Kimmie Meissner prepares to skate in Kent for Love on Ice show
SARAH KEHOE, KENT REPORTER
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
JANUARY 23, 2012 · 10:37 AM
With her smooth and gracious moves at Kent’s ShoWare Center, Kimmie Meissner showed how much fun life can be as a professional ice skater.
Meissner performed a practice routine last week at an empty arena to help promote the “Pandora Unforgettable Moments of Love on Ice” show at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 that features skaters performing to love-inspired music.
The 22-year-old will skate to a live performance at the show as Gladys Knight sings “I Hope You Dance.”
Meissner, the 2006 World Champion, 2007 U.S. National Champion and 2007 Four Continents Champion, sprinted, spun and danced on the ice to a taped version of the song by Knight so a newspaper photographer and television cameraman could get shots of her. She even agreed to skate within inches of the cameraman as he positioned himself on the ice for a shot.
“I prefer skating to live music even though it can be completely different,” said Meissner after her practice. “It’s fun having the artist there because you are both trying to make this one performance really good.”
Even a taped version of “I Hope You Dance” definitely inspired Meissner during practice. She had warmed up for a bit without music because of technical difficulties at the ShoWare, but began to speed up her routine and moves with the music.
“I knew who Gladys Knight was and knew her songs, but she was not really someone I listened to,” Meissner said. “But after hearing this song that I knew because of the Lee Ann Womack version, I heard this and she has so much soul in there I love listening to it.”
Meissner will get a chance to rehearse one day with Knight before the actual performance. She found out during the Pandora holiday ice show in November in Phoenix the thrill of skating to live music when she performed to David Archuleta singing “What Child is This?”
“I have this huge crush on him, so it was hard,” she said about working with Archuleta, the 2008 “American Idol” runner-up. “But he has such a beautiful voice and put so much into his song that I wanted to do that with my program. I think it raises the level of your skating sometimes.”
Meissner’s competitive ice-skating career came to a sudden halt two years ago when a dislocated right knee cap and tendinitis forced her to withdraw from a chance to make the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team. She placed sixth in the 2006 Olympics.
She suffered the knee injury in 2009 while performing a triple axel. In 2005, Meissner became the first American woman to complete the triple axel jump in competition since Tonya Harding in 1991.
Since Meissner began skating at age 6, she struggled with giving up competing because of an injury.
“I miss it,” she said. “I’m a really competitive person so I definitely miss competing.”
When Meissner returned to skating last summer with ice shows nearly every weekend, she found out how much she had missed her sport.
“I’m having a really good time doing these shows and want to be able to love what I’m doing and not make it feel like there’s so much pressure on me,” she said. “I want it to be fun and that’s what this is for me.”
As with many ice shows, Meissner, who lives in Bel Air, Md., ends up skating with former rivals.
“Me and Emily Hughes competed against each other and were always neck and neck,” Meissner said. “I just did a show with her in New York City and we are friends. We were so competitive and now we go hang out and have dinner.”
That kind of life works for Meissner.
“I just love being able to go out and perform again,” she said. “Not having it for two years and the way I had to stop (because of injury) this just makes me appreciate it so much more. I love being able to go out there with all my skating friends and traveling.”
She enjoys seeing so many U.S. cities. This marked her first trip to Seattle.
“We went to the Space Needle and it was a perfect, clear day,” Meissner said. “”I love Seattle so far and it’s not raining. I called my friends yesterday and said it was beautiful and I could see all of the mountains.”
Meissner is studying physical therapy at the University of Delaware. She took this past semester off to focus on skating, but might want to become a therapist with a sports team or maybe the U.S. Olympic ice skating team. She also has thought about working with cancer patients, partly because of her work as a spokeswoman for the Cool Kids Campaign, an organization she helped found that helps children with cancer.
Besides skating to the Knight song in Kent, Meissner also will perform solo to a Beyonce song and do opening and closing numbers with the other skaters.
The lineup of skaters includes Olympic ice-skating champions Ilia Kulik and Ekaterina Gordeeva and current World champion Miki Ando.
In addition to Knight, saxophonist Kenny G, who grew up in Seattle, also will perform live.
The show is part of the NBC Skating Series and will be presented by The Joint Center at Renton’s Valley Medical Center. NBC will tape the event to be televised on Saturday, Feb. 4.
Ticket prices are $125, $100, $69.50, $59.50 and $39.50. The $125 ticket includes an on-ice, post-event reception. The $100 ticket includes a pre-show dinner.
Tickets are available at www.showarecenter.com.