Charity Is Winner at Evening of Champions

Olympic gold medalists join Harvard students at cancer fundraiser on ice

Katherine M. Gray

A Boston skating troupe performs a rendition of "Star Wars Episode IV" at "An Evening with Champions" in Bright Hockey Center Saturday night. Olympic silver medalist Paul S. Wylie '90 hosted the event.

A star-studded performance lit up the Bright Hockey Center as the 37th annual performance of “An Evening with Champions” hit the ice this weekend.

“An Evening with Champions,” an entirely student-organized event, raises money for the fight against childhood cancers. Proceeds go to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund.

This year’s program featured 1994 Olympic gold medalist Oksana S. Baiul, 1964 and 1968 Olympic gold medalists Ludmilla and Oleg Protopopov, as well as Harvard’s own skaters and rising stars in the sport.

“Over the summer we come up with a dream list of skaters,” said event co-chair Elena I. Squarrell ’07. “We try to come as close to our dream list as possible.”

Baiul has been coming to perform at “An Evening with Champions” since she was 16.

Now 28, Baiul finds it “a funny story” that most of the skaters she now appears with are around 20.

“Everyone knows my age,” Baiul told The Crimson. “But I feel like I’m 12.”

Baiul finds performing at “An Evening with Champions” to be a rewarding experience.

“I am doing this, first of all, because I am so happy to be on the ice, and second of all for the people who need the money,” said Baiul.

Even though 12 years have passed since she won the gold, Baiul maintains a busy schedule, training with longtime coach Valentin Nikolaev, who prepared her for the 1994 Olympics, and traveling “about 300 days a year.”

“My message is stick to what you love to do, and that’s what I do,” said Baiul. “Sometimes it’s hard, but in the big picture it makes a difference.”

Since its 1970 debut, “An Evening With Champions” has raised over $2.3 million for cancer research.

Event co-chair Jeffrey S. Bramson ’08, said proceeds from this year’s performances were in the “ballpark of $40,000.”

Each year, the skaters also meet with the children who benefit from the show.

Performer Emily A. Hughes, a 2006 U.S. Nationals bronze medalist and 2006 U.S. Olympic team member, said that it was “rewarding visiting the children in the hospital to actually see where the money is going.”

The show featured a colorful routine by an umbrella-toting Harvard University Skating Club to “It’s Raining Men.”

Other group performances included a rendition of “Star Wars” by two-time defending International Theatre on Ice gold medalists Act I of Boston, and an appearance by 15-time U.S. National synchronized skating champions, The Haydenettes.

The show was hosted by 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul S. Wylie ’90. Other notable performers included 2006 Four Continents silver medalist ice dancers Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin; 2006 Winter Olympic silver medalists Benjamin A. Agosto and Tanith J. L. Belbin; and Christopher R. Schleicher ’09, who skated with his younger sister Molly.