LPIDC – Attendance Never In Doubt

Monday, July 28, 2008 

It’s been a year since my first trip to the picturesque town of Lake Placid. As someone who is moderately obsessed with the Olympics, Lake Placid was a town I’d always wanted to see, but its remote location had made it difficult. So last year, when I saw the chance to volunteer with ice-dance.com at the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships, I jumped at the chance.

I remember driving — alone — along Main Street, looking for my hotel. After finding it and parking my car, I trotted down the giant hill (I was staying at the Crowne Plaza) and entered the busy arena. It was already Friday morning, and the junior free dances were about to begin.

I felt like a tourist in Times Square. Everyone around me was rushing to get to their next event, but I wandered through the Olympic Center, looking up at all of the memorabilia on the walls. Blinking back tears once I realized that I was about to enter the “Miracle on Ice” arena, I opened the door and headed for section 8 to meet Daphne and Michelle.

Last year’s LPIDC made a huge impact on my life. The things I learned from working with the IDC team increased my confidence in both my photography and my writing. After using the professional camera equipment from Canon that Michelle had, I went home and bought a digital SLR camera a week later, so that I could keep improving all year. When Daphne offered me the opportunity to cover a few events for IDC in the future, I went to seven events last season. And when Michelle informed me that I’d never miss LPIDC again, I kind of brushed her off, saying that I was planning to move in summer 2008, so I wasn’t sure I’d make it back again.

I did move this summer, but my attendance at Lake Placid was always a priority. Over the course of the past year, I’ve become more and more involved with IDC and the chance to be one of the team again was one that I couldn’t miss. Despite emailing multiple times a day with Michelle and Daphne, I haven’t seen them in a year. Because Katie was in Chicago and I was in Michigan, we did a couple of events together, but it’s still been too long since I’ve seen her, too. And of course — how can I resist the chance to see new programs, identify music, and critique the costumes of the majority of the dance teams on the continent?

Now that I think about it, I don’t think my attendance at this year’s Lake Placid was ever in question. I guess Michelle was right again.

~ Mel

Where are Daphne’s Shoes?

Monday, July 28, 2008

I just got off the phone with Katie. She’s in Chicago and waiting to board her flight to Newark. Not surprisingly, her flight out of Iowa was delayed. (This is the story of Katie’s summer.) As of now, though, she’s scheduled to arrive EARLY into Newark, which means I need to step up my packing and get the car loaded.

I packed so much clothing. I’m prepared for 20 degrees or 80 degrees and everything in between. Of course, one of two things will happen: 1) I will still not have the right clothes or 2) I will wear only 10% of what I brought. But that’s the beauty of driving instead of flying. No weight limit on my luggage. Plus we have a lower floor room at Art Devlin’s, so it’ll be easy to unload.

Mel just sent her first blog entry, so I had to do one, too, so I wouldn’t be a blog slacker. Will send these off to Daphne, who is en route as I type. Minus her favorite shoes, but it’s OK. Going into work while on your way to Lake Placid could be very, very dangerous. I think it’s a risk best to be avoided.

OK, time to finish packing the non-clothes items plus all the photography equipment. Whee! (Yeah, I didn’t really mean “whee!” in a happy sense. I hate packing.)

~ Michelle

Ode to Jim Halpert

Monday, July 28, 2008

My one hope coming to Lake Placid this year was that I would have no flight delays and good weather during my trip from the Midwest. The ice-dance.com crew in Placid has heard about my recent travel problems, so for those reading this blog, I’ll give you the abridged version. A week ago, I traveled to Negril, Jamaica for my best friend’s wedding. The trip from the U.S. to Jamaica was supposed to take approximately seven hours. After several delays, cancelled flights, and a few bus breakdowns, I arrived in Jamaica after traveling for a total of 20 hours. This is why I wanted a smooth trip to Lake Placid. I figured I was due a good flight or two. And as Daphne put it, my problems flying to Jamaica meant that I’ve “covered” the ice-dance.com staff for the next few events in terms of travel delays. I did have a few delays on my two flights today, but the weather was nice and I made it into Newark only a few minutes behind schedule. Michelle promptly picked me up at the airport, and it is great to say that we just arrived in Lake Placid safe and sound!

