Worst Ice Skater Ever?


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Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams

For our latest mission an ice skater stranded alone on the rink transformed from a novice into an expert in New York’s Bryant Park. The project was a collaboration with Ice Theatre of New York. Enjoy the video above first, and then check out the photos and report below.

Starring: Kenny Moir, performing Ice Theatre of New York’s repertory piece “In A Nutshell”
Music: Mozart – Clarinet Concerto, 2nd movement
PA Voice: Itai Shoffman
Shot by: Matt Adams, Keith Haskel, Chloe Smolkin, Lisa Nussbaum, Kristopher Knight, Gabriel Chai, Myo Campbell, Spencer Thielmann, Adam Nawrot, Andrew Ellis, Dylan Tuccillo, Andrew Flynn Soltys
Photography: Katie Sokoler, Brian Fountain, Ari Scott, David Bledsoe – See below for Flickr links of their photos.
Produced by: Charlie Todd and Matt Adams, Ethan Lercher, Moira North, Itai Shoffman

Every winter Bryant Park transforms its lawn into a ice skating rink. Earlier this year, Agents Adams and Sokoler were hanging out in the park when they witnessed a very funny moment. Every couple of hours the skaters are required to exit the rink so that the zamboni can clean the ice. While this was happening one man, a very poor skater, was stranded on the ice by himself, continually falling. This drew a large crowd of people gawking at his struggle. Agent Adams and Sokoler got an idea: what if we put a professional skater in this position and had him suddenly transform from a novice to an expert?

I met with Ethan Lercher from Bryant Park to discuss the idea. Ethan had helped facilitate our Mp3 Experiment in the park last year. He recommended I check out Ice Theatre of New York to find a skater, and directed me to a YouTube video of skater Kenny Moir doing a performance that seemed like exactly what I was looking for. When I saw the video, I couldn’t believe it. If we could get Moir to do this as an undercover performance in Bryant Park it would be perfect.

Agent Moir has nearly 50 years experience as a figure skater, having started at the age of 3. A native of British Columbia, Kenny competed in 9 Canadian Championships, resulting in a silver medal and several appearances at international competitions. He is currently the Executive Director of Figure Skating at New York’s Sky Rink. It was great to have such an experienced professional on board for the mission.

About five minutes before the zamboni cleaning was set to begin, Agent Moir entered the rink and blended in with the rest of the skaters. His bright red sweater and scarf made him stand out as he clumsily held onto the railing.

Agent Shoffman made the normal PA announcement to the crowd indicating that it was time for a zamboni cleaning and that all skaters should leave the rink.

Within a couple of minutes, Agent Moir was left completely alone on the opposite side of the rink.

As the zamboni entered the rink, Agent Shoffman got on the PA again and this time personally addressed Agent Moir, “Sir in the red sweater, you need to exit the ice.”

The crowd started to notice the poor guy stuck in the middle of the rink.

At this point, Agent Moir fell to the ground, creating even more of a spectacle.

We had classical music playing on the PA system throughout all this, and at this point the song subtly switched to the Mozart piece for Agent Moir’s routine. Over the course of five minutes he slowly transformed from a novice to an expert.

It was a blast watching the crowd realize what was going on as Agent Moir started doing more and more advanced moves. There was a huge crowd of skaters watching by the entrance, and even more inside the locker room area looking out the windows.

Agent Moir’s performance also attracted a crowd of onlookers in the two-story restaurant adjacent to the rink.

Other onlookers pressed up against the mounds of snow on the outside of the rink for a closer look.

When the piece finished, Agent Moir nonchalantly skated towards the exit to the applause of the crowd. He took off his skates and left the area as if nothing strange had happened.

Mission Accomplished


OTHER RESOURCES:

Agent Katie Sokoler’s flickr set
Agent Brian Fountain’s flickr set
Agent Ari Scott’s flickr set
Agent David Bledsoe’s flickr set

– See the full performance of “In a Nutshell” on Ice Theatre’s YouTube channel.

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Comments

comments

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91 Responses to Worst Ice Skater Ever?

  1. Dakota says:

    Good Job guys!

