Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday Moves

Welcome to the final Monday Moves of 2013! This week I'm looking back at a move by a pair that I felt could've been a superstar team if not for constant injuries. Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski had solid basics and so much style and elegance. I loved this lift they performed in their "Clair de Lune" long program. The core strength Brooke needed to hold her position is incredible. She was one of the best in holding beautiful positions in lifts!

Next week Monday Moves will be preempted by special week-long coverage from U.S. Nationals!! I leave for Boston next Monday and will be attending lots of events and practices at all levels, so keep an eye on the blog for photos and hopefully some thoughts from the events if I have time. There never seems to be enough time to do the write-ups once the action gets going! I'll also hopefully be doing a little sight-seeing around town (if the weather cooperates) and posting pics of some places you might recognize from the EDGE series ;)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Moves

I'm going old-school with this week's Monday Moves. I hadn't really watched ice dance before the 1992 Olympics, and when I saw this program by Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko I was very intrigued. I loved the emotion and flair in their performance, and I was particularly entranced by this uber-dramatic lift:

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with their friends and family!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Moves

Monday Moves was on vacation during my two-week blog tour for FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE, but it's back this week! Today I'm spotlighting a move by one of my favorite up-and-coming skaters, Joshua Farris. Josh has so much musicality and such beautiful lines in his skating. His "Clair de Lune" short program in 2011-2012 was stunning, and I particularly loved his footwork sequence and the skid spiral that he did at the end:

Friday, December 13, 2013


Welcome to Day 10 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

i read indie – Review
Thardrandian Thoughts – Spotlight
My Devotional Thoughts – Spotlight

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Welcome to Day 9 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Indie Author How-to – Review
Deal SharingAunt – Spotlight

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Welcome to Day 8 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Book Labyrinth – Review

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Welcome to Day 7 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Bound 4 Escape – Review

Sweeping Me - Spotlight

Monday, December 9, 2013


Welcome to Day 6 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Genuine Jenn – Review
3 Partners in Shopping – Spotlight

Friday, December 6, 2013


Welcome to Day 5 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!


Thursday, December 5, 2013


Welcome to Day 4 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Booklover Sue – Spotlight
Book Bliss – Review

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Welcome to Day 3 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Jenna Does Books – Spotlight
Victoria Simcox’s Blog – Spotlight
Zili in the Sky – Review
Reviews by Karen – Spotlight

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Welcome to Day 2 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Jess Time to Read – Review
Mythical Books – Interview

Monday, December 2, 2013


Welcome to Day 1 of my blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader! Each day of the tour I'll post the links here where you can find reviews, spotlights, and interviews. You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card/Paypal cash! Thank you so much to all the bloggers who are helping spread the word about Fighting for the Edge!!

Books are Sanity – Review

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Monday Moves

Today's Monday Moves features two Olympic gold medalists who came together to form an unlikely pair on the Stars on Ice tour. Katia Gordeeva won Olympic gold in 1988 and 1994 with her late husband Sergei Grinkov, and Ilia Kulik won the men's event in 1998. When I first saw this pairs program from Katia and Ilia on SOI, I couldn't believe their amazing chemistry. It was no surprise when I later discovered they were a couple off the ice. The whole program is smokin' HOT, but there's one move in particular I love where Katia and Ilia look like they're dancing and then Ilia does a double Axel while Katia does a lunge. Then they come back together again with another sultry move. LOVE IT!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monday Moves

Today's Monday Moves features America's best hope for a medal in the ladies event at the 2014 Olympics. Ashley Wagner has a come a long way competitively and artistically over the past few years, and her Red Violin short program last year was a beauty. I particularly loved her double Axel into a split falling leaf. She's doing it again in her long program this year, which I'm so glad to see!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The paperback of FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE will be available any day now! If you'd like to buy a signed copy, please email me at the email address on my Contact page. The cost is $15, and I'll ship it right out to you!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Monday Moves

Welcome to another Monday Moves! First, I have to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who bought a copy of Fighting for the Edge last week and made it an amazing release week!! The first two books in the series are still on sale for $0.99, so if you want to check out the series from the beginning, now is the time to grab your copies! :)

Now on to today's featured skating move - this one comes courtesy of Jeremy Abbott, a true dancer on the ice. There aren't many skaters who feel the music like Jeremy does. He feels every nuance and expresses it so beautifully. If he wasn't a skater, he'd make a helluva contemporary dancer! The move of his I'm highlighting is from his "Hometown Glory" exhibition, a program that makes me swoon every time I watch it. I love every step of the program, and his entrance into the triple Lutz is one of my favorite parts. It's done so elegantly to the music!

