Thursday, July 26, 2007
Each year LPIDC continues to be one of the events we anticipate most. It presents an opportunity to view programs at their earliest competitive stages while allowing the athletes and coaches to receive helpful feedback before proceeding with further choreography developments. Whether a team is focused on prepping for international assignments, regionals or sectionals, or making a bid for a spot on Team U.S.A., Lake Placid IDC showcases the culmination of hard work from their spring/summer efforts.
The Fifth Year: 2007 Marks the fifth consecutive year that ice-dance.com has covered this event. Each year we have attempted to expand our coverage. In some ways, 2003 seems like it was just yesterday and in others it seems like a lifetime ago since so much in skating has changed since then. We’re all attempting to understand the complicated judging system which has required an increase in the technical content of all original and free dance programs.
The Folk OD: A new season brings a new original dance rhythm. The OD rhythm for 2007-2008 is “Folk Country Dance”. The ISU’s definition of this rhythm is:
(excerpt from ISU Communication 1449 page 3) – “The arrangement of the chosen music should give a genuine feel for folk/country dance. It should be very distant from the feeling of the Grand Ballroom. Examples include: Village, Square, Street, Barn dance, Hoedown, Mazurka, Polka, Tarantella, Hula, Hora, Csardas, Kalinka, Gapak, Gipsy, Syrtaky, Scottish, Irish, Jig, Reel, Guajira, Cumbia, Jarabe, Fandango, Aborigines Dance, Chinese minorities dances, Lesginka, Country Waltz, Flamenco etc. Tango is not included in the above mentioned Folk /Country dances as it was the rhythm used in the previous season”.
By this definition, there is a broad scope for program music selections and we could see several original dance themes unveiled at Lake Placid. Props are allowed this season, but only if they are characteristic of the chosen music and they must remain attached to the costume. If the prop becomes detached, the Referee will make a proper costume deduction. The ISU lists hats, headbands and ribbon as examples of props.
Numbers: The number of participants in the junior event is higher than in 2006 with 34 teams registered to compete in the junior free dance event and slightly lower numbers for the compulsory and original dances. The other levels also have strong numbers in 2007.
CD’s: Since each dance event is stand-alone, it’s possible to register for the free dance, original dance and/or the compulsory dances without competing in either of the other two. The novice and junior compulsory dance events contain three rounds. Two dances are skated in the initial round and one in the final round. The scores from each dance are added together and medals are awarded to the top three in each group. The top eight teams with the highest scores overall (regardless of group) compete in the championship round. The scores are cleared and medals are awarded to the top three finishers in this round. The championship round dance is selected from one skated in a prior round. The senior level is similar, but while three dances are skated (two in the initial round and one in the final round), there is no championship round. The final score at the end of the two rounds determine the medal winners. Pre-juvenile, juvenile and intermediate each have initial and final rounds with medals awarded to the top three finishers in each group.
Solo: Once again, additional competitive opportunities are available for solo dancers with the Solo CD/OD event. The Solo CD/OD offers the dancer a chance to perform a choreographed folk-themed original dance in addition to the selected compulsory dances. This event consists of novice, junior and senior divisions with final placements for each level determined by the combined scores from both rounds of competition.
Postcards: Keep your cameras handy and be sure to submit your “Postcards from Placid” photos to us.
Due to time constraints at LPIDC in 2006, the event blog went on the back burner and we’re hoping that we can do a better job of bringing you tidbits of information throughout this year’s event. We’re hoping to have members of the ice-dance.com staff and volunteers contribute to this blog during the next week, so check back for more thoughts, comments and stories from beautiful Lake Placid.
Tuesday Thoughts (on Wednesday)
Tuesday’s practices were full of no-shows for novice and junior free dance and senior compulsories. Open Blues, however, was another story. There at least ten or more teams on the ice during the late night practice.
There have been several withdrawals from the junior event, including Hubbell & Hubbell and Samuelson & Bates.
We are very excited about the enthusiasm and commitment of our volunteers. Most checked in with us at the Tuesday check-in and we’re looking forward to the arrival of other volunteers later this week. Their assistance is greatly appreciated and it allows us to get a few hours of sleep each night and also increase the level of coverage we bring to you each year.
