Thursday, March 29, 2012

2012 Worlds Free Dance: 'S Not Wonderful

Free dance day! Can't believe the ice dance season is almost over (not counting the World Team Trophy). Let's see what the couples have in store for us today.....

Sara Hurtado/Adria Diaz - Scary moment as Sara does a camel spin and Adria almost gets too close to her. Didn't want to see his abdomen being sliced open as I ate my pasta lunch! I have to say that Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon are just too frapping adorable as a coaching team. They've supplanted Yuka and Jason as my vote for cutest married coaching duo!

Danielle O'Brien/Gregory Merriman - Aww, Danielle goes down during the diagonal step sequence. Their program combines some of my favorite Big Band music and is super cute. Not their best skate but I still enjoyed it.

Siobhan Heekin-Canedy/Dmitri Dun - I missed most of this while trying to catch up on the first two couples.

Julia Zlobina/Alexei Sitnikov - I think the best word to describe this performance is "voidy." I've never seen this team before and I'm really impressed! They have some cool lifts and good speed. Will be looking out for more of them in the future!

Isabella Tobias/Deividas Stagniunas - Deividas didn't have a red stripe on his pants before, did he? This program always makes me smile. Cracks me up that a boy from Lithuania chose '50's Golden Oldies music. Solid performance - they look happy!

Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng - The Chinese are bringing their fierce tango faces today. Part of this music reminds me of Jamie Silverstein/Ryan O'Meara's lounge-y tango from 2006.

Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill - Oh joy, more tango! Better costumes than the Chinese team (I feel like Captain Obvious stating that). Love the lift where Kharis's arm is wrapped around Asher's leg. They're excited at the end until they see their score. A recurring theme this week in ice dance!

Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi - Nelli's flowy peach dress is so pretty. I'm distracted by a possible tattoo on Alexander's chest. They definitely sell this program with total conviction. They're a bit unrefined, but they draw me into their performance.

Lorenza Alessandrini/Simone Vaturi - Tosca - wheeee! These two are a little rough around the edges, too, but they seem more polished than when I saw them earlier in the season. The disappointed looks in the Kiss & Cry continue.....

Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland - Nicholas's outfit forever confuses me. I don't equate cowboy wear with Elvis. Big stumble by Penny. Is this Andrea Bocelli singing "Can't Help Falling In Love?" They're such a cute team.

Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue - Madi's lost the lingerie costume and has gone with very modest basic black. It's an improvement but I'd like to see a happy medium - this costume looks too much like a practice outfit. I think everyone usually watches Madi in this partnership but I find myself watching Zach more. His fluid movements catch my eye. Little off on the twizzles but everything else looked great to me!

Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko - The depressing "Snowstorm" music. They are pretty with pretty costumes.

Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte - This should've been Meryl Davis & Charlie White's FD music too :( I really like this program. It's charming but with emotional depth. Good finish for them after a rough couple of seasons!

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev - I adore this music from Faust. Going to close my eyes and pretend my fictional pair is skating to it..... Go Emily and Chris!

Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani - OMG I was thinking "Best Twizzles in the the Business" right before they messed up the twizzles. Curse me! Valiant attempt to regain the energy in the rest of the program. Hope they can come out with some fresh new material next season (no more ballroom-y free dances, please!).

Meryl Davis/Charlie White - Can't say anything except I'm in tears after the performance. Beautiful, perfect, musical, engaging, powerful!

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje - Wow, Kaitlyn looks like she's really been through a rough breakup and then some when the program is over - mussed up hair, bloody knee - they left it all out there on the ice!

Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat - The mummy program seems a bit silly after Kaitlyn and Andrew's emotionally charged and passionate free dance. They skate it very well, though. Nice to see them finally get a world medal.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov - There's the recycled Nikolai rotational lift we've seen for the past ten years. The angsty faces aren't working for me. Seems to be a lot of open holds and easy choreography in this program. Elena looks quite unhappy with the score. She should be thankful for what they received considering the emptiness of the program.

Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir - First set of twizzles looks a little off. Think they performed this better at 4CC. Doesn't have the same "zing" that Meryl and Charlie's program had. But not surprisingly, they take first by a healthy margin.

Another year come and gone in the sparkly and often controversial world of ice dance. What will 2013 bring? Can the Shibutanis come back with a fervor and show a new side to their skating? Will the gap between Weaver/Poje and Pechalat/Bourzat continue to shrink? Are Cappellini/Lanotte finally moving into the upper tier of dancers? And will Davis/White be able to overtake Virtue/Moir again?

