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'Skating's Next Star'


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'Skating's Next Star' Premieres on WE

by Hal Boedeker, Sentinel Television Critic

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Kristy Yamaguchi hosts 'Skating's Next Star'

"Skating's Next Star" debuts on Monday, March 20 on WE: Women's Entertainment at 10 p.m. "Skating's Next Star" is a contest that celebrates little-known professional skaters. But do not confuse it with "Skating With Celebrities," a Fox series that copied ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

"My goal is to create opportunities for the skaters," series creator Jon Rubin says. "Our skaters are former competitive skaters that almost made it, and for whatever reason -- their nerves got in the way, injuries, whatever -- they never made it."

Few skaters reach the highest rungs of celebrity. Rubin bemoans that figure skaters don't have their version of the NBA. "There are no opportunities for the second tier of skaters, who are very good, other than Disney or shows that go through Europe," Rubin says. "Or most become coaches."

Rubin hopes to change that with his South Florida company, Major League Figure Skating. He worked closely with the Professional Figure Skaters Cooperative to find half of the 12 competitors for his show. At the end of this six-episode series, the winner will receive $25,000 and a one-year contract with Rubin's company.

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'Skating's Next Star' judges include (L-R) professional ice skaters

Elvis Stojko, Oksana Grishuk and Rudy Galindo.

But the biggest draws in "Skating's Next Star" are the host, Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi, and the three judges: Elvis Stojko, Rudy Galindo and Oksana (formerly Pasha) Grishuk. Viewers hear the judges assess the skaters during performances.

"We think that's the hook: We have very good judges," says executive producer Jim Lewis. "You'll have a better understanding of skating. The judges make the show."

Galindo says he jumped at the opportunity to judge. "I always performed in front of judges. I always had to please them," he says. "It was fun for me to sit back and watch them and criticize them. There was such excitement before the first show. The judges were beaming."

Tonight's premiere indicates that the judges bring different approaches to the commentary. Stojko, twice an Olympic silver medalist, sounds like a coach in evaluating the positive and negative. "He's the technical specialist," Rubin says.

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'Skating's Next Star' contestants get the feel of the ice

Grishuk won two Olympic gold medals in ice dancing with Yevgeny Platov. "She's known as an ice dancer -- they have more intricate footwork," Rubin says. "She looked at it from the grace and beauty on the ice."

Galindo, the U.S. champion in 1996, is the tough talker. "He'll sometimes be very blunt, almost like Simon [Cowell of 'American Idol']," Rubin says. He was the harshest judge at the beginning, Galindo says, but the three started agreeing as the show went along.

Although he might come off as cruel for telling a woman she needed to lose weight, Galindo says the other judges agreed with him. "Unfortunately, we're in a sport where you have to be as tiny as can be," Galindo says. "You have to throw your body in the air and rotate. I have to watch my weight."

"I have an 80-city tour coming up," Galindo continued. "I have a 128- to 132-pound jumping weight. One pound over that, I feel like an out-of-balance washing machine." Yet it was hardly all tough love. The judges felt for the hopefuls. "You'd get nervous for some skaters," Galindo says. "The ice is slippery. You're going to get bloopers."

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Contestant Dusty Brinsmode completes his

routine on 'Skating's Next Star'

Rubin cites the empathy as central to the show's appeal. "What's really different in this show, our skaters have trained as hard as the stars have," he says. "The judges, in many cases, know and understand how hard these people work. We're giving them a second chance."

The pilot for "Skating's Next Star" was shot in July at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Florida and WE committed to the series in September. "WE believes in this show, that there's an audience for it, and we're excited at the prospect of helping a hard-working skater get a little closer to achieving their dream," says Kim Martin, general manager of WE.

For the rest of the series, production shifted to the Lakeland Center. "Skating's Next Star" could benefit from debuting when there's heightened attention to the sport, thanks to the Turin Olympics, "Skating With Celebrities" and TLC's "Ice Diaries."

"There are ebbs and tides in skating based on the Olympics," Rubin says. "When people watch all the different skating shows, you see the same people. What I'm doing is creating figure skating like they've never seen before. Is it the best figure skaters? No. But their artistic level outshines their technical level."

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'Skating's Next Star' Takes The Ice

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'Skating's Next Star' features professional ice skaters (L-R) Judge Elvis Stojko,

Judge Oksana Grishuk, Host Kristy Yamaguchi and Judge Rudy Galindo

Major League Figure Skating Productions brings all the excitement of this real life battle between twelve professional skater to WE: Women's Entertainment Network beginning Monday, March 20 at 10 p.m. ET. Watch as these twelve skaters, six men and six ladies, who just just missed making it big, battle it out for all the glory on "Skating's Next Star."

"Skating's Next Star" debuts on Monday, March 20 on WE: Women's Entertainment at 10 p.m. "Skating's Next Star" is a contest that celebrates little-known professional skaters. The contestants compete for the top honor over six weeks.

