Staff Blogs

2008 U.S. Nationals: Inside Edge by Travis Mager

Thursday, January 31, 2008
OH BOY! (a.k.a. Wrap-Up Blog)

OH BOY! Now that we’re on the other side of Nationals, it’s so much easier to do many things, namely breathing and smiling! Just kidding about the smiling. I had an AMAZING time at Nationals this year, and I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences.

I guess this is just going to be a mish-mosh of memories after I competed!

The novices participated in the Team 2014 seminar, and while there were some times that day we wished we were still in bed, I think we all enjoyed the judging aspect of the seminar where we trial judged/ played technical specialist the Junior OD with Margaret Faulkner and Ron Kravette. Let me say that both of their jobs aren’t easy. I found it difficult when I was being a judge what GOE to give an element. What merited a +2? A -1? And GOEs had to be decided on the spot because we didn’t have video replay. Being the technical specialist was OK until I realized that I didn’t know all of the rules. GO ELYSE MATSUMOTO! She’s so crazy — she knows all of the rules! After a few skaters, being the technical specialist wasn’t too terrible. I’m pretty sure Megan Evans, Patrick Mays, and Andrew Korda came up with a new way to get points: + sexy. Later on in the week, + sexy lead to + fierce (with a snap like Tyra). We gave out many + sexys and + fierces later on in the week.

The Mall of America definitely got its share of skaters. I don’t know how many skaters actually made it out there, but I had a total of four trips. Well worth it. I had bought so many new clothes in St. Paul that I had to use one of my shopping bags as a carry on and carried on about seven articles of clothes on Sunday. Whoops!

Before I left for St. Paul, I ready Karen Frank’s article on what to do in St. Paul. Thank God I did, because I am now in love with those Mini Donuts from the Xcel Energy Center! Who would have thought that a bag of $4 donuts could bring so much joy to my life?! On that note, I never made it to Jamba :[ It was too cold to go outside! Honestly, the longest time I was outside last week was maybe 10 minutes last Saturday (when it warmed up to maybe 30 degrees) when I went to go find some food with some skating friends. We ended up walking around the outside rink and down to Wyld Times for a quick bite to eat before senior FD. Honestly, that was the longest time I was outside.

I never ended up mastering the Sky Walks, sadly. I still found myself making wrong turns by Saturday. I was really hoping the Sky Walks would have gotten easier, but they didn’t. On Friday night I thought Senior Men started at 7:30, but much to my dismay they started at 7, which I realized right at 7. I ran through the Sky Walk and actually made a wrong turn at the very first turn I needed to make. I stood in one spot for about a minute before I realized that I went the wrong way. I then proceeded to go back to the hotel, because I forgot I had to wait for Una Donegan and Andrew Korda. We RAN the whole way there (except for one walking spot where the Sky Walk goes underground). Crazy!

On Saturday I was at the rink from about 1 until 9 at night with about an hour break in there to go get food. Ask anybody who knows me, and they’ll say that I LOVE to watch skating. Love, Love, LOVE to watch skating. I was so damn sick of watching skating by 9 that night that Lauren looked at me right before Mirai Nagasu and Rachel Flatt skated and said “let’s leave?” and I was more than happy to say yes. It was a rollercoaster day! Pairs, Free Dance, Ladies. Did anybody else think that Rena and John were already married? I thought they were.

I guess I should maybe talk about some of the amazing skating that went on this week, too. Standout performances for me include Davis/White’s Polka (so amazing!), Bosley/Corona’s Viennese, Flatt’s Short, as well as Nagasu’s short, Chock/Zuerlein’s OD, Wingle/Devereaux’s OD, Abbott’s Short (even thought it was messy), Weir’s Short, Navarro/Bommentre’s OD, Davis/White’s OD, Samuelson/Bates’ OD, Belbin/Agosto’s FD, McLaughlin/Brubaker’s Free Skate, the Shibutanis’ FD, Gilles/McKernan’s FD, the Hubbell’s FD, Maxwell/Traxler’s FD. Basically everything that I watched this week was so amazing. It’s so hard to say which are my favorites (obviously from this long list. I want to congratulate everyone on a well-skated Nationals, though!

Other fun things this week included not being able to eat downstairs at the rink after Monday (I’m not bitter that they had a make your own cupcake station in the Hospitality room on Saturday), learning how to play Wii in the competitors lounge, meeting bunches and bunches of new people every day I was out there, waking Brad Coulter up when he was sleeping (and getting it on video!), reverse dance lifts with Patrick Mays and Jordan Cowan, “sky strutting” a la Tyra Banks with Megan Evans, celebrating birthdays (Liza!), and calling DAN DONIGAN (YESSS YOU MADE IT IN DAN!) at 2:30 a.m. St. Paul time only to realize that it was 3:30 back home, oh jeez and so many more things!

Tom Collins was a fun party. I loved standing in line for ten minutes to get a drink, and then finish it by the time I had walked away from the bartender! It was fun dressing up, though.