Friday, November 8, 2013

$50 Book Blast Giveaway

I Am a Reader is hosting a book blast giveaway celebrating the release of FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE. You can enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal Cash! The giveaway ends November 28. Find the Rafflecopter at the end of the post here!

Monday, November 4, 2013


FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE release day is almost upon us, and I can finally show you the cover!! Elaina Lee did another BEAUTIFUL job!

I'll be posting the Amazon and Barnes & Noble links as soon as they go live! Thank you so much in advance for helping me spread the word about this book and the series!!

Monday Moves

Happy Monday! Today on Monday Moves I'm featuring a skater with whom the casual fan might not be familiar. Jonathan Cassar only made it onto the Nationals NBC broadcast once, I think, but his skating was always more than worthy of being shown to the world. He may not have had the big jumps to compete with the top guys, but he has such a great connection to the music and an amazing performance ability. He takes you on an emotional journey with his programs. He's also given us one of the iconic moves in the sport - his gorgeous, breathtaking spread eagle. That's the move from his Schindler's List program that I'm featuring below:

This is a such an exciting week for me because FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE releases tomorrow!!!! It seemed like this day would never get here! I'll be posting the cover here late tonight. I'm so anxious for you all to see it! :) 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

99 Cent Sale

In anticipation of the release of FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE (Edge #3), the first two books in the series are now on sale for 99 cents each on Amazon! Two books for two dollars!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Release day for FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE is next week!!!! Time for one final sneak peek. Here's your first look at the very first lines of the book!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monday Moves

I missed Monday Moves last week due to traveling home from Skate America, but it's back this week! Today's move was one I first saw on YouTube last spring and anxiously awaited seeing in person at Skate America. Adam Rippon's entire Prelude To the Afternoon of a Faun program lived up to my expectations, and I swooned again over this move in particular. It's his back spiral transition into the circular footwork. Gorgeous!!

Don't forget to enter my FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE countdown giveaway. You can win a signed paperback copy or an EDGE series prize pack! And tomorrow I'll be posting the final teaser before release day!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE Countdown Giveaway

We're only ten days away from the release of FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE!!!! Help me spread the word about the EDGE series and you'll have a chance to win a signed paperback copy of the book or a series prize pack with lots of fun goodies!

I'm so excited for you all to read this book! I'll post one final teaser next week!!

Giveaway is open to all U.S., Canada, and Europe residents

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 Skate America Recap

I covered the Friday night events already, so I'll start with the Saturday schedule. The first event on the Saturday docket was the pairs short program. I'd never seen Purdy/Marinaro before and I thought they had an elegant quality to their skating. Their elements are pretty small, but they are very pretty together. Of the American teams, Castelli/Shnapir fared the best, and I thought they gave great energy to their program. I'm still not sold on the music cuts of Denney/Couglin's Tosca program. I think the music is too big for a short. It's better in a long program where it has time to build. I watched the second group of pairs on the concourse while I grabbed lunch, and I thought Volosozhar/Trankov were grossly overscored. There's no way they were twelve points better than Moore-Towers/Moscovitch.

The highlights of the ladies' short program for me were Samantha Cesario, Ashley Wagner, and Mao Asada. It's a shame Sammi constantly has jump under-rotation issues because her performance skills are way above many of her competitors and her skating has a way of making you take notice. Ashley commanded the same attention in her short, also giving us a spunky, sassy look (and doing that triple-triple!). In contrast, Mao floated over the ice with her lyrical Chopin program. The lightness in her skating has always amazed me, and it was wonderful to see her land the triple axel again. I remember the first time I saw her skate live at Skate America in Hartford way back in 2006, she was reeling off those triple axels all over the place.