katiejimUpon arriving, I received two amazing gifts from Daphne. To preface, I’m kind of a fan of the U.S. version of “The Office.” And by “kind of” I mean I don’t watch any other show on TV and I have been known to reference “The Office” a little more often than what is probably considered normal. The first gift was a laptop cover that has a picture of Jim Halpert (the loveable salesman who is in love with the receptionist and hates his job). The picture is accompanied by a famous quote from the show, “If this were my career, I’d have to throw myself in front of a train.” Thankfully, this is NOT how I feel about my career as a photographer and journalist. And since Daphne knows how much I love being in Lake Placid and covering this competition, she brought with her the first season of the U.K. version of “The Office.” She must think I can refrain myself from watching them while I should be shooting/writing/editing. I hope she is right?

Michelle, Daphne, and I are off to get some dinner at one of our favorite places in Lake Placid, Howard Johnson’s!

~ Katie

Back from HoJo’s

Monday, July 28, 2008

hojosBack from HoJo’s. The three of us have started setting up the ice-dance.com home base in our usual room at the hotel. It’s amazing how we managed to be in the same room as last year. This is one of my favorite parts of the whole week – relaxing with Michelle and Daphne (and Mel when she gets here tomorrow). Now that this is my second year covering the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships with ice-dance.com, I feel like I know my way around. I can’t believe it was only a year ago that I started working with Daphne, Michelle, and Mel. This is the best event of the year and working with these three talented women makes it even more special.

It would be impossible to go any further without saying that the thing I’m looking forward to the most is the skating. New teams, new programs, new season. I’m particularly excited to see the junior events, which I think is the toughest level of competition for ice dancing in the U.S. I’m excited to see every level of competition, but with an incredibly high number of junior teams participating this year, the competition seems that much more exciting.

Don’t miss the photos accompanying this blog, I promise they are good!

~ Katie

The Mean Test of Cyberland

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It’s a sad, sad night in Lake Placid. First, Bazzi’s won’t answer their phone, so we had no pizza for dinner. Having not even had lunch, this made me more than a bit cranky.

So the five of us (Daphne, Katie, Mel, Mel’s friend Michele, and I) are in our room, working diligently (and rather silently) on stuff we need to get caught up with before tomorrow begins and we fall farther behind.

Unforunately, Art’s wirless internet is down. I called the front desk and the message said they were closed, and for emergency, call the police. Somehow I don’t think LPPD be too receptive of us calling because the router needs to be rebooted. So we can’t upload all the stuff we’ve ben working on for the past 12 hours.

Oh! I just checked and got online!

Oh. Nope. False alarm. Cache or just a mean test of cyberland.

Well, while I can’t get online, I guess I should catch up on some of today’s hapennings.

It started with a photoshoot Katie and I did with Jennifer Start and David Lenz. They were so great to work with, willing to try anything, and I think everyone was happy.

Not too long after, Katie and I went to Elyse Matusmoto and Patrick Mays. They were awesome, too, and we got some really good shots. Elyse was telling me about the blog she was working on that talked about her sleeping in the car. Somehow I took that as Elyse spending the night in her family’s car, rather than in her own bed. Fortunately, no. I had misunderstood.

I must mention here that Mel, who shot parts of junior FD, missed Elyse & Patrick’s runthrough because she was getting some helpful tips from Howard Mager. So many apologies to them!

Oh! I just got online again. Quickly posted Elyse & Travis’ blogs. Now back to my own. We recruited Piper Gilles and Zach Donhue for IDC’s first video blog. They were great sports about it. Mel did the interview, but once the camera stopped rolling, I asked the questions you all want to know. Unfortunately, the interview was not on the record. Even though Piper is a fairly tiny thing, she could hurt me.

Katie and Daphne took the late evening shoot with Clare Farrell and Chase Fishpaw. Some of the photos made me laugh out loud or coo with approval. It was a stunning body of work.

Meanwhile in 1980, I led a mini intensive Photoshop seminar, teaching some newbie editors the finer points of resizing and re-color balancing the images.