We’re conducting an informal photographer workshop this year. Michelle has brought various camera bodies and lenses for workshop participants to practice with. Most of the photographers who are working with us this week, will use this equipment. Two competitor volunteers, Elyse Matsumoto and Genna Deutch, practiced their photography skills tonight with Michelle serving as a mentor. I photographed several events last year and still have so much to learn and this event provides a great environment to learn in.
Volunteer Connie Sells stopped by with a gift of popcorn for us to snack on. She enjoyed some time working with one of the cameras.
Tuesday night’s photos are courtesy of Elyse, Connie and me. Enjoy!
More on Wednesday
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
By arriving at 11, we were able to view the junior free dance practice, which contained more of the competitors than the one last night. Junior looks to be even more competitive than last year. Elyse Matsumoto stopped by to shoot some of the practice. Junior is exciting because there are many returning teams with international experience, the top five from US Nationals at the novice level have moved up and there are several new teams with potential.
This year, LPIDC seems to have more entries from our neighbor to the north, Canada, than before. It was speculated that due to the elimination of the NACS event, LP gave the skaters an opportunity to get their programs in front of the judges prior to international or national qualification events. Since it’s early, it gives the coaches and choreographers ample time to make the necessary changes to a program and for the team to practice these revisions.
I’m doing little reporting this year as most of the events will be covered by various parents and spectators. My first event to photograph is novice free dance and I’m pretty excited to be using Michelle’s equipment. I have been practicing with my point-and-shoot camera during the summer and hope it will translate into better photography.
One of the teams to take the ice was Ariane Beaudry and Marcus Connolly. We nicknamed them “The Corpse Bride” and I believe their music was from the movie “Beetlejuice”. The costumes were extremely detailed and authentic to the theme of the program. I know that there are differing opinions on this, but I’m not sure any other costumes were discussed as much over the course of the week.
It was in novice free dance group a that I took a photo that is my best one ever. Nikki Yorgiadis and her partner Graham Hockley took the ice to perform their program set to a medley of 40’s music. At the beginning, Hockley leaps off the ice and my shot was at the height of his leap. I checked the viewer to see if I got the shot and actually stopped shooting their program temporarily because I was so excited.
For the US, only two teams that qualified for US Nationals in 2007 are returning to compete at the novice level – Megan Evans & Nathan Truesdell and Chloe Wolf & Rhys Ainsworth. Each finished third in their free dance groups here. Several intermediate teams, including 2007 US Junior National intermediate medalists Una Donegan & Andrew Korda, Kate McDermott & Colin McManus, and Lauren Ely & Travis Mager have made the jump to novice. There are also a few teams formed from partnerships that ended in January, including Anastasia Olson (11th with Patrick Mays) and Jordan Cowan (10th with Michaela Cook) who won Novice Free Dance Group A.
The Canadian’s also had several teams that moved up to junior which paved the way for Olivia Martins and Alvin Chau who won Novice Free Dance Group B. Martins and Chau have improved quite a bit from last season, which was their first together.
I go off in search of results and am paged via cell phone that we have Bazzi’s pizza for dinner delivered by a gracious volunteer 🙂
Senior compulsories are up next. Though the initial roster listed 16 teams, only 10 competed. The event marked the debut of Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles and Mauri Gustafson & Joel Dear’s new partnerships amongst several established and just-up-from-junior partnerships. Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno came all the way from British Columbia and it was a treat to see their improvement since last season. They should fit in well amongst the senior teams this year. Rachel Siegel competed with her coach, CG Lee, and the duo looked like they belonged amongst the senior teams even though this was a match for this event alone.
Yankee Polka was as entertaining as usual. The dance itself is fun to watch, but the costumes are even more enjoyable. While other competitors took a more traditional approach, Summersett & Gilles’ costumes were much more modern – neon and black – and definitely memorable.
We wrapped up day two by watching senior free dance practices while packing up equipment. Photo posting from today will probably keep us up a few more hours.
The Story of the Dragon
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Sparky on one of his many trips to the ice
Friday, August 3, 2007
Processing photos for web publishing can be a tedious process. Photos from each event are downloaded into a master event folder. Photos must then be separated into folders for each team. We then select a photo of each team that must in turn be edited (color balancing and correcting) and resized; then we add the photographer’s name.
