- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Two months ago, Michael Weiss and Elvis Stojko were battling it out in Salt Lake City for an Olympic figure-skating medal. Now, they're roommates.
Mr. Weiss, a Fairfax native, joins Mr. Stojko, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, and 28 other top-name skaters for this year's Champions on Ice tour, which will glide through Baltimore and the District this week.
Many of them are former national and world medalists, but the fierce competition that came with those titles isn't on the program this time.
"It's a completely different atmosphere," says Mr. Weiss, who will share a room with Mr. Stojko for the 5-month, 86-city tour. "It's been a really nice change of pace from the Olympics, the hectic schedule."
In February, Mr. Weiss, a two-time national champion and world bronze medalist, interpreted Puccini on the ice. Now he has traded the classical piece for a Rolling Stones medley.
"I can't get no satisfaction," Mr. Weiss sings as he lists the songs he will use in his program. "It's fun to skate to."
Fun is the key word for Champions on Ice. In competition, the talk was of quadruple jumps. On tour, that buzz has been replaced by tales of Rudy Galindo's sense of humor, which keeps everyone entertained on the tour bus.
Classical music has been traded for anything from the Beatles to Britney Spears. French skater Surya Bonaly, known, among other things, for being penalized at the 1998 Olympics for doing an illegal back flip, can defy gravity here to her heart's content.
The allure of champion skaters letting loose has given the tour now in its 24th season its longevity.
"It's the next best thing to a front-row seat in Salt Lake," says Tom Collins, Champions on Ice founder.
This year's show will include a taste of the popular Cirque de Soleil. Think the triple axel is amazing? Try watching one man do a one-armed handstand on another man's head, all the while moving around the ice.
"Definitely get back into your seats after intermission because you don't want to miss those guys," Mr. Weiss says.
All six of the medalists in the men's and women's events at Salt Lake City Miss Hughes, Irina Slutskaya, Michelle Kwan, Mr. Plushenko, Alexei Yagudin and Timothy Goebel will appear, as will ice-dancing champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat. The Russian and Canadian pairs, who made headlines in Salt Lake when a judging scandal left them in a tie for gold, will sit out this one.
Most of the show includes solo numbers of the skaters' choice, but everyone will be on the ice for the opening and closing acts, choreographed by Sara Kawahara, who also created Miss Kwan's Olympic long program.
"The finale is awesome," says Mr. Weiss, who is on the tour for the seventh time. "I don't want to give it all away, but it's very 'Stars and Stripes.' I think this is one of the greatest shows we've ever had."
Champions on Ice isn't the only major skating event making its way to the District. The 2003 World Championships will be held at MCI Center a year from now.
Mr. Weiss, who has trained with Audrey Weisinger in Fairfax throughout his career, finished seventh in Salt Lake. Mr. Weiss hinted at turning professional after the Games, but with the next world championships taking place so close to home, there's a chance he'll be there among the top competitors.
"By the end of [this season], I felt like I was starting to hit my stride," Mr. Weiss says. "I still have the desire right now."
Mr. Weiss plans to finish the tiring 5 months on the road before he makes a decision about his amateur career. For now, his focus is on the Rolling Stones and 86 cities.

WHAT: Champions on Ice
WHERE: Washington and Baltimore
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday at the Baltimore Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore; 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at MCI Center, 601 F St. NW (202/628-3200)
TICKETS: $30 to $65 at the box offices, at the door or through Ticketmaster at 877/870-7300 or www.ticketmaster.com
INFORMATION: www.championsonice.com

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