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The Inside Edge: New hips and safe travels

Navarro, Bommentre glad to leave road behind; Campbell gets new attitude

Wesley Campbell skating at the Colonial Figure Skating Club's "Ice Crystals" show.
Wesley Campbell skating at the Colonial Figure Skating Club's "Ice Crystals" show. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(05/08/2012) - Todd Eldredge had hip-replacement surgery on his left hip on April 26. He is keeping fans abreast of his progress by Twitter, and he took the time to write us an email and tell us all about it. He said that he has known he needed the surgery for the last five years, but he put it off as long as possible, so that the replacement joint would last longer.

"The last two to three years have been extremely painful, and I had to scale back on my jumping considerably," he said. "The pain had gotten to the point where I could only do limited jumps and spins during the shows on weekends. I would fly home during the week and only put my skates on to go on the ice to teach, and hope that would be enough recovery to be able to do the shows the next weekend.

"Not a lot of fun, but I enjoy performing so much that I still wanted to be out on the ice having fun with the fans and the cast no matter what the pain level was."

Eldredge said he hopes to be able to skate with Stars on Ice next season, as well as some Disson shows. His doctor has told him he should be able to perform again in about six months.

"Hopefully the rehab goes well and I can be back out on the circuit doing what I love to do," he said. "I don't think I'm going to push anything.

My biggest motivator is my son! I want my son to be able to see me skate in person, so I figure I have a couple years before he really can have an idea that that's his dad out in the lights performing. I think that has to be one of the most inspiring things a father can feel. I'll let you know afterward."

Eldredge is very excited about becoming a father for the first time. His fiancée, Sabrina Corbaci, expects to give birth to the couple's son soon. Corbaci, a graphic designer, was a U.S. novice pairs medalist, with Eddy Zeidler, in 1991 and 1992. She also has a 7-year-old son, Ryder. Eldredge said the couple hasn't set a date for their wedding yet.

"We want to wait until the baby arrives and we can get our life into somewhat of a normal routine," he said. "We have discussed maybe doing a small families-only ceremony around Thanksgiving and then afterward inviting friends and family who can't make it to the ceremony to a big party!"

World travelers

Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre just got back from a four-month tour with Holiday on Ice in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France. It was their second and last year with the show.

"It was good to have that opportunity," Navarro said, via video chat. "I'm really proud we're still skating together. It's a hard lifestyle, that touring lifestyle. I think we're craving home life."

"I've been a hobo for the past two years," Bommentre said. "Two years of that lifestyle was about right. It's hard to travel so much. Those long contracts keep you from doing other things."

A few familiar names were also on the tour: Michael Solonoski, Jane Bugaeva and Australian Joanne Carter. Along with solo numbers, the cast plays all sorts of different roles.

"We were snakes for one number," Navarro said, laughing. "And we were coral for another number."

"Everyone performs as themselves, although there are some pretty elaborate costumes," Bommentre clarified. "So I wasn't a princess.

"The show is anchored by principals: two boys, two girls, two pairs. It's basically more of a skating-driven show. There are tricks, there are jumps. The most interesting thing about touring is that there are no rules; we can do anything we want to. The only thing that's stopping me from throw double Axel is a gym membership."

Navarro and Bommentre said they have been skating 10 shows a week, which adds up to about 400 shows over the duration of their time with the tour.

"At about the 50th time, you start to find ways to keep yourself engaged," Navarro said.

"It's the reverse of training; you never practice," Bommentre said. "We used to train all the time for, say, five competitions a year. You learn how to be a better performer and you learn how to perform under such varying circumstances."

"When we were training, we were very detail-oriented," Navarro added. "Lifts have to be a certain number of seconds, your hand has to be in exactly the right position. Now, we can do anything. The first year we were doing shows, we were so into every little detail. And now it turns out that it doesn't have to perfect; it's still going to happen."

Both skaters said their favorite part of touring was traveling to so many different cities.

"When you're competing, you never really explore the culture," Navarro said. "I felt like I really did travel the past couple of years. Vienna was my favorite city."

"I'm going to go with Bordeaux," Bommentre said. "Paris was phenomenal, and Berlin and Münster. I really got a handle on France and Germany. I would feel pretty OK if you dropped me anywhere in Germany. We can't stop traveling. After tour I went to vacation in Spain!"

"And I'm going to New Zealand for two weeks," Navarro chimed in.

The team's next job is in Sun Valley this summer, where they will be part of the permanent cast for the weekly outdoor shows. They are looking forward to it with delight.

"It's beyond nice," Bommentre said. "It should be skating's Mecca. You should have to make a pilgrimage once a year to skate outside."

"That was nice to dream of when it was cold and gray in Germany," Navarro added.

A stellar evening

The U.S. Athletic Foundation's "An Evening on Ice" benefit is shaping up to be a stellar event. The cast includes Joannie Rochette, Kimmie Meissner, Alissa Czisny, Adam Rippon, Rachael Flatt, Richard Dornbush, Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker, and Leah Keiser. The show is July 21 at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif. The foundation raises funds to help with training expenses for financially challenged skaters. For tickets, visit www.usathleticfoundation.org.

Dark theater

The Colonial Figure Skating Club's 40th anniversary "Ice Crystals" show featured a performance by the excellent Broadway Blades Theater On Ice team. Their "Masque of the Red Death" number ended with most of the cast lying on the ice "dead."

"We compete against Europeans, and they like dark," group director Mary Wanamaker said.

Wesley Campbell skated a version of his new "Bolero" short program at the end of a long day that started with coaching in New Hampshire, continued with a drive to Kingston, Mass., for one show and finished with a hasty trip back to Boxborough for the Colonial show.

"I've had a show every weekend since March," Campbell told us. "I've done a lot of skating, a lot of coaching and gained a lot of perspective since nationals. I totally choked [in San Jose], but I'm still alive, and I have a completely new attitude about skating. It's not about winning any more; it's about doing what I do best. It's fun. I like it; it gives me some freedom."

Campbell said he's still trying to decide between two different pieces for his new free skate; he plans to compete at Liberty this summer.

Also in the show were Alex Shaughnessy and Jimmy Morgan. Shaughnessy has organized a benefit show this Friday, May 11, for the MassGeneral Cancer Center, where her mother was successfully treated three years ago. Ross Miner guest stars. Go here for more information.

More soon, including a hip-hop artist's take on ice dancing's new rhythm...

Sarah and Drew
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