Friday – Catch Up Day!
Saturday, August 4, 2007
I leave at 7:15 to head to Elizabethtown which is about 25 miles away, stopping only to get a Coke (my chosen caffeinated beverage). While I’m waiting for my car, I make use of my time by editing more of Thursday’s photos. Adirondack Auto delivered on the promise to have me on my way by 9AM.
I enter 1980 Arena at 9:45. Melanie has taken on photographing the first event of the day – Junior CD Group A. Michelle (Moody) is downloading, filing and pulling Mel’s best photos for editing. I continue to use the time for editing and check in with Michelle. She’s planning to arrive in time to shoot Senior OD.
The number of junior teams at this year’s event is larger than normal. Even with the withdrawal of three teams (Samuelson/Bates, Hubbell/Hubbell and Wingle/Devereaux – all to injury) the roster is still packed.
Dee Eggert takes over the camera for Junior CD Group B Viennese Waltz while I see an end in site for editing. My goal is to have everything caught up by the time Michelle arrives at 3:30. Diane stops by and drops off edited Novice CD photos. Terri Miller drops by to edit photos – Section 8/9 is a busy place. We’re not far from the judges area, but everyone in our group is adhering to keeping as quiet as possible so as not to disturb them. I give Terri the remainder of the novice photos from Thursday.
Michelle arrives and I take a break to watch Senior OD’s sans laptop. The Folk OD is definitely a perplexing choice and though the music selections could come from a broad array of choices, one can start to wonder if it’s TOO broad. The senior level teams start us off with a plethora of themes including Native American, Celtic and Gospel music.
The juniors take us on our next “Folk” journey as we are entertained by German, Hungarian, Turkish and Russian folk dances along with New Orlean’s blues and authentic dances from the Canadian Provindes; the list goes on.
We pack up while watching the adult practices and then head for Bazzi’s where we are entertained by the Rugby players who are in town for the annual tournament.
Saturday aka YAY! We made it!
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Saturday morning comes way too fast and although we’re running on adrenaline and fumes, it seems like it went by rather quickly. Our alarm did not go off so we’re running behind. A quick call to one of our amazing volunteers ensures that the coverage will not be interrupted.
First up is the Cha Cha Congelado – one of my favorites. I prefer the latin or fiery compulsory dances over waltzes as they are more fun to watch. This dance will determine who will compete in the compulsory dance championship round or “superfinals”.
My last events to shoot are the novice and junior superfinals. The Killian doesn’t provide the best photography options, but I’m able to get some nice shots. The Viennese Waltz offers more photo opportunities. Overall, I’m really pleased with the quality of my photographs this week. It’s an improvement from last year and that was my goal.
Mel departs for home. Her (and Michelle M.’s) help has been invaluable.
I take time during the juvenile free dance to check in with parents and athletes and return to section 9 for the final group of juvenile free dances. Some of the juvenile teams executed difficult lifts and choreography that rivaled some of the intermediates and novices.
Intermediate free dance was especially competitive with so many of the juvenile teams from last season (including the top 5 from US Junior Nationals) making the leap to intermediate. Each year, seeing growth and improvement in the teams is something we most look forward to.
The event ends and I head to Section 20 to photograph the awards ceremonies. Many of the podiums are missing at least one medallist. At the end, it’s announced that Barbara Kelly is celebrating her birthday. She is invited to give a bow to the appreciative audience.
We say goodbye to our volunteers and friends and pack up for the final time.
Epilogue’s & Thank You’s
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I hope you have enjoyed reading my account of our week in Lake Placid. We were quite busy – too busy to write the blog beyond the first few days – so with the use of our schedule and other notes, I was able to post a bit behind the scenes of our event coverage.
From day one, it was apparent that we could never have gotten through the week without our volunteers. Our group this year was INCREDIBLE and it was a concerted, collective effort that brought you the coverage this year – our best coverage of LPIDC to date.
Special thanks to our 2007 LPIDC volunteer staff:
Melanie Hoyt (also reporter)
Grace Lee Sells
Travis Mager (also photo editor)
Terri Miller (also reporter)
To our volunteers: I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone. We sincerely appreciated your efforts this week and hope you enjoyed working with us.
