December 15, 2011

Here's to a Happy 2012

It was one year ago since I've been skating. I never thought I'd actually skate in Panama - not much of a skating tradition there. Years earlier, they put a sheet of ice in a shopping mall, but it didn't catch on. Somehow the marketing and the mood was better last year when they installed the ice at the mall down the street from me.

But I never thought that the last time I went to skate, they'd have Panama's equivalent of "The Today Show" using the ice as a backdrop and then Panama's equivalent of Matt Lauer asking if he could interview me.

Panama's Matt Lauer, Alex

"In Spanish?" I asked in Spanish while I made a funny face.

"Don't worry, in Spanish and in English," he replied in English.

Sure, why not. It was unfortunate that I hadn't performed in fourteen years and I was quite rusty. Couldn't skate more than forty seconds without getting winded.

But I did my best. Here's the part where I show the kids how to do swizzles.

How cool is it that I got the chyron treatment, Jenny - Patinadora Profesional Sobre Hielo? That translates to Jenny - Professional Ice Skater, if your Spanish is as bad as mine (used to be).

It's hard to top a skating day like that when you get interviewed on national television and it is part of why I haven't skated since. I could leave it there and feel good about my quasi-career in ice shows.

But that's the problem with ice shows and skating in general. It is hard to walk (shall I say skate?) away for the last time.

So if I skate again, you'll be the first to know. But regardless, here's to a great 2012 for everyone.

Happy New Year!

Don, we now our (are) gay

... apparel. And I'm not talking about my friend's new blue-suade skates. They are so gay.

But they are so cooooool!

Well, last year I got an Xmas card from a guy I skated with twelve years before that. He was about to get married and I skated in two shows with him and his then girlfriend-soon-to-be-wife.

They got married, years later they got divorced, and to this day my friend is still single. (The ex-wife got remarried, had kids, and I think all is good with her.)

So, I must say I was surprised when I opened his annual Xmas card and this time it was from him and his friend, let's say Steve*.

*not his real name

Then I was not so surprised, because I felt he was happy again. Ready to let everyone know. He certainly had a big smile in the picture.

December 7, 2011

An Ice Showgirl's Endorsement Deal

I'm looking to score one, please.

I've seen other blogs, especially parenting blogs, and they get them. All sorts of fun stuff.

Xanboni got one for the Halo.

And it's that time of year when everyone's looking to buy a Xmas or Hanukkah gift.

Then I got to thinking and I'm not sure what products a showgirl could really get a leg up on, except for maybe Capezio or Danskin fishnets. Back in the day when I skated with HOI or in Japan, I couldn't buy them at a store, so they were coveted items, doled out once every six weeks or so.

That meant you had to treat them with great care. Throwing them away was not an option. Sewing up the holes was necessary, even though I was never good at it. See that post here. I outsourced that job.

I suppose that we could tell you all about false-eyelash glue. That probably wouldn't be too valuable for the once-or-twice-a-year wearing for your average party girl. But for models or strippers? I would especially endorse any glue that didn't give me a terrible rash.

But now that I think about it, I suspect the false-eyelash glue guys would prefer to talk to models or strippers instead.

No, what I think show skaters could really get behind is a luggage endorsement deal. Here that Samsonite? Tumi? Disney On Ice could tell you a thing or two. Holiday On Ice is lugging that suitcase up and down stairs, so they could tell you which bag keeps its wheels from falling off.

For any of you old enough to remember the gorilla vs. the suitcase commercial I bet a showgirl could do more damage. I've seen it when they were thrown onto the train.

You should take 30 seconds to watch the commercial, it will make you laugh, I swear.

So what do you say American Tourister? Got any samples you want some showgirls to kick around? Let me know.

Happy Holiday Shopping!

December 1, 2011

Season's Greetings!

December is here - the season can start! This is every showgirl's favorite holiday. Why? There were and are lots of holiday shows this time of year. Easy to get a job ... sometimes only for a couple months, but it was better than laying on the couch moping.

Nutcracker On Ice
Charles Schulz Christmas Show in Santa Rosa
Chicago Drury Lane Theater
Myrtle Beach
West Palm Beach, FL
Europa Park

and I'm sure I'm missing some, somewhere. Let's hope you get to see one before the year is over (or before something like January 8th or so).

Happy Holidays!

November 18, 2011

Speed ... not so fast

Wait! Before you think this is a bad review of Holiday On Ice's world premiere of Speed, that which I railed on and on in my last post .... no. The skating and the choreographer was as good as any show I've seen lately.

In fact, one of the two male principals, Rohene Ward, was amazing. One of the best show skaters I've seen in two decades and the best part of the show for me.

