Blasko, 4 Olympians Will Headline Benefit for Conejo Skate Club

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Lori Blasko has not forgotten her roots, which is why she will join four former Olympians and about 80 local skaters Saturday for two ice skating performances to benefit the Conejo Valley Figure Skating Club.

Eight years ago, Blasko, 17, received skating lessons as a birthday present from her parents.

“I liked it,” she said, “and I’ve been going with it ever since.”


The Westlake High senior now skates with Todd Sand of Van Nuys to form one of the nation’s top pairs teams.

The duo trains primarily at skate centers in Costa Mesa and North Hollywood, but Blasko still finds time to work out at the Conejo Valley facility in Newbury Park at least once a week.

The benefit show, called “Rainbow Ice,” is an opportunity for Blasko to help her home club. She and Sand will perform four numbers during the 1 1/2-hour program.

The pair placed seventh in the 1986 national championships, their highest finish to date. The day of the 1987 national finals, Blasko suffered a compression fracture in her back after a spill during warm-ups and they were forced to scratch from the competition. In January, at the 1988 nationals in Denver, they placed eighth. The top three teams went to the Olympics.

“In 1986, that was the year we felt the most ready,” said Blasko, who was out of action for three months with the back injury. “We didn’t expect to finish top three last year but you always aim high and try to meet your top goals. If we were disappointed, it was only because we had done better two years before.”

Blasko and Sand are currently training for another international meet, Skate Canada, in October.

The show has given the pair another reason to practice. “We don’t use our competitive program, but we use competitive elements in our numbers,” Blasko said.

Also performing will be Robin Cousins, an Olympic gold medalist for Great Britain in 1980, Rosalynn Sumners, a silver medalist in 1984, and Canadian ice dancing champions Jonathan Thomas and Kelly Johnson.

Cousins, a three-time world champion free skater, is director of an ice center near Los Angeles. He competed professionally after his Olympic victory, winning 11 gold medals in the Pro-Skate championships. He was the world professional champion for three years.

Sumners was the U. S. women’s champion from 1982-84 and world champion in 1983. This winter, she co-starred with Cousins on a Public Broadcasting System special of “Sleeping Beauty” on ice.

Proceeds from the Conejo Valley shows will help provide training, equipment and transportation for the club’s competitive skaters.