Friday, October 26, 2012

Skate Canada SD Thoughts

I was going to post some thoughts on the men's short program as I watched online, but the Universal Sports feed is so terrible that I missed a lot of the programs. I'm so annoyed with the lack of a live IceNetwork feed this year. Universal Sports plays ads IN THE MIDDLE OF PROGRAMS. Sorry for the rant.

Back to the skating, let's get ready for the short dance! Ugh, here comes another ad. #&$%@#$%! Switching to the free Chinese TV feed someone just posted....

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier - missed most of their program due to switching feeds. Why is Mary Poppins such a popular choice this year? I've seen three teams use it so far (and there was a fourth that ditched the music).

Julia Zlobina/Alexei Sitnikov - these costumes don't look like waltz or polka. Very nice twizzles. They appear to have good speed. They personify "voidy."

Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill - Chinese feed crapped out. Only caught the end. Kharis likes poofy skirts! I wasn't expecting "Can Can" from the costumes.

Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue - Is she wearing the Heart of the Ocean necklace? Cute reenactment of the dancing from the scene in Titanic where Rose hangs out with the commoners. Wish they would've left the lyrics out of the polka piece. Classy, refined dance. Nice departure from their usual "Sex on Ice" programs.

Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko - I like the music ("I Could Have Danced All Night"). Good twizzles. I'd expect no less since they've been training with Igor, the twizzle guru. Nice energy throughout. Not sure about the pink and lilac costume mix, but my feed doesn't have a good picture to appreciate the colors. Igor's tie matches Ilia's pants!

Pernelle Carron/Lloyd Jones - Yay, Lloyd Jones got a haircut and lost the bleach! He looks a million times better. Whee, lasso arm during the Yankee Polka sequence! And now he's reining in a horse. Big stumble on the twizzles. I recognize this country waltzy music from someone else's program. Their lift takes a long time to develop. This is one hot country mess!

Anna Cappellini/Lucca Lanotte - The feed freezes again! Well, they got a nice score so they must've skated well!

Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir - Missed the beginning. I think Tessa's dress would look a lot better if it was just the top layer of material. I feel like her dress is flying open and I'm looking at her slip. Their lift is all kinds of awkward with their usual "Tessa's legs swinging around Scott's neck" movement, and it looks very sticky and not seamless. Whoa, low score for them!!!!

No doubt Tessa and Scott will rebound in the free dance. The battle for the bronze is going to be interesting. After Anna and Lucca, the rest of the pack is pretty bunched together. I hope the feeds will work better tomorrow night!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 Skate America Wrap Up Part II

Time to look back at the free skates! First up on Saturday night were the men, and we saw lots of splats on quads. I was really looking forward to seeing Jeremy Abbott's "Bring Him Home" program, but with all the doubled jumps it was hard to feel any energy. I hope he'll skate it much better at Nationals because I thought the abbreviated version he did at Evening With Champions was gorgeous.

Takahiko Kozuka had the performance of the night, while Yuzuru Hanyu had a meltdown after his record-setting short program. Every time he fell, it took him longer to get up. I'd like to see more fight from him. Overall, the men's event was pretty disappointing.

The pairs were up next, and Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff again led off the event. They performed their Sleeping Beauty program, looking like beautiful ballet dancers. Their lines and extension are unmatched on the U.S. pairs scene, and I hope gaining more international experience this year will be one of the keys to furthering their career.

Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir came out with another great program, a very intricate and wonderfully executed tango. They have two outstanding programs this season. I loved their expression, and I was so excited to see them land the side-by-side triple toes with ease. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres were the next couple, and I already admitted my love for Pearl Harbor programs. I really like this team and am so impressed with how well they've gelled in just a year together.

Caydee Denney/John Coughlin skated very well. I preferred Danielle Montalbano/Evgeni Krasnopolski's Phantom of the Opera music cuts, though. The Israeli team used part of the movie soundtrack that I've always wanted someone to skate to ("Journey To the Cemetery"). Qing Pang/Jian Tong's performance was one of my favorites of the competition. It was so lyrical and full of honest emotion. I enjoyed it much more than Tatiana Volosozhar/Max Trankov's program. I was on their bandwagon last season, but their programs this year do nothing for me, and I'm not feeling a connection between them.

The ice dancers were up first on Sunday afternoon, and it was another outstanding event all around. Just like in the short dance, the skating was at a high level. Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus performed their sultry/high-energy program with a lot of flair. I hope they continue to grow and explore new themes because I love their look on the ice. Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt looked like they gave everything they had to their Adele free dance. The program has gotten more seamless since I saw it at the Senior B competition in Salt Lake City. Their highlight moves were some of the best in the event.

Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi were fabulous as zombies. They don't do anything halfway, and I love how they're not afraid to just go all out with the craziest theme they can find. I couldn't really get into Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev's free dance. The music was a big part of the reason and their lifts are often awkward-looking.

I loved Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje's program. The music touched me right from the start, and I could see the influence of Allison Holker (one of my favorite dancers) in the choreography. The only issue I have with the program is the simplicity in the transitions and some of the open choreography. I think they're capable of more intricate work.

Meryl Davis/Charlie White were the final couple to skate, and they committed to every movement and every beat of Notre Dame de Paris. I love how the lifts are placed with the music for maximum impact. They have some awesome new lifts. The circular step sequence was one of my favorite parts of the program, and I thought it too was beautifully timed with the music. And I have to mention the part after the program ended when Charlie carried Meryl to center ice for their bows. My friends and I were screaming like crazy people. It was so unexpected but such a wonderful job of staying in character by Meryl and Charlie.

The ladies' free skate was the final event, and I missed the first group to grab lunch. The highlights of the second group were Christina Gao and Ashley Wagner. It was awesome to see two American ladies throwing down two clean programs. The Team USA skaters sitting in the stands went nuts after Christina and Ashley's performances. And seeing John Nicks jump out of his seat in the kiss and cry when Ashley's score came up was one of the funniest moments of the weekend!

The Exhibition wrapped up the weekend of events, and some of my favorite performances were from Kriengkrairut/Giulietti-Schmitt, Castelli/Shnapir, Jeremy Abbott, Konstantin Menshov, Takahiko Kozuka, Pang/Tong, and Davis/White. The finale was amusing as always as the skaters did a victory lap and then threw autographed items into the crowd. I snagged a frisbee and a T-shirt! The slingshots didn't make an appearance - I think Mark Ladwig must bring those to Nationals every year, LOL.

A few thoughts on the event overall... the state of Washington always does a great job hosting competitions, and the crowds in Kent were great and enthusiastic. The official hotel, the Doubletree, was one of the strangest hotels I've seen. It was extremely spread out, and the trek from the lobby to the wing where my room was (and apparently most of the skaters' rooms also) took awhile. You couldn't really "run up to your room" to get something quickly.

The distance between the hotel and arena was also very long. Thank goodness for Kent Station across the street from the arena and the string of restaurants on Southcenter Parkway a few miles away. Those were the most convenient places to eat in the area with the short time between events. I felt like I spent a lot of time in the car, driving back and forth. Other than the geographic issues, I thought the event was well-organized, and I would definitely return!

I won't be attending any more Grand Prix events this year, but I'll be posting thoughts every week as I watch them online! I'm looking forward to seeing what Skate Canada has in store for us this weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Skate America Wrap Up Part I

Now that I've had time to return home and get settled, I wanted to put together my thoughts on the competition last weekend. I'll start with the short programs in this post and then tackle the free skates next time.

The first event on Friday night was the pairs short program. Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff led off the competition and looked a little nervous in their Grand Prix debut. It was wonderful to see their program, though, which includes a beautiful footwork sequence. Their Skating Club of Boston training mates, Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir, looked much more confident taking the ice, and they performed one of the best programs I've seen from them. Marissa had the sassy attitude down pat, and Simon looked like he was having the time of his life. Even in practice I noticed his facial expressions and how much fun they both seemed to be having.

Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres are one of my new favorite teams after last weekend. They look very crisp and are strong on all the pairs elements. And they know how to bring the pretty! Caydee Denney/John Coughlin's program was well-skated, but the music (Aranjuez) will always make me think of Michelle Kwan.  I thought the top two teams Pang/Tong and Volosozhar/Trankov looked sloppy and not worthy of the scores they were given, especially Volosozhar/Trankov.

The men's short program was next, and I think the judges were confused and thought they were at Skate Canada because we saw some serious Chanflation! I thought Yuzuru Hanyu skated great and definitely deserved a big score, but not ten points more than Takahiko Kozuka. Takahiko is an incredible skater and he threw it down in the short program. Jeremy Abbott debuted his "Spy" program and showed a lot of personality. I generally don't like James Bond-type programs, but this one I enjoyed. Another skater I enjoyed was Tatsuki Machida. I don't think I'd seen him skate before, and his jumps are amazing.

