By Maura Sullivan Hill, Team FSO staff writer
NASHVILLE, TN — At the 2021 Scott Hamilton and Friends show on Nov. 21, Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic Champion, welcomed the crowd at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and told them, “We’re here to do better…and to honor those who are deeply in our hearts.”
The proceeds raised from the show, and an accompanying dinner and auction, support the efforts of Hamilton’s CARES Foundation to fund cancer research. This year’s show will fund Glioblastoma research, in memory of music producer Michael Busbee. His wife, Jessie Busbee, was instrumental in the show’s planning and helped gather the lineup of Grammy Award-winning country stars for the musical performances. She sat front row center at Bridgestone, and Hamilton and the crowd acknowledged her during the show.
Featuring Olympic and Grammy-Winning Stars
On the ice, the show cast included Katia Gordeeva, two-time Olympic Pairs Champion; Ilia Kulik, 1998 Olympic Champion; Kaetlyn Osmond, 2018 Olympic Bronze Medalist and World Champion; Jeremy Abbott and Gracie Gold, who individually are U.S. Champions and 2014 Olympic Team Bronze Medalists; Olympic Team Gold Medalist and Pairs Bronze Medalist Meagan Duhamel with Dylan Moscovitch, an Olympic Team Silver Medalist; three-time World Medalists in ice dance Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje; Women’s and Men’s U.S. Champions Alissa Czisny and Ryan Bradley; Canadian men’s national champion Nam Nguyen; and international competitor and social media star Elladj Baldé.
Behind the microphone, the show featured musical acts Lady A, Maren Morris, Hunter Hayes, for KING & COUNTRY, Grace Potter, CeCe Winans, and Sixwire, plus surprise performer Carly Pearce.
From Olympians to Local Skaters
Backed by the pulsating drums of Christian pop duo for KING & COUNTRY, singing their song “Amen,” the skating cast kicked off the show with a powerful opening number featuring backflips by Abbott, Bradley, and Baldé.
2014 Olympian Gold, still on the comeback trail and fresh off a gold medal win at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championship Series competition in Alpharetta, Georgia, performed to “Never Lost” by Grammy-winning Gospel singer CeCe Winans. Her opening triple lutz had incredible height and distance. Gold’s win in Georgia earned her a spot at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which will be held on the same ice at Bridgestone Arena in January.
Grace Potter sang Pink’s hit song with Busbee, “Try,” to accompany a group number featuring skaters from the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy Learn to Skate program, all of whom raised money for the opportunity to participate in the show.
Tributes to Busbee
During their performances, the musicians shared memories of and tributes to Busbee, and each of the country artists performed songs they had worked on with Busbee throughout his award-winning career. Artists who couldn’t make it to the show but still wanted to honor Busbee, including Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Lauren Alaina, Cassadee Pope, and Andy Grammar, all shared video tributes that played on the jumbotron and display screens throughout the show.
Country artist and 2021 Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year Carly Pearce was the show’s surprise guest, performing a song she wrote in memory of Busbee called “Show Me Around.” The tribute performance was the only one of the evening without an accompanying skating program.
Part of the Team Scott CARES Family
Olympic Pairs Bronze Medalist and Team Gold Medalist Meagan Duhamel took the ice with Olympic Team Silver Medalist Dylan Moscovitch for their first performance together. Both skaters competed at the Olympics for Canada with different partners, and when Duhamel’s longtime partner Eric Radford returned to competition this season with a new partner, she teamed up with Moscovitch for show skating. Duhamel exuded joy throughout the program, with a smile on her face the entire time they were skating to “Our Kind of Love” by Lady A. They included a throw double salchow, death spirals, side-by-side double toe loops, and some classic pairs show skating stationary lifts. They did not include any overheard lifts, which is to be expected since their training time has been limited with rink closures and travel restrictions in Canada during the pandemic.