Thanks to Ann Greenthal and the organizers and staff of LPIDC for putting together another successful event.
If you’re interested in participating in our photography workshop next year let us know. Also, we’ll be looking for more photo editors to help us keep up with the massive amounts of photos. This year we posted over 700 pictures from the event!
Michelle’s Wrap-up Blog
For the fifth consecutive year, I was heading to Lake Placid, NY to cover the Ice Dance Championships. Once again, I was pulling double-duty, providing coverage to both U.S. Figure Skating and Ice-Dance.com. Every year, Daphne and I have tried to surpass IDC’s coverage, drawing upon prior year’s experiences to be more efficient. Last year, the competition was just a couple weeks after my car accident, so we were able to recruit some volunteers to help out. This go-around, complications from my head injury made me concerned I would not be able to do my best, but I wanted to try. I have been doing between 2-6 hours a day of various therapies, and this was the chance to see how much I improved from the last event I covered.
My doctor advised me to take it very easy for the days preceding the trip. That was the plan, but as we all know, sometimes plans don’t work out that way.
According to all the how-to websites and home improvement shows, fixing a kitchen faucet is extremely easy. What they all neglect to tell you is that after you turn off the water, you need to bleed the pipes. Not bleeding the pipes leads to a buildup of pressure. If a pipe connection elsewhere in the house is slightly weak—oh, say in the vanity under the bathroom sink—an explosion could occur that, if it were not August, could lead to a skating rink on the bathroom floor. A person could also experience a new waterfall cascading down into the kitchen. Said waterfall would make an interesting conversation piece and decorative element to the previously waterfall-less kitchen, but I would highly recommend reconsidering this design option. It is much more peaceful to pack for a trip to the Adirondacks and then look at the waterfalls on Route 73 on the drive in to Lake Placid.
Last year we had a few photographer volunteers who shot both the early morning events and the ones running in the 1932 rink concurrently with the ones I was shooting in the 1980 arena. This year, we expanded the volunteer opportunities and held an informal skating photography workshop. I wrote to my Canon rep and he sent me lots of nifty equipment to use for the week. Canon rules!
The drive to Lake Placid was wonderfully uneventful for me. For Daphne, not so much, as her car had major issues and she had to spend a few hours at a garage about half an hour away. We both arrived at nearly the same time, and once again called Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn our home for the week. Our room was way in the back on the first floor, the first time I had ever stayed in that part. As always, the room was spacious and comfortable. The first thing we did when we got in was boot up the laptops and see if the wireless internet was working. It was. Art’s rules, too!
As is tradition, the first stop was to Howard Johnson’s for a welcome meal and then off to Price Chopper for some groceries for the week. My favorite thing to do when I travel is go to the local supermarket, whether it’s in the U.S. or another country. I guess I’m pretty easily entertained. Daphne then hit the Gap outlet while I went back to the room to unpack.
On Tuesday, practices were on tap at the Olympic Center. We went over to meet up with the volunteers and to check out our workspace. Section 8-9 was our home once again, and fortunately this year the official videographer did not have the big hump of wires with an attractive yellow shell cover running across the concourse. It is definitely easier to transport all the camera and computer equipment without having to do the stop and lift thing.
Dee Eggert, the only returning photographer volunteer from ’06, stopped by to check in and used some of the Canon equipment to shoot practice. The high-end pro equipment has such a different rhythm from what most people are used to, so it definitely helps to practice your timing. The equipment is also really heavy, so physically working with the bulk takes some adjustment.
Pro cameras are fast. If they are set for multiple frames, it is very easy to press the shutter and wind up taking ten pictures in just a second. Fortunately, since this is digital, it means you can just delete the bad ones. However, when you are shooting a competition that doesn’t have a lot (or any!) of down time, you just download the pictures as fast as possible and move on to the next flight of skaters. Needless to say, the unedited photos take up a lot of room very quickly. A lot. Very. Quickly.
Over the years, we’ve come to know that one can never have too much hard drive space. I did not want to spend my nights burning DVDs instead of sleeping. This time things went much better, but we know we can improve even more in 2008. Here’s hoping that 1TB external hard drives come down in price over the next 51 weeks.
