Monday, December 28, 2015

Dancing With the Stars Tour


I haven't blogged in awhile, but I wanted to share a quick review and my photos from the Dancing With the Stars "Dance All Night" tour. It was an awesome show! I've been to the So You Think You Can Dance tour and Move Live, but this was my first DWTS Tour show. I think the overall dancing was a little better at Move Live, but this was still a fantastic two hours of entertainment.

The show started with a high-energy group number to Icona Pop's "Emergency" and then Val got on the mike and welcomed us. This was the first of many times the dancers spoke to the crowd. I think they could cut back a little on those filler speeches (some of the dancers obviously weren't as comfortable with the mic). Alek danced with the girls next, and after he and Lindsay spoke to the crowd the stage transitioned to the Great Gatsby section. This was one of my favorite parts, especially Peta and Val's dance to "Young and Beautiful."


Jenna, Alan, and Keo did a fun trio to "Exes and Ohs"that I really enjoyed and then came one of the highlights of the night, the guys' "Pony" number. The temperature in the building shot way up as the guys did their best Magic Mike impersonation. It was smokin' hot!


The fun continued with another segment where audience members were chosen to go up on stage to dance with the cast. There was an older lady named Tootsie who provided lots of laughs as she loved all over Artem and Val and gave us some hilarious one-liners. Once the dance contest was over, the cast took us around the world with dances such as "Santa Maria" (Lindsay and Artem) and "Espana Cani" (Emma and Val).

I can't remember the exact order of the numbers, but Brittany and Alan did a beautiful contemporary piece to "Jealous" by Labrinth that I loved. It's so fun to see so many dancers from So You Think You Can Dance on this tour!

After intermission, Emma and Julz did a gorgeous waltz to "Beethoven's 5 Secrets" by the Piano Guys. Another waltz that had me very excited because I LOVE the song was Lindsay and Artem's dance to "Kissing You" from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack (there was so much good music in this show!). 


The whole cinema section was awesome with dances to The Godfather score (Sharna and Alan), Kill Bill (Peta and the guys), and Jailhouse Rock (Alek, Lindsay, and the guys). Alek also got to dance his rumba with Emma, which made me very happy because I'm obsessed with the song "Let It Go" by James Bay. Another gorgeous contemporary number was "Wicked Game" with Jenna, Lindsay, Alan, and Val. The final duet of the night was Lindsay and Alek's lovely dance to "America the Beautiful." I thought this was Alek's best dance of the night.

Overall thoughts - Peta really stood out for me among the ladies. She absolutely shines when she dances and her smile is radiant. My eye went to Val and Artem a lot when all the guys were on stage, and I also loved seeing Alan from SYTYCD. The digital backgrounds they used for the sets were really cool and more impressive than Move Live's stage setup. I highly recommend the show if you love dancing and great music!!

Here are all my photos from the show! => DWTS Tour Photos

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 Skate America


I apologize for not being more timely with my photos from the event. I usually try to do my blogs after I return to the hotel each night, but the late times of the events plus technical difficulties with Google Photos threw a wrench into my routine. Regarding the late times, if anyone from USFS is reading this, PLEASE consider moving up the start times of the events in the future so we are not leaving the arena at 11pm or later. There’s no reason why we can’t start earlier. This week’s events at Skate Canada all end before 9pm. I will gladly have a 4pm senior citizen dinner before the night session if it means getting back to my hotel at a decent time to hang out with friends/work on my blog/catch up on sleep (especially when the Friends of Figure Skating breakfast starts at the ungodly hour of 7:45am after an 11:30pm medal ceremony the night before). Sorry, rant over!

On to the skating, the event started in fine fashion with an almost perfect pairs short program. There was one fall in the entire event, which came from Stolbova/Klimova. Sui/Han had a slight stumble in their pair spin, which cost them the entire element and first place. They would have had a comfortable lead if not for the zero points on that element. I continue to be amazed by how far they’ve come artistically since they were two kids zooming around the rink. They’ve developed such beautiful flow and body movement between their huge elements. While Sui and Han have been together for many years, a team that has only been together a short time also left a big impression on me. Pfund/Santillan have skated together for only six months, and their jumps and throws are better than many veteran pairs. If they can work on their speed and add a triple twist, look out!