Host

Kristy Yamaguchi

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'Skating's Next Star' Host Kristy Yamaguchi

It's no wonder that Kristi Yamaguchi has been an inspiration for millions of aspiring skaters. As an Olympic Gold Medalist, a two-time World Champion, a U.S. National Champion, a four-time World Professional Champion, and a USOC Olympic Hall of Famer, Yamaguchi is one of the most prominent women in the World of Figure Skating. In her time away from performing with Stars on Ice, Yamaguchi established the Always Dream Foundation, a charity that helps to raise funds for needy children.

Judges

Rudy Galindo

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'Skating's Next Star' Judge Rudy Galindo

Rudy Galindo's triumphs make for the ultimate rags-to-riches story. Raised in a California trailer park, dedication and natural talent led this amazing athlete to become the U.S. National Men's Champion, the World Professional Champion, and (with Kristi Yamaguchi as his partner) the United States National Pairs Champion. A National Honorary Chairman for International AIDS Foundation, Galindo has gracefully overcome several severe physical setbacks; he continues to skate and compete at the highest level of difficulty.

Oksana Grishuk

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'Skating's Next Star' Judge Oksana Grishuk

Russian skater Oksana Grishuk is best known for her truly impressive Olympic record. In an unprecedented feat, Grishuk (along with partner Evgeny Platov) became the only ice dancer ever to win two Olympic Gold medals; the pair took home the gold in 1994, and then again in 1998. Grishuk currently resides in California and has taken on an entirely new career: mothering her 3-year-old, Skyler Grace.

Elvis Stojko

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'Skating's Next Star' Judge Elvis Stojko

Elvis Stojko spent years as an ice-skating sensation. A two-time Olympic Silver Medalist and seven-time Canadian National Champion, Stojko wowed 1994 Olympic judges with his unusual program; in a surprising twist, the routine was choreographed by his karate coach. Now, Stojko is taking his love of martial arts to the next step. A recent Silver Medalist at the 2005 World Kickboxing and Karate Association championships, Stojko is known for the energy and focus he brings to the ring-and the rink.

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2006

Figure Skating Television Schedule

(All times are Eastern Standard Time unless otherwise noted

Check your local channel for possible time or program changes)

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....2006

March

Monday, March 6

"Skating with Celebrities Finale"

8:00-9:00 p.m. ~ Fox

Thursday, March 16

Repeat of: European Championships

7:30-10:00 p.m. ~ ESPN2

Monday, March 20

"Skating's Next Star" with Kristi Yamaguchi ~ Episode 1

10:00-11:00 p.m. ~ WE

Thursday, March 23

World Championships (Live: Mens Short & Long Programs and Pairs Long Program)

7:30-11:00 p.m. ~ ESPN

Repeat of: U.S. National Championships (Ladies Long)

11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ~ ESPN

Friday, March 24

Repeat of: World Championships (Live: Mens Short & Long Programs and Pairs Long Program)

3:00 a.m.-5:00 a.m. ~ ESPN

World Championships (Live: Original Dance, Free Dance and Ladies Short Programs)

7:30-11:00 p.m. ~ ESPN

Repeat of: U.S. National Championships (Ladies and Pairs Short)

11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ~ ESPN

Saturday, March 25

Repeat of: World Championships (Original Dance, Free Dance and Ladies Short Programs)

3:00 a.m.-5:00 a.m. ~ ESPN

Repeat of: World Championships (Original Dance, Free Dance and Ladies Short Programs)

12:00-3:00 p.m. ~ ESPN2

Repeat of: U.S. National Championships (Ladies Long Program)

4:30-5:30 p.m. ~ ESPN

World Championships (Ladies and Pairs Long Programs)

5:30-9:00 p.m. ~ ESPN

Sunday, March 26

Repeat of: World Championships (Ladies and Pairs Long Programs)

3:30-5:30 a.m. ~ ESPN

Repeat of: World Championships (Ladies and Pairs Long Programs)

12:00-2:00 p.m. ~ ESPN2

Repeat of: U.S. National Championships (Ladies and Pairs Short Programs)

3:30-4:30 p.m. ~ ESPN

World Championships (Exhibitions and Championship Performances)

4:30-7:30 p.m. ~ ESPN

Monday, March 27

"Skating's Next Star" with Kristi Yamaguchi ~ Episode 2

10:00-11:00 p.m. ~ WE

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April

Saturday, April 1

World Championships (Season Recap)