    I really liked this one.

    Simple yet very awesome.

  2. Mandy says:

    love this! :) made late-night homework so much more enjoyable.

    thanks charlie + IE crew!

  3. Jenn says:

    Awesome! IE, you rock!

  4. JoelG says:

    This has got to be one of my favourites yet – an awesome (but gentle!) play on people’s emotions.

    Great stuff as always guys!

  5. Dave H. says:

    Love the photography on this!

  6. Elentarien says:

    Nice one. I liked it. Very simple.

    I am a little disgusted with people just standing around to watch him struggle, though, and not one person making a move to *help*. If it had been a real novice skater, that was mean. Way to make someone dislike the sport. Good thing I wasn’t there. I probably would have ruined the performance by trying to help. lol

    • Charlie says:

      The ice guards knew what was going on and were told not to help. Everyone else had no way of getting out there as the doors were closed.

    • M. L. says:

      @Elentarien: I had the same reaction. Knowing the guards kept the doors closed explains the lack of help, but I still thought, as you put it, that some of the audience’s reaction was just “mean.”

  7. Louise says:

    Almost made me cry, that was BEAUTIFUL!! Loved it!

  8. Hari Chakyar says:

    Endearing as ever to see ridiculing guffaws turn into “wow” and “aw” smiles. Kudos IE team! :D

  9. Paul Klenk says:

    Charlie, congrats on one of your most delightful stunts yet. A real treat.

    And you HAVE to love this guy’s sweater… My second favorite part of the performance!

    Cheers,

    Paul

  10. veganchick says:

    Loved it. If you used me for part A of this video it would have been authentic! I can’t skate for the life of me. TODD, please don’t make us wait too much longer for another mission, please.

  11. Kelly says:

    That was beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes.

  12. Christine says:

    Aw, I loved it! I love watching figure skating, and this was especially nice, because I’ve played the Mozart Clarinet Concerto before! Lovely end to the month!

  13. Clarissa L. says:

    Loved this one! Totally made my night. Actually had me close to tears :)

    • boompje says:

      it brought tears to my eyes too. I don’t know why, but I guess it’s just like Bambi for the first time on ice …

  14. Megan says:

    fantastic! a very clever idea – well done guys!!

  15. Cristina says:

    Love it! And the photos came out amazing! Keep it going!

  16. virginia rea says:

    I absolutely love it, and cannot believe I was just thinking about Ice skating I did at Wolman, now Trump’s in Central Park, when I lived in NYC, the city of my birth.. Thanks to you, Charlie, and to this excellent skater for a fun wake up this am….. Love, love, love you!

  17. Lisa Jones says:

    My favourite part is the Canadian Gloves! You rocked them! Go Canada

  18. Todd says:

    Great! I’d love to see some of the reaction/aftermath interviews.

  19. Gregor says:

    Finally an another absolutely great idea. I really like that mission.

  20. I think I saw him at the Ice theatre in New York with Johhny Weir about a year ago. Awesome performance…people were like looking wondering why he was on the ice and then..Pow

  21. Tom says:

    Great Job. I think it would have been hilarious if he fell at the end of his routine at the exit. Would have brought the whole piece full circle.

  22. Michelle says:

    That was just very sweet. :) Loved it.

  23. Maria Ortiz says:

    Absolutely wonderful! Would have loved to have seen it live. :-)

  24. Amanda says:

    Thank you. This REALLY made me smile as I read. Wish I could have been there…

  25. Frank Fazekas says:

    This really happened to me the very first time I went ice skating, only with slightly different results. It was at an indoor rink in North Jersey back in ’98. I was on the exact opposite side of the rink from the exit when they announced a Hockey practice would be starting in 2 minutes. I was plodding my way around the boards and finally thought the hell with this, I can do it, and pushed off to cross the ice. I got two, maybe three strides when a “safety” assistant grabbed me from behind. I went down to the ice immediately. Later that night I was in such pain that I went to the emergency room for x-rays. Broken rib on my right side. I missed about a week off work. Since it’s very cold today, I can once again feel an ache in that rib. And every so often, the calcification rubs against my abdominal tissue and it hurts like a bitch. Anyone know what the statute of limitations would be?