Side note: I just spent an hour watching various You Tube videos of his skating and I'm more and more impressed. He can do all of his double jumps in both directions!! No one I know can do that ... he's the only one I know that could have passed the ISI(A) Freestyle 10. His form is perfect and he spins like Craig Heath. I felt as if I saw traces of the late, great Robert Wagonhoffer mixed with the always great Toller Cranston. Wow, is all I can say.

Okay, okay, back to the review. Like I said the skating was very good. There were no dancers learning 3-turns on the ice as I feared. At one point the entire chorus did a scratch spin. It was a great effect when more than twenty skaters are spinning on every part of the ice.

For this old showskater, it was nice to see the endangered kickline and pinwheel. This show had a very creative take on the traditional pinwheel using either one of the largest props or the thinnest moving stage I've ever seen. It was used during the "Be Italian" number, from the play and movie "Nine", which doesn't make sense of Speed unless there are a couple of Ferraris or Lamborghinis out on the ice. Italy, not known for speed if you're talking government bureaucracy or getting lunch, but heh, it's a catchy song. It was a fun number.

And that is my main beef with the show: the theme Speed didn't hold up in the first half. I give you an example, the Speed of Nature. I know, you're probably thinking cheetahs. No, it was a party on the beach. Nothing says Speed like chillin' on the beach.

But the final two segments, Speed of Machines and Speed of Sport (I think, there was a speed skating element to it) got the audience going. With the lighting, the fireworks and the pulsing music, the show ended with a lot of pow! And my eight-year old thought it was the best thing she's ever seen. So there.

November 7, 2011

Got My Tickets

... to Holiday On Ice, the world premiere of Speed. Then I went to the website to see a little of what the show is about.

And I continue with my theme of WTF?

Couple of things, folks ...

First off - check out the opening paragraph on the page I linked to above that describes the show.

The show concists of 10 chapters, starting with the Speed of Instinct. This part of the show is thrilling, wild, exciting and will work w have fire torches. after this spectacular introduction, a fun , athleticism and color consists of the traditional wheel and precision. The scene based on the Speed of City will be followed by Speed of Love, Speed of Nature and Speed of Money and demonstrate water, wind, funand a good sense of humor!

This sounds more like my daughter's 3rd grade science project. And check out the typos!!! It looks like it has been written by a 3rd grader.

Come on, HOI, I know you're now run by a European entertainment company, but didn't someone run the spell check in English? It's written in English (but not full sentences, unless you prefer the run-on or incomplete kind). It's not that hard to see what gets the red squiggly lines. Wow, that's really bad copy.

Second - the concept ... Speed. Okay, for skating, it's a good way to show what we can do that other performers can't. Go fast. It's a good way to distinguish us from, ahem, dancers. That's right, dancers, I'm talking about you.

So when the choreographer, who is not a skater but a dancer, says he is casting dancers for the show I spewed coffee through my nose. Are you fucking crazy? Aren't there enough skaters you can work with?

Has someone not pointed the choreographer to the PFSC?

No, Miss Ice Charades, they don't use those initials anymore because the first thing you get on Google is Pictures For Sad Children. They've changed it to

It has hundreds of skaters posting their resumes and videos of, oh, I don't know, SKATING. You could use them instead of taking "strong, confident" dancers showing up in Amsterdam for the day because they couldn't make it for the Michael Jackson "This Is It" audition. Oh, but you say the dancers are going to learn to skate. Again, WTF?

I'd love to see the rest of the video that shows them learning to do swizzles and work their way up to a 3-turn. Aaaggh.

If you don't know some skating moves, Mr. Choreographer, guess what ... we skaters can dance too. It's been done before in ice shows, it can be done again. Just ask Kristi Yamaguchi.

Okay, I know the choreographer is not a skater, that's been done a lot before too, but let's keep skating in the ice show and let dancers dance where they can ... which is all over any flat surface in theaters, in music videos, in rock concerts, in amusement parks that don't want to pay for ice, etc etc.

I just paid 90 euros (or $123) for 2 tickets to watch dancers skate? Oh, Miss Ice Charades is not happy. Not at all.

October 31, 2011


Now that I've got your attention - can someone help me out here?

So, I'm watching the exhibition numbers from Skate Canada on Eurosports yesterday ... first thing, exhibition programs and Canada are neither Euro nor sports, but anyway ... I have to say congratulations to all of the medalists, including Patrick Chan.

He did a lovely show program, but he was in - what-looked-like a U.S. Marine Corps uniform holding and a mop - and I've got to say, WTF?

Here's a YouTube link to the same program done for Artistry on Ice.