The ladies’ short was next, and I was surprised at the commanding lead of Medvedeva. Her jumping ability can’t be denied, but I don’t think her program component scores should be so generous at this point. She still has a bit of a juniorish quality to her skating (understandable since she’s 15!) I thought Satoko and Chen were underscored compared to her. Chen lit up the whole building and skated “big” in her Nessun Dorma short.


After a rainy trek to a nearby sub shop for dinner, we were back at the arena for the night session. The short dance kicked it off, and it appeared from the scores that the technical panel was being stricter than ones we’d seen during the Challenger series. I’m not crazy about Chock/Bates’ new music choices, but they performed the heck out of the program – an impressive feat since it was only the third run-through of the program they’d done. They were the clear head of the field with their command of the ice.


The men closed out the evening with more surprising results. Nessun Dorma is a piece that brings audiences to its feet more times than not, and Aaron capitalized on that with perfect jumps and much-improved connection to the music. I’m not a fan of Uno’s music, but I just love watching him move effortlessly across the ice with those soft knees. I was impressed with Kerry’s skating skills (I hadn’t seen him compete before), but I wish he’d give more "face.” He needs to project more to the audience and not look so nonchalant about his skating.

You can find all my Friday photos HERE.

The pairs started the action again on Saturday. I can’t gush enough over Sui/Han’s long program. I’m a sucker for Samson and Delilah to begin with, and their interpretation is stunning. It’s like watching a beautiful painting come to life. The second Chinese team Wang/Wang had some trouble on the jumps and throws, but they are also so pretty to watch. Kayne/O’Shea also had some early problems on the SBS Salchows and the quad Salchow throw, but they really fought hard for everything after that. After seeing their beautiful clean quad in practice, I was so hoping they’d land it in the competition! Another young pair who showed their mettle was Seguin/Bilodeau. In a very tough field they took the bronze (should have been silver) with two strong programs. The joy in their skating is really palpable.


The ladies’ free skate is always my least favorite event. It just seems to last a long, long time. I thought Satoko wuzrobbed again. I’m not sure why the judges think Medvedeva is so far ahead in artistic ability because I don’t see it. She’s better on the PCS front than most of the other baby Russians that have come along (I’m looking at you Radionova, Lipnitskaya, and Pogo), but she still needs more time to mature. Gold threw down an impressive free skate, and I thought she’d win easily since she’s more polished than Medvedeva.

The free dance started off the night session and provided a little bit of everything. I really enjoyed Yanovskaya/Mozgov’s Great Gatsby free dance. The costumes fit the theme, and they had a lot of fun with the music. I was so happy to see Cannuscio/McManus earn a great score for their Beethoven program, which they delivered with such heartfelt emotion. The story they tell is clear and moving. Another couple who told a moving story was Hawayek/Baker. It’s obvious how much the program means to them as they embody the characters. Chock/Bates looked a little more tentative than they usually do in their free dance, and I suspect it was due to the short dance issues and Evan’s illness that they had to contend with the past couple of weeks.


The men wrapped up the competitive action Saturday night, and it wasn’t a pretty event. Aaron and Uno were again the standouts for me. Brown also performed very well. I love The Piano soundtrack, but I just can’t get on board with his music the way it’s cut right now. The lack of tempo change until more than three minutes into the program drives me batty. Uno’s jump landings were also driving me batty. He drags his free leg a lot on the landings so it looks very messy. Everything else about his skating is sublime, so I want him to clean this up!

You can find all my Saturday photos HERE.


The FOFS Breakfast on Sunday was a fun event as always. It was especially great that all the Team USA members could attend since they were finished competing. Jason Brown's line stretched across the ballroom and lasted over an hour. He received so many gifts from fans, and he was so appreciative of the support. I thought it was a bit odd that Kori Ade was there taking photos with fans since I've never seen a coach at this event in ten years of attending it. Josh Santillan had the best outfit I've ever seen at the breakfast. He was showing his patriotic pride!


The Exhibition closed out the weekend on Sunday afternoon, and it was a great show! My favorite programs were from Kayne/O'Shea, Gilles/Poirier, Sui/Han, and Chock/Bates. Max Aaron put on an impressive display by doing two full programs back-to-back. And there was the usual cringe-worthy moment that always seems to happen in these exhibitions. This time it came from Julia Lipnitskaya and her attempt at sexy dancing to Beyonce.

You can find all my Sunday photos HERE.


