Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wrapping up

I am writing this final entry as I sit on the plane heading back to Boston. Thanks to everyone who reads the blogs, and a special thank you to my family and Colin’s partner’s family for letting me include them. I hope they captured the experiences of a skating parent and their family at nationals. Take care and I hope to blog again in the future!

Saturday morning we were able to grab some quick coffee at the hotel before leaving for the rink. My wife and Casey discovered the hotel lobby had a drink called the Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate, so we ordered a few of those and jumped on the bus to the rink. The Team USA skaters had a breakfast at the arena for the Friends of Figure Skating, so we met Colin and Anastasia over at the rink after their breakfast. It was time for the senior free dance event. The event started off with Colin and Anastasia’s training mates, Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello, who looked great and got the crowd going with their upbeat free dance.

All of the dance teams were fun to watch but clearly the teams of Tanith & Ben and Meryl & Charlie were the cream of the crop. Meryl & Charlie’s free dance to “Phantom of the Opera” was by far the best free dance I have ever seen. They attacked the program with incredible speed but at the same time made every movement look effortless. They even received at score of 10.0 from one of the judges for their PCS (program component score).

After the free dance there was not much time before the senior ladies free skate, so we went across the street to the Flour Mill so Casey could shop. Afterward, we went back to the arena and settled for burgers and fries for a late lunch/early dinner. The crowd was huge, and it was hard to just walk on the concourse. They announced that Spokane has broken their own attendance record for the entire event from back on 2007.

The ladies event had everyone on the edge of their seats. Some highlights were: Melissa Bulanhagui, who skated a clean program and had the audience on their feet by the end of her skate; little Christine Gao was impressive with a triple/triple combination. (It was actually more fun to watch her coach, Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, as he stood by the boards during her program — he practically does all the moves with her. They should have them in a split screen so you can watch them at the same time!); Ashley Wagner had the performance of the night, but it was not enough to garner her an Olympic spot; Sasha struggled on her jumps but was still in a class all of her own with her performance and skating skills; Rachael Flatt was the winner, and it was well deserved. She will be a strong competitor for our country in the Olympics.

At the end of the event I could hardly believe the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships were over. What a long but thrilling eight days! It is clear that Spokane is rightfully called Skate City U.S.A. They put on a first class show and so did our incredible athletes! While the skaters got dressed up for their competitors’ party, it was nice to sit by the fireplace in the lobby of the hotel one last time and replay the highlights of the week. Next year the event is in Greensboro, North Carolina. Let’s hope they take a page or two out of the Spokane playbook!

posted by IDC Staff at 9:00 PM

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quick notes from Friday

Friday began with the junior ladies free skate. These young girls were all delightful and talented. I was so happy for Yasmin Siraj who pulled up to win the silver medal! She is just an amazing young lady who can not only skate but also is a nationally-recognized concert pianist who has played at Carnegie Hall! She may be tiny, but she has a huge triple Lutz!

After the ladies event we went to the mall for lunch at Twigs restaurant and had a table overlooking the mall lobby and the Fanfest area. I Had a Razatini (raspberry and lime martini) and the food was delicious, too. We were there at the same time as the special medal ceremonies for the junior dance and ladies medalists. Afterward the skaters signed autographs for the crowd.

After lunch wet met up with Colin and did some shopping and had some nice family time. Then we took a nice walk through the park to the Spokane Arena for the senior original dance event. Highlights were Meryl & Charlie’s Bollywood Indian routine and Emily & Evan’s cowboy OD. The costume of the night went to Trina Pratt for her cowgirl outfit (or lack thereof). We retired to the lobby at the hotel by the fireplace to mingle with the other parents and snack on flatbread pizza and have a few draft beers.

posted by IDC Staff at 8:57 PM

Friday, January 22, 2010

You are my sunshine my only sunshine!

It was that time of the week for the senior events to begin again, but now it is the ladies and ice dance teams taking center stage. The morning started with the senior compulsory dance. The top two spots were hotly contested, and after the event it was Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto just behind Meryl Davis and Charlie White in the Golden Waltz. Less than one point separates them.

After the senior dance event we met up with Kelly Cannuscio and Lynn Lorello for lunch at the Sawtooth Grille. We had lots of laughs! By mid-afternoon it was time for the junior free dance event. We jumped on the bus and it was off to the rink. I was so nervous for all the teams. We have had the opportunity to get to know most of the teams and parents, so when each of the teams took the ice, I was just holding my breath hoping they skated their best and did not fall! I was so happy that everyone skated nice clean programs!

After the junior dance event there was not enough time to go back to the hotel because it was just about time for the senior ladies short program, so we stayed in our seats and watched that event. We have had big crowds all week but for the senior ladies the crowd was even larger. There was one thing that was very clear by the end of the event and it is that Sasha Cohen is back and she was simply amazing. Rachel Flatt and eventual leader Mirai Nagasu also skated fantastic programs. Sasha sits in second place going into the free skate.