This might be my last post for the skating season, but keep an eye on the blog throughout the off-season. I have giveaways every month and will be doing skating features, updates on my next book (the sequel to Life on the Edge), and lots more! Thanks so much to everyone who's visited this season, my first as a blogger!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012 Worlds Short Dance: The Last Rhumba

It seemed like the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships would never get here, but finally the biggest event of the year is upon us. Oh, how I wish I was in Nice watching the competition live and enjoying the south of France in spring. Already have my tickets for 2013 Worlds in London, Ontario!

After a full season of Latin for the short dance, I never want to hear "Mas Que Nada," "Magalenha," and "Historia de un Amor" ever again. May those pieces of music rest in peace along with day-glo orange and tiger print. I'm sure I'll be saying the same about perky polka music and ruffles next year.

I was able to see most of the short dance, so here are my thoughts on the couples I saw . . .

Isabella Tobias/Deividas Stagniunas - I like Isabella's new dress a lot - the color and design are much sleeker. Their rotational lift (Isabella upside down in a split on Deividas's shoulder) is one of my favorite from any couple this season. The performance is good but doesn't appear to be their best of the season. Coach Marina Zoueva is rocking the indoor sunglasses look that she had at 2007 Worlds. Igor Shpilband is rocking a serious five o'clock shadow.

Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill - Loving the Michael Jackson music to start the program. Pretty lift. I have a new appreciation for their skating this year. They have noticeable presence on the ice.

Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue - New dress for Madi. The back has the same strappy design as her old one but is very different in color (all black) and skirt design. Great power in their circular footwork sequence. Random crowd shot during their twizzles - WTH? Awesome skate for their Worlds debut!

Anna Nagornyuk/Viktor Kovalenko - Latin version of the score from Love Story - eek! Anna is very gangly. They look quite young.

Lorenza Alessandrini/Simone Vaturi - Nice twizzles. Have they been with Team DSC all season? Oh no, "Mas Que Nada!" Straight-line lift not so aesthetically pleasing. They're very perky!

Sara Hurtado/Adria Diaz - I've never been a fan of the "peek-a-boo bra" look on a costume. Noooo - more "Mas Que Nada" followed by "Magalenha." They do a move after their twizzles that resembles Meryl Davis and Charlie White's "sit spin" move in their SD circular footwork.

Danielle O'Brien/Gregory Merriman - Great twizzles. Very nice and smooth quality to their skating. They have a charming quality about them! Booooo to the score.

Cathy Reed/Chris Reed - Disaster on the twizzles when Chris goes down and Cathy bumps into him. I like the song used in the middle section of their program - sounds R&B? Tough season for them.

Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng - Nice twizzles. Everything else not bad. Think I spaced out a little on this one.

Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi - Gypsy Latin! Lots of speed compared to some of the previous teams. Twizzle problems on Alexander's part.

Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland - They've improved so much in the past year. Penny misses her blade on the twizzles. I like the mirror footwork in their circular sequence. They look so elegant.

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev - Herky-jerky twizzles as usual. My Icenetwork feed freezes and I miss a stumble and my favorite part of the program where Dmitri grabs his leg and spazzes out. Whoa! They've been dumped score-wise. Looks like Mother Russia will be pushing someone else as Russia #1.

Pernelle Carron/Lloyd Jones - I took this opportunity to clear my browser cache so I hopefully wouldn't have any feed freezes during the final group.

Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko - Still think Ekaterina's dress would be better suited for a tango. Gah, feed freezes again! So much for clearing the cache . . .

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje - They are spot-on with everything. Mistakes have been few and far between for them this season. It's amazing how much more secure they are in their skating now.

Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte - Pretty people! Pretty twizzles! They skate very close together in the circular footwork. Love their spirit - one of the most "Latin" dances I've seen.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov - Their circular footwork has interesting mirror movements and turns. Sigh, more "Mas Que Nada." Not feeling any Latin spirit here, but their score clearly indicates Mother Russia has found her new favorites.

Meryl Davis/Charlie White - Meryl's back in the orange dress from GPF and 4CC after teasing us with a new costume in practice. They come out blazing and throw themselves into every movement. Twizzles are "bang on" as Tracy Wilson would say. Everything looks clean and quick. They look extremely happy after the performance until the score comes up. Turns out they lost a few levels on the rhumba patterns and the footwork.

Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir - Still not sure who thought this purple dress would be a good fit for Tessa. Very strong performance with equal the energy of Meryl and Charlie. Once again, everything is crisp and in the flow of the program. They don't look ecstatic about their score either. They also lost levels on the patterns and the footwork. Hmmmm . . .

Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani - Great commitment throughout the program to every nuance of the music. Thought it looked on par with their performances at Nationals and 4CC. The panel doesn't agree with me as their score is much lower than expected. Lost levels on their patterns and footwork are also their issue.

Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat - Great job by Nathalie, who is skating with a broken nose. The home crowd cheers them on and they give one of their best performances. Score is closer to the top two teams than it's ever been.

Meryl and Charlie will need level fours on every element tomorrow in order to repeat as world champions. With a point and a half lead, Tessa and Scott have a little breathing room and have been skating their free dance very well. It's all going to come down to the technical mark. I think Nathalie and Fabian will hold on for the bronze unless they implode like last year. Kaitlyn and Andrew have a better free dance, in my opinion, but I expect Nathalie and Fabian to get the sentimental vote on the PCS. It will be interesting!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 3/25/12

Today is Six Sentence Sunday, where both published and non-published writers share six sentences from their work. I've posted an excerpt from my novel LIFE ON THE EDGE. Emily and Sergei are in the emergency room after Emily hurt her wrist at a competition.

Sergei pulled the green curtains tighter and placed a soft kiss on my forehead. 

"How's the pain?" Worry resided in his eyes.

My lips formed a tiny smile. "I'm trying not to think about it."

He skimmed his fingertips along my swollen skin, and for a moment, the throbbing sensation disappeared, supplanted by a deep yearning to pull Sergei against me.

Thanks for stopping by! To read Six Sentence Sunday from other writers or to sign up, visit the Six Sunday site here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample - 3/24/12

For this week's Sweet Saturday, I've posted another deleted scene from my current release LIFE ON THE EDGE. This scene picks up right after this one I posted two weeks ago. Emily and Sergei (who can't go public with their relationship) are spending Christmas with Em's parents in Brookline. Their friend Alex's flight to New Jersey was cancelled because of a snow storm, so Em invited him to stay at her parents' house.

We reached my parents' house without further incident, and Mom welcomed Alex with a warm hug. Without much time before five o'clock mass, I showed Alex his room and Dad loaned him a jacket and tie since Alex hadn't packed any dress clothes for his trip home. 

The snow thankfully let up some for our drive to St. Leonard's in the North End. A few dedicated parishioners were outside shoveling ice from the sidewalk and the church steps. We entered the vestibule, and Mom stopped to light two candles.
Alex whispered, "Is she praying for my soul?"

"No," I said quietly while trying not to laugh. "She always lights candles for my grandparents."

We moved toward the font of holy water, and after I blessed myself, Alex said, "I probably shouldn't take any. It might burn my skin."

"Stop it.” I pinched his arm as I stifled another giggle. "If you make me laugh during mass, I'm going to smack you."

Dad led us to an empty pew two rows behind Aunt Debbie’s family. We filed in and gave them quick waves. Across the aisle sat Aunt Gayle and her family. I groaned to myself, thinking of how I’d have to talk to Katie later at dinner. I hadn’t had the pleasure since our oh-so-fun conversation at the Fourth of July barbecue.

As usual, the church was three times more crowded than it was for regular Sunday mass. We had to squeeze closer together when more people joined our pew, but I didn’t mind. I watched Sergei’s profile as my hand brushed against his thigh. He kept his gaze on the altar, but his lips curved into a tiny smile.
I turned and looked around at the decorations adorning the old church. They hadn’t changed in the twenty years I’d been attending mass there, but the large nativity scene beside the altar still looked brand new and the vibrant poinsettias freshened all the other trimmings.
Sergei angled his head toward mine. “It’s really beautiful in here.”
I smiled up at him. “I’m so happy you’re here with me.”
He lightly rubbed my foot with his, and I opened my missalette to bring my focus where it should be. Not an easy task considering Sergei and I were shoulder-to-shoulder and he looked absolutely gorgeous in his tailored gray suit.
Sergei and Alex followed along with everything I did during mass, and aside from singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at an incredibly loud decibel, Alex didn't do anything to embarrass himself. When the time came for Communion, Alex leaned across Sergei and whispered, "I want some wine."

"You can't have it,” I said. “You're not Catholic."

"Well, that's not very Christian," he huffed.

I hushed him and stood along with my parents. My cousin Aaron, Aunt Gayle's oldest child, grinned at me as we stepped into the aisle at the same time. Katie was behind him, so I quickly averted my attention to avoid eye contact with her.

After the final blessing and the recessional hymn, we joined the throngs of people trying to exit all at once. As we slowly made our way up the aisle, Alex asked, "So, which one's the bitchy cousin?"

