Between DWTS Shows, Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon Are Touring the Country With 12 Other Olympians
The two-month tour — featuring Nagasu and Rippon as well as Nathan Chen, Meryl Davis, Charlie White and others — kicked off in Florida last weekend and continues through late May.
“The only rule is to perform,” Adam Rippon tells PEOPLE. “That’s the biggest difference.”
The 28-year-old Olympic bronze medalist is joining 13 other Olympians for the two-month tour, which kicked off in Florida last weekend and continues through late May.
Unlike competitive figure skating, Stars on Ice places much more of an emphasis on artistry and emotion, through a mix of individual and group routines set to songs from the likes of Janelle Monae, Justin Timberlake and Pink plus the Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton soundtracks and more.
What there won’t be: any judges, scores or podiums — but there will be a much more fan-friendly experience.
“It doesn’t matter where you sit, it’s going to be a good seat,” says Mirai Nagasu, a fellow Olympic medalist. “When we are in competition, we are literally catering to the judges and so our programs are set to be a better view for the one side, and then overall it’s still beautiful but there are so many rules and so many things we need to get done that we are more focused on that.”
“To perform for the audience,” says Nagasu, 24, “I love it.”
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“One of the really fun things about being a spectator at a show like this is getting to see the camaraderie between the skaters,” says Davis, 31.
Especially in those group numbers, choreographed by Jeff Buttle, which pose their own challenges and promise their own rewards.
White, 30, tells PEOPLE: “I have a very different personality from Adam and he has a very different personality from Nathan [Chen] — so we still want to be able to use our personalities and what makes each of us individually special as skaters, but as a group. And so when we bring it all together, it sort of heightens the performance level of all of us.”
“We don’t have much time and we kind of have to figure out: Who’s going to take the lead? Where and who’s going to have more energy? And who’s going to sort of be in the spotlight, and then when are we going to come back together as a group?” White says. “And luckily because we’re friends and we know each other so well and we’ve been fans of each other, it’s like you kind of know what to expect at this point and that’s what makes it easy. That’s why it’s easy to have fun.”
And don’t worry: Though Nagasu and Rippon both just joined Dancing With the Stars‘ upcoming season, they will not miss any tour dates.
Rippon told PEOPLE before the announcement: “I’m going to be focused on being my best on this tour to put on a great show. There are a lot of doors open right now, and I’m trying to walk through every single one. ”
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This year’s tour is unusual for another reason, since it comes at the end of an Olympic cycle which saw 10 of the 14 skaters in Stars on Ice compete in South Korea at February’s Winter Games.
The title — “Celebration” — reflects the intended mood.
“We spend a lot of time in high-pressure situations and so now we can hang out with our competitors and our friends,” Rippon says. “With the Olympics over and behind us, we can just take a breath and relax. … We put all of that stress behind us and every time we are on the ice, we just go out and enjoy.”
Echoing that, Davis says it’s “really rare” for such a large group of skaters to join together: “not only [to] be able to skate together, but to interact with each other and use our friendships and the comfort level we have with each other to create a more special and entertaining and engaging atmosphere, I think is a lot of fun.”