See that Marine wearing his Dress Blues on the far right? That was Patrick Chan, minus the hat, but holding a mop.

Maybe I should be more P.C. and just ask why? He's a Canadian wearing a U.S. uniform. I find that odd, do you?

Then I've got to ask, why a mop? I don't associate Marines with mopping too much. Usually it's the guys who are first in or guarding an embassy kind of thing.
Full Disclosure: Most of the marines I've encountered were during my time working for the U.S. State Department, and I always found it honorable, but a touch troubling that they would be willing to give their life for a stranger like me - just a temporary contractor plugging in computers at the embassies for a week or two - at any moment.

So maybe they're Marines that mop, but that's not the first thing that comes to mind with Semper Fi.

So, I'm not sure what to think. Is he honoring a US Marine? Did I miss that part (I was watching a German broadcast, after all). Was he picking up on the spirit of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC, that was held the same day?

Or was he just late to a Halloween party and needed to save time?

October 26, 2011

Casting for a Male Soloist

Florida in December sounds nice and warm to me!








Best Regards,
Rosstyn & Laurilee Gudino

October 19, 2011

Ice Shows and Nudity

Did that get your attention?

I'm not going to talk about "Nudes On Ice", or as the cast referred to themselves in "Boobs on Cubes" that took place in Las Vegas in the late 80s. Technically, that show wasn't nude, just topless, and curiously, the "skaters" who were topless, weren't skaters at all. They were bitter showgirls forced to learn to skate to retain some kind of a paycheck!

I'm glad that I never had to decide whether I would skate topless in a show, because I'm not sure what I would have done. To bare or not to bare - either way there were disadvantages.

the disadvantage to not bare - not getting paid as much
the disadvantage to bare - having grandchildren some day

I think I could have gotten used to my boobs being on parade, since I did shows other shows where my butt was hanging out for all to see (sorry about that Grandma!).

Okay, Miss Ice Charades, let's talk about whether anyone would have paid to see your boobs. Yes, you make a good point.

But back to the nudity, in so many backstages of so many shows, they were anything but private. This was a world with male stagehands, who were, I think, predominently straight, who could easily catch us in progress from one costume to the next.

All of skaters got used to it. There was no point in protesting the situation, because you might just make it worse for yourself.

So this past weekend, I got to thinking about nudity again, when we had our first German sauna experience. No bathing suits allowed.

I would be lying if I said I was comfortable hanging out completely naked with all of the other sauna enthusiasts. In northern Europe and Scandinavia, this is normal, btw. I used to do it all the time without caring too much ... what was different this time?

Then it hit me.

This time I and my skating co-workers wersn't the only ones on display. Seeing everyone else hanging out in the nude made me think I preferred it the old way.

October 17, 2011

Want to skate in Japan?

NOV. 20, NOV. 23 & NOV. 27
CALL ROSSTYN AT: 561- 436-0128

October 6, 2011

Why Figure Skating is GREAT

If you ever have a day when you don't want to get on the ice or worse, you just want to quit ... Ryan Jahnke has a great pep talk for you on

On the blog, he's written a superb article that covers all the bases and asks everyone what they think. Don't miss it ... click here.

It's easy to understand why skating champions think figure skating is great, because it has been great for them, but my favorite reasoning comes from a quote of a teenage skater:

“Figure skating teaches you a lot about life itself even before you get out there. This sport is like a roller coaster, and so is life. You have your ups, and your downs. There will always be people who want to see you rise, and there are always people who want to see you fall. How you deal with these falls is how you succeed. This concept applies in life itself. You face this problem everyday of your life, and you face this problem everyday in skating. In skating though, you literally fall, but you have to get back up and keep going. You cannot look back, or feel sorry that you fell, you just got to get up and keep going. You have to get up and try again. THIS is why I love figure skating.” -Casey Yee

You have to get up and try again.

I have to remind myself of that when I'm quick to give up on other things ... try again.

Thanks Ryan!

October 3, 2011

A Salute To The Ladies Of The Ice

Miki Ando, Tara Lipinski, Nancy Kerrigan, Sasha Cohen, Sarah Hughes, Nicole Bobek, Joannie Rochette, Yuka Sato, and Irina Slutskaya all saluting Peggy Fleming.

Well, not like soldiers, but skating in her honor.

If you can get to Atlantic City on December, 3rd, you may want to get tickets for this event. Click here to order them from Caesar's in Atlantic City.

Randy Gardner will choreograph and direct, so there will be some tricky footwork, no doubt.

There are a LOT of great skaters confirmed ... so, don't fret if you can't see it live, it will air nationally on NBC from 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. ET on New Year's Day. Set the DVRs!