By the second day in the arena, I noticed a trend that amused me. When someone would stop by our section and look out onto the ice, many times they would say, “Oh, Canadians” in this rather disappointed way. It wasn’t that they had anything against our neighbors to the north. It seemed more like “yeah, they won’t be competing against me/my kid/our team at U.S. nationals, so I don’t have to pay as much attention.” After this had happened a hundred times or so, someone quipped, “Do you think at Thornhill they go, ‘Oh, Americans’?”
Over the next day and a half, everyone had checked in and the photographers had the chance to work with the pro equipment. Howard Mager, whose son Travis was a competitor (and volunteer) (and medallist), had his own Nikon pro equipment. He did check out the Canon 200/1.8 drool-worthy lens, though. Greatest lens ever!
Last year we had some of the skaters take off-ice photos to enhance the coverage. This year more had signed up, and we had some do action photos as well. Genna Deutch, who was competing solo dance, came over during her free time to shoot. Genna may not have a ton of photography experience, but she has an excellent eye and natural instincts that were incredibly impressive. Like with most of the workshop “students,” I would sit with them to review the photos and make suggestions on how to improve. Skaters are exceptional at stopping, getting feedback, and turning around to incorporate it. Genna rocked the photography over the week, and her photos continued to improve.
Elyse Matsumoto was another apprentice photographer. Her partner, Patrick Mays, has mono so they weren’t able to compete as a team. Elyse came to do some solo events and keep her season’s competitive rhythm going. Every day Elyse photographed was better than her previous. Molly Raymond didn’t have as much time to shoot because of her competition schedule with her brother, Nathan, but she came when she could and also got better each time she picked up the camera.
When Connie Sells, one of our assistants, asked if she could try shooting, I handed her some gear and she went to work. Her daughter, Grace, who competed in novice with partner Robert Cuthberson, came over and was laughing at her mother. I challenged her to do better and gave her duplicate equipment. I think I created a monster.
Two volunteers, Katie Weigel and Melanie Hoyt, were the last to arrive. Melanie’s friend Michelle was recruited into helping, too. Mel and Katie were amazing photographers! Mel’s progress was wonderful, and by the end of the week we were submitting her photos to U.S. Figure Skating. Katie had more experience with higher-end camera equipment, so I wasn’t surprised when she was generating top-notch photos. I remember saying to Daphne that Katie was giving me a complex because she was better than me.
One of the volunteer tasks was pulling the best photos to be published on USFigureSkating.org and ice-dance.com. While that sounds like an easy job, it does take a bit of practice. What makes a good photo? That depends on the target audience. The first rule: two faces, no crotches. Easier said than done in ice dance! If the costumes are moving, even better. Let’s be honest: what most people are looking at in photos at this stage of the season is what the outfits look like.
US Figure Skating runs the photos at 300 dpi and ice-dance.com at 450 dpi. The size difference is another consideration in choosing the photos. At 300 dpi, it helps to have a more compact photo that isn’t a lot of white space. At 450, you have more room to showcase arms and legs. Not that this is set in stone, but it is a guideline. A four arms/four legs photo on USFS can make the skaters’ head very tiny, and nobody wants to look like a pinhead.
In the middle of a very busy morning, with questions coming at me from literally all directions, my phone rings. It’s my sister, Monica. She just bought a very nice point and shoot digital camera and is still learning how to capture the best images. Her question: what settings should she use for very, very, very bright outdoor photos. I asked her where she was. Her reply?
Hmm. Not going to ask.
I give her some suggestions and she hangs up. I later find out she was working on our family tree. Ah, that makes more sense. I guess.
The pace of the event was beginning to take its toll on me. Mel needed help getting the 200/1.8 lens on correctly. I got up to take care of it and managed to send the camera body flying. It hit the cement floor, so I did what any reasonable person would do when they drop a $4,000 borrowed camera.
I started crying.
I managed to get the lens and body ready for Mel and then found myself a dark corner of the arena to have a bit of a meltdown. Daphne came to find me and offered me what helps the most in a situation like that: a chocolate chip cookie. A soft, bendy chocolate chip cookie. Yum.