I bumped his elbow. "We're still in church!"

He put his hand to his mouth and laughed. "Oh, sorry." 

For more Sweet Saturday samples, check out the list here!

We Have a Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop! The winner of the $10 Amazon gift card, Life on the Edge calendar, and signed bookmark is . . . 

Lauren Mackesy

Congratulations, Lauren!!!!

I'll be participating in more blog hops in the coming months, so check back for more giveaways! Also, stop by this weekend for a new deleted scene from LIFE ON THE EDGE and next week for my thoughts on the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway

Welcome to the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!
WHAT YOU CAN WIN HERE: a $10 Amazon gift card, a Life on the Edge calendar and a signed bookmark!

To celebrate the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop, I thought I'd share an excerpt from my debut novel Life on the Edge, a love story set in the world of figure skating. In this scene, Emily and Sergei are having some bad luck with the weather, but the rain doesn't dampen their fun . . .

A rumble of thunder rolled in the distance, and both Sergei and I looked skyward. Fast moving clouds hid the moon. A roof covered half the amphitheater but not our seats in the farthest reaches of the venue. Sting had finished his first set, and I was regretting not bringing my rain slicker.
Sergei rose from the long bench. “Do you want a soda or anything?”
“I’ll take a bottle of water.” I reached into my jeans pocket for the cash I’d stashed.
He waved away the money. “I’ve got it.”
I smiled as I watched his long legs take him down the packed aisle. I hadn’t been on a date in so long that I’d forgotten how nice it was having a guy do the little things like fight the crowd for concessions and . . . Wait a second. I shook my head. This isn’t a date, remember? Just because Sergei opened his car door for me and wiped the dirt off my seat at the amphitheater didn’t mean our outing was anything more than friendly. He was being polite.
The smell of popcorn wafted past me as people returned from the concession stand and climbed into our row. Sergei came back with two bottles of water and handed me one.
“This is definitely the best concert I’ve been to,” he said.
“I saw U2 a few years ago in Boston, and they blew me away.” I paused, and Sergei raised an eyebrow. “But so far, this is even better.”
A lone raindrop plopped on my nose, and my eyes drifted to the sky again. “I think we’re about to get drenched.”
A few more drops fell, and Sergei said, “If it gets too bad, we can leave if you want.”
“No way. I don’t wanna miss any of the show. Unless you’re afraid you’re going to melt?” I bit my bottom lip to stifle a smile.
He laughed. “No, I can handle it.
The drops soon increased to a steady drizzle and pelted us on and off through the rest of the show. I sang along to every song while the rain coated my lips. Next to me, Sergei patted his leg in time to the beat of each tune, and every now and then, his arm bumped mine. His skin felt warm despite being wet, and with each touch my arm tingled.
By the time Sting finished his second encore, my navy T-shirt clung to me and my hair was soaked, but I was too awed by the music to care. I peeked at Sergei, and his short golden brown hair had darkened from the rain, making his blue eyes stand out even more. We moved with the thick crowd to the parking lot and had just hopped into Sergei’s SUV when the drizzle became a downpour.
“We got out of there right in time,” I said.
“You mean you wouldn’t want to sit outside in this? What, afraid you would melt, Emily?”
I laughed. “Oh, I could’ve handled it.”
The windshield wipers slapped back and forth, drowning out the classic rock on the radio. Sergei turned on the heater and drove slowly until we reached the interstate and pointed south to the Cape.
“I’m so glad we came,” he said. “He sounded amazing live.”
I combed my fingers through my hair, unknotting the long, damp waves. “I know. I’d see him again in a heartbeat.”
“Next time he comes, we’ll have to get tickets early so we can be closer to the stage.” He shot me a smile. “And out of the rain.”
“Definitely.” I returned his smile.
A shiver sped down my spine at the thought of spending another evening with Sergei. I didn’t know if I was still on a high from the concert, but being in the dark car with him was heightening all my senses. I’d always thought he was attractive, but only now did I notice how his smile softened the sharp angles of his face, how sexy my name sounded in his Russian accent, how his T-shirt hugged his lean yet muscular chest.
I gulped and set my eyes on the highway in front of us. You need to put those thoughts out of your mind right now.

Find out more about Life on the Edge here!

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below with your favorite concert you've attended or an artist you'd love to see in concert! Please include your email address. You can earn extra entries by:
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All entries must be received by midnight on March 22

Thanks so much for stopping by! Hop and enter the other giveaways here!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Worlds 2009 Nostalgia: Part V

We've reached the final installment in my look back at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships. To start my last day in Los Angeles, we did a little bit of sightseeing on Hollywood Boulevard. The usual freaky people dressed in costumes were out in force. I'd seen the Walk of Fame and Mann's Chinese Theater before, so we didn't spend too much time there. We took the subway back downtown and walked directly over to the ESPN Zone to get in line for the Friends of Figure Skating reception.