I know attendance was pretty poor at the event, but I wouldn't mind seeing Skate America in Milwaukee again. The airport was easily accessible, the arena was a quick walk from the hotel, and there were lots of food options in walking distance. It was a great setup overall!



Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015 Skate America-Thursday Practices


Hello from Milwaukee!! Today was practice day, and I caught most of the men's, pairs, and dance groups (had to step out on the first group of pairs for a quick lunch). My overall impression is that there is some great program music at this event, which is always a plus! :)

The Japanese men were part of the first group on the ice this morning, and I watched Shoma Uno very closely because he is my "little Daisuke Takahashi." He did a full run-through of his short program and nailed all the jumps, including a quad toe. I am in love with Brendan Kerry's LP music - a mix of "5 Secrets" by the Piano Guys and "Secrets" by One Republic. 


The second group of men included the American guys. Max Aaron had some trouble with his quads in his long program run-through, but he landed both triple Axels. Jason also had trouble with the quad, both in the program and on its own. He fell on his second triple Axel, but nailed most of his other jumps. I still wish the tempo transition of his music happened sooner in the program. It starts off so beautifully, but I feel like it stays at one level far too long in the middle section.

I got back to the arena for half of the first group of pairs, so I missed Sui and Han :( Stolbova and Klimov looked surprisingly good on their throws. I say surprisingly because of the issues they had at Nepela. The long program looked better in person than it did on the Nepela stream. I really love the joy with which the second Chinese team Wang and Wang skate. They are so pleasant to watch.


The dancers were up next, and I enjoyed Yanovskaya/Mozgov's Great Gatsby free dance. I'm a sucker for "Young and Beautiful," though. I thought Sinitsina and Katsalapov looked more locked in and cohesive than they did last year. Wang/Liu also impressed me. They're making great strides under the DSC coaching camp.


In the second group, the Americans dominated the roster. Hawayek/Baker's free dance looked much smoother than it did at Finlandia. Kaitlyn just had one misstep in one of the step sequences. I love, love, love Cannuscio/McManus' free dance! They put so emotion into it, and I can see it bringing audiences to their feet. Chock/Bates also ran through their gorgeous Rachmaninov free dance. There are so many stunning moments in it.

I skipped the ladies to do a little sight-seeing around town, so nothing to report there! Here are the rest of my photos from Thursday => PRACTICE PHOTOS

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Judges' Table

Calling all skating fans! There's a new site I'd like to introduce where you can make your opinions on the sport known. Say hello to The Judges' Table! People of all levels of fandom are welcome to participate, so even if you haven't watched a skating event in years don't shy away. We want to hear your thoughts!

I'll be a judge for Skate America, so look for my thoughts on The Judges' Table site next week! I'll also be providing my usual photos and blogs right here as I enjoy the competition in Milwaukee. Let the Grand Prix season begin!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE Review Tour-Day Six


Welcome to the review tour for CROSSING THE ICE! Thanks so much to Xpresso Book Tours for sponsoring and to all the bloggers for participating! Each day of the tour you can find the links here for each stop, and you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card :)


Friday, October 16, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE Review Tour-Day Five


Welcome to the review tour for CROSSING THE ICE! Thanks so much to Xpresso Book Tours for sponsoring and to all the bloggers for participating! Each day of the tour you can find the links here for each stop, and you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card :)


Thursday, October 15, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE Review Tour-Day Four


Welcome to the review tour for CROSSING THE ICE! Thanks so much to Xpresso Book Tours for sponsoring and to all the bloggers for participating! Each day of the tour you can find the links here for each stop, and you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card :)


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE Review Tour-Day Three


Welcome to the review tour for CROSSING THE ICE! Thanks so much to Xpresso Book Tours for sponsoring and to all the bloggers for participating! Each day of the tour you can find the links here for each stop, and you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card :)


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE Review Tour-Day Two


Welcome to the review tour for CROSSING THE ICE! Thanks so much to Xpresso Book Tours for sponsoring and to all the bloggers for participating! Each day of the tour you can find the links here for each stop, and you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card :)


Monday, October 12, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE Review Tour-Day One


Welcome to the review tour for CROSSING THE ICE! Thanks so much to Xpresso Book Tours for sponsoring and to all the bloggers for participating! Each day of the tour you can find the links here for each stop, and you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card :)



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

GOLD RUSH Title Reveal


You met her in the Edge series and watched her grow up in the Ice series. Now Liza steps into the spotlight for her own story.

