Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 U.S. Nationals Wrap-Up

I thought I'd use a photo that included as many skaters as possible for my wrap-up post :) I took the above picture at the Friends of Figure Skating breakfast, which was such a fun morning. It was great to talk to the skaters I've gotten to know over the years and to also meet some new ones. Rachel and Michael Parsons sat at our table, and they were an absolute delight! Marissa Castelli was there super early, and it was awesome to hear her determination to be on the ice at Worlds in Boston next year. I'm so excited for her and Mervin's future.

It’s hard to believe this year was my fifteenth nationals. Each year has its own special moments and memories, and 2015 is no exception. This competition was one of the best I’ve seen as far as the overall level and quality of skating. Maybe I’m biased, but I think we have the most depth in talent in the world when you look at all four disciplines together. I’m so pumped about what the next few years will bring as we journey toward the 2018 Olympics.

Thank you, Greensboro, for putting on another fabulous event! The workers and volunteers there are the nicest I’ve ever encountered at a skating competition. I thought I’d highlight my favorite moments from this year’s event, some on the ice and some off the ice, in no particular order:

1. Meeting my Twitter friends in person and getting to hang out and talk all things skating. This sport has brought such awesome people into my life!
2. Ernie Utah Stevens telling me he’s obsessed with my books
3. Tarah Kayne showing us her K-pop dance routine at the FOFS breakfast
4. Josh Farris’ brilliant short program - the breathtaking triple Axel, the jaw-dropping spins, the incredible musicality and emotion in every movement. It was perfection.
5. Josh Farris’ long program, when the spellbound audience sat in complete silence
6. Madison Chock and Evan Bates winning their first national title
7. Stasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus breaking through into the top five in ice dance
8. Seeing Tanith, Ben, Meryl, and Charlie looking fabulous as members of the media
9. Mirai Nagasu’s gorgeous short program
10. Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea’s incredible performance in the free skate after so little training time
11. The fierce look on Adam Rippon's face after he landed all his jumps in the short program
12. Watching Jason Brown and Adam Rippon practice for the exhibition while the Zambonis circled the ice around them
13. Seeing the adorable Fontana-Zimmerman family watching Frozen together in the Fan Fest Theater (and the little girls in their matching outfits every day!)

I hope St. Paul can live up to Greensboro next year! I greatly enjoyed nationals last time it was in Minnesota, and I'm really looking forward to returning there!

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 U.S. Nationals-Sunday Events

I think the above photo of Adam Rippon perfectly sums up the men's free skate overall. What an afternoon of skating! It was one of the best competitions I've ever seen, and I'm so psyched to see how far these guys can keep pushing each other. Is Adam's triple Axel FINALLY a solid jump for him? Can it really be?? If it is, he is going to be a huge force the next few years.

As a Josh Farris uber fan, it's definitely driving me a little batty to think he could have won if not for the extra double toe, but I'm rationalizing the situation by looking at the little bobbles he had. His performance probably didn't deserve gold. But I'm just so happy he skated so well and fought for every landing when the pressure had to be unbelievably intense. Skate gods, please keep him healthy so he can build on this competition and continue to grace us with beautiful performances like we saw from him this weekend. 

The gala wasn't one of the better ones I've seen. One of the highlights was during the closing when the skaters were spontaneously dancing together. Check out the video here.

Check out all my photos from the men's free skate, medal ceremony, exhibition, and Friends of Figure Skating breakfast here!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 U.S. Nationals-Saturday Events

My posts always get shorter as the week goes on. Today I just have to say a big WHOO HOO for Madi and Evan and their awesome skate and their first national championship!! And also a huge WOW to Ashley Wagner for her kick-ass performance. She was so in the zone it was scary!

Now I shall go to sleep and say my goodnight prayers for a spectacular men's free skate tomorrow.... I'd like to see these two guys at the top of the podium (any order will be fine!):

Here are the rest of my photos from Saturday => PHOTOS

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 U.S. Nationals-Friday Events

It's close to 2:00am and I'm still reeling from the men's short program. To be able to see my favorite in the field, Josh Farris, skate his gorgeous program so spectacularly was beyond amazing. With the tough season he's had, I had no idea what to expect from him, and he delivered the performance of the night. Then for him to be rewarded with a sky-high score was even more surprising. The final group of men in the free skate is going to be insane!