6:00-8:00 p.m. ~ ESPN

Repeat of: World Championships

8:00-11:00 p.m. ~ ESPN

Monday, April 3

Repeat of: World Championships

9:00-11:30 p.m. ~ ESPN

"Skating's Next Star" with Kristi Yamaguchi ~ Episode 3

10:00-11:00 p.m. ~ WE

Monday, April 10

"Skating's Next Star" with Kristi Yamaguchi ~ Episode 4

10:00-11:00 p.m. ~ WE

Saturday, April 15

Marshalls World Figure Skating Challenge

3:00-5:00 p.m. ~ ABC

Monday, April 17

"Skating's Next Star" with Kristi Yamaguchi ~ Episode 5

10:00-11:00 p.m. ~ WE

Monday, April 24

"Skating's Next Star" with Kristi Yamaguchi ~ Episode 6 (Finale)

10:00-11:00 p.m. ~ WE

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July

Monday, July 10

Repeat of: World Championships

7:30-10:30 p.m. ~ ESPN2

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2006 World Figure Skating Championships

Men's Final Results

01 Stephane LAMBIEL . . . Switzerland . . . 274.22

02 Brian JOUBERT . . . France . . . 270.83

03 Evan LYSACEK . . . United States . . . 255.22

04 Nobunari ODA . . . Japan . . . 251.21

05 Emanuel SANDHU . . . Canada . . . 249.89

06 Jeffrey BUTTLE . . . Canada . . . 241.59

07 Johnny WEIR . . . United States . . . 235.57

08 Alban PREAUBERT . . . France . . . 230.95

09 Chengjiang LI . . . China . . . 229.03

10 Ilia KLIMKIN . . . Russia . . . 227.78

11 Matthew SAVOIE . . . United States . . . 227.41

12 Sergei DAVYDOV . . . Belarus . . . 222.44

13 Tomas VERNER . . . Czech Republic . . . 221.83

14 Gheorghe CHIPER . . . Romania . . . 219.34

15 Min ZHANG . . . China . . . 216.59

16 Anton KOVALEVSKI . . . Ukraine . . . 211.93

17 Andrei GRIAZEV . . . Russia . . . 208.37

18 Roman SEROV . . . Israel . . . 207.14

19 Ivan DINEV . . . Bulgaria . . . 206.86

20 Silvio SMALUN . . . Germany . . . 206.58

21 Shawn SAWYER . . . Canada . . . 201.05

22 Gregor URBAS . . . Slovenia . . . 198.54

23 Kristoffer BERNTSSON . . . Sweden . . . 192.47

24 Trifun ZIVANOVIC . . . Serbia & Montenegro . . . 183.05

Final Not Reached

25 Karel ZELENKA . . . Italy

26 Viktor PFEIFER . . . Austria

27 Igor MATSIPURA . . . Slovak Republic

28 Jamal OTHMAN . . . Switzerland

29 Ari-Pekka NURMENKARI . . . Finland

30 John HAMER . . . Great Britain

Not Qualified

Aidas REKLYS . . . Lithuania

Sean CARLOW . . . Australia

Alper UCAR . . . Turkey

Bertalan ZAKANY . . . Hungary

Michael NOVALES . . . Philippines

Tristan THODE . . . New Zealand

Zeus ISSARIOTIS . . . Greece

Luis HERNANDEZ . . . Mexico

Edward Ka-Yin CHOW . . . Hong Kong

Justin PIETERSEN . . . South Africa

Pairs Final Results

01 Qing PANG / Jian TONG . . . China . . . 189.20

02 Dan ZHANG / Hao ZHANG . . . China . . . 186.42

03 Maria PETROVA / Alexei TIKHONOV . . . Russia . . . 186.22

04 Rena INOUE / John BALDWIN . . . United States . . . 183.17

05 Valerie MARCOUX / Craig BUNTIN . . . Canada . . . 181.09

06 Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY . . . Germany . . . 170.08

07 Jessica DUBE / Bryce DAVISON . . . Canada . . . 169.72

08 Julia OBERTAS / Sergei SLAVNOV . . . Russia . . . 164.16

09 Dorota ZAGORSKA / Mariusz SIUDEK . . . Poland . . . 160.79

10 Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Stanislav MOROZOV . . . Ukraine . . . 147.90

11 Marcy HINZMANN / Aaron PARCHEM . . . United States . . . 140.22

12 Maria MUKHORTOVA / Maxim TRANKOV . . . Russia . . . 135.70

13 Marylin PLA / Yannick BONHEUR . . . France . . . 135.02

14 Dominika PIATKOWSKA / Dmitri KHROMIN . . . Poland . . . 123.37

15 Rumiana SPASSOVA / Stanimir TODOROV . . . Bulgaria . . . 117.61

16 Marina AGANINA / Artem KNYAZEV . . . Uzbekistan . . . 114.52

17 Stacey KEMP / David KING . . . Great Britain . . . 106.10

18 Mari VARTMANN / Florian JUST . . . Germany . . . 105.49

19 Julia BELOGLAZOVA / Andrei BEKH . . . Ukraine . . . 104.83

20 Emma BRIEN / Stuart BECKINGHAM . . . Australia . . . 86.84

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