Saturday's slate of events started with the ladies' short program, which I skipped to eat lunch. The short dance followed, and all the teams skated excellently. It's rare to see a dance event where every team executes their twizzles perfectly. Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus started off the competition with a flowing waltz and polka, a great Grand Prix debut for them. I barely recognized the next team of Lorenza Alessandrini/Simone Vaturi because I think they've improved so much. Last year I thought they were rather sloppy-looking, but this year I was impressed with their speed and polish.

Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt had the crowd behind them all the way with their Western-themed program. They have such great performance skills. Another team with great performance skills is Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi. Their expression reaches the top row of the arena. Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev followed them with a more subtle program.

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje skated to the entire soundtrack of The Sound of Music in two and a half minutes. The program had a few too many music cuts for me. They looked beautiful, though - Kaitlyn's dress reminded me a lot of the dress Maria wore in the movie when she danced with the Captain, and Andrew looked so dapper! Funny moment at practice that morning as we watched the program run-through, and my friend said, "Will Trankov be playing the role of the Nazi?" LOLOL

Meryl Davis/Charlie White closed the show with a fun program that made me smile. And it also looked incredibly intricate! I knew Meryl and Charlie would make the Yankee Polka look easy, and they did. I think they picked the perfect music (Giselle) to bring that light and easy feeling to the program. Charlie's costume is one of my favorites he's worn, and Meryl looked like a little doll. I'm in love with the skirt of her costume.

Thoughts on the free skates coming soon!

Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 Skate America - Exhibition

I can't believe the weekend is over already :( The Exhibition is always both fun and sad because it means I have to leave the world of sparkles and pretty music and go back to the real world. I'll be posting some thoughts on the competition later this week, but here are the final set of photos plus video of Meryl Davis and Charlie White's exhibition performance:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2012 Skate America - Free Dance & Ladies FS

Quick break before the Exhibition! Posting photos from the free dance, ladies' free skate, and medal ceremonies: Free Dance & Ladies FS Photos

2012 Skate America - Sunday Dance Practice

Wanted to post this morning's dance practice photos before the event this afternoon! Here they are: Sunday Dance Practice Photos

2012 Skate America - Men's & Pairs Free Skate

Well, the men's event wasn't pretty, but at least the pairs provided some great moments! My favorite performances of the night were by Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir, Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres, and Qing Pang/Jian Tong.

Here are my photos from the men's and pairs free skates: Men's and Pairs FS Photos

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2012 Skate America - Dance Practice & Short Dance

A quick afternoon post with photos from dance practice this morning and the Short Dance!

2012 Skate America - Pairs & Men's SP

Performances were up and down, and the judging was a little suspect in both the pairs and men's short programs Friday night. More thoughts on that later! Highlights of the evening for me were Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir, Jeremy Abbott, Takahiko Kozuka, and Yuzuru Hanyu. 

Here are my photos from the two events: Pairs & Men's SP Photos

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 Skate America - Friday Practices

Wanted to do a quick post with photos and video from Friday's dance and pairs practices before the events tonight! Here's Meryl Davis and Charlie White's run-through of their Notre Dame de Paris free dance:

And my photos from dance and pairs practice (first group of pairs only): Friday Practice Photos

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012 Skate America - Thursday Practices

Hello from Kent, Washington! Today was practice day at 2012 Skate America, and I watched the pairs, ice dance, and the last group of men practice. The first group of pairs included Pang/Tong and Volosozhar/Trankov. I haven't seen Pang/Tong skate in a few years, and I think they just keep getting better with age. They have such wonderful flow and lyricism in their skating. They didn't practice many side by side jumps, but they did a lot of huge, beautiful throws. Their lifts looked more visually pleasing to me than they used to. Volosozhar/Trankov also showed off some huge throws. They didn't do many side by side jumps either, and they left the practice session early.

The second group of pairs included all the U.S. pairs and the French team James/Cipres. The two Skating Club of Boston teams, Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir and Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff did full run-throughs of their long programs. I hadn't seen Marissa and Simon's tango program yet this season, and I loved it! The choreography is intricate and interesting. They maintain the tango feel throughout the program - they don't just throw in a few random tango movements like we often see in tango programs. They did the throw double axel in the run-through but landed the throw triple axel later in the practice session. Watch it here!

Gretchen and Andrew had some issues with the jumps and throws in their run-through but completed some big, soaring throws during the practice. Their Sleeping Beauty program was one of my favorites last season and I'm so excited to see it again. It's just plain gorgeous. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin skated their Phantom of the Opera long program. James/Cipres looked strong on the jumps and throws, and I'm a sucker for any Pearl Harbor program!

