perform in Tampa.

"It's such an honor. Both Jeremy and I have always wanted to be in the show. I saw Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao and all the others at the Olympics, and to be able to see them again in a show atmosphere like this, I'll be able to learn from them even more," Denney said in a telephone interview from Italy, where she and Barrett competed in the World Championships.

The Florida duo has planned a program that matches what 16-year-old Denney calls their "bubbly personalities." They'll be skating to "Proud Mary," performed by the cast of the hit TV series "Glee."

Audiences will see the same physical feats that carried these elite competitors to the Olympics. Denney said that with all the training and repetition, those double and triple axles that astound the public have become second nature to them.

"We just like to perform and give the audience a great show and let our bodies do what they do automatically," Denney said.

WHEN: 4 p.m. April 4

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa

HOW MUCH: $27.75-$142.75; call 1-800-745-3000; www.starsonice.com

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