Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skate America Nostalgia: Hartford 2006

Continuing with my Skate America nostalgia series, let's move on to 2006 in Hartford, Connecticut! The arena-hotel setup there was even better than Pittsburgh because the buildings were connected by an indoor walkway. That was great since it was very chilly outside. We ventured out to get lunch one day and were almost blown away by the gusty winds.

In the ice dance event, I was mesmerized by Albena Denkova/Maxim Staviski's tango original dance. I thought they had more power and passion than any other couple by far. Melissa Gregory/Denis Pethukov had a great free dance that year, and we also got to see Kim Navarro/Brent Bommentre's fun Beatles program. That was also the first time I saw Natalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat skate, and I didn't quite know what to make of their Four Seasons free dance!

In pairs, Naomi Nari Nam and Themi Leftheris were the team I was most excited about (another failed American pair for which I was an uber). They finished with the bronze medal, a great result for them at their first Grand Prix event. I loved Annabelle Langlois/Cody Hay's long program to the soundtrack of The Notebook, and I wish more skaters would use that music. Annabelle and Cody have been the only ones I can find over the years.

The ladies event was all about Kimmie Meissner and Mao Asada for me. I was a huge Kimmie fan, and I thought her flamenco program was fabulous. And it was so exciting to see Mao in person. I kept a close eye on her during all the practices so I wouldn't miss her beautiful triple axels.

Evan Lysacek was there as part of the U.S. men's team - not surprising since Evan was at every single event I attended between 2001 and 2010. He was bested by Nobunari Oda, who was quickly becoming a new power. Alban Preaubert gave us a lot of laughs with his kooky style, and it was great to see Scott Smith skate to a sixth place finish.

Off the ice, the big drama was the fire alarm at the hotel early one morning. Upon the blaring of the alarm, I threw on a jacket and shoes and shoved my camera and laptop in my bag. My mom, my sister, and I were on the 21st floor, so we had a long way to travel down the stairs. Lots of people streamed into the stairwell on our way down, and I remember seeing Ryan Bradley at some point. When we got outside, it was freezing and raining. We huddled under the overhang of the hotel and watched numerous skaters pass by, some half-disguised with baseball caps, some carrying their skates. We had to stay outside for a long time, and then it was a mad rush to the elevators when we got inside. I couldn't get back to sleep at that point, so we hit up the restaurant for breakfast not much later.

Next up will be 2007 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Reading was one of the most entertaining Skate Americas I've attended, and it had one of the best rosters. I also met a great friend there who would share many more skating adventures with me!