The event was packed with supporters excited to mingle with members of Team USA. After everyone sampled the buffet, a group of athletes - Meryl Davis/Charlie White, Emily Samuelson/Evan Bates, Caydee Denney/Jeremy Barrett, Keauna McLaughlin/Rockne Brubaker, and Brandon Mroz - stood up and spoke briefly to the group. Then the head of the FOFS auctioned off a dinner with Meryl and Charlie, and my friend (with me egging her on) won it along with another lady. We were so excited that we'd get to have dinner with them at 2010 Nationals in Spokane.

Evan Lysacek arrived to great applause and he said a few words. We had to go outside to stake out a spot for the ice dance small medal ceremony, so we couldn't stick around to talk to him. It was another scorcher in "Star Plaza" as we waited for the ceremony. Since Meryl and Charlie had finished third in the free dance, they were invited along with the medalists, so four teams squeezed onto the stage. The Q&A was a lot of fun, and the skaters answered quite a few questions from the crowd. After the ceremony ended, we chatted with a few of the skaters' families and got photos with our favorite dance coach Igor Shpilband. Then it was off to Lawry's Carvery in the L.A. Live complex to get out of the sun and relax with a cold glass of lemonade.

On the walk back to Staples for the ladies' free skate, we ran into some rabid Yu-Na Kim fans handing out Korean flags. We also saw Nick Verreos from Project Runway - our first celebrity sighting of the week! After Alissa Czisny skated, we went in search of food options on the concourse and came upon Evan and Frank Carroll sitting at an autograph booth. Since everyone was in their seats watching the competition, there was no line at the booth, so we walked right up and got to talk to them. I told Evan how I'd been a fan of his since I saw him at 2001 Nationals. He was very nice and obviously still riding the high of his world title.

The highlight of the ladies' competition for me was Rachel Flatt's performance. We left before the medal ceremony and finally found a table in the bar since it was only 8:30. There wasn't much happening except some Canadian skaters playing pool next to our table. We moved out into the lobby later and of course Samuel Contesti and his crew were out there. Around one in the morning my friends and I said our sad goodbyes since I wasn't staying for the Exhibition on Sunday. Thanks to both my old and new friends, it was one of the best trips ever!

Here are my Saturday photos:

2009 Worlds - Saturday Events

Worlds 2009 Nostalgia: Part IV

Welcome back to my "reflections on 2009 Worlds" series! Friday started out fantastically. I slept in after my late night on Thursday, opting to skip most of the ladies' short program. On my way down to the Wilshire Grand lobby, I shared an elevator with Frank Carroll, and we both headed to the same place - the gift shop to look for a newspaper. I wanted to see what the L.A. Times had to say about Evan Lysacek's big win. Guess Frank wanted to read about his student's triumph, too! We soon discovered the shop was sold out of papers.

I went across the street to Starbucks to find a newspaper and spent the rest of the morning lounging in the lobby and watching the sights (including a totally random but very enjoyable look at Brian Joubert's abs). Before noon, my sister and I went to California Pizza Kitchen again for lunch since it was a Lenten Friday and we couldn't eat meat.

After lunch we walked to the "Star Plaza" outside Staples Center for the men's small medal ceremony. We found a spot along the barricade and got a nice sunburn while we waited almost an hour for the ceremony to begin. Evan and Patrick were all smiles, and Brian was his usual charming self. The guys signed some autographs afterward, but the crowd was chaotic, so we scooted out of the masses and over to the Convention Center for ice dance practice.

It felt so good at practice to be out of the sun. My nervous energy was starting to ramp up, thinking about that night's free dance. Everyone looked solid at practice, and the most noteworthy item was Meryl Davis wore a dress she hadn't worn in competition. We had to get over to Staples to cheer on Alissa Czisny and Rachel Flatt, so we ran over there and found seats a few rows up from our usual first-row ones. Trifun Zivanovic was sitting a couple of rows in front of us. I don't remember much about that event except I enjoyed seeing Joannie Rochette and Mao Asada skate.