September 25, 2011

Another NFL Cheerleader comes from the pros

... professional skating that is.

May I introduce you to Molly Quigley Moenkhoff of the Tennessee Titans. Go here for another article by Lois Elfman on

Okay, now if anymore beautiful buxom showskaters turn into NFL cheerleaders, Miss Ice Charades is going to get very depressed!

Okay, seriously though, I applaud their skills, as both skater and cheerleader. Here's a rundown of her skating chops:

As an amateur, she paired with Bert Cording, and the duo trained with coaches Bill Fauver and Laura Sanders. She and Cording competed internationally.

Then she turned pro in 2003 skating on cruise ships for Bietak Productions and park shows for Karen Kresge as a soloist. There was also Broadway on Ice, working alongside Olympic gold medalists Dorothy Hamill and Brian Boitano.

Then in 2010 she returned to her pairs roots as a pro on the British television show Dancing on Ice, which pairs celebrities with professional skaters. The show stars ice dancing legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, and is massively popular.

Very impressive. The Titans, themselves, wish they could perform that well!

September 12, 2011

Show Skater Turns Cheerleader

Samantha Vonsiatsy has joined the Panthers NFL team! And boy, is she busy.

I bet her skating skills will make for a great cheerleader.

In 2004, she auditioned for Willy Bietak Productions and left for her first show aboard the cruise ship contract Mariner of the Seas. She continued as a soloist with Holiday On Ice's Mystery for two more years.

You can read the whole article here by Lois Elfman on

Aaah, is everyone happy now that football's back?

September 8, 2011

Did anyone go to the Reunion?

My kind of town, Chicago is.

Did you get to the Ice Capades reunion last weekend? I'd love to hear about it ...

August 27, 2011

Any "Nooksters" Out There?

Well, Ice Charades has made it to Germany, but I won't have steady internet access until the middle of September. I'll try my best to post something in the meantime, so I don't go the way of

In the meantime, I was wondering if there are any others out there with a Nook that would like to be "friends"? I just got one and love it! If we become friends, we can share books. I've got a free copy of Ice Charades to lend ... email me, if you are interested.

August 3, 2011

Ice Charades is Moving

... to Hamburg, Germany, and may not be able to post for a while. Tomorrow the whole apartment gets packed up and then I'll not get to my final destination for two weeks.

Yep, we're moving again, so I won't have a lot of internet access. I'll try my best to pop in with some kind of ice show reunion update or unnecessary costume malfunction anecdote. So please don't forget about me. You know you need that info!

Have a great end of the summer and check back in two weeks!

August 1, 2011

Six Questions for a Skater - Nora Chin

Ice Charades is proud to present Nora Chin, showskater extraordinaire turned college co-ed.

It does happen, you know.

Some of you may know her as the daughter of our favorite coach turned blogger, Xanboni!

Nora is twenty-two years young and passed the trifecta of Senior Freestyle, Moves, and Dance.


While that's a mighty fine resume to bring to a Disney On Ice audition, she also competed on the national stage before turning into the princess who saved China.

She started skating when she was three, after going on a school field trip and never looked back. After graduating from high school she decided to take a year off to do a show, and that year turned into three.

She traveled all over the world, except Africa, and loved every minute of it!

Now she's going to school full time and teaching skating at a local rink.

And without further ado, my interview with Nora:

1. Which shows did you skate in and for how long?

I skated with Disney On Ice on the show "Princess Wishes" for three years.

2. Where were your favorite places on the road?

My favorite places I've been are... everywhere! Anywhere new and different is amazing, but I suppose if I had to choose I'd say New Zealand and Japan were my favorites. New Zealand is awesomely beautiful. I visited a lot of the places they filmed the Lord of the Rings movies and got to see some amazing landscapes. It's a great country for road trips! Japan has the most interesting culture of any place I've been. The shops there are all very unique, too, so there are always almost one-of-a-kind souvenirs to get! Also, the taxi doors open on their own! It was very cool. When I got home it took me a while to remember I had to open car doors on my own!

3. What was your favorite number in the show?

I had two favorite numbers. One was the "Be Our Guest" number because it was more of a precision number and you got to be really over the top happy in it. We had contests to see who could be the most cheesy!

The other was the Cinderella ball number because I was one of the evil step-sisters and I got to do a lot of fun pratt falls and goofy stuff like that.

4. How long have you been away from skating in a show?

I've been off the road for almost exactly one year!

