Saturday, February 2, 2008
Post-Event Reflections & Wrap-Up

I admit to procrastination. I’ve put off writing a final blog for most of this week, while I’ve been playing catch up at work and home and haven’t had an opportunity to collect my final event thoughts. Below are somewhat organized comments on Nationals and more.

Side note: Michelle reminded me of the Exhibitions today, so I was able to watch. It reminded me of some of my favorite performances of the week and that the skating was terrific.

Though busy with reports and photography, I was able to catch up with some of the parents and teams. Through these conversations, I was able to learn more of the behind the scenes stories that don’t always make it in ice dance news. I’m always blown away by the resilience of the athletes.

Madison & Keiffer Hubbell were forced to miss much of the 2007/2008 season due to Keiffer’s hip injury. They were able to compete at Sectionals to secure a spot at Nationals and prior to the event in Saint Paul, this was their only competition of the season. Keiffer began acupuncture therapy in December, and it has been successful in dealing with the pain. Though they may not have been back at 100%, they pushed through to put in strong performances and won the Junior title. They will have less than one month to prepare for their second trip to the World Junior Championships. They were sixth in 2007.

Junior ice dancer Shannon Wingle was happy to even be competing at Nationals. Prior to Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, Shannon became injured suffering from bilateral hamstring tears. She missed LPIDC, but recovered enough to compete at two Junior Grand Prix events and Sectionals. A few weeks prior to Nationals, she suffered another serious injury, but nevertheless competed in Saint Paul. Quite gutsy and a testament to her resolve and determination.

Brad Coulter is junior athlete who competed most of the season with a knee injury. He and partner Rachael Richardson finished 11th overall, and Brad successfully underwent knee surgery this past Wednesday.

Logan Giulietti-Schmitt suffered a fracture to the skull (the mastoid) just prior to Nationals. There was major concern that the break had extended into the temporal bone, which would have been more serious. Logan was extremely lucky, and in their performances you could tell that he and Lynn (Kriengkrairut) were just happy to be competing in Saint Paul.

These are just a few of the injury instances of this season and stories that don’t always make it to big news outlets. I know there are many more – cut up hands, back injuries, etc. – all in the pursuit of success in this sport.

Even though there are still several events left before the end of the season, there is already talk about summer competitions and that we’re only six months away from Lake Placid. Though it may seem like it’s a long time, any athlete, coach, or parent will tell you that time flies and there is never enough of it when you’re preparing for a new season.

Those who are heading to Four Continents, World Juniors or the World Championships will continue to train hard in anticipation of tough competitions ahead.

Those who are alternates to various championships will continue to train in case they get the call.

Those whose season ended with Nationals will probably take one to two weeks off and then start the selection process for new original or free dance music, or work on new compulsory dances.

There are also those who face the difficult choice of continuing in partnerships, choosing between college or skating or doing both, and more. This is the time of year that these decisions are made.

While talking about looking ahead to Lake Placid, I was also informed of a new event that will take place September 26-28, 2008 in Colorado Springs. This pairs & dance event will serve as a great warm-up for teams who are preparing for sectional championships and need additional feedback. I’m excited that another event for these disciplines has been created. Most teams have only 1-2 outings of their programs during a season, so this will give them an opportunity to give the programs more mileage.

The coverage on IDC would not have been possible without the following people and I am extremely grateful for their assistance.

The folks at La Maison des Karen Frank (aka Karen, Mango & Hoover) were amazing hosts for the week and totally made it possible for me to return from Saint Paul non-sleep deprived and somewhat refreshed. For this, I think my co-workers are grateful. Her night photography from the Winter Carnival should not be missed!

Michelle Wojdyla, who worked tirelessly for the week photographing the event and editing & posting 90% of the photos uploaded in the photography section. She also editing the articles posted on IDC.

Katie Weigel, who joined us later in the week, assisted with reports and special assignment photography, including the Saintly City Cat Show and Winter Carnival.

Jim McManus & Travis Mager, who brought everyone their unique perspectives on their first National Championships.

Tammi & Casey McManus, who presented S.P. Beary and his adventures in Minneapolis/Saint Paul.