  26. Beth says:

    What was that beautiful music?

  27. Drew says:

    I wish he could have done a jump or something to make it even more of an amazing transformation.

  28. ChrisSchmidt says:

    I, too, was dismayed that nobody came out to help him and so many were laughing at his distress. I found myself hoping that the crowd was aware that he was performing. I loved the performance, though!! Gentle and beautiful.
    How about an improv everywhere perormance going off of the (appearantly)
    ‘random act of kindness’ theme?

  29. Stephan says:

    Strange how we take delight in others failures. I would have laughed as well. Thanks for showing what dignity means!

  30. the yellow tooth hawk says:

    best one ever!

  31. Vemi Hemi says:

    Wow, I think it was beautiful! Well done.

  32. virtualDavis says:

    Perfect way to start the week! Huge bear hug to the IE crew for making us smile and laugh once again. Keep the surprises coming. Please! Thank you.

  33. Jason Eppink says:

    Kenny Moir is shockingly elegant! That was just lovely. And I have to echo the kudos to the (huge!) photo team. That looked great, guys!

  34. Robert says:

    Deeply moving performance guys – well done

  35. Karen says:

    It saddened me to see so many people having so much fun mocking the ‘novice’.

  36. TRose says:

    That was a sweet — in a nice, old-fashioned kind of way. Like a Red Skelton bit.

  37. Awesome! You pulled off that “Is this really happening?” moment, and had a built-in audience.
    I loved the fumbling routine almost more than the skillful routine. Very convincing!

  38. berko says:

    I loved it. Touching.

  39. gilliebean says:

    Great job guys! Go Canada!!

  40. Josh Karpf says:

    Excellent — and no less authentic than when the producers of “Britain’s Got Talent” punk’d its audience with Susan Boyle.

  41. Red says:

    I would have loved him doing some faster moves with fast music for the finale, just to rub it in to those who were laughing, LOL!

  42. Drew says:

    I get tired of telling you guys how awesome all of your stunts are. So I’m going to pass this time. Great job though. D’oh!

  43. Vic says:

    It was great! More skaters would have been better, but I still loved it.

  44. melinda says:

    IE always puts me in the best of moods and this mission was no different. Thank you for putting on the show! Like others I felt bad that no one tried to help. But once I read that Ethan Lercher was involved I knew a lot of planning must have went on behind the scenes to make this happen.

  45. canoehead says:

    Great idea, with a super skater. Love them mitts, bye! He didn’t do anything spectacular but the crowd clapped and cheered as if he’d landed the quad. Nice work.

  46. jp says:

    I love this. I had to share it on twitter. Thanks for spreading a little joy.

  47. Phoebe says:

    This was so cute! But what I love the most about this video is the chosen musical number: I played this piece at a contest in high school, it seems like it was forever ago and I haven’t touched my clarinet in so long, but when I listened to it I remember the piece like I played it yesterday! Thanks for the warm and fuzzy feelings!

  48. Diane says:

    Good stuff! Thanks again for a big grin on a tough Monday.

  49. Dorian says:

    Great pictures, video and idea! thanks for sharing it with all of us :-)

  50. Nagaraju Bejgum says:

    Simply love it.

  51. SamanthaX says:

    Haha, awesome. :D Just what I needed to brighten my evening. It was awesome watching the people go from laughing at Agent Moire to clapping for him. He’s a really talented ice skater; it was a very cool transition from novice to professional.
    Fantastic job, IE, thank you!

  52. Kevin P says:

    Bryant Park is a truly magical place!

  53. TRose says:

    That was really sweet — in an old-fashioned kind of way, like a Red Skelton skit.

  54. parv says:

    Did Kenny M start to do a back flip (3.06) but changed the course without going into it?

  55. Annalyn says:

    Loved it. Didn’t make me laugh out loud like some of your others, but I like smiling at the more subtle “prank”s too.

  56. kieron says:

    Thankyou for this..it keeps me smiling………………

  57. wow says:

    what a bunch of hypocrites applauding

  58. Excellent Apps says:

    ooooh! great post, great video and great photos!!!.