After the event was over I was starting to feel like I was suffering from skating overdose, but as I rode the bus back to the hotel, a few fans in the back of the bus broke out in a chorus of “You are my sunshine my only sunshine” and the entire bus started singing along. So even after a long, tiring day of being a spectator, the local people of Spokane found more than enough energy to bring some extra fun to the end of the day.

Back at the hotel it was time to grab a quick bite to eat. In the lobby there were a sightings of skaters from the past like Michael Weiss, Todd Eldredge, Sarah Hughes, and Dick Button to name a few.

Until tomorrow…

posted by IDC Staff at 10:44 AM

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lots of lederhosen!!

The day started early and we were up and off to the rink to watch the novice dance finals. OK what is up with there not being any coffee to be found in the arena? I searched and finally found some coffee but I missed a few couples while hunting. The event was good and the last four couples skated strong and ended up on the podium. After the event was over we met up with Daphne (Miss for lunch at a restaraunt named Clinkerdagger (be careful how you pronounce that name). It was good to catch up with her as we had not had a chance to sit and talk with her since Lake Placid in August. Lunch was good and to our surprise sitting at the table next to us was Sasha Cohen, who was grabbing lunch after her practice.

Then it was back to the rink (again) to watch the junior ladies short program. We were cheering on Yasmin Siraj from our club in Boston. There were a few stumbles and falls by many of the ladies in the group but overall it was a good event. Another highlight was the skaters sitting in section 132 got the wave going around the rink during one of the warm-ups. Even the technical panel took part!

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and had some dinner and got ready for tonight’s junior original dance. The local news station was streaming the practice sessions live from the Spokane arena, so we watched the warm up practice for Colin and Anastasia from the comfort of our hotel room.

For the last time for the day we headed back to the rink for the junior original dance event. The theme this year is folk/county. So, we saw a lot of lederhosen! The one bonus of folk music is that it gives the audience something to clap along with. We saw a lot of impressive skating and again it was a big crowd turnout.

The senior compulsory dance is tomorrow and the juniors finish with their free dance and the senior ladies begin their Olympic quest with the short program. It will be exciting!

posted by IDC Staff at 11:40 AM

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Carousels are not just for kids!

Another terrific weather day in Spokane, so we decided to just go out and enjoy the sites of the city. Colin and Anastasia had a late morning practice at Eagles Arena, so while they went on the shuttle, my wife, Casey, and I started our adventure. We wondered through the Fanfest area where we had a Tanith and Ben sighting in the mall. We exited the mall and crossed over into the Riverfront Park where there was a group of guys playing Frisbee football. We ended up taking a gondola ride over the Spokane waterfalls.

My daughter, Casey, did not want to go on the ride, but after some coaxing we were able to get her aboard the car. It was a fun ride and we got some good pictures. From there we came upon the famous antique carousel. This carousel was so beautiful and well-kept. My wife, Tammi, and I jumped on to ride and Casey watched. Who says adults don’t enjoy a good carousel ride! It was so much fun. The operator rang a bell twice when the ride started and then once we picked up speed she rang the bell three times and moved an arm out near the edge of the booth that had rings hanging on the end. The goal was to lean over while on the horse and grab the ring. When Casey saw how much fun we were having, she had to give it a try herself. So she and I went on the ride and Casey ended up being very good at grabbing the ring!

We then strolled through the park and found the enormous oversized Radio Flyer cart that was made into a slide. I was the only brave one to go up and give it a try. It was like being a kid again! We ended up at the outdoor ice rink in the park and watched all the families enjoying the public skating out in the fresh air. It was a great way to really enjoy the city of Spokane. After our fun in the park we had a nice lunch at Red Robin and Colin, Anastasia, Ian and Isabella joined us.

After lunch the skaters needed to go back to the hotel to rest for tonight’s competition. I thought this sounded good, too, and I took a nice long nap.

After a much-needed rest, it came time for the compulsory event to start. All the skaters looked intense in their tango costumes and everyone skated well. I was surprised at the big crowd that came out on a Tuesday night! They were a great crowd and really supported the skaters.

It is nice to finally have the junior dance event underway. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s original dance. I also plan on watching the novice dance final, too.

Until then…..

posted by IDC Staff at 10:30 AM

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is that a little flower sweeper? No, it is the novice men’s champion!

Let there be sun! The sun is out (finally) and it is in the mid 40s. The locals said last year at this time they were buried in mounds of snow, so we feel lucky that it has been so warm. You can now see the snow covered mountain ranges in the distance.