Jayar, Kelly and Liz, who shared their quotes with us.

The staff of Xcel Center, who were extremely helpful and friendly.

And the athletes who treated us to a wonderful week of skating.
posted by IDC Staff at 8:02 PM 

Sunday, January 27, 2008
It’s Already Sunday the 27th

Wow, it’s already Sunday. In some ways, it feels like the event just started and in others, it seems like it’s been going on for two weeks. In true fashion, my blog took a back seat while I posted other Nationals content on IDC. I’m really glad that the other bloggers have been able to keep you, our readers, more up-to-date on the Saint Paul happenings.

Getting up this morning, I realized that upon returning from tonight’s exhibition, I’ll be packing as my flight leaves at 6am Monday. I know many competitors, parents, coaches and fans will be departing today, and for those of you who are – SAFE TRAVELS! For me, I’m hoping that my flights are on-time and that I’ll arrive back in Maine as scheduled. This event had so many bright, special moments as well as sad, reflective ones.
posted by IDC Staff at 10:22 AM

Saturday, January 26, 2008
Bring It On – Ice Dance Style


Senior free dances were fab! I spent the first two groups on the judges side taking notes. At Nationals last year, someone had recommended note taking versus typing it up on my laptop as it’s going on as a way to see more of the event. It worked out much better. During the FD, I noticed the arena seemed the fullest it had been for the week.

Once the event ended, Jayar came through with quotes from the top seven. I didn’t mention it previously, but we also exchanged typed quotes from events earlier in the week with Kelly who was working for Blades On Ice. The way media personnel work together is amazing.

The ladies free skate rounded out Saturday’s events, and the young guns brought it. Though Kimmie Meissner didn’t have her best skate, she was gracious as always in the kiss ‘n cry thanking the audience for their support.

The awards for ladies and dance brought a close to the day. When I popped over to take some closeups for IDC, I realized there were many more people present versus the earlier events of the week which was good to see.

posted by IDC Staff at 1:50 PM 0 comments

Friday, January 25, 2008

Non-dance Day

After another amazing breakfast at Baker’s Square (served by Raspberry Rachel), we arrived at the arena in time for the final groups of junior pairs. This being a non-dance day, it’s a good opportunity to catch up on posting content while enjoying the other events.

On to the junior men… Adam Rippon skated with such ease and flow, while Brandon Mroz showcased his wonderful athleticism and skill. One of the wonders of IJS is that it allows you to still be in the medal hunt when you’re 12th in the short program – case in point, Ricky Dornbush finishing third in the free skate and fourth overall. Keegan Messing’s free skate, which part of the music sounded like the theme from Gremlins, was a treat and seeing Andrew Gonzalez’s face on the jumbotron when he realized he won a medal was priceless. Overall the event was really fun to watch.

The championship men took the ice for the final event of the day – wow! They continued the trend of the juniors with some standout performances – Weir, Lysacek, Bradley, Abbott & Carriere to name a few.

Back to Karen’s for rest and recharge.
posted by IDC Staff at 11:35 PM 0 comments

Now That’s What I Call Nationals Soundtrack Volume 2008 – Part 1

In the interest of continuing our theme of lists, I’m sharing my National’s Soundtrack thoughts:

Chumbawumba – “Tubthumping” (warm-up)
Body Rockers – “I Like the Way You Move” (video montage)
Kelly Sweet – “Dream On” (jumbotron video)
Gwen Stefani – “Holla Back” (jumbotron video)
Phil Collins – “In the Air Tonight” (warm-up)
Queen – “We Are the Champions” (awards)

Additions? email me via the contact link.
posted by IDC Staff at 8:39 PM 0 comments

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday’s Smashing Dances

Though the junior free dance event wasn’t scheduled until 11:30, we headed to the arena early so Karen could catch some of the senior men’s practices. I thought I’d use the time to catch up on posting photos and reports. Of course, the time flew by and before I knew it, it was time for junior FD.