We grabbed salads from the McDonald's concession stand for dinner and went outside to eat because we thought it would be warmer than the arena. Wrong. It was windy and not so warm. We walked around to find a sunny spot and had to settle for sitting on the sidewalk near the street. Once we went back inside and settled into our seats for the free dance, I began getting even more jittery as I considered the possibility of Tanith Belbin/Ben Agosto winning gold and Meryl Davis/Charlie White winning bronze. By the time the final flight took the ice for the warm-up, I was literally shaking. I texted my friend (who was sitting across the arena) - "I'm feeling short of breath" and she replied that she felt the same.

Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir skated first. I was in love with their Pink Floyd program the first time I saw it on YouTube, and it's still one of my favorites of theirs, but that night I thought Tessa and Scott's lack of training time showed. The program didn't look seasoned enough. Tanith and Ben followed, and even though I was never a fan of their Tosca program, I thought they skated the heck out of it. They couldn't have done any more. Meryl and Charlie were next, and they gave an emotional and powerful performance that will never be forgotten. The crowd was already rising before the program ended. I thought for sure the bronze medal was theirs. But it was not meant to be. Oksana Domnina/Maxim Shabalin skated next, and they looked slow and labored but made no visible mistakes. I had a bad feeling my hopes were about to be crushed again. And I was right, as the judges gave them high marks. Jana Khoklova/Sergei Novitski were the final couple to skate, but I have no idea how they skated because I was too distraught over the results to pay attention.

After the medal ceremony, we retreated to the hotel bar, which was once again super crowded. We ended up on our bench from Thursday night and drowned our sorrows in our cocktails. The bar bouncer continued to scrutinize the skaters who tried to gain entrance. Ben's age was questioned, and Meryl was turned away because she didn't have her ID with her. The usual crew was roaming around in the lobby, including our old friend Samuel Contesti. We ended the night earlier than the prior evening as exhaustion started to catch up to us.

Part V will cover my final day in L.A. - an eventful Friends of Figure Skating reception, the dance small medal ceremony, Yu-Na mania outside Staples, and finally finding a seat in the bar.

Here are my Friday photos:

2009 Worlds - Friday Events

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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Worlds 2009 Nostalgia: Part II

Continuing with my look back at 2009 Worlds, let's turn to the events of Wednesday of that championship week. I wasn't among the hardcore fans who sat through eight hours of the men's short program. I love skating, but I couldn't imagine enduring that marathon. I opted instead to have a leisurely morning and attend the men's practice at the Convention Center.

I'd only seen Brian Joubert and Patrick Chan skate live once before (Brian at Skate America '04 and Patrick at Skate America '07), so I was excited to watch them practice. Patrick's mastery of the blade amazed me, and Brian entertained with his showmanship. You'll probably notice that I have quite a few photos of Brian in my albums. He's just too pretty not to photograph!

We walked to Ralph's for a lunch break and then settled in at Staples for the second half of the men's short program. Our seats were near center ice opposite the judges - generally an excellent spot - but the air conditioner was blowing right on us and there was a Canadian fan with a very large hat in front of me, obstructing my view. After a few groups, my sister and I went over to the judges' side and found seats in the first row. It was a fabulous view, and we ended up sitting there the rest of the week.

Brandon Mroz wowed us with a perfect program, and he looked thrilled/stunned with his performance and the resulting standing ovation. That was one of my favorite moments of the afternoon. The top three were also a highlight as Joubert, Chan, and Evan Lysacek set the stage for a tight fight in the free skate. Joubert provided another memorable moment as he winked in our direction during his circular footwork. Being in the front row had lots of perks!

We tried to eat dinner at a small Italian restaurant near the arena, but the service was so slow that we left and went to Denny's further down Figueroa Street. When we returned to Staples for the pairs free skate, we got another Team USA thrill when Denney/Barrett blew the roof off the place with their perfect performance. The crowd stood before the music even ended, giving me goosebumps. Savchenko/Szolkowy also gave me goosebumps that night with their beautiful and chilling "Schindler's List" program. 

During one of the Zamboni breaks, I got to meet a new friend from FSUniverse. I had no idea when we met that we'd become BFF's and share so many crazy skating adventures over the next few years! Yet another awesome moment in a week full of them.

Wednesday ended with the pairs medal ceremony and an uneventful return to the hotel. It wouldn't be until Thursday night that the action would pick up at the hotel bar/lobby . . . coming soon in Part III!

Here are my photos from Wednesday's events:

2009 Worlds - Wednesday Events

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 3/11/12

Today is Six Sentence Sunday, where both published and non-published writers share six sentences from their work. I've posted an excerpt from my novel LIFE ON THE EDGE. This is a bit further into the scene I featured last week. Emily and Sergei are with a group at a nightclub in Tokyo, trying to keep up appearances.

