Monday, September 07, 2009
Some final thoughts

Pulling double duty photographing the competition and medal ceremonies for Ice Network plus all the usual ice-dance.com coverage meant that our blogging took a bit of a backseat, although we tried our best. Twitter was the fastest way to get tidbits across, and the challenge of doing so in 140 characters or less is getting easier.

Now that the last medal has been awarded and we have returned to the land of high-speed wired connections from the comforts of our living rooms (as opposed to the sketchy wireless signal that required turning the bathroom into a makeshift office), some final thoughts on the week that was the 2009 Junior Grand Prix in Lake Placid, NY.

Medical lowlight of the week: Hearing about the accident Anastasia Olson & Jordan Cowan suffered in practice back in Michigan that would force them to miss their JGP debut next week in Poland. Anastasia’s blade severed both of the tendons to the index finger on Jordan’s right hand, an injury similar to that suffered by their trainingmates Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates at the World Junior Championships a couple years ago. Jordan’s hand will require surgery to repair, and everyone at ice-dance.com sends healing vibes and good wishes for a speedy recovery. (Not everyone at ice-dance.com, however, could stomach the gruesome photos of the wound. And to think some people still don’t consider ice dancing a real sport!)

Educational highlight of the week: Getting to sit with Mathew Gates during Argentine Tango compulsory dance practice and having him explain what to look for and how to distinguish a good pattern versus a mediocre or bad pattern, watching for edge changes and free foot push offs at the most difficult sections of the dance.

Voidy skirts of the week: Russian ice dancer Valeria Zenkova has a very cool-looking and -moving feathery skirt for Argentine Tango practice. For the CD competition, she switched to a very Edyta-from-“Dancing with the Stars” mulberry dress that had an applique-type front skirt and a sort of lowered peacock tail back. For the original dance she wore a skirt that looked like giant caged roses and wrapped up the competition with glowing white chiffon strips that resembled toilet paper. She goes a little off the safe costume track, but totally owns the style when she’s on the ice. Can’t wait to see what she wears next!

Coach encounter highlight of the week: Not recognizing pairs coach Dalilah Sappenfield at first. She’s lost over 50 pounds and looks amazing!

Alumni coaches highlights: Rene Lohse and Ingo Steuer. It just doesn’t seem fair that men get better looking with age. Maybe it’s a German skater thing?

And you thought YOU would have a challenge getting to Lake Placid: Fourteen-year-old Brendan Kerry of Australia had a 24-hour journey! He did, however, set his new personal best scores despite what must have been wicked jetlag.

Blast from the past highlight: Annette Poetzsch making her first return to the 1980 arena since winning her Olympic gold medal in that very rink. This time around she was on the other side of the boards as a coach.

Cool move highlight of the week: funky twizzles by the team from Spain. Sara Hurtado & Adria Diaz had this move in their free dance when they do mirror twizzles while making this pattern on the ice. Hard to put into words, but it looked wild.

Press conference lowlight of the week: None. With only a half dozen media people in attendance, everything was very casual and low-key. Sara & Adria (see above) were very generous in their time talking to us. I still can’t believe that ladies are required to wear a skirt in the free dance! All of the other disciplines allow pants. What is up with that?!?!

Almost-makes-me-wish-I-watched-it-on-Ice-Network-rather-than-live: Sitting in front of the broadcast booth during some of the events and overhearing Tonia Kwiatkowski’s commentary. She didn’t babble throughout the performance, seemed to really do a great job explaining errors to non-skaters, and would actually look at the others in the booth like she was having a conversation with them.

Not a surprise to ME highlight: Lauri Bonacorsi & Travis Mager’s bronze medal. They were amazing in Lake Placid last month. I had a feeling they would be on the podium.

“But will it play well online?” lowlight: some of the programs were so sublime and beautiful in person that I wondered if that quality would come across on an internet video feed. From comments I read online, unfortunately the excellence in person didn’t translate as well to a 3-inch high video. The free dances from Lauri & Travis and Germans Stefanie Frohberg & Tim Giesen and the short programs of Taylor Firth and Kristine Musademba were definite wows.

Greatest costumes of the week: too many to choose from! Overall, this was a frighteningly well-dressed group of skaters. Yes, some of the neon caused temporary blindness, but for the entire ladies short program field to eschew white was nothing short of a wonderful miracle. We need to put together a photo gallery of some of our favorites.

Best hair of the week: Canadian ice dancer Kharis Ralph’s original dance ‘do.

Johnny Weir shout out of the week: Larisa Selezneva (former European pairs champion with husband Oleg Makarov) took time to chat about balancing being Ksenia Makarova’s mom and coach. She mentioned that Ksenia sometimes skates with Johnny, and that he has been a positive influence on her skating.