I keep falling asleep while I’m writing this, so I think I’ll sign off for now. Have a 9 a.m. shoot tomorrow, so it’s time for my nap. I’ll try to remember more things to talk about tomorrow.

Photoshoot Fun

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here we are back at the hotel and it is pushing 12:30 am. I’ve come to expect this during LPIDC, so I’m not complaining this year. It is all part of the fun journey that is the week of LPIDC. Today was full of new experiences for me. I did three team photo sessions, the first two with Michelle’s awesome guidance and the last with Daphne’s great suggestions for poses (who knew her ardent following of America’s Next Top Model would pay off in the end?). The first session with Jennifer Stuart & David Lenz went a little longer than expected, but I was glad for the extra time to watch Michelle work and to learn what camera settings work the best.

The next shoot took Michelle and I out of the Olympic Center and over to the condo of Elyse Matsumoto & Patrick Mays. Such a photogenic team! By this point I felt more comfortable with the photo sessions, so Michelle let me take all of the photos while she used her new reflector and directed Elyse and Patrick.

As you can see by the photo on the right, our third photo session with Clare Farrell & Chase Fishpaw was a blast! They were great sports, letting Daphne and I suggest a variety of poses.

I suppose I should mention a few things about the actual skating. I missed the senior compulsories and novice free dance, so the only events I caught were the junior and senior free dances. Of the skating I did see, I can say that Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier already have a great FD. Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles have a great lift in their free dance, involving about four position changes. At one point I believe Jane is almost doing a handstand on Todd’s thighs! If that doesn’t get a level four, then I don’t know what will.

It must be around 1:00 am by now, so I think it is time to sign off. I’m going to get Michelle back regarding that photo. Someday.

~ Katie

Why I Didn’t Watch the Paso: A Mini-Essay

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I only saw the first group of the Senior Paso Doble last night. When the first group finished, Katie handed me her memory card so I could start going through her photos of it, but at the same time, Susan Enright & Michael Bramante stopped by to do a video blog. I set the card and my laptop down, and I jumped up to interview them while Michele shot the video.

When I sat back down as the second group was beginning, the memory card was nowhere to be found.

As I started to panic and look for the card, my left foot began cramping. It wasn’t that bad, so I tried to stretch my foot while I looked through the contents of a few cards that were near my seat. Still no Paso. Between teams, I asked Michelle, “Hey…did you, um…end up with a memory card with Katie’s Paso shots…by any chance…maybe?” Yeah, no.

Just as the last team in group two stopped skating, a magical beam of light hit a memory card under the seats in the row in front of me. Choirs of angels sang. And the pain in my foot became unbearable.

I started downloading the photos, but my foot was killing me. I tried to stand up, but I could hardly walk. Daphne told me to lay on my back with my feet against the wall. She swore it would help. After a full group, it helped my left foot, but by “helped,” I mean that it transferred the cramp to my right foot. It wasn’t until the last team was skating that I could finally stand again.

Of course, about halfway through my time on the grimy arena floor, I realized that all of this was quite hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing. I heard Daphne call over, “Is she laughing or crying?” which only made me laugh harder.

So I can’t tell you who rocked their Paso, but I can tell you that if you have a Charley horse in your foot, putting your feet on the wall at about a 45 degree angle eventually gets rid of it.

~ Mel

The Power of Technology

jordanremoteThursday, July 31, 2008

Sitting next to me in the 1980 Arena is Jocelyn Cowan, mom to Jordan Cowan, who is a novice ice dancer. Jordan has helped his mom in the past with her computer questions. 
All of a sudden, Jocelyn states that Jordan has remotely taken control of her laptop in an attempt to help her with her photoshopping assignment. Wow. Technology is endless in it’s capabilities. She promptly calls him and lets him know that she has her editing under control.

~ Daphne

How to Lock Doors

Thursday, July 31, 2008

After another night of limited sleep, I left my room this morning to get breakfast in Daphne and Michelle’s room. I opened the door, and saw the key to our room in the lock. I turned to Mel and said, “That was smart.” Apparently, my other roommates (who, for the sake of their pride, I shall not name) forgot to take the key out of the door last night after coming home. I then realized that the door down the hall, which goes right outside, was propped open. It had probably been open all night. So, if anyone wanted to, they could have come right into the hotel and then turned the key and entered our room. Just a little scary. Thankfully, this is Lake Placid and not New York City. And that is my scary/funny story of the day.

