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Catching up with Oksana Baiul

Oksana Baiul wearing a Levi Okunov design in a fashion show at the Jewish Museum in New York.
Oksana Baiul wearing a Levi Okunov design in a fashion show at the Jewish Museum in New York. (Photo courtesy of Oksana Baiul)

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By Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(05/01/2008) - Icenetwork.com's behind-the-scenes reporters Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins, caught up with skating legend, Oksana Baiul.

Oksana sings!

Oksana Baiul called us on a rainy afternoon and filled us in on what she's been up to.

"I just finished a new number with Nikolai Morosov," she said. "It's actually to techno music, by Mika, who is very popular with the kids from the ages of 10 to 25. I just prepared this number for exhibitions next season."

"The biggest project I'm working on now is Cold As Ice. Next season's version is a little bit different, but the idea is the same: a musical on ice. But this version will be different because in old version I was just skating. In the newer version, I will be singing, acting and skating."

Really! Can you sing?

"I can," said Oksana with confidence. "I'm taking classes right now, I'm taking lessons with a coach."

How do you like it?

"It comes very natural, it comes very easy, because my singing is almost like talking, in the show. I'm not trying to be Christina Aguilera!"

Which is harder, skating or singing?

"I would say ... skating, yes. You know, I get a lot of invitation for shows... I enjoy doing them, but they're all the same. It's like, you prepare, you have a number, and then you go out and you skate the number. Cold as Ice, it's like a full-production show. For me, it's something different."

The new production of the skating musical will probably open in December, 2008 at the Millennium Theater in Brighton Beach, N.Y. After that it will go to Toronto and Alberta, and possibly Florida. Then it's headed for Broadway in 2009. We haven't seen the show -- yet -- but we understand it's full of characters from the weird and wonderful world of skating: obsessed coaches, temperamental divas, scary skating moms, and fabulosity all around. Composer and lyricist Frank D'Agostino's musical tells the story of six skaters, from the U.S., Canada and Russia, as they go through their national championships and on to the Olympics.

The director, Philip McKinley, previously helmed The Boy from Oz, starring Hugh Jackman, on Broadway.

We moved on to fashion and asked Oksana which designers she is currently favoring.

"I'm working with a designer, Levi Okunov. I really like his designs because he's reminding me of Yoshi Yamamoto. Levi has such talent, and I love people with the talent. I know how tough it is to be, like, a little guy. I met him when he was so young -- he's 22 now.

"I was with him at the Jewish Museum in New York [on April 1]. He had an exhibition there, for one week -- it's a pretty big deal. His story is very interesting; he is the son of a rabbi, and he's 'fashion forward,' and in that culture, it's a no-no!"

Did you wear his designs in the show?

"Yes; I am his muse. Basically, I wear his designs, and I opened up the show in a very funky dress! It's fashion, not real life. In real life, I like to wear Juicy Couture jacket. In fashion, you always have to search for yourself."

We heard that Johnny Weir designed a costume for you.

"Johnny designed my costume for Cold As Ice. I asked Johnny, because he is also into fashion... I mean, who can design a better costume than a skater? Because they know the fabric, they know the lines.

"I absolutely love Johnny, I adore him, and I was happy for him at worlds. Now he is working with my coach, with Galina Zmievskaya, and from what I understand, they have a good match, and I wish them all the best."

What do you think of the current ladies skaters?

"It's very hard, you know, to have this structure at such a young age. There's a tremendous amount of pressure -- I remember myself, getting ready for worlds, I was sleeping and breathing and eating skating, just skating, skating, skating.

"I'm not a great person to judge the skaters, because I am a skater myself, and I don't like to judge people. So I want everybody to just be happy -- and do the jumps! It's a very tough, hard sport."

Oksana's next event is the opening of the Sports Museum of America in New York City, May 6. She emailed us yesterday to mention it and added: "Wait for my outfit! Ha ha ha!"

We are most intrigued.

Sarah (Drew will be back next time)

sarahanddrewblog@gmailcom