The work was filmed on location in Colorado and Minnesota. Its theme song "Through the Eyes of Love", performed by Melissa Manchester, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 52nd Academy Awards.
A remake, also directed by Wrye, was released direct to video in 2010.
Alexis "Lexie" Winston is a young girl from a small town in Iowa who dreams of becoming a champion figure skater. Her boyfriend, Nick Peterson, dreams of being a hockey player.
Coached by a family friend and former skater, Lexie enters a regional championship over her father's protests. There she is discovered by an elite coach who sees her potential despite a lack of training and a relatively advanced age for figure skaters. Over her father's objections, Lexie moves from her home in Waverly, Iowa to train at the legendary Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She becomes unpopular with the other female skaters in training because of the attention lavished on her natural talent and the media attention her coach obtains for her in an effort to make her known to the skating world. Lexie proves and enhances her skating abilities and qualifies for the senior championship level. Lexie's life changes drastically in the process. She becomes a star, alienates her boyfriend and begins dating an older man, Brian, who is a television broadcaster, following her training.
Lexie becomes uncomfortable with the changes in her life and in herself. Lexie leaves a party for skating sponsors and goes down to the outdoor rink nearby to skate. Her coach and the party goers notice her, and are watching through the windows as Lexie skates. She attempts a difficult triple jump, but lands off the ice onto a set of tables and chairs that are chained together near the edge of the rink. Lexie suffers a serious head injury, with a blood clot in her brain that robs her of her eyesight. She can see only light and blurry shapes. The doctor is uncertain if her injury is permanent.
Lexie goes home and becomes a recluse. Nick, who still resents her affair with Brian, demands that she get out of the house and back onto the ice. Despite their mutual resentment and Lexie's depression, they work through their estrangement and rediscover their love for each other. With help from Nick, her father Marcus and original coach Beulah, Lexie begins to believe she can still fulfill her dreams. She is virtually blind, but can still see the boards at the edge of the rink, so she learns how to skate around her disability. She enrolls in the sectional championship and competes once again. Lexie presents a flawless, beautiful program and wins an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd. Her ruse, however, is discovered when she trips over the roses, thrown onto the ice by adoring fans after her performance, and falls to the ice. Nick rushes to her side and says, "We forgot about the flowers," as the crowd realizes that she has not recovered from her injuries but has risen above them.Lynn-Holly Johnson as Alexis Winston
Robby Benson as Nick Peterson
Colleen Dewhurst as Beulah Smith
Tom Skerritt as Marcus Winston
Jennifer Warren as Deborah Mackland
David Huffman as Brian Dockett
Diane Reilly as Sandy
Craig T. McMullen as Doctor
Kelsey Ufford as Ceciel Monchet
Leonard Lilyholm as Hockey Coach
Brian Foley as Choreographer
John-Claude Bleuze as French Coach
Theresa Willmus as Annette Brashlout
Diana Holden as X-ray technician
Michelle McLean as Skater
Carol Williams as Television producer
Kevin Heinen as Man in green jacket throwing rose
The film holds a 44% "Rotten" rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 9 reviews, with an average score of 5.3/10.
A movie reviewer for Variety wrote, "Ice Castles combines a touching love story with the excitement and intense pressure of Olympic competition skating" and praised the performances of Dewhurst and Skerrit.
Roger Ebert disliked the sentimentality of the movie, writing:
Call me Scrooge; stories like this make me cringe. I don't deny the bravery of the characters being portrayed – I just object to the emotional bankruptcy of the people making the movies... One of the melancholy aspects of Ice Castles is the quality of talent that's been brought to such an unhappy enterprise. Lynn-Holly Johnson, who plays the figure skater, is an appealing young woman who actually happens to be a good skater who can act. Robby Benson, as her boy friend, is always an engaging performer... The supporting cast includes the irreplaceable Colleen Dewhurst... There's also a brief role (as a hard-boiled coach) for the fascinating actress Jennifer Warren, who was electrifying in Night Moves and never seems to get the roles she deserves. They all act well together, and the direction by Donald Wrye tries to get beneath surfaces, to show plausible people in actual situations, to give some notion of the pressures on young athletes. The girl's small town is colorfully painted, the family's home life is drawn in a nice offbeat way, and the details of competitive ice-skating are worked in casually.
Reviewer Austin Kennedy also gave a lukewarm review, though praised the acting as "the better part of this movie. Real life skater Lynn-Holly Johnson is charming and does a fine job as the innocent starlet."
Common Sense Media called the film a "schmaltzy classic skating movie for romantics."
Janet Maslin, in The New York Times, complained that she found the movie "amazingly hard to follow", "confusing", and "baffling"; she writes, "Wrye's bungling renders the story sob-proof."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated
2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
"Through the Eyes of Love" – Nominated
2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
Director Donald Wrye filmed a remake of the film in 2009. The film, starring Taylor Firth and Rob Mayes, was released as a direct-to-DVD title on February 9, 2010, shortly before the 2010 Winter Olympics.