We are sitting in the ’80 rink pulling and editing photos while we are waiting for the Novice CD’s to end. This is the earliest we’ve been done all week but there is still so much to do. Thankfully, Michelle and Daphne came up with this handy chart that we finally put into use today. I was in full nerd-mode plugging in who photographed what and where all the photos are, etc….

And now Mel just showed me the new weird version of Facebook. I think I need to check that out before I get back to editing.

~ Katie

The Suspense of Fifth Place

Friday, August 1, 2008

Last year, I remember the announcement at the end of each competition. Shortly after the last skater finished, the announcer would read the unofficial rankings — all of them — from first to last. This year, however, the announcer only reads the top four, from fourth to first. It’s usually half an hour or more before the results are posted on the wall and the rest of the teams know how they finished.

There’s quite a bit of suspense associated with which team came fifth, almost making the top four announcement. For some teams, fifth is a disappointment, but for many others, fifth is a fabulous achievement.

Between Group A and B of the junior free dance yesterday, Katie and I went on a quick caffeine run to the little cafeteria in the arena. We were waiting to pay for our drinks when someone ran in, exclaiming, “They were fifth! Nikki & Graham were fifth!”

The families of Nikki Yorgiadis & Graham Hockley were sitting at some of the tables in the cafe, and they must have sent one person out to check the results wall. Katie and I let out an “awww” in unison and watched as they all jumped up and hugged and wiped away tears.

The best thing about big competitions like this is that there are all kinds of achievements to celebrate. With their fifth-place ranking in Junior FD A, Nikki & Graham have sent a message to Skate Canada that they’re ready to compete internationally. If they continue skating well here, they should be on the list to receive a JGP assignment.

In other news, Daphne and I are troopers — we took the 8am compulsory shift this morning. She’s shooting Jr CD A, while I’m editing the last batch of novice compulsory photos from last night. Casey McManus, Colin’s younger sister, is helping us with downloading and organizing Daphne’s photos from this event. The rest of the crew should be over soon, and the crazy events of another day begin. Thankfully, this is the last day where we have simultaneous events in two rinks!

~ Mel

Catching Up

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Yesterday (Friday) was such a busy day that no one has blogged since the last time I checked in! We had a few more scares with losing some photos, but in true IDC fashion, we made it work in the end. Friday also meant that Michele (with one L) left, so we were down one fantastic editor/puller/runner/awesome person. In addition, the day was packed with “big” events – junior and senior original dances, a ton of junior compulsories, the novice compulsory final, and I don’t know what else. I think we’re finally almost caught up from yesterday as far as photos go, but the reports are going to take a day or two.

Today is a day full of photoshoots, and the lighting is just perfect. I’ve already done two this morning, and the sky is filled with white cloud. Michelle called it a giant lightbox in the sky. As long as the clouds don’t turn to rain, we’re all set. I just downed a grande triple nonfat no whip peppermint mocha, and I feel like a new person.

Oh, and Daphne and Katie went shopping and came back with matching sweatshirts for all of us. IDC uniforms! We’re not dorks, or anything.

The seniors are skating their last compulsory now (the Viennese Waltz), and then the novices and juniors have their superfinals. The day closes with intermediate and juvenile free dances, which are always a lot of fun. And I think the official count is something like three photoshoots done, five to go.

~ Mel

Wrap-up Blog

Monday, August 4, 2008

#6 has come and gone. Now is the time for catching up on the last of the blogs and articles, looking through photos and double-checking captions.

The tricky part is that post-event blah that comes over you once your car reaches Rt. 87.

For a year we plan and work on ways to make IDC’s coverage better and more thorough for our visitors, while simultaneously making it easier for us to implement. This year we tested some video blogs. Those were pretty much Mel’s baby, and you could tell they got better as the week went on and we learned more about what settings work best. Of course in trying to keep that spontaneity feeling and casual tone, the best intentions are frequently interrupted by a blast of music for the next practice session. A soundproof booth with state of the art lighting is not in IDC’s budget. By Saturday night we did figure out that the door behind section 8 goes to a fairly quiet section of the parking lot. Live and learn and improve for 2009.

