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John Orozco: Combining Summer & Winter Sports

By John Orozco, 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnast | Jan. 08, 2015, 3:16 a.m. (ET)

First day of rehearsals

Trying to stay warm in the arena with Simone

The Progressive Disson Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular was a great way to end the year! Performing in the figure skating/gymnastics show is a chance for elite athletes to have fun on the floor AND on the ice doing big skills, without being judged or worrying about scores. It’s a time to celebrate all the hard work the athletes put into their respective sport. The Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular is a big event for elite skaters and gymnasts. This marked my second year being part of the show, which combines many of the things that I love into one show: skating, gymnastics, live singing, music and dancing.

The first day of rehearsals in Jamestown, New York, was a blast because we were creating most of the choreography with everyone giving different ideas and suggestions. Along with choreography, we have to see where the actual gymnastics will fit in within the show. Then we discover where the TV cameras will be on the floor at each point in the show. The show is live in an arena, but is also taped to air (twice) on ABC on Feb. 7 & 28 so please check your local listings and tune in!

The layout had gymnastics equipment around the arena in a half circle with a section of ice in the middle for the skaters to perform. Gymnastics events for the men included: floor exercise, still rings, high bar, parallel bars, and the girls: beam and floor. The most difficult part of the show was doing gymnastics in the freezing cold! This is because of the obvious: the arena must be cold in order for the ice not to melt. With our adrenaline pumping when it came time for the show, the cold was not an issue anymore.

Singing on the Tropicana Room stage

Now, going back to the events leading up to the show… After a full day of rehearsals, members of the cast were taken to one Jamestown’s biggest attractions: the Lucille Ball Museum. The whole museum is dedicated to honoring the most iconic female comedian of all time and her upbringing, as well as her most famous role in the all-time television series, “I Love Lucy.” After the tour of the museum, we had dinner in a room that was a re-creation of Ricky Ricardo’s famous nightclub from “I Love Lucy.” We watched a few clips of Lucille Ball’s journey to becoming the first female comedian on television and a hilarious episode of “I Love Lucy.” The previous year that I had performed, I was volunteered to go up on the stage of the “nightclub” and sing a song since the cast knows I love to sing. Of course history repeated itself! I channeled my inner Desi and jumped up on the Tropicana Room stage to sing for everyone. I think the audience really enjoyed my performance!

New figure skating moves

The day of the show, we did run-throughs to make sure everything was set. When the whole cast took a break from rehearsing, I decided I wanted to go skating with the pros. There is nothing quite like sharing the ice with Olympic athletes! I have to say I'm not the most graceful of the bunch on the ice, but I had a few tricks of my own to show them! After goofing around on the ice for a bit I sort of, kind of, not really, but slightly was able to do half of an axel jump. After skating for not even an hour, I have to give skaters credit for their amazing skills. 

I was able to meet one of the guest celebrity singers, Danielle Bradbery. I really enjoy meeting artists because I love music and the entertainment industry. Danielle is probably one of the most down to earth and sweetest girls I've ever met.

My favorite part of the show, besides the performances, were the costumes. I can't imagine ever wearing any of the costumes outside of the show, but it was pretty entertaining to wear the flashy outfits along with a few props. The show went by faster than I expected. The crowd in the arena had so much energy; it made it easy for us to perform our best. During the time we spent together, the figure skaters and gymnasts became close and it shows throughout our performances. I can't wait for you all to see the final Progressive Disson Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular on ABC on Feb. 7 & 28, 2015.

Selfie between rehearsals

Related Athletes

head shot

John Orozco