After a few minutes, I sensed someone behind me. My pulse quickened as Sergei’s woody cologne floated under my nose. Sergei mimicked my stance and stood close enough to me that his forearm touched mine on the railing. The scene looked perfectly innocent, but no one could see the million sparks of electricity generated through that slight physical contact.

“Do you know how bad I want to kiss you right now?” Sergei’s eyes wandered down to my mouth.

Thanks for stopping by! To read Six Sentence Sunday from other writers or to sign up, visit the Six Sunday site here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample - 3/10/12

For this week's Sweet Saturday, I've posted another deleted scene from my current release LIFE ON THE EDGE. Emily and Sergei are headed from Cape Cod to Em's parents' house in Brookline for Christmas, and they're giving their rink manager Alex a ride to Logan Airport in Boston.

"Wow, it's going to be a blizzard soon," I said as the snow swirled heavier around Sergei's SUV.
"Ugh, don't tell me that, Ma.” Alex's voice carried forward from the back seat while he spoke on the phone. “Yeah, I'll call the airline again." He hung up and sighed. "My mom said they're getting pounded in Jersey, and they're talking about closing the airport."
"Oh, no!"
"I should've stayed on the Cape. I might be going all the way to Logan for nothing."
"Don't give up hope yet. There could be a Christmas miracle," I said.
"Maybe Santa and his reindeer can pick me up on their way down from the North Pole. They have to pass Boston on the way to Jersey."
I laughed. "That's the spirit.”
Alex called the airline to check on his flight's status while Sergei continued to drive us carefully through the snow storm. After Alex recited his information to the computer on the other end of the line, he snapped his phone shut in disgust. "Cancelled."
"Do you think there's any chance of getting another flight?" I asked.
"On Christmas Eve in this weather? I think I’d actually have a better shot at hitching a ride on Santa's sleigh," he said. "I guess I'll just hang out at Logan in case something does open up."
"What if nothing does, though? You can't spend Christmas in the airport.”
"I'll call someone to pick me up."
"From the Cape?” Sergei arched his eyebrows. “I don't think anyone's going to get on these roads.”
"Just come to my house with us.” I swiveled my neck to face Alex. “There's plenty of room.”
"I can't bust in on your family's Christmas," he said.
"Nonsense. This is the season for sharing, remember? We'd love to have you."
"You're speaking for yourself, not your parents. They might not want a stranger staying at their house."
"You're not a stranger. You're a friend, and my friends are always welcome. And there will be enough food at my aunt's to feed a small army, so one more guest isn't going to put anyone out."
"It'll actually be good if you're there so I won't stand out as the only person Em's bringing," Sergei chimed in.
"I thought your family knew about the two of you?" Alex asked me.
"Only some of them do. Sergei's coming as my 'poor lonely coach who doesn't have anywhere else to go on Christmas.'"
Sergei threw me a quick look. "Excuse me, I had two other invitations I turned down."
"Well, they can't know that. Just try to sound pitiful." I smiled and rubbed his shoulder.
"I could pretend I'm Sergei's boyfriend. That would really throw them off the trail." Alex flashed a broad grin.
I burst into laughter and glanced at Sergei, who didn't look amused. “Oh, I would pay to see that," I said between laughs.
"Let’s stick with the current plan," Sergei said dryly.
"Just trying to earn my keep," Alex said, still grinning.
I pulled out my phone. "I'm gonna call my mom and let her know you're coming so she can get the other guest room ready.”
"I don't want her going to any trouble," Alex insisted.
"It's no trouble. Just a warning, though . . . she will ask you a million questions because she's nosy like that."
"I can handle her. We've had a good little rapport when we've talked at the rink."
"What about church?" Sergei reminded me.
"Oh, yeah." I put on a big smile as I turned to Alex. "Can you handle a Catholic mass, too?"
He let out a high-pitched laugh. "You want the whole church to go up in flames? That’s what'll happen if I step inside it."
"No, it won't.”
"Will they sing 'Silent Night'? I do love me some 'Silent Night.'"
I laughed. "Probably."
"I guess I can do it then. But you'd better tell me when I have to stand up and kneel down and all that jazz.”
"Don't worry, I'll be giving Sergei signals, too. It'll be his first time at mass."
Sergei suddenly slammed on the brakes as the car in front of us stopped short at the traffic light. I jerked forward and then back in my seat, knocking my head against the headrest. Alex yelped behind me. 
Sergei cursed under his breath and reached out for my arm. "You okay?" He followed with a look toward the backseat.