Each year, the junior field becomes deeper. This is my third Nationals, and I think this is the best one yet. Katie has the report duties for this event, so I take a seat to watch the final showdowns. Having seen many of the programs at Lake Placid in August, it’s exciting to see them at this stage, after several months of training. The performances were wonderful! Post-free dance, I headed to the media room for the press conference. I had asked Jayar to set my recorder on the table, so I could get the most audible quotes. For some reason, it didn’t record, but Jayar came through with audio files. It appears we have the same Sony digital recorder.

During a break in the junior pairs short program, I ventured down to one end of the rink to get a carved roast beef sandwich. I came upon the booth earlier in the week and made a point of visiting it whenever I was missing regular food.

I watched the senior OD from the judges’ side of the arena, taking notes during the event and heading down to the press conference afterward. I realized once I got there that my recorder was full, and I didn’t have an opportunity to delete any of the files until post-press conference. I had previously thought that Jayar had mistakenly turned the digital recorder off during the junior press conference, but it turns out it was full. Thanks to Liz from who sent me the quotes I was most interested in.

I spent some of the ladies short program working on my article and watching the event. We then shot the junior ice dancing podium from three different angles, which is why we have a plethora of photos to share in the photography section. It also made for a super late night.
posted by IDC Staff at 5:11 PM 

Project Runway Fix

Since we’re staying at Karen’s, I’ve been somewhat able to keep up with television viewing while I’m in Saint Paul. On Tuesday, we watched the finale of Amazing Race and last night, we watched Project Runway. Yay for a sense of normalcy in our frigid tundra.
posted by IDC Staff at 8:35 AM 

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Hot or Not: St. Paul Nationals Style

Today on the ride to Xcel Center for the Senior CD (the only dance event for the day), we started a “Hot or Not” list.

HOT: Xcel Arena temperature
NOT: St. Paul temperature

HOT: Saintly City Cat Show
NOT: Pheasant Fest

HOT: Facial hair on skaters
NOT: Curly hair on staff

HOT: Plain white Zamboni
NOT: Beer ads on Zamboni

HOT: Rap Music
NOT: Audience rap with Seacrest-lite

HOT: Audience exercise video on Jumbotron
NOT: Napping in your seat

HOT: Really tall podium
NOT: Pre-determined podium

HOT: Snowplow Sam
NOT: Yosemite Sam

HOT: Winter Carnival
NOT: Republican National Convention

HOT: Friendly arena staff
NOT: Body cavity searches

HOT: Skyways
NOT: Getting lost in skyways

HOT: Mini-Donuts
NOT: Deep-fried cheese curds

HOT: Texting people on the other side of the arena
NOT: Shouting “yeah, you’re hot!”

HOT: Leaving fan messages on the Jumbotron
NOT: Lobby-chicking

HOT: Starting straightline footwork with hair flip
NOT: Telegraphing jumps

HOT: Catchfoot twizzles
NOT: Cutting your finger on the blade grab

HOT: Birthday during the competition
NOT: Non being old enough to compete at Worlds

HOT: Skaters as choreographers
NOT: Changing your choreography mid-program

HOT: Pepto pink, turquoise, and green
NOT: All-white or all-black

HOT: Apocalyptica Cult
NOT: Malaguena and Zorro, again

HOT: Obscure Country Folk
NOT: Kalinka

HOT: Coming back from injury
NOT: Food poisoning

HOT: Terry Gannon and Susie Wynne
NOT: No Terry Gannon and no Susie Wynne

HOT: Sign language in the Kiss & Cry
NOT: Refusing to sit in the Kiss & Cry

HOT: New Kiss & Cry backdrop
NOT: Skate America backdrop

HOT: Faster Zambonis
NOT: Entire flight of skaters providing their own Zamboni service

HOT: New jeans
NOT: Black pants Day 5

HOT: Credentials
NOT: Losing or forgetting tickets

HOT: Chez Karen
NOT: Overpriced hotels

HOT: Mazda Proteges
NOT: Non-accessible busses

HOT: Watching all novice and juniors on IceNetwork
NOT: Missing out on some amazing skating

posted by IDC Staff at 1:46 PM

More from Nationals & Across the Ocean

To start my Wednesday blog, I wanted to give a shout out to Lt. Colonel Tim McKernan, who is serving overseas at this time and not able to see his son & partner compete this week. Piper & Tim wanted to let you know that they’re skating hard and they miss you.

