Stars set to take the ice Sunday

Zachary Donohue lifts Madison Hubbell during a practice run at the Herb Brooks Arena at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid Friday. The World Championship silver medalist will perform in Sunday’s Stars on Ice event. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — The skaters zoomed across the ice, combining a beautiful level of athleticism and artistry.

The Olympic Center will host the 26th annual Stars on Ice this Sunday. It is a yearly event where world-renowned skaters young and old drop the weight that comes with professional competition and let loose with a night of ice skating entertainment. The tours go throughout the U.S., Canada and Japan, but it always starts in Lake Placid at the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.

This year, Meryl Davis and Charlie White will host the event. The pair is the first Americans to win gold medals for ice dancing at the Olympics (Sochi 2014). Since then, the two have not returned to competition, and White said that was a somewhat jarring experience.

“When we first stepped away, it was confusing,” he said. “Our whole lives have been dedicated to the craft, and our schedules were defined around competitions and practice. There were some difficulties but also so many amazing opportunities to reconnect with all the people we kind of had to ignore because we were so concerned with our on-ice performance. We also transformed our competitive careers into professional careers where we just do shows. It switched our brains around from worrying about what nine judges thought of us to bringing joy and passion into your average show goer’s life.”

Davis and White, as well as other ice dancing pairs such as Zachary Donohue and Madison Hubbell and Jean-Luc Baker and Kaitlin Hawayek, practiced at the Herb Brooks Arena Friday morning. The six were free to mess around on the ice and not take themselves so seriously. Most of the pieces are recycled competitive routines, but the level of stress on the skaters has greatly decreased.

Four Continents Championship gold medalists ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker practice at the Herb Brooks Arena at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid Friday. The two will perform Sunday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

“Here, the goal is just to entertain the audience,” Davis said. “We’re not as focused on the technical details as we would be in competition, which is a nice departure for a lot of competitive athletes.”

Some of the songs and choreography elicit a somber and forlorn tone, and the dancers have to mask their more jovial emotions. Donohue and Madison danced to the ever-heart wrenching “Hallelujah” (originally written and sung by Leonard Cohen), and Davis and White performed to a melancholy rendition of the Beatles’ pop hit “I want to hold your hand.”

“I think part of the fun of our sport is that we get to portray different characters,” Hawayek said. “It’s the same way an actor changes roles and performs in different movies.”

If you go…

Olympic gold medalist ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White practice routines at the Herb Brooks Arena at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid Friday. The two will host this Sunday’s Stars on Ice event. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

What: Stars on Ice

Where: Herb Brooks Arena, Olympic Center, Lake Placid

When: Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

How much: Tickets start at $25 and go to $100, depending on seating

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