I winced and rubbed the back of my head. "Yeah. Might have a headache later."
“Maybe saying a few prayers isn't such a bad idea," Alex said.

For more Sweet Saturday samples, check out the list here!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Worlds 2009 Nostalgia: Part I

I had so much fun with my U.S. Nationals nostalgia series that I thought I'd look back at the 2009 World Championships in Los Angeles, the only Worlds I've attended. The five days I spent in L.A. were in a word - insane. I'm so glad I kept a journal so I can remember all the moments, both big and small, that occurred. Scrolling through all my photos from the event (which I'll link at the bottom), I recalled things I hadn't written in my journal and had totally forgotten. On to the memories!

My sister and I arrived in L.A. on Tuesday morning, a few hours before the compulsory dance. I got some great shots of the city from the plane as we descended. It was a typical beautiful day, reminding me how much I love visiting California!

We hit up California Pizza Kitchen for lunch and sat outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. As we ate, we noticed lots of skaters and coaches walking from the direction of Staples Center, and we determined they'd rather enjoy the sunny walk than ride the bus from the arena to the hotel. After lunch, we checked in at the official hotel, the Wilshire Grand, and I couldn't get over the size of my room that I'd be sharing with a friend. We had TWO bathrooms! I'd never seen that in a hotel room.

Off to Staples we went for the compulsory dance (the Paso Doble), where Oksana Domnina/Max Shabalin took the expected lead. I just wanted Tanith Belbin/Ben Agosto to be in striking distance for gold, and they were. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir took the third spot, again as expected, and Meryl Davis/Charlie White (who must've used an entire bottle of hair gel to slick down his curls) slid into fourth.

After a dinner break at the ESPN Zone, we hustled back to Staples for the pairs short program. We watched some of the early pairs, which included Caydee Denney/Jeremy Barrett, but then ducked out to walk next door to the Convention Center for ladies' practice. I'm not sure why I wanted to go to the ladies' practice since it's not my favorite discipline, but I'm so glad we went because of who we ran into on the way there . . . Michelle Kwan!!!! She was talking to someone outside the parking garage, and after she finished her conversation, I hurried over and asked her for a photo. She was very nice and gracious. I was totally untiffed and pretty much a zombie since I'd woken up at 4:00am for my cross-country flight, but it's still a photo I'll always treasure!

We returned to Staples after our brief visit to ladies' practice, and I had to practically hold my eyelids open for the remainder of the pairs short program. It lasted until almost midnight, and I was fading fast from the time change and being awake for twenty-two hours. I was happy to see Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy take the lead and even happier to get back to the hotel and finally sleep!

Part II will bring us to Wednesday, which included stops at men's practice, the men's short program, and the pairs free skate. Coming soon!

Here are Part I of my photos:

2009 Worlds - Tuesday Events

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 3/4/12

Today is Six Sentence Sunday, where both published and non-published writers share six sentences from their work. I've posted an excerpt from my novel LIFE ON THE EDGE. Emily and Sergei are with a group at a nightclub in Tokyo, trying to keep up appearances.

“Your face is red,” he said.

I touched the glass to my flushed cheek. It cooled my face but not the heat I felt from Sergei’s appreciative stare.

“I’m just really hot,” I stammered.

Sergei’s smile widened, and he took a sip of his drink. “No comment.”

Thanks for stopping by! To read Six Sentence Sunday from other writers or to sign up, visit the Six Sunday site here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample - 3/3/12

For this week's Sweet Saturday, I've posted another deleted scene (I have a lot of these!) from my current release LIFE ON THE EDGE. Emily and Chris are competing at the Goodwill Games in Australia, and Chris is letting Emily use the extra bed in his hotel room because Em's roommate is ill and contagious.

Chris set the alarm clock for seven o'clock, and I switched off the lamp. Darkness surrounded us.

"Did you talk to Marley while I was in the shower?" I asked.

"Yeah, she was just waking up. I told her you were crashing here. I assured her I wouldn't let you make any moves on me in the middle of the night."

"You're such a goofball." I laughed and fluffed my pillows.

"Hey, I don't know what kind of weird sleep walking habits you could have. You might come over here thinking I'm Sergei.”

"I've never sleep walked in my life, but if I did, I think I’d figure out pretty quickly you are most definitely not Sergei.”

"Is that an insult?" His voice feigned hurt.

I laughed even louder. "You can interpret it any way you'd like."

"I take you in out of the kindness of my heart, and this is how you repay me.”

"Just shut up and go to sleep," I said, burrowing under my blanket.

He punched his pillow a few times. "'Night, Cupcake." 

For more Sweet Saturday samples, check out the list here!