Tuesday night will be a homecoming for Amy Webster.
Webster and her dance partner, Ron Kravette, will take to the Cumberland County Civic Center ice at 7:30 p.m., along with her new co-workers — Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, Oksana Baiul and Victor Petrenko — as Champions on Ice opens its winter tour in Portland.
The timing and location couldn’t be better for the Yarmouth native, who is in the first season of her professional career.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said the 28-year-old Webster. “Going on a world tour has always been a dream of ours. To be asked to join this tour, to open in front of a hometown crowd, and to show what years of hard work can accomplish is really exciting.”
Besides the aforementioned headliners, the Champions on Ice tour also features Olympic silver medalists Nancy Kerrigan and Liz Manley, U.S. men’s champion Rudy Galindo, Canadian Gary Beacom, Russian ice dancers Maya Usova and Alexander Zhulin, pairs skaters Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler of Canada, and Americans Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, and Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marval.
Webster and Kravette’s amateur accomplishments and reputation earned them a spot among such elite figure skaters. They placed third in the U.S. National Championships in 1994 and 1995, fourth in 1993 and 1997, and served as Olympic team alternates in 1994.
“We’ve always been more popular with audiences than judges,” Webster said from her home in the Boston area, where she and Kravette also teach skating. “People who choose acts for Champions on Ice realized that we have great crowd appeal, which bodes well for us.”
The veteran pair, who have been together since 1992, decided it was time for a change last year.
“It was a pretty agonizing decision,” said Webster, a Wellesley College graduate. “To make the Olympic team was going to require a pretty huge effort, and we didn’t want to put in that kind of effort for a maybe. We had accrued a pretty sizable debt, so we decided to go back to enjoying skating, while making money at it.”
The duo took part in the Elvis Stojko tour across Canada in September, then passed on two other tours in order to participate in invitational professional competitions. They took bronze at the World Challenge of Champions and the World Professional Championships, and also finished third at the U.S. Open.
The change has agreed with them, Webster said.
“We really love the freedom the professional avenue has allowed us,” she said. “We have created some enjoyable programs that wouldn’t be looked upon favorably in the amateur ranks. We’ve really branched out and expanded from our normal repertoire.”
On the Champions on Ice tour, each act performs two numbers, as well as taking part in ensemble numbers. Webster and Kravette will skate to a sexy, upbeat version of “Jets” from “West Side Story,” and to the ethereal “On My Own” from “Les Miserables.”
Webster is happy to leave behind the tension-filled arenas of amateur skating.
“On the Elvis tour, we had no idea what to expect and how much fun it was going to be,” she said. “Everyone is supporting everyone else in the locker room. It’s a great group of team players. Also, we skated great night after night. Taking off the pressure has allowed us to skate really well.”
Webster has been on the ice since age 7, when she began on a pond behind her house. She and John Millier, her partner from 1982 to 1989, won the Eastern U.S. novice division in 1983. They then moved to Boston in 1983 on the advice of their coach, Polly Hodgkins, in order to receive consistent ice time and advanced training.
She skated with Lise Ericksen from 1989 to 1992, taking a year off to play ice hockey at Bowdoin in 1988.
She and Kravette have been together since July 1992. She says their personalities make the partnership work.
“We have incredible mutual respect for each other, and an incredible friendship,” Webster said. “We like working together and don’t let our egos get in the way. It’s unusual that skating pairs actually get along, but we have a great time together.”
After the monthlong, 20-date tour with Champions On Ice, Webster and Kravette may go out again with the tour in the spring. There are also possible tours in Germany and France.
But whatever the future holds, they’re glad they turned pro.
“We’ve gotten so much positive feedback from our professional competition that we know we made the right decision,” Webster said. “We don’t want to have to conform to the formats of today.”
Tickets for the Champions on Ice date are available by calling the CCCC box office at 775-3458 or Ticketmaster at 775-3331.