Signed paperbacks of GOLD RUSH are now available! They are $15 for shipping within the U.S. If you live outside the U.S. please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss shipping options. Please fill out the form linked here if you'd like to purchase a copy.
I am also selling signed copies of the Ice Series. The cost is $15 for Crossing the Ice, $10 for Losing the Ice, $10 for Taking the Ice or $25 for the entire series. Please fill out the form here if you'd like to purchase.
I will be taking orders only until Dec. 1 so that I can be sure to have the books shipped to you before Christmas. Email me at email@example.com if you have any questions!
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Monday, November 7, 2016
I'm so excited that it's finally cover reveal day for GOLD RUSH! I've been waiting so long to show you the beautiful cover that Sarah Schoonmaker designed. It perfectly captures the spirit of the book! I have to thank Alex Ronzio and Jimmy Morgan for being my cover models again and Marni Gallagher for doing an amazing job photographing them.
The book will be released on January 9, and you can add it on Goodreads now! The paperbacks will be available before Christmas, so look out for information soon on how to order. I'm doing a giveaway to celebrate the cover reveal, so be sure and enter below!
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
I've always wanted to do the Grand Prix North American double dip and attend both Skate America and Skate Canada. This year presented the perfect setup with my favorite dance team Madison Chock/Evan Bates assigned to Skate Canada and the location of the event being in an easily accessible city. After a fun four days in Hoffman Estates for Skate America, I flew home for two days of work and catching up on my DVR, and then it was back to the airport for a quick two-hour flight to Toronto!
I couldn't help but compare many aspects of the two events, and SA definitely won the venue category. The Hershey Centre in Mississauga was a lot older than I expected. My friend and I were very fortunate to have a rental car so we could jet in and out for food between events because the options at the arena were minimal. Shout out to the nearby Heartland Town Centre for its many eateries! Also loved the burger I had at South St. Burger. YUM.
One other area where SC could've used some improvement was the entertainment between events. I never thought I would long for Rusty, the USFSA arena host, but he is a huge step up from the girl who was screaming (and I mean SCREAMING) into the microphone at SC as Elvis Stojko launched T-shirts into the crowd. SC did do a great job with the music during all the events. They kept it current and upbeat with the pop tunes and had an even bigger library than DJ Romeo :)
On to the skating! The ladies were pretty meh. Satoko was the highlight for me, but as usual her scores did not reflect the excellent quality of her skating. I just don't understand what the judges' problems are with her. She is graceful and thoughtful in her movements, and she consistently delivers clean, technically challenging programs. Isn't that what they want? I watch her and then I watch Medvedeva and I continue to scratch my head on the gap between them. Medvedeva can do the jumps, but the arm over the head is not aesthetically pleasing the way she does it (bent arm), and it's done TOO MUCH. I also still feel some immaturity in the way she moves between elements. The PCS she is getting are pretty ridiculous in my opinion.
The men's event was a letdown after the spectacular final group of men at SA. We had the big names of Chan and Hanyu at SC, but they didn't deliver the goods like Shoma, Adam, and Jason did at SA. Misha Ge gave the most memorable performance for me with an inspired clean program complete with a quad (has he landed one in competition before?) I really wanted to see Hanyu's Prince short program skated well to see if he could pull off the character of the music. With the mistakes, it lost all of its steam.
The pairs event was another event with some questionable scoring. I didn't think Lubov and Dylan were three points better on PCS than Haven and Brandon in the free skate. I was so happy to see Haven and Brandon have another solid skate since they had to compete in back-to-back events. Their connection and unison are really standing out to me. Their side-by-spins are so on point now, and they just need to get the timing and execution of the jumps back. I have no doubt it will all come together with their determination!
I was really impressed with the new Chinese team of Yu/Zhang. Yu is a rockstar, and I'm still sad she was forced to split from her former partner because they had such a nice lyrical quality together, but she appears to be gelling well with Zhang. They were quite lovely in the free skate. I wasn't a fan of Meagan and Eric's short program music (amazing throw triple Axel though!), but I really liked their free skate music. I appreciate their grit and their fight on all the elements, but I wish Meagan's landings on the throws and jumps didn't show the fight and grit every time. It never looks like she's in control because she lands so low to the ice.
