Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Nationals - Saturday Events

My alarm went off early Saturday morning so I could make it to the last free dance warm-up group at the HP Pavillion. After a little blunder where I took the light rail in the wrong direction from the hotel, my friend and I made it to the arena with some time to spare. The top five ice dance teams took the ice and looked sharp in their preparations. My nerves were already buzzing, anticipating the close battle for the third and fourth podium spots.

With an early noon start for the free dance, we had to grab a late breakfast before the event. Back at the arena, a great crowd filled the seats to support the dancers. My favorite performance of the first two groups was given by Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus. They absolutely shine when they dance, and they have a wonderful connection with each other.

When the final group emerged from the tunnel, the intensity level of the event surged upward. All of the contending teams were worthy podium-finishers, but there were only four spots to be had. Madison Chock/Evan Bates started it off with a beautiful and lyrical performance. Their jazzy Chopin free dance remains one of my favorite programs of the season. Following them were Meryl Davis/Charlie White, who continue to amaze as they reel off one splendid performance after another. The audience completely embraced them and jumped to their feet after their rousing Die Fledermaus program.

Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti Schmitt had to follow the world champions, and they took the good vibes and ran with them. After a costly mistake in their free dance at last year's Nationals, it was exhilarating to watch them give their all and skate a perfect program in San Jose. Lynn was visibly emotional after the performance. I admit to screaming like a banshee when their scores came up and showed Lynn and Logan had earned a spot on the podium. Skating after them were Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue, who impressed with their power and sultry connection. They've come on the scene quickly and made people take notice. The final skaters of the event were Maia and Alex Shibutani, who closed the show with their fast-paced swing program. Like Meryl and Charlie, they continue to amaze with their technical precision.

A nice break for a late lunch was in order after the free dance. I didn't return to the arena until it was almost time for the Hall of Fame presentation for Michelle Kwan. Michelle looked beautiful, and it was so moving to see her with tears in her eyes as the crowd rained down applause upon her. The highlight video was great, but I wish they would've also shown her 1996 Nationals performances since they took place in San Jose.

When the ladies' free skate resumed, my friends and I took the opportunity to cruise around the concourse and check out the displays and games since there were no crowds. We returned to our seats for the final group and saw Caroline Zhang's impressive comeback after a few disappointing years.

Check out the rest of my photos from all Saturday events!

2012 Nationals-Dance Warmup, Free Dance, Kwan Ceremony, & Ladies Free Skate

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