After a dinner break, it was back to the arena for the men's free skate. My favorite programs of the night were Daisuke Takahashi's, Jason Brown's, and Adam Rippon's. I didn't enjoy Tatsuki Machida's long program as much as I enjoyed his short, but I'm not a fan of Firebird in general. There's not much more to say about Dai's skating that hasn't already been said. It's sad to see how some of his jumps have deteriorated over the years, but his in-between skating is more gorgeous than ever. Jason was a bit tight in this performance, but he still delivered an engaging one and had the crowd into every move (and there are some eye-popping transitions in this program!). Adam's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun program is one of my favorites of any discipline this season. The way he feels the music and the beautiful positions he attains... it's stunning. His entrance into the circular footwork will have to be featured in Monday Moves soon!

The final Saturday event was the free dance. It was a great night of skating with a variety of themes. I didn't know how I'd like Carron/Jones' Black Swan program, but it was enjoyable with a couple of really cool lifts. We'd all been anticipating the Shibutanis' Michael Jackson free dance, and I thought the first and third sections (the fast parts) were very entertaining (minus the crotch grab in the beginning. I do not need to see Alex grabbing his crotch, thank you). I felt they lost energy in the slow middle section. Hubbell/Donohue's free dance was skated very well. They are really so smooth across the ice. The music was a little screechy for me, though.

Cappellini/Lanotte had another great performance in the free dance. Their improved speed is what's really standing out to me this year. They've always had the great performance skills, and now they're backing it up with crisper technical elements. I'd love to see them on the Olympic podium! Davis/White showed marked improvement over the SLC performance with much more punch at the end of the program this time. There were a few little miscues (on the spin and the diagonal steps that I could spot), but I think it was a definite step in the right direction. With each performance I see them adding more emotion and working on bringing out the story more. There's been a lot of discussion about their costumes, and I like the combination they showed here the best. Charlie's is definitely an improvement from the SLC version, and though I loved Meryl's dress in SLC, I think the teal SA dress has a sexier neckline and looks a bit more sophisticated. I don't mind that the teal and eggplant colors don't match. I think the two jewel tones go well together.

I had an early start on Sunday because of the Friends of Figure Skating breakfast. A big shout-out to the Joe Louis arena employee who gave me perfect directions around the marathon traffic and directly into the arena parking lot. I got to talk to Max Aaron, Jason Brown, Adam Rippon, and the Shibs at the breakfast and they were all so nice. Max talked to our table for a long time and told us about the Batman exhibition he'd love to do. I hadn't met him before and was really impressed with how well he mingled and worked the crowd. Jason and Adam were super sweet, and both were very excited about their next Grand Prix events. I'd talked to the Shibs many times at events over the years, but it's always nice to see them! I asked Adam to send a special greeting to a friend and one of his biggest fans, and he was so happy to oblige :)

My friends and I walked around downtown Detroit a bit after the breakfast and got to see some of the marathon runners and football fans also milling about. We headed back to the arena for the pairs free skate, where I was disappointed Castelli/Shnapir had some missteps. Marissa almost landed the quad cleanly, but there were some problems on the side-by-side triple toes and the throw triple Salchow. Zhang/Bartholomay had a great rebound from the short program. I wish their elements had more size and power to them because their skating seems kind of small, but you can't deny the grit in their performance.

Once again the point differential between Volosozhar/Trankov and Moore-Towers/Moscovitch was ridiculous. I vastly preferred M-T/M's program to V/T's. V/T have such impressive elements, but I'm left cold by their skating. I've seen comparisons to Totmianina/Marinin, and I agree. Both great champions, but I feel nothing when I watch them. I actually think M-T/M's lifts and jumps are actually more impressive than V/T's, but I guess the judges don't agree with me.

On to the ladies. Once again, Sammi was the highlight of the early group for me, and Ashley and Mao in the second group. I like that Ashley isn't using the overused parts of Romeo and Juliet. And good on her for doing the triple-triple again (I haven't checked the protocols to see if it was downgraded). Mao's step sequence in her Rach 2 program is a masterpiece.