Turning to the ice dance competition, as I mentioned the main reason I went to SC this year was to see Madi and Evan, so I was beyond thrilled with how well they skated both programs. They had the awful draw of skating first in the short dance, but they came out and killed it. Their unison in the no-touching step sequence was awesome, and they skated it with so much energy. I also loved Kaitlin and Jean-Luc's hip-hop section. Piper and Paul's disco short dance was another one of my favorites. I really appreciate that they go all in with it, never leaving the character. I thought Tessa and Scott's Prince program would flow better with less jarring music cuts.
In the free dance, I give the win to Kaitlin and Jean-Luc over Alex and Mitch in the battle of the Liebestraums. The Danes, Laurence and Nikolaj, continue to improve and impress, and I thought their Edith Piaf free dance suited them so well. Tessa and Scott have always had such an easy way of moving together on the ice, but there was some shakiness in their free dance, perhaps due to nerves. The program didn't really stand out to me as there are already so many lyrical programs out there lately. I'm surprised they didn't take a bigger risk since they have nothing to lose. They have the sport's top prize already, so why not go completely outside the box? I'm so happy that Madi and Evan went in a different direction this season, and I think they've found a winning style in the modern, edgy look of both their SD and FD. They will stand out at nationals with the other top competitors doing soft and quiet free dances.
A couple of final thoughts on my Canadian adventure... there is something very exciting about driving on the highways in Canada and seeing "100" as the speed limit haha. I was also very excited about the exchange rate. If you're contemplating a trip to Canada from the U.S., now is the time to go! Everyone there was super friendly, especially the lady who let me squeeze in next to her at the dance medal ceremony when we were getting crushed by Hanyu fangirls LOL. I'm very much looking forward to the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver in 2018!
You can view all my photos from the event here:
Thursday Dance Practice
And for some book news, the cover of my next book, GOLD RUSH, will be revealed on Monday, November 7! I'll be doing a giveaway to celebrate, so come back on Monday for all the fun!
Thursday, October 27, 2016
LIFE ON THE EDGE is on sale for 99 cents for one week only! You can pick it up on Amazon here. And more book news - the cover reveal for GOLD RUSH will be on November 7! Look for a giveaway to be part of the celebration :)
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Saturday and Sunday were packed with activity, so I didn't have time then to catch my breath and gather my thoughts. Just a few musings from the events:
- Shoma Uno proves that a skater who is small in stature can command an entire arena and skate with the power of someone twice his size. He has such strength in his posture. It gives him a regal presence on the ice.
- Mariah Bell put her name solidly in the conversation for the upper echelon of the ladies' podium at nationals.
- Someone please rescue Gracie.
- I think a less bedazzled costume would be more fitting for Ashley's Muse long program. I thought her dress was more suited for a flashy piece of music.
- You will never convince me that Jason didn't land the quad.
- Who wins the award for looking happiest after a coaching change? Mariah or Nam?
- Haven's facial expression while skating is so calm and lovely - one of the most natural out there. I've missed her bright energy this past year. She and Brandon have such a wonderful connection, too.
- Marissa and Mervin landed the throw Lutz!
- After seeing more hip hop short dances, Min/Gamelin's K-Pop/hip hop section was my favorite of the event.
- Chris Reed looks like a totally different skater with his new partner Kana Muramoto. He's really come alive with personality, and Kana is a star.
Here are the rest of the photos from Saturday and Sunday!
A closing note - I'm really bummed that I'll probably have to miss next year's Skate America after attending the event the last eleven years. Putting the event in Lake Placid during Thanksgiving is a decision that makes no sense to me. The town is over two hours from the nearest airport, so fans are forced to drive a long way in potentially hazardous weather in late November. Also, airlines jack up their prices during Thanksgiving, so airfare will be ridiculous. Not to mention that many people will not want to travel away from family during the holiday. Why would the ISU assign the United States' only GP event to a holiday weekend only celebrated in the U.S.? Did USFS volunteer for these dates? Someone please explain the rationale behind this.
