Skaters, ‘Idols’ to glide into Valley, perform for the heart


What: Skate for the Heart

When: 5 p.m. Oct. 10

Where: Covelli Centre

Tickets: $36.50, $51.50, $69.50 and $89.50 at the arena box office; online at; at select Giant Eagle and Macy’s stores; and by phone at 800-745-3000. Additional fees may be applicable.

Place:Covelli Centre

229 E. Front St., Youngstown

NBC will televise Oct. 10 Covelli show nationally


Joannie Rochette captured the hearts of the world in the Winter Olympics earlier this year, and now she wants to raise awareness worldwide for heart health.

The Canadian figure skater will perform in Skate for the Heart at Covelli Centre on Oct. 10. The event, which will also feature vocal group Straight No Chaser; David Archuleta and Ruben Studdard of “American Idol”; and 11 other skaters, will be taped and broadcast nationally by NBC from 4 to 6 p.m. Jan. 16.

Sponsored in conjunction with the American Heart Association, it’s designed to raise awareness for heart health.

That’s a cause that’s important to Rochette, whose mother died of a heart ailment just days before the skater was to compete in the Olympics in Vancouver in February.

Despite being emotionally shaken, Rochette did not drop out. Instead, she turned in an impressive performance and won a Bronze Medal in one of the most moving stories to come out of the Olympics.

The 24-year-old French Canadian was in Youngstown on Tuesday to talk about Skate for the Heart.

“After the Olympics, I wanted to raise awareness for heart disease after losing my mother at age 55,” she said. “If I can help one person take control of their life, to eat healthier or stop smoking .... I will have met my goal.”

She said Skate for the Heart “ties me to my mother and keeps me connected [to her].”

Rochette will perform throughout the show, including a solo number with Archuleta singing, she said.

She’s also looking forward to skating with her colleagues, many of whom she’s competed against. “When we compete, we don’t always have time to chat,” she said. “When we do a show, it’s more laid back and you get to know the person.”

Rochette said she is enjoying the new challenge of doing figure skating shows — she was part of the popular Stars on Ice tour this spring — but will head to Japan this fall for a competition.

Skate for the Heart will be similar to a show in October 2008 at Covelli that was broadcast nationally on Christmas day that year.

Eric Ryan, director of Covelli, said he hopes to again pack the arena for the family-oriented show this year. Between 3,500 and 4,000 seats will be available, he said.

Ratings were strong for the 2008 show, and Ryan said the Jan. 16 time slot should draw about 10 million viewers. Skate for the Heart will also be rebroadcast twice on the Hallmark Channel, he said, including at least once during prime time.

The show is being presented locally by Youngstown State University and The Mahoning Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is sponsored by the Phantoms Hockey Organization, the Ice Zone and WFMJ-TV 21.

Youngstown State and the Mahoning County CVB will each air a 60-second segment during Skating for the Heart, touting the college and the region before a national audience.

Cynthia Anderson, president of YSU, was at Tuesday’s press conference. “It will be phenomenal to see the Mahoning Valley spotlighted in the national news,” she said.

The hosts for Skate the Heart will be Olympic medalists Peggy Fleming and Michelle Kwan. Also skating will be Meryl Davis and Charlie White; Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto; Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett; and Sasha Cohen, Rachael Flatt, Jeremy Abbott, Johnny Weir and Ryan Bradley.

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