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“Art on Ice is like part of the family”

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Oliver Höner and Reto Caviezel presented the first Art on Ice 25 years ago, and 6,000 people turned up to watch. These days, the show attracts an audience of 90,000. What began as a “naïve idea” went on to become the world’s most successful figure skating gala, and its founders are still dreaming big. 

Reto Caviezel, you’ve been organizing Art on Ice for 25 years now. Aren’t you getting fed up with it? 

Reto Caviezel: Not at all! Art on Ice is like part of the family for me. It’s a constant presence in my life, and it still brings me lots of joy. 

Events like this have usually run their course after about ten years, but Art on Ice remains a huge success. What’s your secret? 

Almost a quarter of our audience has never seen the show before, which tells us that it’s still a young event that’s attracting new fans all the time. Even we didn’t expect that! In the first year, 1994, we were totally naïve, just trying out the concept to see if it worked. As it turned out, it did, so we’ve kept working to improve it and introduce new elements. 

The audience has grown steadily from 6,000 in those early days to 90,000 fans today... 

It’s a huge privilege, and we’re really thankful for it. We want to make Art on Ice the best show in the world, and we’ve been helped by an outstanding team over the past 25 years. We also have a clear sense that our artists love the show, so they give a little more of themselves than they might for other events. 

It wasn’t until the event was under way that we started to realize what we’d created.

Reto Caviezel, co-founder of Art on Ice

What has been your personal highlight? 

There have been plenty! Looking back, the very first show at the Hallenstadion 25 years ago was certainly an experience we’ll remember forever. It wasn’t until the event was under way that we started to realize what we’d created. We felt that magic that happens when figure skating’s backed by live music, when the whole audience holds its breath, and the atmosphere in the room’s completely electric. Then there was the standing ovation at the end, which still gives me goosebumps when I think about it after a quarter of a century. 

You’ve organized the show with Oliver Höner ever since it started. How have you managed to be so successful for so long? 

It’s all about respect and professionalism. Every member of the team has their part to play, from the driver to the technician, the ice master, and of course our musical guest star. We now have over 1,000 people working behind the scenes. Things have got more and more professional over the years, but we do still leave some things to chance rather than planning absolutely everything down to the last detail. It’s the only way to make sure Art on Ice keeps that fresh, youthful character and can still spring a surprise or two. 

What dreams do you have for the next 25 years? 

Oh, lots of them! One is to bring the show to even more countries. We’ve already been to China, Japan, Germany, Hungary, and Czechia, and we’re adding Taiwan to the list in 2020. These foreign productions present entirely new challenges, but they’re also a lot of fun to do. Another is to keep our dream alive for another 25 years, constantly reinventing what we do and getting the audience up out of their seats year after year. 

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    How it all began

    Reto Caviezel founded Carré Event AG in 1994 as a marketing and events agency. One of his first contracts was the World Class Figure Skating gala, co-organized by Oliver Höner, who at the time was still an active figure skater himself. A year later, the pair staged the show again under the new name Art on Ice, and the rest is history. Caviezel and Höner are now equal partners and joint owners of Carré. AXA Switzerland has supported Art on Ice for the past 11 years and became a Presenting Sponsor in 2012. (Pictured: Alina Zagitova / Photo: ISU)

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