The Junior Free Dance and the Senior Short Dance were also Friday, and my other favorite moment of the day was seeing Stasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus step up into the top tier of teams with their awesome performance. They've been plugging away and working so hard, and their improvement this year is evident.

For all the photos from today's events, click here => PHOTOS

Note: I was sitting up in the hospitality room for a large part of the Short Dance, and I couldn't take photos from my vantage point, so there are a bunch of teams missing.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2015 U.S. Nationals-Wed & Thurs Events

Hello from Greensboro, North Carolina!! I arrived Wednesday afternoon and have already seen so much skating. I started with the Junior Short Dance on Wednesday evening. I was so bummed that Chloe Lewis/Logan Bye didn't have a great skate, and I thought the Parsons should have been in first, so that event was a bit disappointing, but the overall skating was good. Anthony Ponomarenko (known as "Baby Pon" in my group) and his partner Christina Carreira were great, and I'm really excited about their future.

After the Jr SD I hopped over to the pairs practice next door. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier looked VERY solid on all their elements, and I was so impressed with Gretchen Donlan/Nate Bartholomay. I wasn't sure how they would look as a pair, but they are so lovely! Gretchen's smile lit up the building.

Thursday morning started with men's practice. I saw the last two groups and got to see Josh Farris do a gorgeous run-through of his Schindler's List program. I'm lighting a church-full of candles that he lands all the jumps in the competition because that program will have people weeping. Jeremy did a wonderful heartfelt run-through of his Sam Smith short program with beautiful jumps. Ricky Dornbush was having lots of jump problems, so hopefully he can get it together before tonight.

After a quick sandwich run, it was back to the arena for the Junior Pairs Free Skate. Big WOW to Caitlin Fields and Ernie Utah Stevens, the champions. They are so smooth and look so cohesive for a team that's been together less than a year. I hope this is only the first of many big things to come for them.

I caught two groups of dance practice in the afternoon. Madi Chock and Evan Bates looked very strong in their Paso run-through, totally commanding the ice. The Shibs also looked on top of their game. After Madi and Evan's group, I ran over to the practice arena to see the pairs warm up for the short program. From the crisp elements I saw there, I had a good feeling about the looming competition, and I was right. 

The Pairs Short Program was one of the best I've seen at Nationals. I think the gap between first and second should be much, much smaller, and the gap between first and fourth should also be smaller. The PCS were very questionable. I was SO happy for Tarah Kayne/Danny O'Shea for skating brilliantly after such a tough season with Tarah's surgery. She is a rock star, and so is Alex Shaughnessy, who also had surgery earlier this season. She and Jimmy Morgan had the crowd smiling and dancing with their high-energy Grease program.

I skipped the first two groups of the Ladies Short Program to watch the evening men's practice next door. I was so excited to see Adam Rippon's new "Nyah" short program. The footwork is to die for! And then Josh Farris did a run-through of his Ed Sheeran "Give Me Love" short, which is my favorite program with lyrics this season. Here is Part I of his run-through and here's Part II. 

I got back to the ladies in time to see Polina Edmunds. She was fabulous, and I'd have her ahead of Gracie Gold. I'd also have Mirai Nagasu ahead of Gracie. Mirai had me a little choked up. It was so wonderful to see her skating with emotion and showing the love she has for the sport, which hasn't always been apparent in her competition performances.

Here are the rest of my photos (lots of them!) from Wednesday and Thursday => PHOTOS

CROSSING THE ICE Audiobook Tour-Day Ten

Welcome to the CROSSING THE ICE audiobook blog tour! Stop by the sites below to learn more about the audiobook and enter to win one of the prizes!

Donnie Darko Girl - - Audiobook Review

Thursday, January 22, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE Audiobook Tour-Day Nine

Welcome to the CROSSING THE ICE audiobook blog tour! Stop by the sites below to learn more about the audiobook and enter to win one of the prizes!

Clever Girls Read – - Audiobook Review
kimberlyfaye reads - - Audiobook Review