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The Inside Edge: SC of Boston's 'Skaters' Ball'

Many of the biggest stars in the sport's history turn out for 100th anniversary gala

Olympic champions Dick Button (left) and Brian Boitano share a laugh at the Skating Club of Boston's "Skaters' Ball" at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.
Olympic champions Dick Button (left) and Brian Boitano share a laugh at the Skating Club of Boston's "Skaters' Ball" at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(02/21/2012) - The Skating Club of Boston (SCOB) celebrated its 100th anniversary Saturday, Feb. 18, with a "Skaters' Ball" at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. The more than 500 attendees included almost too many skating luminaries to list.

Among those in attendance: Dick Button, Tenley Albright, Dorothy Hamill, Brian Boitano, Nancy Kerrigan, Paul Wylie, Randy Gardner, Tina Noyes, Amy Webster, Ron Kravette, Frank Carroll, Ron Ludington, Konstantin Kostin, Mark Mitchell, Peter Johansson, Loren Galler-Rabinowitz (2010 Miss Massachusetts), Dancing on Ice stars Fred Palascak and Melanie Lambert, U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director David Raith, U.S. Figure Skating President Patricia St. Peter and nearly the entire U.S. Figure Skating Board of Directors. Past U.S. Figure Skating Presidents Ben Wright, Chuck Foster, Hugh Graham and Franklin Nelson as well as former U.S. Olympic Committee Vice President Paul George were present, along with many more officials and judges. In addition, all the club's current skating stars and coaches turned out for an evening of dinner and dancing in tuxedos and glamorous dresses.

Wylie acted as master of ceremonies, paying tribute to everyone with articulate grace. Button wound up the speeches with some of his incomparable anecdotes. On stage, the excellent Bo Winiker Orchestra segued easily between classics like "The Skaters' Waltz" and contemporary pop hits like "Mr. Saxobeat." The skaters hit the floor for every up-tempo number; Stephen Carriere danced with a ring of five little girls, showing off some great moves.

There were too many beautiful gowns in the room to list, but we were particularly taken with Galler-Rabinowitz's gorgeous silver Byron Lars dress.

"The First Lady just wore this dress, in black," she told us.

Galler-Rabinowitz is in medical school at Columbia University, and says she is doing a lot of motivational speaking on the weekends.

"My family has been at SCOB since the early 1980s, before I was even born!" she said.

"It was truly a coming together of figure skating history, past, present and future. I felt so lucky to have been a small part of it all."

Button seemed to be everywhere, laughing and joking with everyone. We asked him how many people he knew at the event.

"Nine thousand, four hundred thirty-six and a half," he said. "No, nine thousand, eight hundred and thirty-two!"

All the stars appeared to be having a wonderful time catching up with old friends. Boitano and Mitchell sat together at dinner, sharing memories and laughs. Earlier, we passed Wright talking to Boitano about the 1988 Calgary Games.

"We have a track record," Wright said. "I was one of the referees when he won the Olympics."

Hamill looked radiant and was happy to take the time to talk to anyone who went up to her. She reminded us that her grandmother was from Massachusetts, so she used to visit the area when she was young, and she attended the annual Ice Chips show as a spectator years before she performed in it.

"I used to come and watch Janet Lynn, in the mid-60s," she said. "It was a small world in those days. It was my first time performing in spotlights."

Hamill has been running a fantasy skating camp for adult skaters for the past few years, and she's very enthusiastic about it.

"If everyone has a good time, it's successful," she said.

We asked Gardner what brought him to the event, and where Tai Babilonia was.

"Tai had an event in Las Vegas," he said. "We're lifetime members [of the Skating Club of Boston]. Tai and I did the Ice Chips show for years. We'd come early and leave late. I learned a lot about the history of Boston from being here."

It was nice to see Webster again -- she told us that the only skating she does these days is coaching hockey, since both of her sons play.

The event benefited SCOB's Youth in Sport Fund, an initiative that supports local youth in learning, appreciating and excelling in the sport of figure skating and sponsors the "Skating in the Schools " program at the Boston Common Frog Pond.

Traveling

As always happens, Sarah saw a lot of skaters at the airport when she flew home from the Four Continents Championships on Feb. 13. Caroline Zhang was waiting for her flight to Los Angeles and happy to chat. Asked if she was going to take a postseason vacation, she said, "You mean today? Because I'm taking today off. I don't like to take vacations. You just have to reset all your jumps afterward."

Zhang said she'll be working on the triple Axel in the offseason, as she has before. She usually stops working on it when the season starts because of the risk of injury, but if it were to become a solid jump for her, she would include it in her programs next season.

"Oh, definitely. I actually like it better than double Axel," she said.

We'll give the 'Best Look at the Airport' award to Kazakhstan ice dancer Cortney Mansour, who looked fresh and fabulous despite the early start. Mansour ended up sitting next to Sarah on the flight, so we learned a lot about her.

Like some other skaters, she would like to become a fashion designer after she's done competing. Mansour helps come up with her and partner Daryn Zhunussov's costumes. She said that Four Continents was their first senior competition, and that they were looking forward to the world championships. Best of luck to them!

Ross Miner and his mother, Gloria, were also on the flight, and we all managed to catch the plane to Boston, despite a 15-minute layover in Chicago, due to Miner's sprint to the gate. Thank goodness he can run as well as skate.

Upcoming events

We mentioned back in January that Evan Lysacek will be the special guest star for the Skating Club of Boston's Ice Chips show March 31 and April 1. We just heard that Mirai Nagasu has been added to the show as well. We're looking forward to it! Tickets go on sale March 1 at icechips.org.

Tickets are on sale for Skate for Hope, benefiting breast cancer research and awareness, June 16 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Guest stars include Emily Hughes, Sarah Hughes, Jeremy Abbott, Rachael Flatt, Alexe Gilles, Caitlin Yankowskas, Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, and Emily Samuelson and Todd Gilles. To purchase tickets, visit skateforhope.org.

Please let us know who is guest starring in other shows this spring; we would love to hear news!

Sarah and Drew

Contact us at sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com
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