Duhamel shared on Instagram: “Tonight was a really emotional night. Not to[sic] long ago, I thought these moments had been taken away from me. I thought I wouldn’t have the chance to do what I loved to do anymore. But I’m so grateful to my agent David Baden for fighting for me and to Scott and his team for welcoming Dylan and I[sic] into the family.”
Hamilton created the touring Stars on Ice show back in the 1980s, and the show was famous for its creative group numbers. Hamilton told the crowd that show choreographer Jeremy Abbott only had a day and a half to prepare, but they still managed a cowboy-themed guy’s number, with ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver making a cameo, and a girls’ number, both performed to songs by Hunter Hayes.
Baldé, who has been bringing skating to new audiences with creative TikTok videos, showcased his trademark energy in his solo performance with for KING & COUNTRY. He repeated the back flip from the opening number, and then, at the end of the show, backflipped over Hamilton, who was lying on the ice.
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Baldé shared in an Instagram post that he was inspired by Hamilton’s iconic backflip over a golf bag in one of his Stars on Ice programs. He wrote: “Hard to believe that now I’m backflipping over him. He has been an inspiration for countless skaters around the world but most importantly he’s inspired us with his tenacity through adversity. Thank you for inviting me to this amazing show @scotthamilton84 and fundraiser for @teamscottcares ❤️ and thank you for everything you do to eliminate cancer.”
Next Up: Nationals in Nashville
The next time figure skaters take the ice at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville will be hosting the 2022 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships from Jan. 3-9, 2022. Hamilton played a key role in bringing the event to the Music City, on the 25th anniversary of the 1997 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Nashville. That competition was the first major event held at Bridgestone Arena.
A friend of Hamilton’s who works in tourism for the city had asked him, “‘If you could do anything in Nashville, what would it be?’” Hamilton recalled. “And I just said, well, I would love to hold the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Nashville.”
Hamilton worked with the team at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Sports Council, and city officials to present a bid to host the event to U.S. Figure Skating.
“I just sat back and watched the magic work. When the bid committee came through town, I went to dinner with them and then, you know, just stayed in touch with everybody,” Hamilton said. “And sure enough, we’re hosting the U.S. Championships here in a few months. It’s gonna be exciting. Sometimes you just present an idea and it takes on a kind of momentum. There’s so much enthusiasm that I didn’t need to sell the event at all.”
During the competition, Hamilton will be on site hosting special guests and sponsors, and will also be part of all the pre-event marketing and publicity.
Nationals will be the final competition where U.S. skaters can make their case to be chosen for the Olympic team that will compete in Beijing in February. And while Hamilton is looking forward to seeing who makes that Olympic team, he is equally excited to watch the skaters who qualified for the National High Performance Development Team camp at the Scott Hamilton Skating Club’s home rink in Bellevue. Skaters at the novice, intermediate, and juvenile levels can earn points at competitions throughout the fall season to qualify for the camp, which takes place after the senior and junior level skaters compete at Nationals.
“I’m excited to see everybody skate. I’m excited for the junior events and excited to see the camp that happens over at Bellevue afterwards,” Hamilton said. “So I’m excited to just watch it all. The men’s event is going to be exciting. There’s so many things that can happen in the ladies event, and then you’ve got pairs; we’re getting better in pairs, stronger and stronger. And then the dance, we’ve got three, four great teams and it will be fun to see how they stack up.
“I’m excited to see how Nashville gets behind the skaters, and I’m excited to see what it does for our programming at the [Scott Hamilton Skating] Academy. It’s a great thing to just step in and be an audience member. It’s really awesome.”
As excitement builds for Nationals, Hamilton remains focused on his work for the CARES Foundation, including shows like Scott Hamilton and Friends, and he emphasizes that they cannot make a difference alone.
“We only do these events to fund research. And if somebody wants to honor someone they love that has gone through cancer or is going through cancer, they can go to scottcares.org and get familiar with us and donate to help us reach our goals of funding research,” Hamilton said. “And we can’t do it on our own. We need all the help we can get, so if people want to come on board and support us and partner with us in our desire to change cancer forever, go to scottcares.org. That’s a great place to start.”