The official blurb is coming soon!

Friday, September 25, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Ten


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!



Thursday, September 24, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Nine


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

Book Briefs *Review

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Eight


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

genuine jenn *Review

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Seven


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

Monday, September 21, 2015

U.S. International Figure Skating Classic-Saturday Events


Saturday was a beautiful day in Salt Lake City, so I played tourist in the morning and afternoon and visited Red Butte Garden and This Is the Place Heritage Park. Both were very scenic and interesting, and I recommend them if you're in the area!

After sightseeing I headed over to the rink for the final two groups of the ladies' free skate. It was the typical early season competition with lots of mistakes, but two performances stood out for me. Elizabeth Tursynbaeva, the young phenom from Kazakhstan, put on a jumping clinic, but I won't get too excited about her until she goes through puberty. Satoko Miyahara also pulled off some beautiful jumps, and she had much more performance style than Elizabeth. Her knees are so soft, and she seems to move effortlessly across the ice.

The free dance followed the ladies' free skate, and it was a shame that most of the crowd cleared out after the ladies. The final group of dancers put on a good show for an early season event. Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue's Adagio from Tron program is a definite improvement over last year's free dance. This program showcases their power much better. I would lose the winged-costume, though.


I wasn't a fan of Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen's music, but I really love their skating and the passionate connection between them. Don't know if they're a couple off the ice, but they convince me they're a couple when they skate together. My favorite Canadian team of Elisabeth Paradis/Francois-Xavier Ouellette rounded out the podium with a gorgeous, lyrical program to "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I hope they can keep moving up the ranks in Canadian ice dance (quickly, please) because I enjoy their style so much. They exude happiness when they skate.


The new team of Danielle Thomas/Daniel Eaton continued to impress me with their togetherness for being a team for such a short time. There's obviously a skill-level difference between them (understandable since Danielle just tested up to senior), but I think they're off to a good start. They looked more in sync than some other new teams I've seen.

For all my photos from Saturday click HERE.



TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Six


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

A Writer's Dream *Interview
Deal Sharing Aunt *Spotlight

Saturday, September 19, 2015

U.S. International Figure Skating Classic-Friday Events


Saturday's action started with the short dance early this morning, and there were a few stumbles that marred the otherwise lovely waltzes. I first noticed the Danish team of Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen a few years ago, and it's been wonderful to see how much they've improved under the coaching of Deubreil/Lauzon. They are so striking together, and they were flying through the first pattern of the Ravensburger Waltz. Another team that keeps improving under D/L are the Canadians Elisabeth Paradis/Francois-Xavier Ouellette. They have that smooth, romantic style that the D/L camp fosters so well.


The American teams looked solid. Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue took first as expected, and I think there's good potential for the new team of Danielle Thomas/Daniel Eaton. I believe they look much more well-matched than Daniel and Alexandra did.

After the short dance it was time to hop over to the pairs free skate warm-up. It's great to see how supportive all the pairs are of each other with training mates applauding each other's completed elements. I'd like to thank the American teams for wearing their costumes so we could get a sneak peek at them!


I took a lunch break and made it back to the arena for the latter part of the ladies' short program. It was so great to see Angela Wang have a clean performance. She's such a stylish skater, and it would be awesome if she could put together more performances like this.

The pairs free skate followed, and I love, love, love both Marissa/Mervin's and Tarah/Danny's programs. They're so different, but they are both fantastic. There are so many little choreographic gems in Marissa and Mervin's Journey program. Once they can get more mileage on it and can solidify the jumps, I think it will be a roof-raiser. Tarah and Danny's "Music of the Night" program is much softer and more lyrical, but it is equally a crowd pleaser. I love all the dance lifts sprinkled throughout the program and how it builds to the trademark Team Florida final-twenty-seconds lift.

The men closed out the evening, and the highlight for me was Shoma Uno. He reminds me of a little Daisuke Takahashi, and I am so excited to see what his future holds. He struggled a little with the jumps, but his basic skating is so gorgeous, and he was fully committed to the emotion of the program despite the jump issues. After Ross's awesome short program last night, I had high hopes for the long, but I have to say I'd like to see him go back to last year's long program. I felt like this new Queen program was kinda empty, and the loud vocals were very jarring.