5. Do you miss skating? Which part of the show do you miss?

Well I still skate for myself, but I do miss performing. It's really fun to put on a costume and all that makeup and just go crazy out there. Skating for other people is just super fun! I also miss the other skaters on the show. Everyone on shows is really lively and fun to hang out and party with.

6. Do you have any skating dreams, goals and/or nightmares?

I haven't had any skating dreams recently, but not long after I quit the show I had a dream that I was late for a show. The dream was just me racing to the arena and performing three shows like a normal show day!

Right now I mostly skate for exercise and because I enjoy it quite a lot, but I am working on my International Dances as well, and plan to test some next month. I'd like to get back some jumps and jump combos I used to have when I was training as well.

July 28, 2011

T-shirts for Sale

These t-shirts would look very nice at the upcoming Mini Ice Capades Reunion in Chicago over Labor Day!

July 26, 2011

Sun Valley folks!

ProSkaters will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday evening immediately following the conclusion of our annual seminar.

LOCATION: Indoor rink at Sun Valley Skating Center

DATE/TIME: Wednesday, July 27, 2011- approximately 8:45 p.m. following the conclusion of the ProSkaters' seminar.

Miss Ice Charades really wishes she could go to the meeting, but mostly wishes she could get to Sun Valley someday!

July 21, 2011

Tour de France - A Primer

Okay skating fans, buckle up, because I'm giving you a tutorial on the race, in case you ever wondered why so many would get excited about spending twenty-one days, three or more hours at a time, watching guys ride a bike.

Yes, Ms. Charades, when you put it like that it does seem boring.

Nope, not at all. And here's why:

1. The scenery - it is beautiful, especially from here on out. They're racing in the Alps for the next three days and on Sunday, they will be in Paris. It you have a nice HDTV, consider this a poor man's European vacation. (Wine and cheese sold separately.)

2. The strategy- it isn't just about the winner of the yellow jersey. While that is the overall winner after all of the races, a.k.a. stages.

But there is always a contest going on for who will win that day, who will win in the sprint category (green jersey), who will win climbing the mountains (a.k.a. King of the Mountain, in the red and white polka dot jersey), and who is the best rider under the age of 25 (white jersey). Yes, while under 25 is quittin' time for figure skaters, it is "young" in racing.

This sport favors maturity and experience. It favors endurance (drugs), training (drugs), and team tactics (more drugs).

That is what is so disheartening if you're a fan of this sport. At some point you have to give in to the notion that MOST, if not close to ALL, of these guys are doping. It's a suspension of belief that the guy standing at the top of the podium was clean when the rest of the top ten were not.

Okay, back to the race.

Another incredible aspect of pro cycling is the notion of domestique riders. Their sole purpose in the race is to help their best rider (called the GC rider - General Category) get up the hill and over the finish line faster. Can you imagine your pro career being all for someone else's benefit? That's how they roll.

Why are they so important? Drafting, that's why. The rider at the front of the race has to break the wind and it takes a lot more energy. Think of when you see birds flying in "V" formation, they are riding the slipstream to conserve energy.

I think this quote best explains why domestiques are crucial to winning the Tour:

It is team tactics which so often win or lose races - and the lieutenants and the dog soldiers who expend their energy blocking chasing moves when they have riders up the road in a position to win. It is they who ride out into the wind so their aces can get an easier ride tucked inside their wheel [close to the rider in front and in his shelter]. Rare indeed is the major victory that cannot be credited in large part to the groundwork laid by the domestiques

Yeah, dog soldiers. Kind of like the chorus in an ice show. Without us expending our energy in some ten-minute, drawn-out production number as trees or Smurfs or something, the principal wouldn't get to soak up all of the applause in their two-minute solo, free of any scratchy, migraine-inducing "skin" or headgear.

("Skin" is the industry term for being engulfed inside a costume. Think amusement park characters.)

Bitter much, Ms. Charades?

Yeah, sorry about that. I shouldn't be bitter. Dressing up as a tree isn't so bad when you get to do it in another state or country the next time.

Enjoy the race, kids. Today will be gorgeous scenery and probably the most exciting stage yet.

July 14, 2011

Is The Best Skater Already Alive?

... meaning the best skater that will ever be ... not someone thirty or ninety years from now.

If you think about it, that's kind of depressing and cool all at the same time.

I ask this, based on an article I read, via the Daily Dish on the website Grantland, asking whether we are approaching the fastest times humanly possible for the 100-meter dash. Right now Usain Bolt, pictured above, is the fastest at 9.58.

