Hello from Greensboro, North Carolina!! I arrived Wednesday afternoon and have already seen so much skating. I started with the Junior Short Dance on Wednesday evening. I was so bummed that Chloe Lewis/Logan Bye didn't have a great skate, and I thought the Parsons should have been in first, so that event was a bit disappointing, but the overall skating was good. Anthony Ponomarenko (known as "Baby Pon" in my group) and his partner Christina Carreira were great, and I'm really excited about their future.
After the Jr SD I hopped over to the pairs practice next door. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier looked VERY solid on all their elements, and I was so impressed with Gretchen Donlan/Nate Bartholomay. I wasn't sure how they would look as a pair, but they are so lovely! Gretchen's smile lit up the building.
Thursday morning started with men's practice. I saw the last two groups and got to see Josh Farris do a gorgeous run-through of his Schindler's List program. I'm lighting a church-full of candles that he lands all the jumps in the competition because that program will have people weeping. Jeremy did a wonderful heartfelt run-through of his Sam Smith short program with beautiful jumps. Ricky Dornbush was having lots of jump problems, so hopefully he can get it together before tonight.
After a quick sandwich run, it was back to the arena for the Junior Pairs Free Skate. Big WOW to Caitlin Fields and Ernie Utah Stevens, the champions. They are so smooth and look so cohesive for a team that's been together less than a year. I hope this is only the first of many big things to come for them.
I caught two groups of dance practice in the afternoon. Madi Chock and Evan Bates looked very strong in their Paso run-through, totally commanding the ice. The Shibs also looked on top of their game. After Madi and Evan's group, I ran over to the practice arena to see the pairs warm up for the short program. From the crisp elements I saw there, I had a good feeling about the looming competition, and I was right.
The Pairs Short Program was one of the best I've seen at Nationals. I think the gap between first and second should be much, much smaller, and the gap between first and fourth should also be smaller. The PCS were very questionable. I was SO happy for Tarah Kayne/Danny O'Shea for skating brilliantly after such a tough season with Tarah's surgery. She is a rock star, and so is Alex Shaughnessy, who also had surgery earlier this season. She and Jimmy Morgan had the crowd smiling and dancing with their high-energy Grease program.
I skipped the first two groups of the Ladies Short Program to watch the evening men's practice next door. I was so excited to see Adam Rippon's new "Nyah" short program. The footwork is to die for! And then Josh Farris did a run-through of his Ed Sheeran "Give Me Love" short, which is my favorite program with lyrics this season. Here is Part I of his run-through and here's Part II.
I got back to the ladies in time to see Polina Edmunds. She was fabulous, and I'd have her ahead of Gracie Gold. I'd also have Mirai Nagasu ahead of Gracie. Mirai had me a little choked up. It was so wonderful to see her skating with emotion and showing the love she has for the sport, which hasn't always been apparent in her competition performances.
Here are the rest of my photos (lots of them!) from Wednesday and Thursday => PHOTOS