World figure skating champion Tai Babilonia plans to lend her star power to the success of Ashland's ice rink.

World figure skating champion Tai Babilonia plans to lend her star power to the success of Ashland's ice rink.

Babilonia moved to Ashland a little more than a week ago and found the ice rink soon after, declaring it "just like Rockefeller Center" when she visited it this morning with city and Rotary Club representatives, who were considering a donation.

Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson didn't quite agree with Babilonia's high praise of the rink, but he was glad to have her skating and fundraising expertise.

"Tai has been so generous to help us with these things because we don't have a lot of experience with fundraising on ice," Robertson said.

Babilonia retired from a 43-year figure skating career this year after celebrating her 40th anniversary with skating partner Randy Gardner. The pair are two-time Olympians and World Figure Skating champions, with five consecutive U.S. senior pairs titles. Babilonia was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1991.

She moved from Los Angeles to Ashland, where she will focus on launching her clothing line and writing career, she said. She plans to help with ice rink fundraising events where visitors can skate with her or receive a quick lesson, she said.

The city's parks department is looking to raise money for a $175,000 project to upgrade the rink. It will include cooling coils embedded in the concrete, allowing ice to form directly on the concrete rather than on top of aging mats.

— Ashland Daily Tidings