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Skating & Gymnastics Show to Air in February
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Taped last Sunday in Oklahoma City, the Tylenol Skating & Gymnastics Specactular will air Feb. 9 on NBC.
Ivan Ivankov and Lang Lang

The three-hour show featured world and Olympic champions in skating and gymnastics performing individually and simultaneously. The gymnastics cast included 2004 Olympic gold medalists Paul Hamm and Catalina Ponor and world champions Nastia Liukin and Ivan Ivankov.

2006 Olympic champions Evgeni Plushenko and Shizuka Arakawa headlined the figure skating lineup.

Liukin, who also performed in the 2005 edition of the show, said the two Olympic sports go together well.

"It's such a great combination," she said. "One is Winter and one is Summer, but I think out of all the sports they are the closest together—the artistry, beauty and grace."

Chinese piano sensation Lang Lang accompanied many of the performances with classical pieces, including Xian Xinghai's "Yellow River Concerto" and a lengthy version of "Hungarian Rhapsody."

"It was an absolutely great experience," Lang said. "I never done this before. I can't wait to do it again."

Lang has been selected as a cultural ambassador at the 2008 Olympics, and will perform at the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing.

The gymnasts each performed on two or three events, including the floor exercise, balance beam, parallel bars, still rings and high bar.

The figure skaters also got into the gymnastics act. France's Surya Bonaly, a former tumbler, and Michael Weiss, whose father was a 1964 Olympic gymnast, both performed back flips on the ice.

"I love doing stuff like this," Liukin said. "It's totally different than competing in a world-class competition, but it's great being around so many world and Olympic champions in both sports."

Liukin performed a graceful exhibition on balance beam, showcasing her balletic style and flexibility. She also performed a dance routine to Gwen Stefani's "Wind It Up," created by assistant show choreographer Adriana Pop. The dance number was a departure from her usual choreography, Liukin noted.

"I had so much fun doing it and I hope that people will accept that and realize that I can do more than one style," she said.

The show will air in February as part of NBC's Olympic-year programming. Lang, who has been working on the Opening Ceremonies program for two months, won't reveal if he will again be playing for gymnasts or acrobats next summer.

"It's a secret," he said.

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