During 2007 Nationals, we were following the results from Canadian Nationals. This year, the European Championships are taking place while we are in Saint Paul. While I’m following the results online, I’m also getting tidbits about other parts of the event. On Tuesday, I found out that when the ice dancers (and possible other disciplines as well, but I’m not sure) checked in at the European Championships they were given a sheet of paper with an outline of the body and the question “Where do you hurt?” They are looking into some of the injuries (back, etc.) that have been occurring with the hope of making changes to help in this area. I hope that changes are made. The number of back and knee injuries is becoming more common.

Photos from the Junior OD event will be added post-senior compulsory dance event today.

Time for some breakfast at Bakers Square before we head to Xcel for some Yankee Polkas.
posted by IDC Staff at 9:45 AM

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Yes, I really mean to catch up…

For the past two days, I’ve planned to make time to post a blog or two each day to catch up on what’s been happening at Nationals. Well, it’s now Wednesday and I’m about 3 days behind. Each year, I try really hard to stay on a schedule, but somehow it escapes me and I’m not able to comply.

Here is my quick catch up on everything so far:

Prior to practice on Saturday, Karen (the BEST hostess) took us to Bakers Square in Minneapolis where our waitress, “Raspberry Rachel” made sure we not only got everything we ordered or needed, but also that we were happy with our experience. Needless to say, she got a big tip.

On Saturday, many of the junior teams did not skate in the practice session, which is why not all of the teams appeared in our gallery. For many of them it was a travel day.

I’m really enjoying how the media seating is set up. They have slanted working tables that are set on the row in front, which make it much more ergonomic and easier to get things done.

One thing I love about Nationals is getting to see so many familiar faces and catching up with friends. Somehow, though, there never seems to be enough time to devote to it.

The rink itself is actually quite nice and not really very cold. Outside, it’s warmed up a few degrees.

In the media room, everyone is squirrelling around to meet deadlines while taking mini-breaks only to grab another hot chocolate and/or caffeinated beverages to give you that extra oomph to get through the next hour or scheduled event. Rest assured that everyone is working hard behind the scenes to bring you great coverage.

I really have enjoyed the video montages they have played prior to some of the events.

There is more to come!


posted by IDC Staff at 10:42 PM 

Sunday, January 20, 2008
My travel plans have a way of unraveling

This year, the week leading up to Nationals travel day was even busier than usual and as I got closer to the 18th, I found myself getting less and less prepared rather than the opposite. Things fell into place by Friday and even a last minute snow/freezing rainstorm didn’t delay my flight from Portland.

A very nice and talkative older gentleman, whom I call Mr. Sudoku, kept me company on the Portland to Philadelphia part of my journey. He even took the time to explain the puzzle to me as I had always thought it required so much thought and focus that I would get frustrated and throw the book out the window. He told me he does Sudoku to relieve stress, and suggested I might want to consider it as a way of relaxing.

As you’ve read in previous blogs, my travel plans have a way of unraveling and I find myself either switching flights at the last minute or changing a connection due to plane mechanical failure or other delays. To my amazement, the only issues I encountered throughout my trip were our plane circling an additional time while waiting to land in Philadelphia (for my layover) and then walking what seemed like forever to get to the connecting gate once we had landed. Otherwise, I landed in Minneapolis on time (11:05 p.m.) to find my friend Karen waiting for me.

Unlike other Nationals, Michelle and I are staying with our good friend (and amazing hostess) Karen to absorb a different Nationals experience. Instead of living out of our suitcases, we feel like we’re in a home environment. Additionally, we have the company of the adorable duo of Hoover and Mango, Karen’s two feline companions.

After unwinding and a brief discussion of the upcoming week’s events, we got some sleep in preparation for Saturday aka Day 1. Day 1 is a practice day, and much more relaxed that the days of competitive events, which start on Sunday.
posted by IDC Staff at 9:57 PM 

Saturday, January 19, 2008
Greetings from the North Pole

I safely arrived in Minneapolis late Friday night and after attending dance practices today, am catching up on photos, blogs, etc. Check back for more soon!

posted by IDC Staff at 9:25 PM