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Port-au-Prince: The Chill Factor


Surprised Angel (on silver skates, executing a perfect triple lutz)

Imagine this as Surprised Angel on silver skates, executing a perfect triple lutz,

Usually, when I write a story for Beyond Borders, I try to tie it into the art that we carry.  And usually, this is not a problem; our metal sculptures range greatly in theme and design and I can always find something to fit.  In fact, it is not unusual for me to I start with the  sculpture and build a story around it. However, this time is different, and I’m going to beg your forbearance and ask you to use your imagination as you ponder the attendant photos because the story is at once so absurd and intriguing that I can’t NOT write about it.  The story is about ice skating in Haiti.

The idea for bringing a professional ice skating performance to Port-au-Prince began when Haiti’s tourism minister, Stephanie Villedrouin, met Francois Yrius of Super Canal Prod, a Guadeloupe-based exhibition company at a music festival last year. Using what must have required nearly every persuasive technique in her arsenal, Villedrouin convinced Yrius to put aside his reservations and produce an international ice show spectacular.

It may come as no surprise that there were a few setbacks along the way, starting with Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent state of emergency that was declared last November, when the show was in its formative stage.  In fact, the opening had been cancelled more than a dozen times for various reasons, many having to do with the difficulty of keeping the ice frozen. At first, Yrius tried to hold the event outdoors, but organizers finally surrendered to the heat and moved into a gym. Now that the heat of the long tropical summer has set in, the electricity to run the generator that keeps the ice solid costs a whopping $1,600 an hour. It might give one pause to contemplate such expenditure in a country so monumentally afflicted by poverty, but the ice was made, the Haitians were skating on it, and the tickets had been printed, so one is left merely to shake one’s head in wonderment.

If you close your eyes and concentrate, she becomes Child Angel with Stars on Ice.

If you close your eyes and concentrate, she becomes Child Angel with Stars on Ice.

At long last, the show finally, FINALLY did open on Monday of this week.  The skaters, including Fernand Fedronic of France, and Shawn Sawyer of Canada, performed to a light, but enthusiastic crowd.  The costumes were elegant, the torch routine was anything but, and Sawyer’s backflip was fearless and flawless. (Watch the highlight video here: http://www.haitianinternet.com/articles/newsletter/video-haiti-on-ice-it-is-finally-happening.html ) Is ice skating destined to become Haiti’s next national obsession? Well, let’s just say, it might be a slow go.  They did, at long last, get the ice to freeze.  That was a start.


Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus


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