See you soon from Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ontario!!!!
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Just a couple of thoughts from the events on Friday:
- Mariah was the highlight for me. Haven't looked at the protocols, but I'm assuming there were some underrotations in there to explain the score.
- Mao's program was very sophisticated, but I prefer when she uses softer and lighter music to match her ethereal style.
- Mai was adorable.
- Loved Gabrielle's music (shout-out to the Kween, Michelle Kwan!)
- The pairs scoring was suspect. How did A/R score higher than Marissa and Mervin and Valentina/Ondrej? I thought their program and skating were sloppy all around.
- SO HAPPY for Haven and Brandon. Love their step sequence and the fact that they skate very close together through a lot of it. Haven looks positively radiant over being back in competition.
- Marissa and Mervin looked fierce and were really selling the program until the lift mishap. Their footwork was also a highlight for me.
- Tarasova/Morozov have great skills, but I wish they had more excitement to their skating.
You can view all the photos from Friday's dance practice, the ladies' short, and the pairs' short here!
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Hello from Hoffman Estates, Illinois! Today was the chill practice day before the competition starts tomorrow night. The men were up first, and overall it was a messy affair with lots of falls and wonky jumps. Adam did a nice clean run-through of his short program (complete with sassy footwork), and Jason did a full run-through of his long program. He almost had the landing on the quad but looked like he caught his heel. Shoma didn't look to be at his best in his run-through of his short.
The ice dancers brought the perk after the men departed the ice. With the two Russian teams, Bobrova/Soloviev and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, both using "Sing, Sing, Sing," the perk was at level 200. We also had two "Pas de Deux" from The Nutcracker, which was unusual since that piece isn't used much in ice dance. I preferred Tobias/Tkhachenko's version since there were no jarring music cuts like there were in Guignard/Fabbri's program. Speaking of jarring music, I wasn't loving the Shibutanis' Jay Z/Sinatra mashup. It sounded like loud, incomprehensible noise with the hip hop lyrics over Sinatra's "That's Life." Maia's costume was on point, though! (Sorry I didn't get any photos. I was videotaping their run-through. View it here!). Regarding the new American team on the senior scene, I think Pogrebinsky/Benoit have a really bright future, and the future may be coming sooner than later with their beautiful long lines and striking presence on the ice.
I made it back from lunch in time for the second group of ladies. Gracie had a rough go of it in her free skate run-through and in just practicing her jumps. I didn't think she had her usual speed. Mariah also had a rough short program run-through. Both Raf and Rohene were at the boards with her. Ashley didn't attempt many jumps in her free skate run-through. Love the Muse song but not sure I like "angsty Ashley." Jeremy Abbott had such a memorable program to that music that I find myself thinking about that instead.
The pairs ended the day, and I thought Seguin/Bilodeau had added maturity in their Cinema Paradiso long program (I could've done without the lyrics in the last section). Tarasova/Morozov's music was a song I'd never heard before, but it was not easy on the ears. It sounded like bad 70's pop. Loved James/Cipres' song choice of "Sound of Silence." If they can skate the program clean and land the throw quad Salchow (they didn't land any today), it will have a great emotional impact on the audience.
The jumps and throws were hit and miss for most of the teams in the final group. Tarah was having lots of trouble with the side-by-side triple Salchows, but she landed a nice throw Lutz in the long run-through. Marissa and Mervin landed SBS Salchows outside their Journey run-through (where they only did a few sections). They did a couple of successful throws, too. Haven and Brandon did a gorgeous throw triple loop (seriously, her landing was like +10 GOE. She held it forever AND smiled at the audience.) The lifts in their long program are showstoppers, and I hope they can put together the jumps at the beginning to set the tone.
Almost forgot to mention - Raf was working with both Marissa and Tarah at the boards during practice. Is he some kind of new jump specialist for pairs lol?
You can see the rest of my photos here!!