The Exhibition was fun as always, and I was so thrilled to see Daisuke's "The Crisis" exhibition again. It's my favorite of his, and I was tearing up thinking that it was probably the last time I'll see him skate live. He will be missed so much!

Overall I thought we saw some great skating for the opening Grand Prix of the season. The people in Detroit were so nice and helpful, and other than the long drive from the hotel to the arena, it was a good host city. As we continue on with the rest of the Grand Prix series, I'll do my best to blog about some of the events (depending on how much I get to watch on IceNetwork). Let's hope we see even more spectacular performances along the way!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 Skate America - Pairs & Ladies FS & Exhibition

Will write reports on the events once I return home. There was so much good quality skating for the first GP event of the season!

Here are the photos from the Pairs FS, Ladies FS, and Exhibition.

2013 Skate America - Free Dance & Men's FS

I'll write up reports with thoughts on all these events once I get home, but in the meantime here are the photos from the free dance and the men's free skate (including medal ceremonies):

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2013 Skate America - Pairs and Ladies SP

Quick post between sessions! I rarely sit through an entire ladies event, but I did for this one and it was enjoyable! Ashley killed it and Mao was simply sublime.

Here are the photos from today!

2013 Skate America-Short Dance & Men SP

Just a few quick thoughts about the men's SP last night... so many WOW programs even with a few jump issues here and there. First, Tatsuki Machida blew me away with his gorgeous jumps and wonderful lyricism in between. I hope he can challenge Hanyu over the course of the season because I prefer his skating to Hanyu's. Both Daisuke Takahashi and Takahiko Kozuka had some jump problems, but the quality of their skating cannot be disputed. Dai floated over the ice in a beautifully lyric program, and Taka hit all the notes of his jazzy music perfectly. They are both such a joy to watch.

On to the Americans - Jason Brown and Adam Rippon - both WOW! Soooo happy to see Adam land the quad Lutz and skate the program with such confidence, and Jason just oozed musicality and owned every movement.

The Short Dance also had its share of entertaining programs. Of course, Meryl Davis and Charlie White killed it. Their program is full of so many nuances, and they perform it with such lightness and joy. I absolutely loved Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte's program. They've improved so much the last couple of years, and they were flying around the ice. Maia and Alex Shibutani also had a great debut of their short dance. I thought they really captured the spirit of the dance rhythms.

Here are the photos from last night!

Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 Skate America - Friday Practices

Quick post with photos from Friday's dance and pairs (first group only) practices. Includes video of Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir doing the throw quad Salchow.

2013 Skate America - Thursday Practices

Greetings from Detroit! After an eventful trip to the arena during which we got a little lost in the more "interesting" part of the city, we made it to the Joe for part of men's practice and ice dance practice. Here are the photos and a few videos (Davis/White and the Shibutanis' run-throughs)!

Thursday Men and Dance Practice

I also took a trip to Ann Arbor and Canton yesterday morning. The University of Michigan campus is so pretty! Here are the photos from the trip:

Ann Arbor & Canton

Monday, October 14, 2013


Here's the final installment of Emily and Sergei's first meeting! If you haven't read the first two installments, you can find Part I here and Part II here.