  59. Yvonne says:

    Loved the Canadian red mittens! I don’t know if the Americans realize that these mittens are one of the defining symbols of the Olympics for Canadians. I still wear mine a year later.

  60. paula says:

    i dont understand, i’m visiting ny, i’m from buenos aires,and i suscribed to the mailist, so that i could participate or anticipate this kind of flashmobs, or the groupal ones.
    i’m only staying until the 17th of february. is it any chance that i could presence or participate while i’m here¿?
    i’m sad i wasn’t there watching this live.

    • Charlie says:

      We don’t invite people come watch. That’s not how it works. We have a few open-to-everyone events every year that we announce on the NY mailing list. Unfortunately I don’t think we will have any between now and Feb 17.

  61. jesus says:

    Que bueno, genial. Esto es puro arte.

    Gracias.

  62. Kathy says:

    Fun as always :)

    My favourite part were his Canadian Olympic Mittens :)

  63. Michelle says:

    I witnessed this and my friends and I wanted to jump over the wall to help. Then we realized what was going on and saw that the skates he had were black. All of the rental skates were blue. Very cool.

  64. David says:

    FAKE!!!

  65. hmmm says:

    I can’t believe not one person tried to help him out. Instead they all just stood back and laughed at him. Sure in the end he comes out on top (after showing them he is in fact professional), but who just stands back and mocks someone like that? How rude.

  66. Mark says:

    Awesome

  67. Charlotte says:

    What day was this actually performed on?

  68. carrie says:

    Seems you’ve got a great partner in Bryant Park! Great job with this one! I loved it!

  69. Perfect example of why I love you guys.
    Your missions are never mean spirited and always have such a sweetness to them.
    Not a calculated icky sweetness but rather a touching and very human sweetness. A kindness thru shared laughter at the human condition. The everyman failings but without the ugliness. Your camera people capture such beautiful shots of the crowd and for me it’s really those shots, not the focus of the mission, that really move me. Thank You for doing what you do. <3.

  70. Gustavo says:

    ??

    Why everyone is giving him applauses and everything? I congratz for the idea, job, production and everything, but I and everyone here watching (we are in 5) were just expecting something much better… as he was stopping everything, machines, space, people, we were thinking that in the end that he was really going to be a showman! But instead, he just made some pretty normal things…

    Well, perfect job, 9/10, only the final performance frustrated me a little…

  71. Rafaello says:

    Another great job!
    Side note: a report about this video is being featured on aol.com right now!

    –Raf

    if it isn’t there anymore, i posted a screenshot of it on photobucket
    http://i1192.photobucket.com/albums/aa330/rafaelloaa/improveverywhereonaol.png

  72. Pam says:

    We have watched this over and over again…thanks for sharing. We noticed the mitt too…My daughter loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  73. IE Junkie says:

    New Yorkers are lucky to be surprised and entertained like this. Great job, as usual!

  74. carlos says:

    me ha gustado mucho el video refleja perfectamente la sociedad en la ke vivimos

  75. Josh D. says:

    I guess you had to be there?

  76. gordy says:

    wow! looks like you freaks have entered sublime territory what with the classical music and all. although i am not a fan of adjectives, gotta admit it was lovely and heart-rendering. allow me to blow a sweet kiss in yall’s direction…

  77. javier says:

    desde el primer momento en que vi el video… lo primero que pense es porque nadien ayuda al tipo que tenia a salir de la pista… caray era lo primero que tenian q hacer que buena leccion…

  78. Rebecca says:

    Great! However, I do think the highlight of ImprovEverywhere is interviews with bystanders who don’t get it, and in this case, everybody got it.

  79. Madhav says:

    i love it!’and charlie, please, next time, dont wait so long to do new missions. i was getting a little worried =)

  80. CowSpaceboy says:

    This is why I’ll never learn to ice skate…sigh…they’ll just laugh at me…

  81. DebB says:

    In the old movie “The Bishop’s Wife”, there is a skating scene where the cab driver does a similar routine, going from beginner to expert (with a little help from angel Cary Grant).