The article written by Chuck Klosterman boils down the argument to this:

Is there an irrefutable dead end to the 100-meter dash? Is there a speed at which a human body would just break down and disintegrate, no different than a machine pushed beyond the capacity of its individual components? Some have been arguing "yes" for years. Reza Noubary, a professor of mathematics, computer science, and statistics at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, has estimated "with 95 percent confidence" that the ultimate time for the 100-meter dash is 9.44. [The current record, held by Usain Bolt, is 9.58 - a .37 improvement from 40 years ago.]

That number seems as good a guess as anything else. But if Noubary is correct, it would force us to accept a depressing, unreliable notion — it would essentially mean we're about 25 years away from the pinnacle of human performance. It would mean that most of us will see the fastest man that could ever exist within our own lifetimes.

So are we getting there with figure skating as well? Will we ever see quintuple jumps? A quad axel? There were some years when I wondered if we would ever see a women do a triple axel. But they got there.

Well, while we may never see a quintuple jump, skating has the creativity that track and field do not. To me, creativity will always improve, change, and adapt.

What do you think - quad axel? If so, predict what year.

July 12, 2011

Facebook Friends

I'm now FB "friends" with Oksana Baiul.

Me and 2,164 other people. And counting. In a few more days, who knows?

If you ever wanted to be friends with an Olympic Champion ('94) - Oksana's your gal, or in other words, your soon-to-be-friend.

Now, I've posted before on the weird phenomenon that is getting to be friends with A-List skaters here or what Facebook taunts us with "People You May Know."

I ask you, could Oksana be the gateway skater to the rest of them?

When I noticed that my girlfriend, who had no connection to Oksana, was friend's with her, I knew I had a pretty good chance of being friends with her. And I do have a connection to Oksana - very tenuous, but ...

I got to push her in a sleigh during the '94 Nutcracker on Ice tour. But Oksana's skated with, worked with and met with thousands and thousands of people over the years, so she can't be expected to remember any of them.

But she's on a roll and by the weekend she could be friends with those thousands of people I just mentioned.

July 6, 2011

Another Ice Capades Reunion

Mini-Reunion Chicago Labor Day Weekend - Sept 3-4, 2011

They don't seem to stop, do they?

Here are the details:

The venue for the Ice Capades mini reunion Saturday night cocktails will be at the Java Bar at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 301 East North Water St., Chicago, IL 60611, Sat. Sept. 3rd, beginning at 7:00 pm.

Those joining us for the Odyssey Brunch Cruise – Sunday Sept. 4, 2011, boards at 11:15 am at the Navy Pier. Cost: $75.00 (group rate which payment must be sent to Ken by July 15th). Mail check to: Ken Shook, 140 Twinspur Close, Roswell, GA 30076.

The Sheraton Hotel is the host hotel for many of our guests. Hotel room group rates for this event are not available but room discounts are currently available 10%, 15%, 20% depending on number of days staying. Please follow this link.

Sheraton Hotel and Towers
301 East North Water Street
Chicago, IL
312 464-1000

July 2, 2011

The Tour starts Today!

... you know where this ex-showgirl will plant her butt for the next three weeks. For the first summer in three years, we get the race on our cable channel.


I love seeing the beautiful towns and countryside in France as the bikers whiz by. This, to me, is the official start of summer.

For those of you in the US, the weekend of the 4th of July is synonymous with summer. However you celebrate this time of year, I hope it's a good one for you.

June 22, 2011

My New Favorite Website

... is called The Guide to Sleeping in Airports and I only wish is that it had been around during my show skating days.

I'm sure many show skaters have had to do this often.

In fact, I skated in five different shows in Japan and only one of them paid for my ticket all they way from my home base. For the other shows, the producer said show up in Vegas or LA on your own and we'll fly you to Japan from there.

For anyone coming from the East Coast or Midwest, there was no way to get to LAX in time for the 1pm flight to Tokyo without staying overnight. For me, a hotel room and a cab or bus to get there was out of the question.

In fact, I left the airport in Minneapolis-St. Paul with my last $25 in my pocket. (It was 1989, so that could buy you a little more than today's bottle of water and a large bag of M&Ms.) And I had done the same park show the previous summer, so I knew once I got on the plane, there would be food. There would also be food waiting for us at the amusement park.

Otherwise I might have borrowed another $25 from my mom.

On that particular airport sleepover, two other skaters, from Hamilton, Ontario, also planned to spend the night in LAX. We hadn't met before, so I didn't realize we could have teamed up for night watch duty or something.

They got robbed that night (if you go to the website, you'll see that LAX is #4 on the Worst Airports of 2010!). Luckily my last $25 covered us all for breakfast the next morning.

So these tips -- alas, 22 years late -- are for you, Joyce and John, and the hope that no more figure skaters get robbed when sleeping in airports.

