If you haven’t got a ticket yet, this might be an excellent moment to buy one. Because those four editions of „Kings on Ice” organized in Bucharest by Amphitrion – in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012 – have been, by far, one of the most emotional experiences of my life as a figure skating fan; and a proof that people in Romania really love figure skating – that huge was the enthusiasm accompanying the shows. With less than a week before „Kings on Ice Olympic Gala”, I invite you to relive the joy, the happy memories of the previous editions. At the end, you’ll be convinced: you wouldn’t want to miss this unique show, which plays the winning card – it brings to Romania the stars of the sport.
by Florentina Tone
But first let me introduce you the cast of the gala, as confirmed by the organizers: as in previous years, the stars of the show will be Evgeni Plushenko and the violonist Edvin Marton. Aged 31, Evgeni is a four-time Olympic medalist, a three-time World champion, a seven-time European champion, a four-time Grand Prix Final champion and a ten-time Russian national champion – and, surprise, he doesn’t exclude competing in his fifth Olympics, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018; if his health allows it.
Evgeni will skate in Bucharest for the fifth time on October 7th, at Sala Polivalentă, clearly appreciating the support of the Romanian audience. As his calendar proves it, Romania is a privileged destination: Evgeni only has three shows scheduled in October – two in Saitama, Japan („Japan Open” and „Carnival on Ice”) and „Kings on Ice Olympic Gala” in Bucharest, Romania. He even tries to increase anticipation and emotions by promoting the show in Romania with a video on his Instagram account: „Hello everyone, I’m Evgeni Plushenko. I’m coming to Bucharest. See you there!”
The circle of stars is completed with the wonderful skater Stephane Lambiel – at his third visit in Romania; and what a welcome he had in 2010! – the (very much) loved Brian Joubert, for his second time in Bucharest, at „Kings on Ice”, and the Czech Tomas Verner, coming to Romania for the very first time.
Another first comes from the pairs’ discipline, with the Italian Stefania Berton skating with her fiancé Rockne Brubaker. Having recently split with Ondrej Hotarek (and this was clearly a shock for everyone out there), Stefania – with, probably, the most beautiful smile in the figure skating world – will come to Bucharest alongside Rockne; and their debut, even if only for the skating galas, is clearly one of the most awaited moments of the show.
Add here the French pair climbing the World rankings, Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, the insanely courageous programs of Fiona Zaldua and Dmitry Sukhanov, those of Sergei Yakimenko, Alexander Liubchenko and Jean-Denis Sanchis, the skates of Annette Dytrt or Marie-Pierre Leray, and you’ll understand why you need to be, on October 7th, at Sala Polivalentă in Bucharest. Am I not convincing enough? Do read then the stories of the previous encounters with the stars.
2007: the Romanian public meets Evgeni Plushenko – and what an encounter!
Well, 7 years have passed, but I still remember the roar of enthusiasm in „Mihai Flamaropol” arena in Bucharest, on February 25th, when Evgeni Plushenko took the ice, skating his Olympic program, on music from „Tosca”. The Russian had just won, the year before, the Olympic gold in Torino – and in Romania he was greeted like a king. The show was all about him and the violinist Edvin Marton – a friendship that grew up into becoming a wonderful professional relationship.
As for me, I was still under the impression of my first meeting with Evgeni, a week before, during the official press conference announcing the show. I was thrilled to have had met my favorite skater back then – and I do remember the joy, the happiness of this encounter; as I clearly recall my questions and his answers: „Who’s your most powerful competitor now, Stephane Lambiel or Brian Joubert?” – „Lambiel has two quads, has vey good pirouettes and choreography… I like him a lot. Joubert has three quads and he’s very strong and determined… Who’s the best among them? Me! Plushenko! I can beat them both!”. Evgeni’s competitive spirit was at its peak. And, in retrospect, isn’t that his forté?
2008: Plushenko returns in Romania alongside Surya Bonaly
On April 24th and 25th, Sala Polivalentă from Bucharest welcomed once again the King, Evgeni Plushenko, and the violinist Edvin Marton; this time, accompanied by a skater very popular in Romania: the French Surya Bonaly, a five-time European champion (1991-1995), a three-time World silver medalist (1993-1995), famous for her backflip landed on only one blade.
As for me, I was once again conquered by Plushenko’s joy when skating. Wearing a red shirt, Evgeni skated in Bucharest a wonderful program on the famous tune from „Zorba The Greek”, „Sirtaki”, and I kept hoping he would turn this show number into a competition program; the step sequence was to die for.
2010: Kings on Ice Olympic Tour – A Royal Gala
Let me tell you just that: the cast for this show, on April 11th, in Bucharest, was an absolute treat for the figure skating fans. Just look at these names: Evgeni Plushenko, Stephane Lambiel, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, Denis Ten, Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov, Florent Amodio, Julia Sebestyen, Fleur Maxwell… And I can assure you the gala was absolutely magical and that I fell in love with every single program; I’ll definitely not forget that heartbreaking „Je suis malade”, skated by Evgeni, Florent Amodio’s „Moonwalk” (I’d just discovered this talented young man in Torino, at the Worlds, two weeks before) or Denis Ten’s tutu, when acting as a ballerina on the ice of Bucharest.
But the man who stole the show was definitely Stephane Lambiel, skating in Romania his trademark program, „Ne me quitte pas”, and his free program at the Olympics in Vancouver, on music from „Traviata”. This particular routine, showing all of his aces, was followed by a rain of flowers; that huge was the emotion seeing him skate. Stephane himself was amazed by the public’s reaction, by its warmth – so he took the microphone from Marius Negrea’s hand and asked: „Vous parlez français?”. And then he added with emotion: „C’est pour moi un plaisir d’etre ici, en Roumanie, c’est la premiere fois et vous etes incroyables!”. We were. We definitely were. So don’t miss Stephane’s comeback in a week from now. I’m sure you’ll make him feel as welcomed as in 2010. Back then, I came back home ecstatic.
2012: „For me, second place is losing”
Two years later, on April 7th, Evgeni Plushenko and Edvin Marton returned to Bucharest, for their „Kings on Ice 2012 Tour”, accompanied by great friends and colleagues: Stephane Lambiel, Brian Joubert, Surya Bonaly, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek, Laura Lepisto, Fumie Suguri… What a show this was – and the end of it, Ekaterina Bobrova was recording public’s reactions with her phone – and what a welcome for Brian Joubert, at his first appearance on the ice of Bucharest! And, as in 2007, I was once again amazed by Plushenko’s fighting spirit and ambition. During the press conference, his answers were illuminating: „I want to do more for figure skating and for me. I would like to change the skaters’ way of thinking: to skate as long as they want, to keep competing if they’re enjoying the competition. I like competition. I need the atmosphere, the adrenaline. I like to fight, I’m a fighter on the ice”. Two years prior to the Olympics in Sochi, Evgeni was categorical: „I would like to go to another Olympics, this would be my fourth. No one has ever done it before. And I’ll fight for the first place”.
In the end, a line wich is defining for Evgeni: „For me, second place is losing”.
Do come to „Kings on Ice Olympic Gala”.