I only caught the last group of men and don't remember too much of note. I came in during Jeremy Abbott's run-through and saw he had a few issues with the jumps. Next was the ice dance practice. Every team in the first group did run-throughs of the short dance, so we had sugary sweet overload with The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins music. I'm still not loving this Yankee Polka year. The Latin rhythms might bring some awkward dance moves, but I'll take it over some of the cheese-tastic waltz and polka dances we're getting this year!

The second group had only two teams, Anastasia Cannuscio/Colin McManus and Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, since Meryl Davis/Charlie White hadn't arrived yet. Both teams practiced their free dances and then did sections of their short dances.

Here are my Thursday practice photos (and a few scenery shots from the area):
2012 Skate America - Thursday Events

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Crimson Hunt by Victoria H. Smith

I'm so excited today to be a part of the cover reveal for my friend and fellow New Adult writer Victoria H. Smith's debut novel, The Crimson Hunt. Here are all the details on the book:

The Crimson Hunt (Eldaen Light Chronicles #1) by Victoria H. Smith
Release Date: November 12, 2012
Genre: New Adult Science Fiction Romance

College junior Ariel Richmond is working on year three of Project Normalcy. 
Her house reeks of keggers past and her bestie is just a slight bit vulgar. But the thing is—they both aid in making life refreshingly uneventful. 
So much for hard-earned mediocrity when Luca Grinaldi appears on the scene. 
Luca’s sudden presence on campus is hard to ignore. Those bright eyes act like a beacon to unsuspecting females, and with features like his, he’s got to be moonlighting for GQ. Luca hopelessly captivates Ariel with his confidence and charisma, but the mysteries surrounding him make him nearly untouchable. And just when Ariel grows close enough to unlock his secrets, a tragic event sends her life in a downward spiral.
That steady life is no longer an option and allies quickly become scarce. The mysterious Luca seems to be the only one willing to help her—but with that trust comes the burden of his secrets. He has a dark mission of otherworldly proportions, and is willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes to see it completed.
Gone are the days of simply maintaining normalcy, and if Ariel isn’t cautious with her trust, so soon may be her future.
Sounds amazing, doesn't it? I've already added the book to my Goodreads shelf. You can do the same here!

As a special treat, Victoria has posted Chapter One of the book on her blog today! You can find her on the web here:

One more treat Victoria has for us today is the playlist for The Crimson Hunt!

About the Author:

Victoria H. Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She puts it to good use writing romance all day. She resides in the Midwest with her Macbook on her lap and a cornfield to her right. She often draws inspiration for her stories from her own life experiences, and the twenty-something characters she writes give her an earful about it.

In her free time, she enjoys extreme couponing, blogging, reading, and sending off a few tweets on Twitter when she can. She writes new adult fiction romance in the sub-genres of science fiction, urban fantasy, and contemporary, but really, anywhere her pen takes her she goes. 

Victoria H. Smith Links: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Cover Image Designed by: Michelle Johnson

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Next Big Thing Hop - Edge of the Past

I was tagged for The Next Big Thing blog hop by Christina Jean Michaels, so I'm going to share with you some scoop about my upcoming novel EDGE OF THE PAST. Tentative release date is November 27!

1. What is the working title of your book?

Edge of the Past

2.  Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book picks up the story of Emily and Sergei one year after Life on the Edge ended. I loved the characters so much and wanted to explore more of their stories, especially how Sergei's past could impact his and Emily's future.

3.  What genre does your book fall under?

New Adult contemporary romance

4.  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My choice for Emily is Kimberly Matula who plays Hope on The Bold and the Beautiful. She looks so wholesome, and the character she plays on the soap opera holds a lot of the same principles as Emily. She also has the perfect shade of dark blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes!

For Sergei, I couldn't find anyone more perfect than Josh Dallas, who plays Prince Charming on Once Upon a Time. When I saw him on TV, I couldn't believe how well he fit the physical description - golden brown hair, mesmerizing blue eyes, and lean build with just the right amount of muscle. He also has the required deep, sexy voice. Who wouldn't swoon over this man?!

5.  What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

When the past explodes into the present, what does it mean for the future?

6.  Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The book will be published by Astraea Press, which also published Life on the Edge. They're so great to work with, and I'm so thankful for the opportunities they've given me!

