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Boitano, Manilow, a match made in ice heaven

Brian and Barry combine for ice extravaganza

Brian Boitano won his Olympic gold medal nearly 20 years ago in 1988.
Brian Boitano won his Olympic gold medal nearly 20 years ago in 1988. (Getty Images)

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By Mike Scarr / Special to icenetwork.com
(09/27/2007) - One writes the songs while the other wins the gold, and together they're bringing figure skating to San Francisco.

Olympic champion Brian Boitano is teaming with recording legend Barry Manilow to stage an ice skating exhibition at AT&T Park on Dec. 5. Adding further star quality will be 1976 Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill, who will also headline the event.

"For me to not be a part of the ice skating world is a thrill," Manilow said. "Being that close and watching that type of athletic ability, it is really difficult to sing. I can't wait."

With Manilow's album The Greatest Songs of the Seventies providing a lyrical anchor, the two-hour program will be a tribute to music of the decade and will also feature songs from ELO, Earth Wind and Fire, and Marvin Gaye.

The show, officially titled Aflac presents Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular, will also air on NBC on Dec. 22 and 23 with a portion of the ticket proceeds benefiting George Mark Children's House, a facility in San Leandro, Calif., that provides care for children with serious or terminal illnesses and their families.

"I've been a fan of Barry's forever, and his music is so skateable," said Boitano, who is artistic director of White Canvas Productions which is co-producing the event with Disson Skating. "Every figure skater has either skated to a Barry song or wants to skate to a Barry song. As soon as I told Dorothy that Barry was going to be part of the show, she called me and said, 'I want "Weekend in New England."'"

Boitano captured his Olympic Gold Medal in 1988, the last American man to do so. A member of the U.S. and World Figure Skating Halls of Fame, Boitano also holds national and world figure skating titles.

Joining Boitano and Hamill on the ice will be Olympic gold medalists David Pelletier and Viktor Petrenko, world champion Yuka Sato, two-time U.S. pairs champion and Olympian Jason Dungjen and eight-time British champion and Olympian Steven Cousins. Pairs champions Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko as well as Vladamir Besedin and Oleksiy Polishuk, a pair of ice acrobats, will also perform.

"This sounds very exciting, and I'm looking forward to it," said Hamill, who will join Boitano in a duet set to "The Way We Were."

With one Barry -- Bonds -- vacating the field that is home of the Giants, another -- Manilow -- will take up temporary residence on a stage in shallow center field with the 60-foot by 120-foot slab of ice running from inside second base to just shy of home plate and inside the bags of first and third.

During a recent recording session, Manilow said he pretended to be a figure skater to help illustrate the tone for a particular song.

"I was sort of skating backward, moonwalking, as it got to the big crescendo just to show the band what it meant," Manilow said. "I would move backward or jump up into the air just so the band would know what I was trying to do."

Manilow, 64, has enjoyed world-wide record sales exceeding 75 million including more than five million for his three most recent albums, The Greatest Songs of the Fifties, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties and Ultimate Manilow.

While his best known hits include, "I Write the Songs," "Mandy," and "Copacabana," Manilow also has experience in the mix of genres, singing at a skating exhibition that featured Kristi Yamaguchi and Elvis Stoyko.

"It is a challenge because these people are so brilliant, skating in front of me, that I had to as I was singing, 'At the Copa' -- 'Whoa!' They would start to do their double-herniated axel, whatever, in the middle of these songs, and it was so brilliant that I would find myself wanting to watch them and not wanting to sing," Manilow said "I think that will happen all over again, but maybe this time I will be able to concentrate more on my music."

Tickets priced $50 to $150 will be available in the lower bowl of the ballpark and also in luxury boxes. The finale of the show will be "Could it be Magic?"