For my full set of photos from today's events, click HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Five


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

Lost in Lit *Review

Thursday, September 17, 2015

U.S. International Figure Skating Classic-Thursday Events


Hello from Salt Lake City! This event has become so familiar to me that I don't need a GPS to get around the city anymore. I always enjoy this competition because I get to see lots of new programs for the first time. Even though many of the skaters are still working out the kinks in said programs, it's exciting to see the result of the work they've done over the summer.

I flew in early this morning and booked it from the airport to the rink to catch the pairs short program warm-up. Both Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran and Tarah Kayne/Danny O'Shea looked in fine form, landing their jumps in unison. I also got to see Tarah and Danny's new throw triple Lutz, which is done out of the cartwheel transition they used last year before their throw Salchow. Very impressive!


Unfortunately, the success on the side by side jumps didn't carry over to the competition. Both teams missed them, but on the bright side all their other elements were solid. Marissa and Mervin looked very fast and smooth, and I loved the fire in the choreography of Tarah and Danny's program. I also loved Gretchen Donlan/Nate Bartholomay's "All That Jazz" program, and I'm generally not a fan of that music.


The men took the ice next for their short program. The shocker in the first group was Shoma Uno, the young Japanese sensation, having all sorts of jump problems and finishing way down in the standings. In the second group, I got to see Andrew Dodds of Australia for the first time, and I really enjoyed his "Empty Chairs Empty Tables" program. I also enjoyed another new-to-me skater, Christophe Belley-Lemilin of Canada. He skated to a cover of "Breakeven" and had a nice modern dance style to his skating. Finishing out the group was Ross Miner, and his new program to "New York State of Mind" is a winner. With Ross's speed and flow across the ice, he really commanded the upbeat, jazzy music and also showed a lot of personality.


I adored Timothy Dolenksy's "Cinema Paradiso" program, but his triple Axel unfortunately abandoned him. His footwork sequence was my favorite of the night. Daniel Samohin of Team Israel was a new name to me, and his two quads certainly left a lasting impression. I could've done without back-to-back Scorpion programs in that last group, though. The lead singer's voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.


Check out the rest of my photos from Thursday's events HERE

Tomorrow will be a busy day! In the morning I'll be hopping between the short dance and the pairs free skate warm-up, then possibly catching the last group of ladies, and then closing out the day with the pairs and men's free skates.

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Four


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

Lavender Gray *Review
Bookwyrming Thoughts *Guest Post

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Three


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

Book Labyrinth *Review

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day Two


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

Monday, September 14, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Blog Tour-Day One


Welcome to the blog tour for TAKING THE ICE (Ice Series #3)! Check out the sites below for reviews, interviews, and guest posts and also enter to win an Amazon gift card!

I Read Indie *Review & Favorite Quotes
Fiction Dreams *Interview

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Davis & White - Ice Champions Live Videos

Meryl Davis and Charlie White performed in Michael Weiss's Ice Champions Live show this weekend, and my friend Debbie attended and took a couple of video clips for us! The first is the opening of Meryl and Charlie's new show program to "Dog Days Are Over," and the second is Charlie participating in a fun spread eagle contest with Brian Boitano and Michael Buckley.

video

video





Friday, September 4, 2015

CROSSING THE ICE 99 Cent Sale


I'm celebrating the completion of the Ice Series with a 99 cent sale on the first book in the series! Click on the cover below to pick up CROSSING THE ICE for less than a buck!


Falling hard never felt so good. 

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team. 

The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though… 

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross? 


Monday, August 17, 2015

TAKING THE ICE Release Day Giveaway!

It's release day!! TAKING THE ICE, the final installment of the Ice Series, is now available on Amazon! Click on the cover to pick up a copy:



Olympic rings and an engagement ring. 

Courtney Carlton is ready for both. 

She and her boyfriend Josh have skated together and dated for four years, and they’ve reached a critical point in their partnership both on and off the ice. With the Winter Games coming up and their career nearing an end, they are fighting to win a spot on the Olympic team, something Courtney has dreamed of since she was ten years old. She also has another wish she hopes comes true soon. She’s waiting for a marriage proposal from Josh that she expected to happen by now. Will she realize either dream or will her heart be broken from disappointment?

****
To celebrate the release, I'm giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and three signed bookmarks!