When Howard Mager stopped by later, I showed him the camera and the part that had fallen out. He said it was just he focus screen, and much to my incredible relief, popped it back in. We used that camera body the rest of the week and it worked perfectly. Howard rocks!
Because I knew that Daphne, Katie and Mel could handle things on their own, I skipped the much of the next day and stayed in bed. My goal was to make it over to the arena for the original dances. I wanted to see the folk/country interpretations. I shot the senior OD from the top of the concourse, while Genna took the lower position. It was a huge help to me, because I was able to get a few “safety” shots of every team (AKA their opening pose) and concentrate on those I thought might medal. I knew Genna had my back. Katie then took all the junior ODs, moving up to the balcony for a change of pace. Howard came over to try some super slow shutter speed photos and see what kind of artistic images he could get. It was a good evening.
The ODs themselves were quite entertaining. I really enjoyed the teams who tried to choose music that they had a personal connection to, rather than 114 Kalinkas and gypsy dances. I’m not sure which tribe Charlotte Maxwell is from, but she looked stunning in her Native American dance with partner Nick Traxler. They were one of the highlights of the event for me. In the junior OD, Canadians Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill skated a dynamic dance to African music. My other favorites were Maia and Alex Shibutani’s Japanese dance, soft, fluid and gentle; and Rachael Richardson and Brad Coulter’s Peruvian bright and energetic scarf dance. They even had props, appropriately attach to their costumes, of course. Kaylyn Patitucci and Karl Edelmann went Bavarian and went BIG. If you are going to dress like they did, you can’t hold back at all.
One of the best parts about the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships is seeing programs in their early stage and anticipating how they will develop over the course of the season. New seniors Clare Farrell and Chase Fishpaw have two programs that really caught my eye. Pilar Bosley and John Corona had a very rough go of things in their free dance with two falls, but their “Still Loving You”program by The Scorpions is probably one of my favorite free dances ever. They did it well in practice, so I was better able to see its potential. It’s dramatic and exciting, moody and sexy. New team Jane Summersett and Todd Gilles look like they’ve been skating together for years rather than months, and from their wins in each dance they entered, the judges seemed as impressed as I was.
My award for the most interesting costume goes to Canadian novices Ariane Beaudry and Marcus Connolly. They skated a Corpse Bride free dance, complete with her in a veil and a painted skeleton across her body. And of course you can’t forget the bloody slashes at their waists.
And speaking of novices, if you’ve looked at the photos of the top four on USFigureSkating.org, you may notice that novice compulsory super final action shots have a posed medal shot of Megan Evans and Nathan Truesdell. My job for that event was to assist Daphne by downloading her photos to the appropriate folder and pulling the best ones. I think this is the only time it happened all week, but I messed up and gave her the memory card back without downloading it. We didn’t realize this until it was too late. I felt horrible, especially after Nathan swung by and wanted to see how they looked.
My other apology would be to Rachel Richardson and Brad Coulter. They drew to skate first in the Cha Cha Congelado. I was late getting to the arena and missed their performance.
(Sorry, Rachel and Brad!)
We had a few visitors over to section 8-9. Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and Attila Elek stopped by to say hi. They are training in Lake Placid with coach Natalia Dubova. I asked why they didn’t compete at this event and was informed they had only been officially together and practicing two weeks, so they were certainly not ready with their programs. Loren was telling me how much I would love photographing Israel. She had lived there for about nine months recently and said the country is a photographer’s dream.
Madison and Keiffer Hubbell also made a visit. I was very disappointed that both them and Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates had to pull out due to injury. Madison and Keiffer made the trip anyway, since they had meetings to attend. Keiffer also worked extensively with the physical therapists at the Olympic Training Center. Madison wanted to make it clear that she did NOT break her brother. He admitted that blades do not actually go perpendicular to themselves, and if you try to make it happen, your hip makes a very rude acquaintance with very hard ice. Oldest Hubbell sibling, Zachary, is interested in photography, so I handed him some equipment and he was able to shoot some of the intermediate free dance. I think I made another Canon convert.
I know I’ve left out a ton of things, but I have to stop at some point. It was a challenging week for me, but I’m glad I tried my best. It may not have been the results I wanted, but it was definitely a learning experience.
And isn’t that what the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships are about?