[11/11/10 - 11:00 AM]
Pro Skater Pairings, Host and Color Commentator for ABC's "Skating With the Stars" Announced
Vernon Kay will host the series with Tanith Belbin serving as color commentator.

[via press release from ABC]


Vernon Kay is Host, Tanith Belbin is Color Commentator

Vernon Kay, host of ABC's upcoming "Million Dollar Mind Game" and one of the most popular television presenters in the United Kingdom, and Olympian Tanith Belbin, the most decorated U.S. Ice Dancer in history, will serve as host and color commentator, respectively, of ABC's highly anticipated new series, "Skating with the Stars," from BBC Worldwide Productions. The series premieres MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22 (9:11-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

In addition, the following pro skaters will be paired with "Skating with the Stars'" amazing roster of celebrities: Bethenny Frankel & Ethan Burgess, Brandon Mychal Smith & Keauna McLaughlin, Jonny Moseley & Brooke Castile, Rebecca Budig & Fred Palascak, Sean Young & Denis Petukhov and Vince Neil & Jennifer Wester.

All six pairs will take to the ice with their professional partners for the first time in front of a live audience, with the pairs performing high-paced ice dancing moves and dazzling figure skating routines. The pairs will need to be perfectly in sync as they speed across the unforgiving ice. The pair with the lowest ranking following the judges' scores and votes from the public will be sent home the following week.


VERNON KAY - Vernon Kay's hosting career began on Channel 4's "T4." This proved to be the perfect vehicle to show off his humor and warmth as a presenter. In 2006 Vernon went on to become a presenter for BBC2's "Top of the Pops Plus" and the spin-off series, "Top of the Pops@Play for Play UK." Also that year he joined Radio 1, hosting a weekly Saturday show, and has been a regular on the station ever since. After success hosting "Hit Me Baby One More Time" for ITV1, NBC asked him to host the U.S. version. Vernon's hosting credits also include "Boys and Girls," "Celebrities Under Pressure," "FBI," "T in the Park," "The Grill," "Wife for William" and "Head Jam." He and his wife, Tess Daly, have also teamed up to host "Just the Two of Us," "Vernon Kay's Gameshow Marathon," "The World's Greatest Elvis," "Beat the Star," "The Whole 19 Yards" and "Family Fortunes."

TANITH BELBIN - Tanith Belbin is a history-maker, trendsetter and iconic beauty. With partner Ben Agosto, Tanith is the most decorated U.S. Ice Dancer in history. Born and raised in Canada, she moved to the U.S. in search of a partner and became a naturalized citizen in 2005. During their 11-year competitive career, Belbin and Agosto won five U.S. National Ice Dance titles, medaled four times at the World Figure Skating Championships and won the silver medal at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. Their silver medal was the first ever achieved by a team from the United States and the first medal won at the Olympics by an American team in 30 years. Tanith has received rave reviews for a stint on "Good Morning America" as an on-air reporter and as a red carpet correspondent for the ESPY Awards.


ETHAN BURGESS -- Ethan started skating at the age of 10 after watching the Olympics on TV. With former partner and fellow "SWTS" professional Keanu McLaughlin, Ethan won two consecutive medals at the United States Figure Skating Championships: A bronze in 2004 and pewter in 2005. He's a three-time USA Team member, earning three National medals, and is a five-time Senior National Competitor. In addition to competing for the last 14 years, Ethan has been coaching since 2001. He is currently a coach with the Professional Skaters Association and U.S. Figure Skating. In 2006 Ethan had the opportunity to show off his skating ability in the major motion picture "Blades of Glory" as Jon Heder's stunt double.

KEAUNA MCLAUGHLIN -- Skating is in Keauna's blood, as her mother was a competitive pairs skater and coach. With partner and fellow "SWTS" professional Ethan Burgess, Keauna won two consecutive medals at the United States Figure Skating Championships - a bronze in 2004 and pewter in 2005. Keauna partnered with Rockne Brubaker in 2006 and found immediate success. Undefeated their first season together on the Junior level, they took gold at the 2007 U.S. Nationals. A year later they competed on the Senior level and again won gold at Nationals, making them the first pairs team in 51 years to win consecutive Junior and Senior titles. In 2009 they successfully defended their National title. As the 2009-2010 season got underway, Keauna and Rockne entered the 2010 U.S. Championships as favorites to win their third consecutive title. Despite strong practices, a shocking error cost them in their short program. They rallied back in their long program but, tragically, just missed qualifying for one of the two pairs skating berths on the U.S. Team. Ready to focus on her studies after Nationals, Keauna rocked the skating world by announcing that she was taking a break from competitive skating. She and her partner were considered the future of American Figure Skating. With High School behind her, Keauna is back and is ready to show America the champion that she is.

