Tuesday, January 10, 2012

U.S. Nationals Nostalgia: Spokane 2007

Spokane was an extremely successful host of the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, earning the city the nickname of "Skate City USA." Everywhere I went in Spokane, there were signs welcoming the skaters and fans, and the locals came out in droves to the events. I've never seen an arena so populated for junior competitions.

Spokane had one of the best and most inexpensive transportation systems for a skating event. They let us use their normal public transportation buses but made special routes from the hotels to the arena. Across from the Spokane Arena was Riverfront Park, which was a very pretty place to take a walk and stretch the legs between events. There was only a light snowfall one day that I can remember.

In the action on the ice, Evan Lysacek and Ryan Bradley were the talk of the men's free skate. Ryan skated the program of his life and bested Johnny Weir for the silver medal. And then he treated us to a back flip after his post-skate interview. Evan reeled off a quad-triple to start his free skate and never looked back. His perfect performance was one of the most technically brilliant programs I've seen at Nationals.

The ladies' event almost gave me a heart attack when Kimmie Meissner barely eked out the win over Emily Hughes. Pairs also had me holding on to my seat, and the results were the best I could imagine. Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski won the championship, and Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig won their first National medal, the pewter. The family sitting behind my friend and me asked if we were related to Brooke and Ben because we went so crazy when they won. After the event, I called Amanda and Mark's super fan Heather and am pretty sure I shrieked in her ear.

Ice dance had a couple of storylines that year. One was the debut of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto's brand-new free dance to music from Amelie. They skated it very well for only practicing it a short time. The other hot news was the senior debut of Meryl Davis and Charlie White. They'd turned heads on the senior Grand Prix circuit in the fall, and the 2006 U.S. Junior Champs showed their impressive athleticism in capturing the bronze medal.

For lots of additional photos from 2007 Nationals, check out my Webshots album here!

Next in the series is St. Paul 2008 - navigating the habitrail from the hotel to the arena, a ladies' event I'd rather forget, maximum Evan-Johnny drama, and Meryl Davis and Charlie White make Dick Button swoon.

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