This was the first morning I had to use the alarm to get me up and out so that I could get over to the Spokane Arena to watch the junior dance practices. I was at the arena by 8:00 a.m.. Once I arrived I found our very own Miss herself (Daphne) and I sat with her during all the practice groups. She was busy taking photos of all the teams to be posted on the site later. All the teams looked terrific and well prepared for the event! After practice the teams had their draw. Colin and Anastasia drew 11th for the Argentine Tango and their training partners Isabella and Ian drew 13th. Anastasia and Isabella’s mom, Kelly, was so excited because she said she had dreamed that they would draw those numbers. Her sister told her if that was the case she should go back to sleep and dream they won! I, on the other hand, told her to go back to sleep and dream of the lottery number.

After practice we met up with the Lorello and Cannuscio clans and we headed off to Madeline’s for a late breakfast/early lunch. This is the same pastry place we went to on Saturday evening. Food is great and I had the quiche (no comments about a real men not eating quiche). Apparently there was a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, but we must have missed it. Too bad – parades are fun!

In the afternoon the skating continued with another practice for the junior ice dancers. This time we had to take the Gold shuttle buses out to Eagle Arena. It was about a 25 minute ride. After some confusion about whether or not parents would be allowed on the shuttle and in the rink, we finally were allowed to accompany the kids to practice. The rink was much colder but the lobby had a glass wall so we could watch and keep nice and warm.

The practices went well and all of the technical specialists and judges were there to watch. All of them are so approachable and nice to the skaters.

Once back at the hotel we gathered the clans again and we headed off to the Olive Garden for dinner. The parents hit the bar while we waited and tried the Sangria. Dinner was good and who can beat the salad and breadsticks! (I did not get paid by the establishment for this endorsement.)

After dinner we had a nice evening stroll through the park and over to Spokane Arena for the novice men’s free skate and the junior pairs free skate. The novice men were too cute for words and very impressive at the same time. The winner, Nathan Chen, was just 10 years old! He was so tiny! I was trying to point him out to my wife when he took the ice but my wife thought he was one of the little flower sweepers because he was smaller than them. He ripped of multiple triple jumps and had expression and music interpretation way beyond his years. Even the second place medalist, Emmanuel Savary, is only 11 years old and just as adorable. All I could think of was that it was well past their bed time!!

The junior pairs event was just as fun, and a shout out to the winners Taylor Toth & Felicia Zhang who were calm, cool and collected in a really strong performance. Taylor skated with stitches in his head after a crash with another skater in practice. Don’t let anyone tell you that skating is not a contact sport! These kids are tough!

I am back at the hotel at the bar having a nice cold draft and writing my blog. Colin and Anastasia start competing tomorrow.

On a more serious note, today I was so relieved to hear from a co-worker back at home that his family members from Haiti were able to contact him after almost a week without knowing if they were alive after the earthquake. I hope the family is reunited soon. My prayers go out to the many thousands of people that are still suffering and trying to survive the horrible situation in Haiti as a result of last week’s earthquake and to those who are there on the ground trying to help them.

posted by IDC Staff at 12:43 AM

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spokane or Pleasantville?

We are getting to know our way around the town. It is like going back in time with the old buildings and beautiful greenways and art sculptures. The people are extremely friendly and outgoing and have gone out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. It is kind of like the movie Pleasantville — except we are not in black and white.
We awoke in the morning and made our way down to breakfast at the hotel. With full bellies, it was off to the arena for the senior men’s free skate. Again, huge crowds and an electric atmosphere. A number of terrific performances by Jason Wong, Ryan Bradley and Jeremy Abbott. Ryan was just outstanding and the crowd went wild when he finished. If you missed his performance you must go to IceNetwork and watch!

After the event we walked back to the hotel through River Front Park. This time it was daylight and we could appreciate the rambling river and falls. By the time we made it back to the hotel our son Colin had arrived, and we visited with him and the Cannuscio sisters, Anastasia and Isabella. I had missed most of the NFL football games this weekend so we stayed in the lounge by the fireplace in big comfy chairs and ordered lunch. My wife and I enjoyed some nice cold beers and watched the Chargers and Jets game.

The Jets pulled off an upset!

The afternoon and evening consisted of watching the novice pairs short program then having dinner with the family. We have discovered these delicious flatbread pizzas at the hotel. After dinner I headed back over to the arena to watch the junior men’s free skate. Again, the U.S. has such a deep field of talent. I cheered on Peter Max Dion from our club in Boston and he looked great. There were also highlight performances by winner Jason Brown and runner up Joshua Farris.

After that it was back to the hotel and to bed! It was a long day of skating! Tomorrow the ice dance events start. Yeah! I will be up early to watch the junior practices.

Until Tomorrow…

posted by IDC Staff at 12:52 PM