Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Worlds 2009 Nostalgia: Part III

On to Thursday of the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships week! Thursday was a crazy day. The fun started with an early morning ice dance practice at Staples Center. We parked ourselves in the front row and had a great vantage point to watch the skaters run through their original dances. I was especially interested to watch Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir since this was the first time I'd seen them at a competition. Of course, I'd seen them in the compulsory dance on Tuesday, but being in the front row gave me a much better look at their skating. I could really appreciate their exquisite technique and their deep edges.

After the ice dancers exited, we strolled down Figueroa to Corner Bakery for a quick breakfast. That morning was a little chilly and overcast, but it made for a nice walk to and from the arena. We returned to Staples for the men's practice, where Samuel Contesti had us cracking up with his cowboy free skate run-through. Once the top men were finished practicing, we went outside to the "Star Plaza," where the small medal ceremony for the pairs would be held. We got a spot close to the stage and watched as Peter Carruthers interviewed the pairs medalists from the previous night. Robin Szolkowy had a great sense of humor in answering the audience's questions. Before we left, my sister and I asked Ingo Steuer for a picture, and he was super nice.

A delicious outdoor lunch at Lawry's Carvery followed, and then we walked to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising to take a look at the pretty campus (which we'd seen on the TV show The Hills. What can I say, it was a guilty pleasure show.) Our walk circled around and took us back to Staples for the original dance, which was a wonderful competition. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates gave an amazing performance and received a boisterous standing ovation. Later, Tanith Belbin/Ben Agosto brought the crowd to its feet again with what I called a "vintage Tanith and Ben" performance - high-energy and in crisp unison. Meryl Davis/Charlie White also skated well and narrowed the gap between themselves and Virtue/Moir. I began having heart palpitations in anticipation of the free dance on Friday night.

We stayed at the arena for dinner and watched the early groups of the men's free skate on the concourse TV.  When we went down to our now-claimed front row seats, the competition heated up and turned into an incredible night of skating. Denis Ten was one of the many skaters who brought his 'A' game. And we had so much fun dancing to Kristoffer Berntsson's program to "Axel F" and "Take on Me."

The final group brought high drama but also a few laughs courtesy of Contesti. Patrick Chan made two small errors but otherwise skated a magnificent program. The last two skaters of the night were Evan Lysacek and Brian Joubert. Evan was on fire, nailing jump after jump. When he started pumping his arms and going crazy in his final spin, the entire building jumped out of their seats. His score was huge, and we knew Joubert would have to be perfect to beat him. Brian started out well with a big quad, but then he stepped out of his triple axel, and the door was opened. During his straight-line footwork, I remember being struck by the presence Brian has on the ice. He might not have the mastery of the blade that Patrick has, but he has a power in his skating that commands attention. He was cruising into his final jump, the double axel, and then OMG! We all gasped as Brian practically face-planted into the boards on the landing. None of us could believe it and neither could he as he took his bows. The scores came up, and Evan had taken the title. My sister and I had run to the section of seats closer to the podium, and we were hugging and screaming in the aisle. What a night!

The hotel bar was packed when we got back to the Wilshire, so we had to take our drinks out into the lobby and stand next to the bellman's desk. Contesti, who seemed to be everywhere I was that week, was in and out of the lobby all night long. My friend snagged Johnny Weir for a photo, and he was carrying a fabulous blue Balenciaga purse. There was one bench outside the bar, but Karen Kwan and some others were occupying it for the longest time. When they finally vacated, we jumped on it. A few underage skaters tried to gain entrance into the bar, some with more success than others, which provided us lots of amusement.

Nobunari Oda passed through the lobby at some point and we gave him an ovation. He gave us a bow in return. Around one in the morning, Brian arrived and we asked him for a picture. He was very nice considering the hour of the night. Close to 2:00am, Patrick made an appearance, flanked by Bryce Davison and John Mattatall. The latter two looked like they'd greatly enjoyed celebrating Patrick's silver medal. We got a photo with Patrick, and I had to ask Bryce for one because of how hilarious the whole scene was. We called it a night soon after that. Contesti was not surprisingly still in the lobby.

Next up will be the highs and lows of Friday. The day started so well but ended with total heartbreak.....

Here are my photos from Thursday's events:

2009 Worlds - Thursday Events

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