It’s official: in the battle of the sexes, men come out on top. Well, at least in the world of figure skating. Last December, when CBS presented its 12th edition of the popular ice skating competition Ice Wars–one of the two remaining pro figure skating competitions in existence today and the only pro skating event that airs in primetime–it featured top US and international professional figure skaters battling men vs women on the ice.
Creative Stage Lighting (CSL) provided lighting gear and installation services to Ice Wars 2005: Battle of the Sexes, which featured lighting design by John Broderick and scenic design by Ken Mark. The live event was taped November 17 at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, IL. CSL's extensive equipment package for the competition included gear from High End Systems, Avolites, Martin Professional, Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC), James Thomas Engineering, and Doug Fleenor (full equipment list below).
“CSL worked with both John and [production manager] David Elliott fulfilling the task of lighting a large arena with even light for the cameras, as well as all theatrical and architectural lighting for the performance,” explains George Studnicky III, CEO of Creative Stage Lighting.
Usually, Ice Wars pairs a team of US figure skaters against a team of international skaters. However, 2005 marked the first battle of the sexes for the competition. It was divided into two artistic programs, with the men’s and women’s teams each taking turns on the ice, performing to such diverse songs as "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet, "I Did It" by Dave Matthews Band, "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, and "Sway" by Pussycat Dolls. With all 16 performances categorized as “artistic” and no white ice numbers, the lighting design emphasized color, movement, and style. Therefore, Broderick specified a few dozen more automated fixtures than in previous years, which allowed for more lighting control.
Lighting for a fast-paced ice competition must be exact, so rigging precision is key to a well-lit show. Fortunately, the roof of Peoria Civic Center provided the proper spacing to make the rigging relatively simple for the CSL crew. “To light an entire ice rink, attention must be paid to not only the proper spacing of the trusses, but also to exacting heights, as this helps to control beam spread and intensity,” explains Studnicky. “As the trusses are almost completely loaded with automated fixtures, CSL had to take into account such issues as getting the points correct to minimize any swing that may occur as the fixtures move.”
CSL’s trussing for the event included 34 CM ½ and 1-ton chain hoists, 12 James Thomas IT Trusses, eight James Thomas 10’ 20.5 trusses, 27 JTE Black Pre-Rigged Truss, and 22 JTE Silver Pre-Rigged Truss. CSL has long supplied Ice Wars for CBS, and the company not only produces the rigging and load plots for the show, but also provides details like bridal angles and hook-to-beam dimensions to give “as accurate a picture as possible to the real-world needs of the show,” according to Studnicky. During the four-day production schedule, CSL handled load-in for lighting and ice and video wall builds.
The Creative Stage Lighting crew consisted of project manager James Martin, crew chief Jeff Smith, automated lighting tech George Studnicky IV, and lighting techs Dave Masten, Paul Mundrick and Josh Gezzi. Production manager David Elliot led a production team of Tom Battani, Bobby Igoe, Troy Eckerman, and Michael Callahan. The Video team included Tim Bardo, Andre Raymond, and Bob Bridges and the audio team included Paul Tucci and Rob Maxwell. Ice was maintained by George Arnaoutis.
When Ice Wars’ final scores were tallied, the men’s team (Brian Boitano, Kurt Browning, Alexei Yagudin, Elvis Stojko) beat the women (Oksana Baiul, Nancy Kerrigan, Yuka Sato, Maria Butyrskaya) by nine points. Somewhere, Billy Jean King is demanding a recount.
Equipment List For Ice Wars:
2 High End Systems WholeHog II with Expansion Wings
2 Avolites Pearl 2004 Consoles
1 72 x 3KW CAE High Density Touring Rack
1 36 X 3KW CAE High Density Touring Rack
36 High End Systems X.Spot® X-treme
76 High End Systems Studiobeam® PC
32 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Wash
12 High End Systems Cyberlight® Turbo
26 High End Systems ColorCommand™
12 4 x 250W P-64 ACL sets
28 ETC Source Four® ellipsoidals 19, 26, and 50 degree
4 ETC Source Four 5-Degree
6 ASL 2000L Fresnel
60 CSL PAR64
4 James Thomas Engineering 4-lite P36
34 CM 1/2 and 1 Ton Chain Hoists
27 James Thomas Engineering Black PRT
12 James Thomas Engineering IT Truss
22 James Thomas Engineering Silver PRT
8 James Thomas Engineering 10' 20.5" truss
5 36-Circuit 208V Entertainment Power Systems Distros
3 Doug Fleenor Design Porkchoppers
9 Doug Fleenor Design DMX Isolated Splitters
Dura-Flex Multicables and Data Cables