BROOKE CASTILE - Brooke, a native of Detroit, began skating at the age of seven on the frozen canal in her grandmother's backyard. With partner Ben Okolski, Brooke won 10 medals, including what she considers her biggest life-defining moment, winning the 2007 U.S. National Championships. She also took home the Nebelhorn Pairs gold in 2008. After the 2007 Nationals, Brooke and partner Ben were invited to perform with "Champions on Ice." That same year they were part of NBC's "Skating Spectacular." In May of 2010, Brooke and Ben decided to retire from competing. For Brooke, this move was more of a transition than retirement, and she is now coaching and choreographing for pair skaters in Detroit.

FRED PALASCAK -- Fred Palascak was born in Ohio in 1975 and at 15 competed in his first U.S. National Figure Skating Championship. At the U.S. Eastern Sectional Championships in 1993, Fred did more than just come in 4th and qualify for the U.S. Nationals; he also met his wife and current partner, Melanie Lambert, while competing against each other in Junior Pairs. In 1994 Fred and Melanie began skating together, and in 2003 they were married. In their first event competing as a team, the U.S. Eastern Sectionals (the qualifying event for the U.S. National Championships), they blew away their competition and won gold. They went on to compete at the 1995 U.S. National Championships, where they finished in 4th in Juniors Pairs. That same year the pair competed at the U.S. Olympic Festival, where they finished 4th.

DENIS PETUKHOV -- Denis was raised in Kirov, Russia and began skating at age eight. He quickly moved up the rankings and achieved two medals at the World Junior Championships competing for Russia. After his partner quit, Denis posted an advertisement online looking for a new partner. American Ice Dancer Melissa Gregory replied and, after exchanging some e-mails, decided that they should try the partnership out. Denis flew to the United States 2000 and immediately felt a special connection. Within six months, Denis and Melissa were married in Las Vegas, Nevada. Denis became a U.S. citizen on February 22, 2005 by act of Congress. He is one of the few skaters to have competed at both the European Figure Skating Championships and Four Continents Figure Skating Championships. He was also a U.S. National silver medalist from 2004-2007. He represented the United States in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, and has toured with "Champions on Ice." Retired from competitive skating, he lives in Hartford, CT where, along with his wife, he started a Connecticut State granted-program that fuses ice skating with academics, all while promoting cultural diversity and reducing racial segregation to inner city school kids. This program received the Rings of Gold award from the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2010 for community and youth development. Denis has choreographed programs for World level skaters such as Evgeny Plushenko. In 2010 he produced and directed an entertainment ice show, "Proud Nation." The event included local inner city and suburban kids, World & Olympic skaters, Cirque du Soleil performers and MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew" dancers.

JENNIFER WESTER -- Jennifer began skating at the age of 11. A short three years later, she caught the eye of an international ice dance coach and was invited to train in Italy. She spent the fall of 2001 training in Switzerland and performing in shows. In 2002 Jennifer returned to the United States and began looking for a partner. A year later she teamed up with Daniil Barantsev. Due to ISU rules, even though they debuted at the 2005 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, winning the Original Dance, they were forced to sit out of International Competition until the 2007-2008 season. In late 2007 Daniil obtained a release from the Russian Skating Federation and the pair began to represent the U.S. in international competition. At their debut international competition, Jennifer and Daniil won the prestigious Nebelhorn Trophy in 2007 - one of International Figure Skating's elite competitions.

"Skating with the Stars" is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions. Izzie Pick ("Dancing with the Stars" and the UK's "Strictly Come Dancing") and Phil Edgar Jones ("Big Brother" and "Celebrity Big Brother") serve as executive producers. Paul Osborne ("I'm a Celebrity´┐ŻGet me Out of Here!" and "Secret Millionaire") will serve as co-executive producer. Alex Rudzinski ("Dancing with the Stars") will direct.

About BBC Worldwide Productions:

BBC Worldwide is the main commercial arm and wholly-owned subsidiary of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In the U.S., BBC Worldwide Productions, one of BBC Worldwide's seven core businesses, is based in Los Angeles and New York and develops scripted and non-scripted projects for U.S. cable and broadcast networks. It is responsible for the smash hit "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC) and is also currently in production on "Top Gear," premiering November 21 on HISTORY, "Skating with the Stars" (ABC) and "Torchwood: The New World" (Starz).

  [november 2010]  


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