Tips for not getting robbed in your sleep

June 20, 2011

Separated At Birth?

I was watching the two matches in yesterday's Gold Cup. The U.S. victory against Jamaica and then the El Salvador vs. Panama match up. And by then second overtime, it dawned on me that the goalie for Panama, Jaime Penedo, looks a lot like Evan Lysacek, don't you think?

Perhaps I have way too much time on my hands right now. Have a great week!

June 17, 2011

Good Art Won't Match Your Sofa

Do you remember those t-shirts and totebags? I don't know who the artist is, but I remember seeing it in on the T-shirt of some barista in a coffee shop in the nineties. I think I spent half the nineties in a coffee shop somewhere, but anywho ....

Whether or not you agree with that statement, you would agree that somewhere in the Art Buyer's Manual you should at least see the painting before you buy.


But I didn't.

Let me back up for a minute: After living in Mexico City for two years without a car, I had a little spending money to kick around. Our neighbors rented out my unused parking space too. Money saved and money earned. Nice.

So my husband and I decided to buy a painting. Well actually, I came up with the idea and he agreed. After visiting Toller Cranston twice and seeing all of the paintings in his fabulous 15-bedroom villa, you come away wanting a painting. Trust me on this.

I should have bought something when we were visiting. Something that would fit in a carry-on, considering how often we move. Three times in six years. Three different countries. That would have been the smart thing to do.

Should have.

But I didn't.

So here's the thing if you're thinking of buying a painting from Toller - no computer. The only paintings he's done that you can see on-line are already in galleries. Such as the post from last week.

So, instead, when Toller tells you, "I know the perfect painting for you." You try to say no.

Should have said, "Let's talk about this, first."

But here's the other thing about Toller - he can move product. After another phone call and a couple of emails from his business manager, the painting was on its way.

So back to my original point: I bought something sight unseen. What if I didn't like it?

There are a few that I don't care for. And of course, my husband gave me that what-were-you-thinking look, but he didn't say anything.

Toller called twice to see if the painting had arrived before it did and it dawned on me that he too was nervous.

Good news - I do like the painting. There was no hesitation telling him how much I loved it when I called him back. He said it had come from his living room.

The painting is similar to this one and I hope to post it on-line one day, but right now it is unceremoniously hiding in its box in the storage room because we have no way to hang it here.

Good news again - we're moving soon. We don't know where yet. Two possibilities right now, so I'll let you know when we get the go-ahead.

I just hope that wherever we go there's a wall worthy (and a hook sturdy enough) of this painting.

June 10, 2011

Skating Live Remembered by Toller Cranston

Toller Cranston is live and in-person at the Terence Robert Gallery in Ottawa, Canada today. Click here, to see wonderful examples of his work.

If you're in the area, stop in, say hello, buy a painting. Tell em' Ice Charades sent you.

The exhibition continues until June 27, but Toller will only be around for today and tomorrow. Though there are going to be lots of skaters crowding around him, since the Fans Of Toller Facebook page has gotten the word out.

June 6, 2011

ProSkaters Annual Show Skating Seminar

Mark your calendar - ProSkaters will host its 6th Annual Show Skating Seminar on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 from 6:00 pm until 8:15 pm in beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho.

The seminar if FREE for ProSkaters members.

Live Auditions to be held at ProSkaters Seminar; Annual Meeting set for Sun Valley

The ProSkaters Annual Seminar just became more valuable! Karen Kresge, of Woodstock Ice Productions and Sylvia Froescher, of Willy Bietek Productions, are two of the major producers who will be in Sun Valley conducting live auditions. Mark your calendar for July 27, 2011 to participate in ProSkaters 8th Annual Seminar. The seminar will include on-ice and off-ice programs and runs from 6:00 pm until 8:15 pm on Wednesday, July 27. Cost is FREE for members of ProSkaters. Others pay $75 with pre-registration ($90 at the door).
Highlights include:

Live auditions with top producers
On-ice and off-ice seminars
Creating a video resume
Signing a contract
Participate in mock interview & audition
Performing show tricks, adagio/pairs

And so much more!

Register for the seminar early to make certain that you have your spot reserved!

June 3, 2011

Today is 'The Day of Hazma'

I don't normally talk about things other than figure skating.

Are you kidding me, Ice Charades. You're lucky if your post has anything to do with figure skating.

Okay, okay, very true. And because there is not much going on in the skating world these days, I want to turn you attention to a serious matter.

Today is the Day of Hazma and I hope it gets the Syrian government to sit up and take notice. Full disclosure: I went to Damascus, Syria for three weeks on a business trip back in 1999. I loved the country and the Syrians I met and worked with. They were wonderful. That's why I'm so concerned.

