U.S. Skaters Dream Big in Ice Princess

by Sarah Ramer, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Juliana Cannarozzo and Kirsten Olson in their "movie star" chairs!

This is the first of three installments of Sarah Ramer's article on the U.S. Figure Skating stars of "Ice Princess."

(3/9/05) — It's hardly surprising that Juliana Cannarozzo and Kirsten Olson, two teenage skaters who compete on the national level, know each other well. But unlike most skaters who become friends in the process of training and competing, Cannarozzo and Olson developed their relationship while filming a major motion picture.

Skating fans can develop their own relationship with the two skaters beginning March 18, when Walt Disney Pictures releases “Ice Princess” in theaters nationwide. In addition to Cannarozzo, 15, and Olson, 13, the G-rated story of an awkward teenager who blossoms into a triple-jumping prodigy also stars Michelle Trachtenberg, Joan Cusack, Kim Cattrall and Hayden Panettiere. Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano make cameo appearances as ESPN commentators, and two other U.S. skaters serve as "skating doubles" — Danielle Kahle, 11th at the 2005 State Farm U.S. Championships as a senior, and 2005 U.S. junior champion Sandra Rucker. Canadian Jocelyn Lai, six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson, and 2002 Canadian junior champion Lauren Wilson also appear.

For Cannarozzo, a Reading, Mass., resident who has made four consecutive trips to U.S. national competitions on four different levels, and for Olson, a Savage, Minn., resident who won a silver medal in intermediate at the 2004 U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships and finished fifth in novice at the 2005 State Farm U.S .Figure Skating Championships, the premiere of “Ice Princess” will cap a year-long adventure.

Finding the Talent
The two were just beginning to prepare for a new season in 2004 when they heard about auditions seeking figure skaters for an upcoming movie. Cannarozzo (SC of Boston) and Olson (FSC of Bloomington) joined herds of young hopefuls from their respective areas who read lines and submitted skating tapes at local tryouts in late January 2004. Following a weeks-long interlude during which they assumed that no news was bad news, they both received calls asking them to fly out to California for another audition in mid-March. There they joined about 20 other skaters all competing for a chance at three available parts.

Cannarozzo, Michelle Kwan, Olson and Lauren Wilson. Kwan said, "I can remember being on the ice and skating past the commentators and hearing Peggy Fleming or Dick Button saying 'She's going into her triple Lutz.' It was great to be on the other side."
Cannarozzo and Olson both fondly remember the moment they learned they'd landed their roles. Cannarozzo, who had auditioned for the part of Zoe, was shopping with her mother when her father got a call at home. “He called my mom's cell phone, and he said, ‘Hi, can I please speak to Zoe?'” Cannarozzo said. “My mother and I were screaming in the middle of the mall.”

Olson was similarly ecstatic when she found out.

“I was getting picked up to skate after school, and I had to run back down and tell my teacher,” she said. “I was bouncing off the walls, pretty much.”

Making the news as unexpected as it was enthralling was their lack of prior acting experience. Olson hadn't even done so much as a school play. Though Cannarozzo does recall playing a singing piece of fruit in a third-grade production about nutrition, up until “Ice Princess” that was the extent of her acting resume. Coaches Mark Mitchell and Peter Johannson, however, had always affectionately referred to her as “a drama queen.”

“They were really happy for me because I had just come back from my back injury,” Cannarozzo said. “So they thought it was really great.”

Soon afterward, the girls shipped off for the three-month shoot. While their fathers stayed at home with siblings and jobs, Cannarozzo, Olson, and their mothers moved into condos in the heart of Toronto, and the two teenagers quickly began adapting to their roles as actors.

Read Part 2! Check back for part 2 on Thursday, March 10, as Juliana and Kirsten learn what it's like to be actresses. Also learn about what it was like to be a skating double from Danielle Kahle and Sandra Jean Rucker.




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