Greetings from St. Paul, Minnesota! I've made my annual trek to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships (this makes 16 in a row!), and I'm loving being back in this world that I so enjoy. I arrived in St. Paul on Wednesday evening and started my day Thursday at senior dance practice. This was after reacquainting myself with the Skyway that I walked through many times back in 2008 when Nationals was here.
I watched the first group of dance and got to see my favorites Madison Chock and Evan Bates do a full run-through of their short dance. They never do full run-throughs at event practices, so this was a treat! They perform the SD with such joy that it always makes me smile. They looked fast and crisp on both the footwork and the waltz pattern. And Evan had a new costume - a black tuxedo with a velvet jacket.
Danielle Thomas and Daniel Eaton also did a full run-through as did Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both teams looked strong and smooth and ready to compete! Kaitlyn changed her dress, and her new one is very similar to Danielle's, which made it amusing to watch as they skated around each other.
I skipped the next two groups of dance for lunch (priorities lol) so I could make it back in time for the pairs SP warm-up. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran looked great on their jumps, but one of my other faves Tarah Kayne was struggling, which had me very nervous for the competition. But she turned it on when it mattered! She and Danny poured their hearts onto the ice in their new "Take Me To Church" program. I could tell they felt the music in their souls. I loved how they flew into the death spiral at the beginning of the program. I've never seen them skate faster than they did this afternoon.
Some other highlights of the event for me - Marissa and Mervin were so gorgeous and connected with each other in their "Summertime" program. Their skating skills were unmatched in the event. They move so effortlessly across the ice and I love how they look at each other while they're skating. Darn that triple Salchow!!
I also greatly enjoyed Jessica Pfund and Josh Santillian. Their jumps are just BAM and they really conveyed the emotion of the music so much stronger than they did when I saw them at Skate America. I am so excited for their future! Another team I'm excited to see more of in the future is Caitlin Fields and Ernie Utah Stevens. They've had a tough season dealing with injury, but they have a spark about them and a great connection. If they can get their technical elements up, they will be right in the mix.
The ladies' short program was quite the stunner. As a Polina Edmunds fan, I am so happy that she skated so well! Her short program is one of my favorites this season, and she performed it with so much control and elegance. I wanted to see a good showdown between Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold, so it's disappointing that neither of them brought the goods, but it's fun to see some new names near the top of the standings. Tyler Pierce skated with so much heart tonight!
Here are all my photos from Thursday's events! => PHOTOS