Scott Hamilton Vows to Return to the Ice

Scott Hamilton Vows to Return to the Ice
Scott Hamilton
Alexander/Splash News Online

03/21/2009 AT 12:00 PM EDT

After becoming the second contestant fired from this season's Celebrity Apprentice, Olympic champ Scott Hamilton announced this week he is returning to his day job: ice skating.

"Skating brings out the best in me," says Hamilton, who began training again in earnest late last year and plans on making a public return to the ice next fall.

His comeback will come five years after he quit performing to help raise his family with wife Tracie and recover from a benign pituitary gland tumor diagnosed in 2004.

"I've been at home being a dad and getting older and slower," Hamilton tells PEOPLE. "I had been feeling physically slow and under the weather, but I feel great after skating. Why not set a goal and get back into it?"

Hoping to perform at charity events and skating exhibitions, Hamilton, 50, expects his comeback to go smoother than his experience on Celebrity Apprentice. "It was a dysfunctional group," he says of the cast, which includes Joan Rivers, NBA star Dennis Rodman and Khloe Kardashian. "I tried to be a guest in [Donald Trump's] house but it's insane and chaotic. ... I tried to do things at my own pace."

After his ouster, Trump delivered a personal message, telling Hamilton it was a difficult decision firing him. "He said I just had a bad day," Hamilton says.

Skating, he is sure, will provide him better days. Hamilton won a gold medal 25 years ago at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. In 1997, Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. "I went back to skating and got well," he says, noting that since he started working out again, he's lost seven pounds through a combination of daily off-ice and on-ice workouts.

With skating in the mix, Hamilton is in for a busy year. Next week, he commentates the World Figure Skating Championships for NBC and Oxygen, a warm-up for his gig at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He also plans on hosting his annual fundraiser to fight cancer, the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative.

"I'd love to perform in my benefit," he says, though he's still undecided. "I need time to reinvent myself."

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