Sergei excused himself when a parent asked to speak to him, and I watched them talk near the boards. It was the first time I could get a long look at Sergei without him catching me staring, although I’d probably gawked a little too long in the first moments of our meeting. When he’d turned around and I’d seen his electric-blue eyes, the only thing I could think was, Whoa.
And it wasn’t just his mesmerizing eyes. He had a gorgeous smile, neatly cropped golden brown hair, and that slight stubble that always seemed to make guys hotter. Plus, he’d been incredibly nice so far, and he didn’t appear to be scary-intense like a lot of other coaches. Of course, he might just be putting on a good introductory front.
Aubrey waved to me as she rounded the rink and headed my way, and I met her at the edge of the bleachers. She glanced from me to Sergei, who was still in deep conversation.
“How’s it going so far?”
I led her further away from the ice and hushed my voice. “You said he was good-looking. You didn’t tell me he was OMG smokin’ hot!”
She laughed. “I guess he’s not my type.”
“Well, he needs to not be my type either if I’m going to work with him every day without drooling all over.”
“Hey, at least you’ll have something nice to look at while you’re working your butt off.”
Sergei and the mom parted ways, and I shushed Aubrey as Sergei approached us.
“Sorry about that,” he said to me. “Hi, Aubrey.”
“Hey, I’ll let you guys get back to it. Come find me before you leave, Em.”
She started to walk away, and I called after her, “Did your mom remember the video camera?”
“Yep, she’s got it with her.”
I turned to Sergei. “I asked her to tape our first few lessons so my parents can see them. They’d like to drive down and meet with you on Saturday if you’re free.”
“Sure. I teach a group class in the morning and I can meet with them after.”
“Great.” I bobbed my head. “Just a warning that my mom can be pretty intense and will probably interrogate you.”
He chuckled. “Thanks for the warning. I’ve had to deal with some very extreme parents over the years, so I’ll be prepared.”
“She’s not like a crazy skating mom or anything. She doesn’t micromanage my skating, which is great, but she’s very protective.”
“Well, I’ll be sure to address all her concerns. If you feel like this is the right place for you, then I’ll do whatever it takes to convince her that you should stay.”
I smiled at the intensity in his deep blue eyes. It was the good kind of intensity – the kind that made me feel like he was already in my corner, willing to fight for me on this new path I was taking.
“So, what comes next?” I asked.
“I want you to get a feel for skating with a partner. We’ll start with some very basic exercises.”
I followed him onto the ice, and he took off his fleece jacket and stored it behind the boards. Whoa popped into my head again as I saw what he’d been hiding underneath. His lean muscles filled out his gray T-shirt perfectly, and the short sleeves showed off his biceps. His arms weren’t beefy but just solid enough for me to tell he worked out.
Stop staring!
I quickly turned away and zipped up my own jacket. This rink was colder than my home club. And right now it was probably better if Sergei didn’t touch my bare arms and shoulders. I needed to get more comfortable with him and all his hotness before we started too much skin-on-skin contact.
Sergei glided over and stopped in front of me. “The first basic is stroking… hand-in-hand crossovers. There’s a certain way the guy holds the girl’s hand that’s not the traditional way you’d think of.”
He moved closer and took my left hand, and I got a whiff of his woody cologne. Jeez, he even smelled really good.
He showed me how to curl my fingers toward my palm, and he gripped the back of my hand with his fingers clasping my wrist. His hand had warmed since I’d shaken it earlier.
“This is the first hold we’ll use. There a few different ones I’ll show you later.”
I nodded. His grip felt very strong, very secure. I concentrated on that instead of his piercing eyes gazing down at me. My pulse was already racing enough from the anxiousness of wanting to prove myself.
He led me into the flow of the skater traffic moving clockwise around the rink, and we faced forward side-by-side, slowly building up speed until Sergei said, “Ready?” and we switched to back crossovers, Sergei’s hand still locked around mine. I watched our feet, making sure I stayed in sync with him and kept the same pace. The last thing I wanted to do was trip and look like an idiot.
With each circle of the rink I felt more comfortable with the timing of our stroking, and I noticed Sergei’s grip never wavered. As we slowed down and returned to facing forward, he held on to my hand. This was definitely something that would take some time getting used to. I’d been skating alone all my life with only my thoughts to keep me company. I realized how nice it might be to always have someone beside me, going into battle with me.
We worked on the crossovers a bit more plus a few other fundamentals over the next hour. Sergei’s patience was evident right away as he carefully explained every movement he asked me to execute. When the hour was up, I wished we could keep going, but I knew Sergei had a lesson with a novice girl who was also looking for a partner.
“So, has this solidified your dream to be a pairs skater or will you leave here and never return again?” Sergei smiled.
I laughed. “You can’t scare me away that easily.”
“I’m glad to hear that. There’s a lot more I’m looking forward to showing you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be here. We have two hours tomorrow, right?”
“Yes, Courtney won’t be here, so you’ll have her slot.”
“Awesome.” I bounced lightly on my skate guards. “Thank you again fitting me into your schedule and helping me start from scratch. I know it won’t be easy finding a partner for a newbie, so I’m going to work above and beyond to get where I need to be.”
“Thank you for the opportunity to work with you. I’m excited to start from scratch. This way, you’ll learn everything my way and I won’t have to break you out of any bad habits.” His smile grew a little wider.
My cheeks grew warm, and I hastily dropped to the bleachers to take off my skates. “I like that you put a positive spin on it. I think there’s too much negativity in our sport.”
“I agree. Negativity will not be tolerated in my camp. Learning is done best in a positive environment.”
Okay, Sergei had to have some big flaw that I was missing. No coach could be this amazing. Was he going to suddenly turn into a jerk once we got into hard-core training?
He sat beside me and set his hand gently on my shoulder. “We’ll find the right partner for you, Emily. It might take a few tryouts or we might find a match on the first one. Either way, I see unlimited potential in you.”
I looked up into his encouraging gaze and came to a firm conclusion. He really was that amazing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Monday Moves

