Thursday, January 5, 2012

U.S. Nationals Nostalgia: Portland 2005

Today's stop on the U.S. Nationals memory lane - Portland 2005, one of my favorite years! The MAX, the city's light rail system, made it easy to get around town, and it was free in the downtown area. Made hopping between the arena and the Lloyd Center mall for lunch breaks very quick and convenient.

2005 Nationals was the last year the 6.0 system was used, and the judges were handing them out like candy. However, they didn't give any to one of the programs I thought deserved it most - Matt Savoie's short program, set to "Adagio for Strings" by Barber. Matt should've been in first place after the short, in my opinion, but the majority of judges would never put him ahead of Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek. This program still gives me chills every time I watch it . . .

Someone please explain how he could get a 5.1 for tech and a 5.3 for presentation?? Sorry, rant over :)

I mentioned the Lloyd Center mall above, and one day when I was eating lunch there, Kimmie Meissner and Rena Inoue and John Baldwin showed up to practice on the mall's rink. That was such an unexpected treat! A large crowd formed around the boards to watch them. Another cool practice moment I had that week was at the ladies' practice at the Rose Garden arena. Michelle Kwan had just done an inspired run-through of her "Spartacus" short program, which no one had previously seen since she hadn't competed on the Grand Prix. The crowd gave her a huge ovation, and my friend and I were all choked up. Michelle came over to sign autographs, and we got to tell her how much we loved the program. It was the first time I'd had a chance to talk to her, so it was a very memorable moment!

Random things I remember about the Rose Garden - there was a vendor booth giving away Smuckers Uncrustables, and we kept going back for the free snacks. Also, Oroweat had a booth, and one of the prizes on their "spin the wheel" contest was a loaf of bread. My friend won a loaf, and we were snacking on that at the arena all week!

The buzz around the ice dance competition that year was the debut of Tiffany Stiegler, former pairs skater, and her partner, Sergei Magerovsky. I'd always thought Tiffany had some of the best posture in the business, so I was happy to see her trying dance. They wowed everyone in Portland, and it's a shame they didn't last more than two seasons because I thought they had beautiful lines. In other notable dance memories, the champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto made history when they earned perfect presentation marks across the board for their "Shadritsa" free dance.

A wicked ice storm hit the city on the final day of competition, making the streets of Portland very treacherous. The next morning when I left before dawn for my flight home, I took the MAX because it was cheap and seemed safer than being in a cab on the icy streets. Halfway to the airport, my fellow passengers and I were asked to disembark the train and get on buses that would take us the rest of the way to the airport. I'm still not sure what the thinking behind that was. The bus in front of mine slid off the road, but thankfully, no was injured. Everyone on that bus had to get on mine, though, so we were packed like sardines on the slow and cautious drive to the airport. I was so glad I'd left extra early for my flight!

Next in the series is St. Louis 2006 - Jamie Silverstein's comeback, a historic moment in pairs, another Matt Savoie masterpiece, and life without the Kween.


  1. Jennifer, I love your blogs. I was about to do a blog on my last 10 years of Nationals, but you have so eloquently summarized the senior levels, I'm going to focus on a different aspect of experience. Thank you for rattling the cobwebs from my slightly addled brain and reminding us all what makes the US National Championships so very special to thos of us who care about this sport.

  2. Thank you! I'll look forward to your post!

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