So, I'm hoping you'll take a moment to "like" the "We Are All Hamza" FB page and let's see what the internet can do.

June 1, 2011

Moscow Classical Ballet On Ice

... is coming to Panama! It's coming soon and it will be across the street from my apartment. How convenient is that.

But the date on the ad above says May 28. That was the date given the second time it was mentioned in the local newspaper. The first time, there was no date listed. So I looked it up on line and it says June 5, 6, and 7. But then the next paper said postponed until June 9. What to believe?

Two weekends ago we went to a dance concert at the National Theater. The paper listed the performance starting at 6 pm. Online it said 7 pm. When we got to the theater, I asked the women at the box office and she said, "In twenty mintues." That would put the starting time at 6:30. For the record, the show started around 6:45.

I'm used to that now. It's a Caribbean thing, I'm guessing.

So I'm going to find out about the Moscow show the old-fashioned way. I have to keep my eyes peeled for the trucks and the compressors to roll in and then I'll know the ice show is in town. Luckily I can see that out of my window.

May 24, 2011

A Sad Day* for Cycling

*technically that day was Sunday, but I was getting back from a long weekend away, so I wasn't able to blog about it until today ...

As you may know, Miss Ice Charades is a big fan of cycling and especially the Tour de France. From 2003 - 2008, I watched almost every day of the twenty-one day race. That's a lot of hours watching guys ride a bike when it was nice enough outside that I should have been riding my own bike. The only reason I didn't watch as closely these last two years is because I couldn't. That's how much I got sucked into the sport.

And while I'm still not the Aaron of Axels, Loops, and Spins of the cycling world, I do know enough about the race to make me dangerous in my analysis. So here I go with my opinion of the latest bombshell that was dropped on "60 Minutes" on Sunday.

Former US Postal Service teammate of Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, confessed to his own drug use and blood doping and implicated Lance in the same, as well as covering up a positive test in the Tour of Switzerland. What the papers often don't say is, Lance failed part A of the test, but part B, which is needed to claim he failed a drug test, was not conducted.

Anyone who follows the Tour de France closely has seen one rider after another implicated in cheating and it seems impossible that Lance was always clean. Four of his teammates have testified to federal authorities that he cheated. The lastest coming from his closest teammate George Hincapie, probably hurts the most.

And I don't want to see Lance taken down. Watching that episode on Sunday felt like watching a car crash in slow motion. If cycling is going to clean up its act, it looks like it is going to scorch a lot of earth along the way. It has to, because I think almost all of the top cyclists are guilty.

Excuse me, Miss Ice Charades, you know I always ask this, but what does this have to do with figure skating?

Thanks for asking. Two things -

1: I'm glad that figure skaters haven't been prone to these cheating scandals. Much like gymnasts and divers, figure skaters don't use performance enhancing drugs. Why? I think it's because they haven't invented one - yet - that enhances all the things skaters need like strength, endurance, agility, gracefulness and more.

This scandal is not unlike judging in figure skating. Many times, suspect judging ruins the credibility of the sport. Books have now been written exposing the many instances of judges being corrupt. That alters skaters entire lives. Think of gold medalists that didn't really earn it or more tragically, ones that should have been gold medalists but were denied specifically because of judging. I'm sure you can think of some names.

Tell me what you think - should judging in figure skating have a trial, the likes of the federal investigation?

May 19, 2011

Reunions Coming Up

Here's the reminder run down - First up: Bermuda Cruise, June 18 - 23, 2011

It’s still not too late to join us on a cruise to Bermuda on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, departing from Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal, New Jersey. Call Wayne Rutledge, Expedia Cruise representative at 800-410-5451 to make your reservation, or if you have any questions, contact our Greg Bonin at 504-228-0915 ( Join in on the fun.

Next - the Disney On Ice Reunion, Orlando on July 30, 2011

Still 186 people attending!

And clear out your Labor Day weekend if you live in the Chicago area and skated with Ice Capades. It's a mini-reunion.

Hey Gang:

Just a heads up to let you know I’m working on putting together a mini reunion in Chicago on Labor Day weekend. Will keep you posted on more details as it gets closer. We will most likely do a dinner cruise and night out for cocktails while catching up in this great city. That weekend is also the Chicago free Jazz festival so mark your calendars now in case you might like to join us.

Ken Shook

P.S. E-mail Ken and let him know so he has an idea how many might come. (

I really think we need to come up with a reunion for anyone who skated in Japan. That hasn't been done, to my knowledge. Probably should be in LA or San Fran, just to mix things up.

Have a great weekend!