The competitors’ party was really fun. I loved the chocolate fountain machine and the photobooth. They decorated one room to look like a club, and everybody seemed to really be enjoying their last night (or one of their last nights) in St. Paul.

Another thing that happened this week was that everybody realized how much of a skating stalker I am. And not just “oh, do you remember the team of …?” No, I’m really bad. I’m more of “Do you remember that team _____, who wore ______, at the competition ______? They split up two years later, but their coaches _______ only went to work with him. Remember? They got _____ at Worlds that year?” And what’s even more scary is that I even know all about my competitors. I think Megan Evans and Patrick Mays loved this a bit too much. BUT thank goodness for Elyse Matsumoto, because she’s ALMOST as bad as I am. Almost.

I wear my Team 2014 jacket all the time now. I used to care what I wore around, but now that I have this, everything is better. :] All of the novice ice dancers took a picture together. We were obviously the best discipline in the seminar.

Well I think that’s about all I remember. Sorry I didn’t update everyday after I finished competing. I was having the time of my life, and not that isn’t important, but I was experiencing my first Nationals! And yes Pilar, it was everything I wanted out of my first Nationals, and even more. Thanks everybody!

Signing out from, where else, Maryland!

PS – Cleveland Rocks?!
posted by IDC Staff at 4:15 PM


Saturday, January 19, 2008
I found my least favorite thing in the world today.

I found my least favorite thing in the world today. I went to breakfast this morning after practice with my family, Lauren’s family, and Greg. We had to walk outside to get to the bagel place, and I realized after about 15 seconds of being outside that my nose felt really weird. I then realized it was that my snot had frozen inside my nostril! It was the weirdest feeling ever, and it is extremely uncomfortable. I have since walked around with my sleeve jacket in front of my nose. On our way back from breakfast, we got lost inside the skyway. What should have taken us 10 minutes at the max took us around 30 minutes. I don’t recommend using them.

I then found one of my favorite things in the world. I went to walk around St. Paul (all of three blocks) with Pilar Bosley and Liza Branella, and we stopped in Walgreens and Pilar picked up twizzlers that are about twice the size of normal twizzlers. So amazing! On our way back we tried to find some earmuffs in Macy’s, and they didn’t have any, so if anybody is looking for earmuffs, don’t go to Macy’s.

Our first official practice was today, and I have to say that firstly, the rink itself is really nice, and secondly that it’s so darn hot out there! The Xcel Energy Center is really clean, and it’s staffed by really helpful people. I knew that when I left my house yesterday that I was forgetting something, and low and behold, I forgot hard guards but remembered soft guards. Luckily there’s a rubber mat walkway leading from the locker rooms to the entrance of the ice. I might want to invest in some hard guards ASAP. The rink is a little small, but has really good ice. Our practice went really well, and it wasn’t as daunting as I thought it was going to be. At Lake Placid, I don’t like the feeling of skating in the 1980 arena because despite the size, it feels like it’s coming down on you. I carried that same concern with me today going into the practice because I wasn’t sure how it would feel to compete in a huge arena. I was happily surprised that the arena felt very large and not like everything was coming down on me. The ceiling is lofty, which really helps.

We had our official draw for compulsories today. Mr. Cole is the Chief Dance Referee, so he ran our draw. I happened to be sitting in the front row of the room, so I picked the number of the person who would pick first in the draw, meaning I picked a number out of the bag, and each number corresponded to a team, listed in alphabetical order by the woman’s last name. I picked 1, so that meant Liza Branella and Ben Nykiel drew first. Lauren drew for us, and she picked ninth, which means we skate in the third warm up group in official practice tomorrow morning (the latest practice–yay!!), and that also means we skate ninth in the first dance (Tango) and fourth in the second dance (Kilian), which happened to be exactly the draw I wanted for us!

I am disgustingly tired right now from today. We had an early morning, and it’s only 9:20 and I’m completely beat. Tomorrow will most definitely be an exciting day, so I need to magically conjure some energy. Oh wait, I think they call that red bull.

Greg got our families a COSTCO cake (yummm) for good luck. Sadly I was too full to eat any tonight, but tomorrow is another day.

P.S. if anybody was wondering why there are Snoopy characters all around town, it’s because Charles Schultz was from Minnesota.
posted by IDC Staff at 10:13 PM

When I went to check out the view this morning

After getting out of my bed this morning (select comfort–my sleep number is 25) at 5:50 a.m., we braved the icy weather to get to Blaine again. Christine Binder got in last night, so I stayed up maybe a little later than I should have. Needless to say I was wide awake at this morning’s practice.

I’m rooming with Greg Maddalone this week, and our room actually overlooks the Mississippi River. When I went to check out the view this morning, I happened to notice a building that I thought said “MINNESOTA BLOG,” and I thought, “How perfect?!” Sadly, It says “MINNESOTA BLDG,” but from my view, it’s “blog.” So, this is officially my “Minnesota Bldg of the Inside Edge Blog.” Sounds good? Maybe an acronym? “MBIEG?” I’ll come up with something.

Our first official practice in the Xcel Energy Center is today, which should be exciting. I’ll have to update everyone on how that goes!
posted by IDC Staff at 6:58 AM

“Travis, we’re inside, and we can see our breath!”

