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Originally published Monday, May 19, 2014 at 2:47 PM

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Charlie White, Meryl Davis lead sharp young blades in ‘Stars on Ice’

Meryl Davis and Charlie White led a youthful contingent of champion skaters in the latest edition of “Stars on Ice” at KeyArena in Seattle on May 18, 2014.


Seattle Times arts critic

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It was out with the old, in with the new, in the 2014 edition of “ Stars on Ice,” the blue-ribbon skating show that wrapped up a 20-city tour on Sunday at KeyArena.

Gone were the sterling figure skaters who’ve been regulars in producer and beloved Olympic champ Scott Hamilton’s annual extravaganza — “old” favorites like the now-retired Kurt Browning, as well as Ilia Kulik and Katia Gordeeva. In glided a new generation, led by the most celebrated U.S. skaters of the 2014 Sochi Olympics — the gold-medal ice-dancing team of Charlie White and Meryl Davis.

Poised and gracious as they introduced the show, and flawless in an exquisite pas de deux to a Rachmaninoff concerto, White and Davis fulfilled fans’ lofty expectations and then some. Their partnering is almost telepathic, their lifts and spins silken, their musicality complete.

Though she appeared in two group numbers as well, Davis was reportedly under the weather. And her big Act 2 spot with White, an encore of their long Sochi program to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” was canceled. (Sigh.)

Otherwise the show put the spotlight on a crop of up-and-coming skaters, all talented but displaying varying degrees of power and confidence in numbers mostly devised by head choreographer Jeffrey Buttle and associate choreographer Renée Roca to current pop tunes (this year, with an indie-alt tilt).

Making a very strong impression in a limpid, lovely solo to the “On Golden Pond” theme and in a brooding, darker-toned routine to Sam Tsui’s rendition of “Demons,” was 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu. A petite powerhouse, the seasoned 21-year-old skated with precision, assurance and drama, and lit up the crowd.

Also imposing: reigning U.S. champion/2014 bronze team medalist Jeremy Abbott. His routines to the achingly sensitive Sam Smith ballad “Latch” and Ben Howard’s bluesy “The Fear" highlighted his speed, showmanship and near-flawless triple jumps.

Sochi bronze team medalist and two-time nationals champion Ashley Wagner exuded pizazz, in a sleek skate to the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” And the U.S. team’s future prospects looked promising in the appearances by long-limbed, dexterous U.S. national silver medalist Polina Edmunds, and 2013 world junior champion (and Renton native) Josh Farris, who at 19 has overcome multiple injuries, and at the Key displayed the strength and elegance of a young Brian Boitano.

More tentative on this occasion, and prone to tumbles, were the ingratiating 2014 U.S. champ Gracie Gold, two-time U.S. champion Alissa Czisny (best in a jazzy duo with Abbott), and 2013 national champ Max Aaron. Ryan Bradley, and ice-dancing pair Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, were also on the bill.

The best group number? No contest: “The Walker,” an upbeat bromance with male skaters in bright-colored slacks strutting and finger-popping like animated hipster Crayolas on ice.

mberson@seattletimes.com



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