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Rory Flack-Burghart takes life on the road

Charismatic pro skater plans reality TV show

Professional skater Rory Flack-Burghart performs in "Art on Ice."
Professional skater Rory Flack-Burghart performs in "Art on Ice." (courtesy of Rory Flack-Burghart)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(07/02/2009) - Thanks to last year's Presidential campaign, professional skater Rory Flack-Burghart is now only the second most famous person to have resided in Wasilla, Alaska. Given the fact she lived there for 14 years before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, last September, it's kind of strange that she never met the town's former mayor, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

She says given the hectic life she led coaching, performing and raising two sons, she may have met Palin but it simply slipped her mind. Although now based in Utah, Flack-Burghart has kept her Wasilla home and she travels there regularly to work with skater Keegan Messing, a junior men's competitor coached by Flack-Burghart's ex-husband, former Austrian men's champion Ralph Burghart.

"I loved living in Alaska," says Flack-Burghart, who grew up in Southern California. "I loved the change of seasons, even though some of them were very short. I like the snow and I like the fall and spring, watching the trees grow."

She says after Palin was named as John McCain's running mate, people often asked her if Palin was representative of Alaskans.

"Yes," says Flack-Burghart. "Alaskans are very down home people."

Flack-Burghart coached in both Wasilla and Anchorage and says the Wasilla rink was beautiful.

"It's the newest in the area. It has the capacity for competitions. It's very big and warm," she says.

What brought Flack-Burghart to Utah is a new man in her life, Rich Rollins, who she recently married. Her two sons with Burghart, Remington, 12, and Rendell, 15, joined her in Utah. Rendell, a competitive tennis player who hopes to play in the junior division of the U.S. Open by the time he's 17, will be spending the next school year with his father.

"He aspires to go professional," she says. "His goal since he took up tennis at the age of 5 has been to play tennis on TV."

Although Flack-Burghart didn't want her kids to take up skating, there was no stopping Remington. He's recently taken up pairs and seems to love it. Although he and his partner are currently about the same height, his mother/coach expects he'll soon be much taller as he's grown several inches in the past few months. Given the fact that Rendell is already 6'1", chances are his younger brother will soon be excellent pair skater size.

Throughout her years in Alaska, Flack-Burghart continued to tour and compete in pro competitions. After an amateur career where she won praise for her charismatic free skating but often battled nerves, her skating career exploded as a pro. She's performed all over the world and continues to do so.

"Leaving from Salt Lake City has shaved off six hours of a plane ride for me," she says. Although thank goodness for long plane rides, as that's how she met Rollins.

Over the past year, Flack-Burghart toured Lithuania, did the Art on Ice shows in Switzerland and Germany and did two French tours.

Now she's focusing on her production company, The Color of Ice Productions. Several years ago she developed a show called Ebony on Ice, which featured an all African America skating cast and played theaters in Chicago, Florida and Washington, DC. She was asked to bring the show back to the nation's capital this past January, to coincide with President Obama's inauguration, but there wasn't sufficient time to organize a production. Instead, she's retooled the show, which will now star Surya Bonaly, for future engagements.

Ebony on Ice and a couple of other tour concepts Flack-Burghart has put together will be part of a reality TV show she's conceptualized. She's currently in discussion with a television network to broadcast the show.

"We'll go to 12 different cities for eliminations," she says. "At the end, the winners get a one-year contract with the show.

"Everyone will be able to audition," she adds. "I have created four seasons, each for a different show. We want everybody to come out and audition." Information should be available by the end of this summer.

Even with her energy being channeled into producing and her new marriage, Flack-Burghart isn't ready to give up performing.

"As much as I feel I need to back off a little bit with skating, I can't," she says. "I'm out on the ice every day in my skates coaching my son and it's hard to stand still. When he skates away to do a jump, I'm gliding around. I can't see myself stopping yet."

Remington is her only student, but she does travel around the country doing choreography and she continues to work with Messing.

A couple of years ago, Remington joined her in doing Kristi Yamaguchi's Friends & Family television special and he's asking when they can do that again.

"Now he's ready," she says.