Legends hope to get skating back into spotlight
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By BARRY WILNER
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brian Boitano has never spent time with Max Aaron, and he's looking forward to it as much as Aaron is.
Yep, the 1988 Olympic champion and American figure skating icon -- the last U.S man to win a gold medal until Evan Lysacek pulled off the feat at Vancouver in 2010 -- is eager to chat with the current U.S. champ. They'll do so next week before the Tribute to American Legends of the Ice show at the Izod Center on Dec. 11.
And lots of legends will be on hand, including Olympic winners Boitano, Lysacek, Scott Hamilton, Dick Button and Kristi Yamaguchi, and two-time games medalist Nancy Kerrigan.
"I think it is important that we have these shows," Boitano says. "There are not that many shows around anymore and the shows we do, especially in the case of this show, it's exciting. It's exciting for the skaters, for the audience, and it really is a good send-off from the old guard to the new champions of today."
Aaron is one of those, having won nationals last January, then finishing seventh at his first world championships. Just being part of the cast of current skaters, along with two-time U.S. women's champ Ashley Wagner, is a big thrill for the 20-year-old Aaron.
"It's a huge honor to be invited to the show," he says. "That is probably the biggest or one of the biggest I ever been invited to. To be alongside the great ones, that is something real special to me. Not only because I look up to them, but to be on the ice with them, I can learn from them on the ice.
"And I can hear their stories, picking their brain and trying to hear more and more. They might have to stop me and say, `Max, one story is enough.' `'
Boitano hopes Aaron and the other youngsters ask for his input as they prepare for nationals next month and, if they make the team, for the Sochi Games. Boitano doesn't plan to approach them out of the blue, though.
"It depends on the skater," Boitano says. "Some people are open to it and some are not. The last thing you want to do is throw out advice when they don't want it. Wait for them to come to you."
The four-time U.S. and two-time world winner usually waits for the coach or the skater to approach and ask, "What did you do in this situation." Both Michelle Kwan and Elvis Stojko, dominant skaters in their era, would ask him for tips.
"Once you open the floodgate, they really are interested, and you can tell the difference between people who have the opportunity to be a champion and those who are there just for the moment," Boitano says.
Boitano, Aaron and the other skaters are hopeful that shows such as the American Legends of the Ice, which also will feature a live performance by "American Idol" champion Scotty McCreery, will stimulate more shows and longer tours in an Olympic year. And beyond.
"These shows are important in that they tell the story of American skating," Kerrigan says. "We did one that was similar, a salute to the golden age of American skating a few years ago, and to reinforce the history and tradition that we are all a part of is a legacy that we never want to lose.
"In this show, we will be bringing together the past, present and future Olympians, which is a small group that has represented our country on the highest level. As this next group goes off to Sochi, to recognize that they are part of a bigger history is important for them and for the American public."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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