Today in Monday Moves I'm saluting the ice dance team who's responsible for turning me into an ice dance uber fan. This performance was the first time I saw Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto skate, and I was immediately taken with them. They were so young but SO good. The move of theirs that I live for is their curve lift. Such beautiful line and stretch!

Lots of action ahead on the blog this week! Tomorrow I'll be posting the final installment of the LIFE ON THE EDGE prequel, and starting Wednesday I'll be in Detroit for Skate America. As usual I'll be providing plenty of photos (and hopefully a few videos). While in Detroit I plan on visiting some of the area training rinks, so also look for photos from my journeys!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Continuing the story of the day Emily and Sergei met, here's Part II of the "prequel" to LIFE ON THE EDGE. If you haven't read Part I, you can find it here!


With a nod and a raise of my hand I signaled Emily to cool down, and I retreated to the bleachers while she circled the rink. I bent forward and rested my elbows on my thighs, continuing to watch Emily do easy stroking. My heart rate still hadn’t come down to normal level.
I had an incredibly tall task on my hands.
Not because I thought Emily couldn’t learn how to skate pairs. After seeing her body awareness, there was no doubt in my mind she could do anything I taught her. No, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was finding her a partner with just as much talent.
Emily exited the ice and snapped on her guards as she sat next to me. Pulling a bottle of water from her bag, she took a long drink and then recapped it.
“Are we going to start on the pair elements now?” she asked.
One side of my mouth twitched upward. I might have to actually rein in some of her eagerness. We couldn’t rush through the fundamentals, and I could see her wanting to get to the big tricks sooner rather than later.
“Let’s talk for a minute.”
I had to choose my words carefully. I wanted her to know how much I admired her ability, but I couldn’t give her too much praise. Not that she appeared to have a huge ego and wouldn’t handle it maturely. From the few minutes I’d spent with her, I didn’t get that vibe at all.
“You have an amazing connection to the music,” I said.
Her workout-induced flushed cheeks deepened to darker pink, and she looked down at her water. “Thank you.”
“And you must be a toe jumper.” I’d noticed she’d done only the jumps with a toepick takeoff and none of the edge takeoff ones.
“Yeah, Lutz and toe are my favorites. My Sal and loop are…” She made a so-so motion with her hand.
I studied her as she took a sip of water and slipped on her jacket. If I could find her a partner with the same jumping skills, they could push the sport to a new place. I was already envisioning the throw Lutz and side-by-side triple Lutzes, two elements no other pair was doing.
Slow down. You’re getting way ahead of yourself.
But it was hard not to with this potential superstar sitting next to me. There was the issue of her anxiety, however…
“Your coach told me a bit about your competition troubles,” I said. “Have you ever seen a sports psychologist?”
She toyed with her necklace again. “I didn’t want to ask my parents to take on another expense. They’ve put so much into my skating, and I kept thinking I could get over the nerves on my own…”
She was too good to have nerves be her downfall. I had to find some way to help her overcome them.
“I thought skating pairs might be good for me because I’d have another person to focus on,” she said. “I think just being alone out there and having my thoughts consume me is what causes me trouble. If I have a partner to focus on, maybe I won’t get so bogged down with the fear and anxiety. Maybe I’ll finally feel the freedom I do when I skate without the judges watching.”
She lifted her eyes to mine, full of hope, and my desire to help her kicked into overdrive. A million thoughts of how to coach her through her issues ran through my mind.
There was something about her, not just the talent she’d shown on the ice, but something else that stood out even more. A brightness that hadn’t dimmed even after all the disappointment she’d experienced with skating. Her energy was so positive, so engaging.
“If you decide to commit to pairs, I promise you will have all the confidence you need to compete.” I tapped the bleachers for emphasis. “After the work we do together, you will be the strongest, most focused competitor you can possibly be.”
The light in her eyes grew even brighter, and I couldn’t help but smile. I was making some big promises, but she made me believe they would all come true.
“I have a really good feeling about this,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision coming here and giving up school, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this is where I’m supposed to be. I know that might sound kinda silly…”
“No, not at all.” I paused as I realized just how certain I was, too. Thirty minutes ago I didn’t know what to expect from our meeting, and now my head was spinning with plans for the future.
“I have the exact same feeling.”