Another new venture for IDC was the opportunities for teams to sign up for off-ice photoshoots. This is definitely something we need to reexamine for next year. I love doing photoshoots, and I had a great time working with Katie and Mel on improving their skills and making them more comfortable with this type of photography. Things got a little hairy on Saturday, though, when teams who had to reschedule for various reasons (like getting monitored) were no longer being photographed early in the week before the competition got going. Part of the photoshoot package included retouching, but I am the only one who does that. The backlog of teams waiting for their CDs of photos got long and intimidating, and by 2 a.m. I realized that I could not make miracles happen and some people would not be leaving Lake Placid with their photos in hand. For that, I am truly sorry. Next year–if we do the shoots–things will need to be handled differently.

Thanks to excellent schedule planning, IDC actually managed to stay very close to our intended assignments up until Saturday. I think that’s the best we’ve ever done in that department! We kind of had to make some last minute “Make It Work!” changes. Mel and Katie ran back-to-back-to-back off-ice shoots throughout the day. The weather was not cooperative at times, so that posed a constant challenge of finding a setting that would not make the skaters look like drowned rats. I was Photoshopping as quickly as I could without jeopardizing quality. Daphne is taking the action shots. We were down some photo editors, so I went to hunt down Jocelyn Cowan and begged her to abandon her child in order to save IDC’s sanity. Because Jocelyn is a goddess, sanity was preserved!

One of the best parts about Placid is getting to catch up with everyone as well as meeting new people. I had the pleasure of meeting the CroPoMos, a.k.a. Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier’s mothers. I wish I could have talked longer, but I had to get back to Photoshopping and I was due to take action shots. IDC was very, very, very lucky that Ashley Deavers was in our area, because I recruited him to shoot Open Paso and juvenile free dance. It was such a huge relief for me to hand him the good camera equipment and let him do his thing. Ashley is a professional photographer who shoots Canon, so the planets were definitely aligned for me.

Throughout the week I kept thinking “I can’t believe I used to do this all myself.” Granted, IDC didn’t have nearly the coverage we try to do now, and the delay in getting everything uploaded was much greater. Now most of the action photos are up by the end of the night the event was competed. Reviews take much longer, as the volunteers who write them sometimes take a couple of days before they hand them in.

Some people asked why it takes so long to get photos online. That’s one of those “you kind of have to be there to understand” things, but I can try to explain.

We have at least one photographer shooting each event. Since LPIDC is also a learning experience, a “student” photographer frequently shoots, too. We try to run photos from both photographers, but if the newbie has problems, we know our experienced photographer has us covered.

After x amount of skaters have gone, the memory cards are downloaded. This is so much faster than it used to be, but it still takes time. Then the photos must be sorted by team and put into folders. If we are lucky enough to have an assistant work with the photographer, downloads are done after each team, and the assistant can look through the photos and pull some of the best ones.

Pulling photos is kind of an abstract art. IDC has standards it tries to uphold and qualities it tries to showcase. The general rule is “two faces, no crotches.” As any ice dance fan knows, this is easier said than done. Compulsory dances are extra difficult, and waltzes can be just plain evil for showing two faces at once. We also try to never “upskirt” anyone, meaning that a fluttering skirt is great, but showing the panty part of the dress is not cool. While in theory these rules shouldn’t be hard to follow, the truly challenging part is finding that perfect photo within the 100 that were just shot of the team. Oh, and the skaters should have their eyes open and hair out of their faces. And it would be great if you can find a photo that really shows off the character of the dance. And it has to be a sharp, well-focused picture, too. Would this be a photo you would want the skater’s grandmother to see? No wedgies, no wardrobe malfunctions.

