Yamaguchi and friends perform in family affair at Pegula Ice Arena

bmilazzo@centredaily.comNovember 4, 2013 

— Stephanie Colbert’s hands were clenched to the ledge where the glass would normally attach to the boards at Pegula Ice Arena on Sunday.

With her jaw slightly open and eyes wide, she moved her head back and forth to follow the motion of each skater at the Musselman’s Family Skating Tribute.

Stephanie was 3 when she saw her first Winter Olympics.

It was held in Vancouver in 2010 and her mother, Julie Colbert, said she remembers her daughter being glued to the television during the figure skating events.

This time, Stephanie, 7, was able to see some of that similar talent right in front of her eyes.

Country singer Sara Evans serenaded the crowd as professional figure skaters skated to her music.

The show Sunday was a way to celebrate both figure skating and families while some pros took the ice with their children.

“It was fun. It was an out-of-skating experience,” said Kurt Browning, who was able to skate with sons Gabriel, 10, and Dillon, 6. “You’re combining two things when you’re out there with them — skating and parenting.”

Kristi Yamaguchi and Michael Weiss were the hosts. When Yamaguchi hit the ice, the crowd of about 5,000 rose to their feet. Stephanie’s chin dropped a little more and then formed a smile.

“She’s one of the best,” Stephanie said. “It’s cool to see professional skaters like her. I don’t think I was alive when she was in the Olympics though.”

Yamaguchi took gold in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

Joining Yamaguchi and Weiss were other professional skaters Browning, Ilia Kulik and Ekaterina Gordeeva, Irina Slutskaya, Naomi Lang and Mark Fitzgerald, Isabelle Brasseur and Rocky Marval, Paul Wylie, and Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman.

“It’s great being able to be at a new, state-of-the-art facility like this,” Yamaguchi said. “It’s the kind of show you can bring to a new venue and get a lot of good reaction.”

Yamaguchi said she stopped skating about five years ago and began hosting shows like the one Sunday. She said she brought her husband, Bret Hedican, to this show but left her two children at home.

Weiss did a number to an original song written and sung by his 16-year-old daughter, Annie Mae.

When Wylie hit the ice, the crowd rose to their feet. He gave a humble wave and did a piece to Michael Buble’s cover of “You’ve Got A Friend In Me.”

Some audience members began to sing along.

“It’s the Woody song,” said Maggie Cajuste, 7. The song is known as the theme song in “Toy Story.”

With every twirl, spin and jump, the crowd’s applause got louder.

“We came just to see him,” said fan Linda Mariota, who was accompanied by her husband, Jim.

Peggy Wynn-Paulis drove in from Hershey to see the show. The 80-year-old said she still gets choked up when the skaters finish their performances.

“It’s beauty. It’s a real work of art what they do, and I can just sit here all day and watch them,” Wynn-Paulis said. “When I heard there was going to be a show, I had to buy tickets. It just makes my day.”

The show will air at 4 p.m. Nov. 24 on NBC.

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