Look for the final installment next week. You'll get the rest of the story from Emily's point of view!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Monday Moves

Welcome to another edition of Monday Moves! This week I'm loving the side-by-side triple Lutzes done by Canadian pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. As readers of the Edge series know, side-by-side triple Lutzes are one of Emily and Chris's signature elements. I always dreamed of a pair doing this element, and Duhamel/Radford are the first team I've seen to include it in their programs on a consistent basis (I've seen only one or two other teams over the years try it). Duhamel/Radford also do the throw triple Lutz, another Emily and Chris element. I love this teams's technical ability! Meagan is a former singles skater just like Emily :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I thought it would be fun to go back in time before the start of LIFE ON THE EDGE and show the day Emily and Sergei met, so I've written a "prequel" to the series. The story will be told from both Emily's and Sergei's POV. It's a little long, so I'll be posting it in parts :) Here's Part I!


A current pop tune blared through the rink as I stood in one corner of the ice, watching Trevor and Leigh execute a slow-developing double twist. My newest pair team looked in my direction, and I motioned for them to join me near the boards. I’d been coaching them for just a few weeks, and their cautiousness with every element was high on my list of things to work on with them.
“Keep your speed up… attack it quick and tight.” I looked back and forth between them, and they nodded briskly. “Remember that you are in complete control of it.”
After more nods they skated away hand-in-hand, and I glanced at my watch. My potential new student Emily was due any moment. I glided to the ice door and retrieved my skate guards from the bleachers, snapping them on while keeping an eye on the rink entrance. When Emily and I had spoken on the phone, she’d sounded very enthusiastic about trying pairs after twelve years of skating only singles. I’d called her coach in Boston, and she’d given Emily a glowing recommendation, saying her jumping ability was at a high level. Her career had never taken off, though, because of crippling competition anxiety.
A loud grunt swung my attention back to the ice, where Trevor caught Leigh awkwardly in his arms on the twist exit. I kept my focus on them as they skated past me to set up for a repeat of the element.
“Sergei?” a sweet voice asked tentatively behind me.
I turned and met the brightest pair of blue eyes I’d ever seen. A hint of green shone in the blue, like the color of the ocean on a clear day. Her gaze stayed locked on mine, eyes widening with expectation under a lock of dark blond hair that fell over her brow.
“Yes.” I smiled and stuck out my arm. “You must be Emily.”
She remained frozen for a moment, still staring, before quickly removing her gloves and shaking my hand. “Thank you so much for meeting with me.”
Her delicate hand warmed my cold one, and I chided myself for not wearing gloves when I’d been on the ice. I had to be about a foot taller than her, and in my skates I towered over her even more. To put us on equal ground, I motioned to the bleachers. “Let’s sit.”
She swung her skate bag from her shoulder and set it on the first row while taking a seat. I joined her as she stuffed her gloves inside her bag and unzipped her black Skating Club of Boston jacket.
“How was your drive?” I asked. “I heard there was snow in Boston.”
“Oh, I drove down last night and stayed at Aubrey’s house. I didn’t want to chance getting stuck in bad weather this morning.”
Conscientious. A quality I always looked for in a student.
“Will you be able to stay there permanently if you come to train here?”
“No, my parents have a summer house in Hyannis where I can live. It just doesn’t have electricity or anything right now since we only use it when they’re off from school.”
“Your parents are teachers?”
She nodded. “They’re professors at Boston University.”
“What do they think about you putting college on hold? You said when we talked that you graduated in December?”