7.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the first chapter in February 2012 but got stuck on the second chapter and didn't pick up the manuscript again until April. I did an April writing boot camp online, and it was so motivating to be on a team with other writers. I wrote every single day of the month and made good progress. Then I hit another block. I had a few ideas for how I wanted the rest of the story to play out, but none of them excited me. I struggled with this for over a month, beating my head against the wall, until I reached out to a friend and she helped me work out all my plotting issues. I felt like I finally saw the light! From there I was able to move forward, and I finished the draft in August.

8.  What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I would compare this story to Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover. Point of Retreat is also a continuation of a love story (started in Slammed), and it explores the challenges of a relationship after the "falling in love" period is over. The characters still love each other very much, but as big changes happen in their lives, their relationship is tested in ways they never anticipated.

9.  Who or what inspired you to write this book?

All the readers who loved Life on the Edge and said they wanted to read more about the characters. Thank you to everyone who read my first book and gave me feedback. It's been such an amazing journey!

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

This story delves into a lot of different emotions... jealousy, fear, love, doubt, regret... and it takes you on Emily's journey as she tries to make sense of the chaos surrounding her. I hope it will touch your heart!

I have to tag five other writers to participate in the hop, so here goes!

Lauren Stewart
Victoria Smith
Jaycee DeLorenzo
Liz Botts
J. Andersen

Monday, October 8, 2012

Skate America Nostalgia: Ontario 2011

We've come to the final installment in the Skate America Nostalgia blog series - Ontario, California! With southern California being such a hotbed of skating, I thought the crowds would come out in force to support the event. Nope! The attendance was the most pitiful I've ever seen at a major event. It was a shame because it was a great spot - couldn't beat the weather, the arena was convenient to the hotel, everything was inexpensive... but no people came.

There wasn't a lot of great skating at this competition. Almost everyone seemed to still be working into form for the new season. One example was Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy, who skated terribly in the short program but came back fighting in the free skate. Meanwhile, all three American pairs, Caydee Denney/John Coughlin, Mary Beth Marley/Rockne Brubaker, and Tiffany Vise/Don Baldwin skated fabulously in the short program. Aliona and Robin again wowed me with their exhibition, this time to "Autumn Moon on a Calm Lake." Have I mentioned I love their show programs?

Both the men's and ladies' events were pretty forgettable. More memorable was the fantastic lemon and cucumber water in the lobby of the Hilton hotel. I'd never seen anything like that offered in a lobby before, and since then there's been flavored water at almost every hotel I've stayed. Must be a new fad!

Meryl Davis and Charlie White showed no early season rustiness in their performances. They shimmied their way through their fun Latin short dance and then blew everyone away with their rousing Die Fledermaus free dance. They may have even surprised themselves with how well they skated the program they'd been practicing for only a few weeks. Another surprise were the bronze medalists, Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas. They had the crowd with them all the way in their rock and roll free dance.

The Exhibition was entertaining as always, and it provided one particularly memorable moment when Asher Hill came out shirtless when he and Kharis Ralph skated. We all looked at each other and bust out laughing. It was one of those things you never think you're going to see at a Grand Prix event. Besides Aliona and Robin, my other favorite program of the night was Meryl and Charlie's "Someone Like You." I got to see them perform it four times last year, and I never got tired of it!

Thanks so much for travelling down Skate America memory lane with me! I'll be in Kent, Washington starting October 17 to cover all the action at this year's event! I'm particularly excited that Jeremy Abbott has FINALLY been assigned to Skate America. The ice dance competition is going to be fantastic, and pairs is going to have me chewing my nails as two of my favorite teams - Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir and Gretchen Donlan/Andrew Speroff - will be competing.

Between now and then, be sure to stop by on October 10 to get some scoop on Edge of the Past, the upcoming sequel to Life on the Edge!!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Skate America Nostalgia: Portland 2010

For 2010 Skate America, it was back to the popular Pacific Northwest I went! Portland is one of my favorite cities because it's so green and easy to get around with the free MAX light rail downtown. The weather there in November wasn't fabulous (cold and rainy), but at least we didn't have an ice storm like we did during 2005 Nationals!

In a post-Olympic year, there's always a lot of shuffling and new faces on the scene, but it was a familiar face who showed us he was better than ever. Daisuke Takahashi's Latin short program had the crowd whooping and on its feet. I think he and Jeremy Abbott are the two best dancers in skating. In Daisuke's program, he commanded every step, every movement, and I could feel the energy he put into it. The other thrill in the men's event that year was Armin Mahbanoozadeh's free skate. We were screaming like crazy for him, and he looked so excited to win the bronze medal.

