The audience at tonight's Smucker's Stars on Ice will get to see the best talent skating has to offer - including a new resident of Lacey who’ll show off his Olympic skills.
Ben Agosto and his partner Tanith Belbin were the 2006 Olympic silver medalists for the U.S. in ice dancing. Together, the pair won five national championships, medaled four times at the World Championships and placed fourth at last year’s Olympics in Vancouver.
Agosto and Belbin announced their retirement from competitive skating last June.
They are among the stars of tonight’s show at KeyArena.
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In September, Agosto and girlfriend Merrie Schultz moved to Lacey. Schultz is a native of Steilacoom and missed the Northwest, Agosto said. Not that Schultz had to twist Agosto’s arm.
“Every time the sky clears up and I see Mount Rainier, it’s like a chorus of angels,” Agosto said. The skater, who grew up in Chicago, fell in love with the Northwest, its mountainous terrain and the people during many visits here. He said he likes the more laid-back atmosphere where people “aren’t so uptight.”
Despite having enough medals to weigh down a Russian weightlifter Agosto, 29, said the skating accomplishment he’s most proud of is his long partnership with Belbin.
“We’ve skated together for 13 years and we haven’t killed each other. We’re best friends. It’s something really rare in this sport.”
The partnership’s first victory that foretold of success to come was winning the U.S. Championship in 2003.
“That was the stepping stone. The door was open to try and get a medal at the world level,” he said.
Being retired from competition has been enjoyable, Agosto said. For one thing, he’s able to perform in the entire tour of Stars on Ice, including an Asian leg. “It’s really a dream come true. It’s really, really exciting. It’s brought us back to the love of the sport.”
Because this is the 25th anniversary of the show, there will be current and former stars performing, including Evan Lysacek, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Michael Weiss, Sasha Cohen and Kurt Browning.
“(They are) some of the greatest skaters in the world,” Agosto said.
Unlike nail-biting, pressure-cooker competition, Agosto said the mood of the show is light. “Everyone just throws their ego away and does these fun numbers,” he said.
Belbin, who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Agosto still are working out their training logistics. Agosto’s new home rink is Sprinker Ice Arena in Spanaway.
He only has had a few occasions to skate at Sprinker but plans to be there regularly this summer when his schedule slows down.
“People are really excited that I’m there,” he said.
Smucker's Stars on Ice
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: KeyArena, Seattle
Tickets: $25, $80, $140 at the KeyArena box office or Ticketmaster