Valley native is ice skater in show

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“Crystal” is the first Cirque du Soleil show on ice, and it is also likely the first to include a Youngstown-area native in its cast.

Jimmy Hake, an extreme skater from Boardman, is a performer in the new production, which comes to Covelli Centre this week.

After learned he got the job, Hake reported to Montreal – where Cirque du Soleil is based – last summer for several weeks of training.

He began touring with the show late last year.

Hake had plenty of experience as an inline roller skater – he performed with All Wheel Sports Productions and other shows – but “Crystal” is his first gig on ice.

He’s pleased to be a part of the global entertainment company.

“Cirque du Soleil is a whole other level,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s the creme de la creme.”

As for the upcoming performance in Youngstown, Hake called it an honor.

“It’s going to be a pleasure to be performing in front of friends and family in Youngstown,” he said in a press release. “It’s a blessing to be able to transfer my in-line skating skills to ice, and it’s something I didn’t think would happen in my career. I have never performed in my hometown, and it’s extra special to be part of such a top-level show.”

Valley residents will get a chance to see Hake before “Crystal” opens Wednesday. He will be part of a group of Cirque performers who will put on a preview show at the OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Admission to OH WOW!, 11 W. Federal St., downtown, will be free that morning for the Cirque visit.

“Crystal” skaters perform eye-popping stunts and jumps in the show, a skill in which Hake excelled on inline skates. Making the transition to ice took some getting used to, he said.

“Turning is different on ice,” he told The Vindicator. “You ride the edges more. And if you fall, it’s a lot faster on ice.”

A Boardman High graduate, Hake got his extreme skating start at Vertigo Skate Park, which was on McClurg Road in Boardman until it closed in 2007. He and another person built the ramps at Vertigo.

He lives in Woodward, Pa., near State College, where he trains at Camp Woodward, an action sports programming facility.

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