MASHANTUCKET, CT. - "Thin Ice," the world championship of men's professional figure skating, will be contested Dec. 18-23, at the new MGM Grand at Foxwoods, it was announced today by Joseph C. Jimenez, senior vice president, Foxwoods Resort Casino, and Terry O'Neil, CEO of O'Neil Productions, Inc.
"Thin Ice" will bring together six highly decorated figure skaters, including four-time World champion Kurt Browning. The competition will follow the format popularized by television shows such as "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars," making it a new and exciting presentation of the popular sport.
The competition will be held in the Premier Ballroom of the new MGM Grand at Foxwoods, which opened on May 17, 2008. The 50,000 square foot ballroom is the largest column-free ballroom in the Northeast and will offer a spectacular setting for the event.
"The Premier Ballroom is a remarkable space," Jimenez said. "We'll build an ice rink 80 by 160 feet and still have room for 4000 spectators. The room will have great ambience with elegant chandeliers hanging from a 26-foot high ceiling. The skaters will be illuminated by spotlight. The spectator seating will be darkened to give the feel of a cabaret or nightclub."
Browning, 42, will face skaters as much as 14 years younger than himself in what could be his final competition.
"I just couldn't resist," said Browning, who was recently voted Canada's second-greatest athlete of all-time, behind Wayne Gretzky. "This is such a great opportunity for skating, I wanted to be part of it.
“But excuse me, I must get to the gym immediately," he quipped.
The other five competitors in the field will be announced shortly.
The competition will be judged by two-time Olympic and five-time World champion Dick Button and two-time Olympic and four-time World champion Katarina Witt. Scores will be calculated with 50% by audience vote and 50% by the judges.
Button and Witt will award one set of marks from one through 10 for each skating program.
Skaters will need six different programs in their repertoire, each lasting 2:00 - 2:30 minutes in length. The competition will have no technical skating requirements. One skater will be eliminated each night until a champion is crowned.
Shae-Lynn Bourne, the 2003 World ice dance champion, has been selected as the choreographer for the show.
"The only rule is to entertain us, enthrall us, cast a spell on us," O'Neil said. “Dick and Katarina will calculate the technical difficulty of each program and reward it in their marks. But these skaters are artists and showmen and their programs will be judged primarily on entertainment value."
"Thin Ice" offers a departure from tradition in that television audiences will be casting votes. "Now every skating fan's dream comes true -- relax in the comfort of your home, judge the performances and cast a meaningful vote,” O’Neil said.
A total of $300,000 in prize money is up for grabs:
1st place -- $100,000
2nd place -- $60,000
3rd place -- $50,000
4th place -- $40,000
5th place -- $30,000
6th place -- $20,000
For updates see "Thin Ice Shelved," as well as "Thin Ice" -- Realtiy TV Show With a New Twist and Rochette to Perform at "Thin Ice."