Monday, January 2, 2012
U.S. Nationals Nostalgia: Dallas 2003
This was the first year I was able to stay at the skaters' hotel, the sprawling Hyatt, and I enjoyed people-watching at breakfast every morning. With security tightened, spectators couldn't ride on the same shuttle buses to the arena as we had done in the past, so that part of the Nationals experience was gone.
The crowds were sparse for some of the early senior events, and I was able to sit in the first row for the original dance. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto made me very happy when they skated their program lights-out, placing them first, ahead of the four-time champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev. But the youngsters couldn't hold onto the lead in the free dance as they made some errors, including a costly stumble on the circular footwork. Their time to reign would have to wait another year . . .
The pairs event also had some not-so-great performances, but there was a new pair that caught my eye and made me a fan - Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig. I had no idea the journey they would take me on as a fan over the next eight years and counting! I loved watching them do sprints on the ice at practice, and I thought it was so nice how they always thanked the volunteers who were working at the announcer's table.
Next in the series will be 2004 Nationals in Atlanta - bright stars emerge in the junior ranks, another Michelle Kwan skate for the ages, and a little Gone With the Wind-themed sightseeing.