The Complete Story Behind the Figure Skating Show "Stars on Ice"

Olympian Scott Hamilton started the show in 1986

Figure Skater
Ryan McVay / Getty Images

"Stars on Ice" is an Emmy Award-winning touring show that features professional figure skaters in a showcase format, without the Disney characters that populate other skating shows. 

History of "Stars on Ice"

Started in 1986 by Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, the production was conceived as a way for former competitive skaters to show off their athletic and creative ice skating skills. Before "Stars on Ice" debuted, the only professional shows available to figure skating champions had been shows like the Ice Capades and Ice Follies.

Originally called "Scott Hamilton's American Tour," when organizers decided to take on other performers the name was updated. The early shows banked heavily on Hamilton's charisma and personality, which drew audiences to live shows and televised broadcasts.

Hamilton retired from skating in 2001 but continued to make guest appearances in later productions of the show. 

The first tour went to five cities in the United States. As the show gained in popularity and added a more versatile cast of skaters, it expanded its tour to dozens of American cities and expanded into Canada, Japan and across Europe. 

Stars on Ice Group and Individual Performances

In "Stars on Ice," the skaters perform in groups and individually. Their routines may vary widely from their competitive performances. For instance, Hamilton's signature backflip was not allowed in amateur competition, but he performed it regularly in "Stars on Ice" shows.

The Cast of "Stars on Ice"

The figure skaters who have toured with "Stars on Ice" have included National, Olympic and World Figure Skating Champions. Some of the skaters include:

Olympic Champions Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov

Gordeeva and Grinkov won the Olympics twice, the World Figure Skating Championship four times, and the European Championship three times.  After the pair were married, they toured with "Stars on Ice" in late 1991 through the spring of 1992. After Grinkov's unexpected death in 1995, Gordeeva returned to the show as a solo performer.

Olympic Champion Kristi Yamaguchi

The first American woman to win the Olympics in figure skating since 1976, Yamaguchi also competed in pairs skating with partner Rudy Galindo. In 1989, she became the first woman in 35 years to win two medals, one in singles and one in pairs, at the U.S. nationals.

Olympic Champion Tara Lipinski

Lipinski, who won the Olympic gold medal in 1998 at age 15 is the youngest Olympic gold medalist in figure skating history. 

World and European Champion Denise Biellmann 

Biellmann's signature move, lifting one leg behind her while in a spin, gained her attention as an amateur and professional skater. The Biellmann Spin became a regular part of her routine with "Stars on Ice Europe."

Two-Time Olympic Champion Katarina Witt

With gold medal wins in 1984 and 1988, Witt became the face of European figure skating during the 1980s, even though she skated for then-Communist East Germany. She joined "Stars on Ice" in 1994.