I don't recall anything about the ladies' event. I was probably wandering around the concourse during the competition. I know most people see the ladies as the "premier" event, but since Michelle Kwan and then Kimmie Meissner retired, I've lost a lot of interest.

On to the pairs - Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy were again the winners, and they did their beautiful "Nella Fantasia" exhibition. 2010 was the year Wenjing Sui/Cong Han were at SA, and we had to watch them practice the quad throw at practice. It seemed like every time they tried it, there was near disaster. On one attempt, Sui crashed head-first into the boards in front of us, and I had a flashback to Tatiana Totmianina in Pittsburgh 2004. It was very scary and made us not want to attend pairs practice anymore!

Meryl Davis and Charlie White had a fall in their new tango free dance but were still able to easily win the event. Maia and Alex Shibutani had won bronze at NHK Trophy, and they captured another surprise bronze, beating Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje. They were quickly proving that they were serious contenders at the senior level. Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt had two outstanding performances, including their awesome Muse free dance - one of my recent favorite programs!

Next up will be the final installment in the series - Ontario 2011, the Skate America where no one came!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Skate America Nostalgia: Lake Placid 2009

On my totem pole of Skate Americas, Lake Placid 2009 would be at the bottom. Very nice people in the town, but the location is entirely too difficult to get to (over a two hour drive from the airport), and the arena leaves a lot to be desired.

In the men's event, Evan Lysacek finally got a Skate America gold medal after a few near misses. Shawn Sawyer was the highlight of the competition for me. Loved, loved, loved his Mozart program!

I spent most of the Ladies free skate watching the ice dance press conference through the window to the adjacent rink, but I remember Rachael Flatt skated great. I couldn't handle the Yu-Na Kim mania. Bus loads of Yu-Na fans had come just to see her, and they were going crazy. I didn't feel well (more on that later), and the hype was just too much.

In pairs, I was SO excited to finally see Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao in person. They were on my list of skaters I wanted so badly to see - Jeff Buttle and Stephane Lambiel being the others (still waiting on them!). My favorite American pairs, Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig and Brooke Castile/Ben Okolski, didn't skate well, so that put a damper on the pairs event for me.

Tanith Belbin/Ben Agosto skated great but didn't receive great scores, so that concerned me heading into the Olympics. Kim Navarro/Brent Bommentre skated their emotional "One" free dance very well, too. And I loved Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte's intense Requiem For a Dream program. Much of the rest of the free dance and all the Sunday events were kind of a blur to me. I had a bad grilled cheese sandwich from the arena's cafeteria on Saturday night and had death in my soul all of Sunday. I missed the Friends of Figure Skating breakfast, but I wasn't going to miss the free dance, so I powered through on saltine crackers and Gatorade.

The Exhibition was also a big blur, but there were a couple of performances I couldn't forget like Brandon Mroz skating to the uncensored version of "Greased Lightning" and Florent Amodio showing off his dance moves to Michael Jackson.

On to a more pleasant year - 2010 in Portland, Oregon! Daisuke wows us again, Armin gives us a thrill, and the Shibutanis show they've come to play with the big boys.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Skate America Nostalgia: Everett 2008

Skate America 2008 in Everett, Washington is one of the years I have trouble remembering, so I'm going to have to dig deep into my memory bank!

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the men's event because Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir were competing against each other at Skate America for the first time. The men's free skate brought a lot of confusion over the scores as Takahiko Kozuka took home the gold by a narrow margin over Evan and Johnny.

One of my favorite performances was in the pairs event. Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker skated their West Side Story long program better than they did all season. They won silver behind Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy, who I was very excited to see skate live for the first time. I adored their "Leningrad" exhibition program. They always have fantastic show numbers!

Sinead and John Kerr had a great free dance that year to "Ruled By Secrecy" by Muse, and they landed on the podium with a bronze medal. In the original dance event, Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates received one of the loudest ovations with their energetic "Let Yourself Go" program. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto showed us their new look from their new coaches Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, and I was a little skeptical. I didn't think the Tosca free dance showed off their strengths.

I almost forgot one of the coolest things from Everett - my sister won a backstage tour at the Friends of Figure Skating breakfast. We got to see the media area, the areas where the skaters warmed up, the judges' podium, and the kiss and cry. While we were on the tour, Craig Buntin decided to tag along with us, and he made it even more entertaining!

Next in the series - Lake Placid 2009. Evan finally got that elusive Skate America gold, I finally got to see Shen/Zhao skate live, and a bad grilled cheese sandwich knocked me down but not out.