Seventeen years ago, Rosalynn Sumners clipped a coupon out of a newspaper and joined some friends for an afternoon at an Edmonds, Wash., area ice skating rink.
It was the first time she'd ever been ice skating - but it certainly wasn't her last. In fact, that one outing to the rink set her on a course that would take her, in just a few short years, to the top of the amateur skating world and on to even more victories as a professional figure skater.On Tuesday Sumners will join nine other Olympic and world champions for an evening of world-class skating in the Salt Palace Arena as part of the Discover Card "Stars On Ice" tour, benefiting the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America program.
Other skaters on the tour are 1984 Olympic champion Scott Hamilton, 1984 and '88 Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, 1976 bronze medalist Toller Cranston (who's also choreographed some of the ensemble pieces), 1982 world champion Elayne Zayak, 1988 ice dancing bronze medalists Tracy Wilson & Robert McCall; 1984 figure skating national silver medalists Lea Ann Miller & Bill Fauver, and 1987 U.S. Open Professional champion Kathleen Schmelz.
Tickets are $15 and $12.50, with a limited number of "Gold Circle" seats available. Tickets are available at the Salt Palace arena box office and all Smith'sTix outlets. To charge tickets call 363-7681 or 1-800-888-SHOW (outside the Salt Lake City calling area).
Sumners, who was 1984 silver medalist in the Olympics at Sarajevo, turned professional in June of that year and spent the next two years as a headliner in the national Disney On Ice tour.
She expects that the audience attending the "Stars On Ice" show in Salt Lake City will be considerably more educatedin what to look for and appreciate on the rink than the crowds who flock to the Disney shows.
The Stars on Ice show is "exciting for us because we get a chance to skate, whereas in the Disney show you can't give 100 percent seven times a week nine months out of the year; you have to settle for a mediocre performance. In this show you can go 100 percent because you're only performing 2-3 times a week," Sumners said.
Although she thoroughly enjoys working with kids in her skating clinics, she admitted that the "Disney on Ice" experience was not entirely wonderful.
"I was with Disney nine months straight (for two seasons) right after the Olympics, and it was a depressing two years. I was growing up every night in front of 2,000 people. It made quite a difference to go from training at home for three peak performances a year to performing every night with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck for screaming kids who were more interested in their
popcorn. It was quite a transition.
But Salt Lake audiences seem to be more knowledgeable about skating. They got a taste of world-class skating when the U.S. Nationals were held here in 1983, and they packed the arena just a couple of years ago when Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean brought a similar show into town.
The Stars On Ice show is not one of those "mice on the ice" revues. There's no kick line, no cutesy-pie little cartoon characters, no dazzling scenery.
What you'll get is a variety of solo and ensemble production numbers choreographed and designed especially for the Discover Card tour, being sponsored by Plymouth. There will be some special lighting effects, but by and large what the Salt Lake audience will see is the same type of skating that's presented in competition.
Except this time the pressure isn't quite the same. There are no judges sitting in the arena, carefully charting each and every movement and meticulously tabulating the hard-earned points.
Sumners visited Salt Lake City recently on a quick promotional tour. The pert bundle of energy was excited to be back in Utah and looking forward to being back on the Salt Palace rink, where she'd performed not only in Nationals but in the Disney On Ice show.
The calendar for the Stars On Ice tour, now in its fourth year, is a little misleading. Salt Lake City is the 11th on the 1988-89 tour and, after the Salt Lake performance, the skaters won't resume the tour until Jan. 25 in Wichita, Kan. - but Sumners pointed out that the seven-week gap between the two performances doesn't mean she's going to lie around and take it easy.
If she gets four days to herself around Christmas she'll be lucky.
There are other skating dates she's committed to in the interim - the World Professionals in Washington, D.C. (to be broadcast on NBC next spring), followed by skating competitions in Paris (for ABC) and Ottawa, then home for Christmas, after which she repacks her suitcase for a Dorothy Hamill special in Palm Springs and a Home Box Office cable TV special in Moscow, after which the "Stars On Ice" tour resumes.
Sumners added that she's engaged to another skater who coaches in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Have you set a date yet, we asked.
"We haven't even set a year!" she exclaimed. The tour's remaining 19 one-night stands take her through the end of March, and in the meantime she assists with skating clinics in Edmonds, where she has her own home and a horse.
After that eventful day when she went skating with her friends in Edmonds, Sumners' mother got her into lessons.
"I was a fairly hyper child and I think she was pleased to see me channel my energies into something," she said.
Combined with ballet and jazz dance lessons, the effort obviously paid off.
Some of her awards: the 1980 World Junior Ladies Championship in France, followed by three consecutive U.S. National titles; gold medal at the world championships in Helsinki (1983), and silver medal at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. In 1987, as a professional, she won the Paris Challenge of Champions.
A brief look at some of Sumners' colleagues on the tour:
-SCOTT HAMILTON: world champion honors in 1981, '82 and '83; first place in the U.S. Nationals and the Eastern Championships, in 1981-84; first place in the Skate America competition in both 1981 and '82; first place in the U.S. National Sports Festival (1981), and the Olympic gold medal in 1984. In 1986 he was named professional skater of the year, world professional figure skating champion and winner of the World Challenge of Champions. In 1987, the Friends of Scott Hamilton Foundation Inc. was founded in Gloucester, Va., to promote the sport of figure skating and raise money for various charitable groups, including children's hospitals in several U.S. locations.
-BRIAN ORSER has been involved in "The Battle of the Brians" since Hamilton retired from amateur competition in 1985, leaving Brian Orser and Brian Boitano to engage in one of the sport's greatest rivalries. In almost every competition since 1984, the two Brians have taken first and second place, with Orser winning the World Championships in 1987. In the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Orser won the silver medal and Boitano took the gold. At the 1988 World Championships in Budapest, Orser scored three 6.0s in the most stunning performance of his career, after which he moved to professional figure skating as the reigning World Freestyle Skating Champion.
-TOLLER CRANSTON has been called both "Nureyev on Skates" and "Baryshnikov on Blades." He's considered a pioneer of artistic skating. His awards include bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics, after which he made his professional debut in 1977. He's been a frequent guest performer with Ice Capades and Holiday On Ice.
-KATHLEEN SCHMELZ is the reigning U.S. Open Professional champion. Skating runs in her family. Her mother skated with the Ice Follies, and Kathleen skated in the 1983-84 production of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom On Ice.
-TRACY WILSON & ROBERT McCALL: Seven-time Canadian champions and world medalists, this duo is considered one of the world's best ice dancing teams. They won the bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics and won the prestigious Bursary Award for best performance at the Canadian Nationals in 1983 and 1986.
-LEA ANN MILLER & BILL FAUVER have received standing ovations in dozens of countries for their distinctly American style of skating. As amateurs, they were national silver medalists (twice), and represented the United States in the 1984 Olympics. They've toured with Torvill & Dean and with the John Curry Company.