I’d like to dedicate this blog entry to the athletes who couldnt come out to St. Paul.

I think Lauren’s first words off the plane today summed up our experience so far perfectly. We were walking in the jetway right off of the plane, and Lauren looks at me and says, “Travis, we’re inside, and we can see our breath!”

I’m also not so sure about Jamba right now. We were getting off the plane today and the pilot announced that it was 1 degree outside. We couldn’t even say “degrees” because the temperature was so low. The Twin Cities has welcomed us with open arms — cold arms, but open nonetheless.

We went to registration today and everybody was so nice. Everybody asked us questions like “Oh, where are you from?” “What level do you skate?” It was really nice meeting genuine people who cared about us. It was really cool getting my own credential. I mean, this one has a fabulous picture of yours truly on it, and it’s got snazzy little pictures of things I can and cannot do after a certain date. I’m currently trying to figure out how to change the date of the expiration–any ideas?! :]

We skated this evening at the National Sports Center in Blaine (we ran from the car into the rink), and for the first time, I think that Lauren and I were both glad to go into an ice rink to get warm! The facility is HUGE, housing eight separate rinks.

It’s been really good seeing all of my skating friends. Lauren and I had just walked into the lobby of the GORGEOUS Crowne Plaza and we see Una Donegan, Andrew Korda, Kate McDermott, and Colin McManus came running at us.

The hotel has this screen directly to the left of the entrance showing the complete competition schedule. This is amazing for me because if my mom has any questions about time changes, I can just run downstairs and prove that I have the correct time.

Lauren and I found out today, to much of our dismay, that it would be easier to walk outside to get to the rink rather than take the indoor skywalk (10 minutes outside v. 25 minutes in the skywalk). What a drag :[

Well tomorrow morning is our first official “early morning practice.” I’ll try to keep the complaining to a minimum!
posted by IDC Staff at 6:13 AM

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I can’t believe you guys care about what I have to say!

Hey Everyone!

After the Pacific Coast Sectionals, Daphne asked me if I wanted to blog for Nationals. She said there was positive feedback from the Pacs blog, and I can’t believe you guys care about what I have to say! That’s super flattering! Thanks everyone!

These last two months have been a little more daunting than expected. Winning Pacs was amazing, but going back and training was a bit of a wake-up call. Lauren and I have been accustomed to being done with the season around Thanksgiving. One weekend in early December we were driving up to Ardmore to skate with Robbie Kane, and we both looked at each other in the car and thought, “Why are we skating right now? It’s two weeks before Christmas, and we’re skating. Why aren’t we at home in our PJs eating ice cream?” These last several weeks have been a little lagging for us because we were mentally done after Sectionals, because that’s when we were about done before! Haha maybe that’s not much to most people, but it was a weird experience for us.

Greg Maddalone has been working with us to get us to push that little bit more, and hopefully it will pay off. Christine Binder came out during Christmas to visit her family and to come coach us and some of her other students. It was great having both Greg and Christine there to work with us and give us different points of view.

Training has been a lot of fun (to all of my fellow novice competitors – only a couple more run-throughs left of the Killian!), and competing is sure to be amazing (umm, big arena, hello?!), but I think I’m equally as excited to compete as I am to see all of my skating friends, most of whom I haven’t seen since August at LP. Una Donegan and I have been counting down the days for a while now until we get to hang out (and eat Berry Berry – AS IF!).

Tongue-in-cheek, I think the hardest part about preparing for Nationals has been mentally getting ready for the 7 degree (the high!) weather in St. Paul. :[ I like to think I live in a place with relatively nice weather – the greater D.C. area – but it’s been so dang cold here lately! I guess lower 20s aren’t nearly as bad as 7 degrees! Every time I mention this to Greg, he insists I’ll be fine in the Skywalks, but every time he says that, I point out the fact that while I love watching skating and most everything it entails, I won’t be able to use the skywalk to get EVERYWHERE!

For people who read my Pacs blog, I’ll let you know that I found a Jamba Juice about 20 minutes from my house, probably the most exciting discovery during these past two months! Lauren Corry, Lauren Ely, and I went down there one Sunday recently, and I have to say it was almost as good as the ones I had in California. This past one was a 9 out of 10, only because I wasn’t watching the waves on the beach and feeling amazing in 80-degree weather. :] BUT St. Paul has a Jamba Juice, so if anybody is interested in going to Jamba with me, just give me a call and we’ll go experience some bliss.

So I don’t know how much more interesting I can make my blog right now. I guess I could put in some pictures of Britney, or talk about some drama with Britney and her children (poor Brit!), or talk about how Britney’s new album stinks. But I don’t know how long that would be interesting for! Hahaha I bet people are going to be all over me for that!
WELL happy training for everybody until they get into St. Paul, and even after that, happy training out there! I can’t wait to experience my first Nats, and I’m sure that it’s going to be beyond amazing (well, Jamba is nearby – DUH it will amazing). See everyone soon!
posted by IDC Staff at 8:10 PM