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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | SIMI VALLEY

Skaters Watch Gold Medalist in Action

July 23, 1999|JOSH GOLDSTEIN

Skaters escaping the summer heat at Easy Street Arena in Simi Valley on Thursday got a lot more than a place to cool off--they had the opportunity to see former Olympic gold medalist figure skater Scott Hamilton putting together a routine.

"I looked at him skating and couldn't believe it," said 10-year-old Kendra Puckett of Newbury Park. "I remember him from his dancing routine from TV."

Hamilton, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist in men's figure skating, has been practicing at the ice arena for the past two weeks while preparing routines with his choreographer for the upcoming Stars on Ice national tour.

Sarah Kawahara, Hamilton's choreographer, lives in Westlake Village and uses the Simi Valley arena because it's the sole ice rink in the Conejo Valley and Simi Valley. Hamilton, who lives in Colorado most of the year, recently bought a vacation house near Lake Sherwood in Hidden Valley.

"I like coming here because of the two rinks and the people are always very considerate," he said.

While Hamilton practiced in one rink, a handful of children practiced in the other rink--with a few of the young skaters trying to emulate Hamilton's flashy moves.

Juliet Ryan, a local skating coach, said Hamilton is a big hit at the Easy Street arena and that he always stops to sign autographs for the kids and to talk with parents.

"He's a real inspiration to a lot of the kids here," Ryan said. "Some of them like to escape a bit of their lesson to grab a peek of his routine and to ask for his autograph. That's about the only time I let them off the ice."

Hamilton will be joined on tour by Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski, among others. Stars on Ice begins in New York in November and will visit the Staples Center in Los Angeles in mid-January, he said.

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