Stupid driver lowlight: Miscalculating which gas station was the last one on route 73 and running out of fuel in a cell phone dead zone. Lesson learned: do not live the village without a full tank of gas because the nearest station on the NY thruway is a few exits away!

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Saturday, September 05, 2009
The Home Stretch…

In many ways, it seems like the event just started and in others it seems like the free dance happened a few days ago, although it wrapped up today.

I could go over the protocols, but since they’re available online, you can all make your own analysis of them. One thing I did want to point out is that performances on the small screen do not always come across the same in person. While a program may seem like it doesn’t sparkle, in person it can come across differently and even in some cases light up the arena, or in some cases do the opposite.

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Friday, September 04, 2009
Friday @ the 80

I apologize for my silence. In addition to covering the ice dance event for IDC, I’m also shooting the other events for Icenetwork.com/U.S. Figure Skating. This is why photos, blogs, etc. take longer to post.

Side note. Someone is skating to what seems like a different musical variation of “Bolero” and it took a moment for us to recognize that was what it was.

Since Icenetwork is showing the event live and FREE, I decided to go the route of not writing comprehensive reports. Instead, if you have questions, please send me a message via the contact form and I’ll do my best to answer it in this blog.

The fifteen ice dance teams competing here represent 10 countries and judging from the looks of the OD practice costuming, we’ll be treated to some diverse music folk music selections. It also appears that my favorite junior OD of the 2007/08 season has been resurrected in some form. Some folk themes that will be seen later today include Greek, African, and Japanese.

Break in blog to assist family members who are trying to locate their way to the USA rink to watch the dance practice. For those of you familiar with Herb Brooks Arena (from coming to LPIDC), the media room is located in the same room as where they give out awards at LPIDC. There is a large blue curtain covering the entrance to the stairs that take you to the USA rink, so often it can be confusing when looking for them. Therefore, we’ve been playing traffic cop for those who seem to have lost their way.

While Maia and Alex Shibutani have just over a 3.5 lead, those teams ranked 2-6 are separated by less than one point. I anticipate that there will be movement within the ranks for OD placement which should result in changes in the overall standing as well.

Some notes:

  • Only Shibutani & Shibutani and Bonacorsi & Mager received all positive GOEs. Tibbetts & Brubaker received all positives, with just one negative GOE.
  • Carol Lane is the busiest dance coach at the event, coaching Canada’s Ralph & Hill, and Carswell & Doleman along with Georgiadis & Hockley of Greece.
  • We adored Valeria Zenkova’s (Russia) black Argentine Tango dress, and were disappointed it was used only for practice. However, her magenta competition dress was even more photograph friendly. Another of our favorites was worn by Ramona Elsener of Switzerland.

That’s it for now.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009
Live from the 1980…

Good morning from the Herb Brooks Arena (aka the 1980 Arena)!

Junior CD practice just wrapped up and we’ve taken spots in the media work area to download, edit and upload photos from the sessions. I thought I’d take a few minutes to post a quick blog.

This morning, we woke up to the sounds of the Lake Placid High School marching band. And, for those of you who roomed with us at Shamrock Cottage for the LPIDC, I wanted to mention that the great train ride video is still available for viewing (shout out to Mel, Christina, Sasha and Jules). Also for those who are wondering, the internet is still only available via the gold chair or the bathroom, but we are making it work.

We caught up with Nikki Georgiadis and Graham Hockley (Greece) who filled us in on their fall competitive interaries. Watch for blogs and pics from them from this event later this week. They will also be IDC correspondents from their JGP Croatia and Nebelhorn Trophy.

Spotted.. Rene Lohse is in attendance as (we believe) the coach for Tim Giesen and partner (Germany). It’s good to see former World competitors passing on their expertise to a new generation.

Icenetwork.com will be broadcasting the Junior Grand Prix U.S.A. event live and for FREE, so be sure to watch. We’ll be posting photos A.S.A.P. after the dance events.

Daphne

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Back to Lake Placid…

Wow! It’s hard to believe the month of August flew by so fast and I’m back in beautiful Lake Placid once again. I’ve been affectionately calling this event “LP2” as it’s the second of three trips I’ll make to Lake Placid this year. The first was the annual Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships and the third will be Skate America in November.

Luckily on my trip to LP, I did not encounter any of the car issues that hampered me a month ago. However, my cell phone decided to stop working (and not due to being in the Adirondacks). A detour to Wireless World in Saranac Lake resulted in being the new owner of a Blackberry Storm. I intended to get a new phone, just not this week. I was thinking more along the lines of December when I could get the discount. Oh well! This mishap kept me from arriving in time for the afternoon practice, so I’ll head to the arena for tomorrow’s 9AM practice.

Bazzi’s for dinner – YUM!