“My mom’s not too happy I’ll be giving up my scholarship to BU if I move here.” She fiddled with the small silver cross on her necklace. “But she understands how important skating is to me and how excited I am about trying something new.”
Intelligence. Enthusiasm. Dedication. Three more vital qualities. On first glance, this girl seemed to have all the intangibles. Now I just needed to see her on the ice.
“Before we start working on the pair basics, I’d like to see you skate on your own,” I said. “Just so I can get a feel for your style and technique. You can do whatever you’d like – just let the music guide you. Jumps, no jumps… anything you want to do.”
“Sure.” She was already digging into her bag for her skates before I’d finished.
While she laced up her boots, I looked up at Trevor and Leigh stroking with slightly more speed around the ice. They were one of a couple of teams in my new program. When the club’s director had called and asked if I was interested in starting a pairs program on the Cape, I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. American pairs hadn’t had much international success in recent years, and I wanted to change that. My goal was to build a group of teams at all levels who would support each other and learn from each other and who would ultimately compete with the top teams in the world. It might take some time, but I was willing to put in the years of work to make it happen.
“I just need a few minutes to warm up. I did my off-ice stretching before I left Aubrey’s,” Emily said with a smile.
I nodded with approval. She really was diligent.
Emily shed her jacket, leaving her in a white, long-sleeved Red Sox T-shirt over her black pants. She hopped onto the ice, and her long, wavy ponytail flew behind her as she zoomed around the rink. I wouldn’t have to worry about increasing her speed.
I positioned myself behind the boards, and after Emily had sufficiently warmed up, she slowed to a stop at the ice door beside me. She made two careful steps toward the bleachers and removed her T-shirt, revealing a black tank with thin straps that crisscrossed over her back. The stretchy shirt and pants showed every detail of her figure. She was slender but not an unhealthy skinny that I’d seen with so many female skaters. She had just the right amount of curves and muscle for her petite size.
Folding her shirt neatly, she placed it on the bleachers and then smoothed her dark blond hair and tightened her ponytail. Meticulous and methodical, I thought, adding those to the other observations I’d made. Once she returned to the ice, she gave me another expectant look.
“You can use the next song that comes on to improvise,” I said.
“Hit Me Baby One More Time” promptly came over the sound system, and Emily and I both laughed.
“This isn’t quite what I had in mind,” I said.
I went over to the stereo and flipped though the stack of CDs, selecting a classical compilation disc. After tuning to Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, I returned to Emily.
“Something a little more traditional.” I smiled.
“I love this piece,” she said and skated to the center of the rink.
She took a few deep breaths and began to move along to the soft music. Her arms stretched gracefully like those of a ballerina, and her blades didn’t make a sound as she floated effortlessly over the ice. My heart rate sped up as if I was the one out there skating. But I wasn’t. I was standing completely still, watching Emily get lost in the music. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
She owned every movement and was in total control of her body, making beautiful shapes to match the lyrical tune. As she glided into a deep inside-edge spiral on the crescendo of the music, a long chill ran down my spine. I’d watched a lot of skating over the years, and I knew special talent when I saw it.
Emily was beyond special.
Besides the emotional choreography she was creating on the fly, she was also throwing in textbook triple jumps. Her Lutz rivaled that of the best ladies skaters in the world.
How is this girl not national champion? How bad must her competition anxiety be?


Part II will be posted next week! In the meantime, check out a bonus scene from REACHING THE EDGE and a sneak peek at FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE that I posted last week.