The first few teams are usually fairly easy to pull photos for. Our unscientific study this past week showed that the more tired a person is, the more difficult it is to make decisions. After 10 hours of pulling photos, the mind does not want to find that perfect, literally 1-in-100 photo. If a photo is a great action shot, but doesn’t meet the criteria, we have a mini-quorum to confirm that the photo is OK to upload. We go through this selection process for each team for each event. It’s time-consuming and draining, but IDC prides itself on publishing photos that are flattering.

At the beginning of the week, we are usually running on a good 6-7 hours of sleep. As the week progresses, those hour drop, sometimes down to as little as 3, the length of a good nap. Everyone is drained and slower. This isn’t a complaint, but rather an attempt at an explanation of the pattern of the week.

This year, I felt like I didn’t actually get to see a lot of the skating. I did more teaching that shooting, and I did more editing than either of those. In no particular order (and with no claim to being all-inclusive) here are some of my random impressions of the week:

Piper Gilles & Zach Donohue’s original dance was probably the most exciting OD I ever remember seeing at Lake Placid. It blew me away with the speed and complexity, and seeing the throw in the middle as part of the optional, unscored move was very cool. Christopher Dean outdid himself with the choreography. This year’s OD theme was really embraced by the skaters and made for an overall energetic and entertaining day of dances.

We had an entire flight of Starlight Waltzes (junior B) where not one dress was white. I was swooning. Mel, who shot that event, was practically giddy with excitement. As you know if you’ve read my blogs, nothing makes me more annoyed that skaters who wear white on the ice. It looks horrible, plain and simple. From a photo standpoint, it’s hard to work with. Major kudos to junior B and their excellent use of COLOR!

I think Mombo was derelict in her hottie identification blog when she left out Karl Edelmann. Some guys can work the highlights, and Karl’s transformation was totally working for him.

Even though they didn’t compete here, it was great to see Jennifer Wester & Daniil Barantsev and Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates. Jenn and Daniil faced a snafu regarding their monitoring competition, but they’ll be competing again this summer before their fall events. Emily and Evan were literally on the run when I saw them, as they were doing laps around the 1980 arena as warm up before their on-ice monitoring. Evan’s hair is really short and he looks so much older than he did at junior worlds. Emily got a haircut that’s super-flattering, and many sparkly highlights in copper and gold tones. She looked gorgeous!

I love that Madison & Keiffer Hubbell have a look like no other team. Two tall, powerful skaters. Madison rocking the short haircut (so rare in ice dance!). And free dance costumes in browns and moss that photograph like a dream.

I know I had a ton of things over the week that I wanted to write about, but I need to catch up on sleep before I get sick and wind up sleeping through the Opening Ceremonies. Working and rooming with Daphne, Katie, and Mel, I laughed more this past week than I’ve done in the two years since my accident. I’d forgotten how good that felt. Thank you for letting us be a part of your summer, and thank you to everyone who made it such a great week for me.

Even the best laid plans…

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hmmmmm blogging. Though I did better than in previous years, I must admit that the group had me beat with the number of posts. I guess the 1980 Arena has an aura that mysteriously makes me forget most things beyond schedules, photography and the process of making our content available. Lake Placid is one of two opportunities each year that I’m able to check in with everyone; the other is Nationals. The difference between the two is that although LPIDC is used to determine international assignments, it still does not appear to bring about the same level of stress and nervousness that is apparent at the U.S. Championships.

This year, our week in Lake Placid ended the same as it began – with a meal (brunch) at HoJo’s. It was a final hurrah of the event for Mel, Michelle, Katie and me before we headed home. Last year, Katie and Mel volunteered to help with our LP coverage, not knowing what they were getting themselves into. In just the past year, they’ve become an integral part of IDC and its coverage. With the inclusion of them, our coverage of events tripled. They’re an important part of the IDC team now, and it’s been incredible to watch them develop their writing and photography skills.

At some point in the week, we realized that Tim Gunn’s birthday was during LP. Tim Gunn’s “Make It Work” slogan has become our motto as well, so it’s only fitting that we give a shout-out to him – Happy Birthday Tim!

To say that we got very little sleep is an understatement. Other than Monday night, we were up until at least 2 a.m. editing photos or planning our attack of the next day’s events. By the end of the week, we were all running on adrenaline, but of course even adrenaline runs out at some point. The final moments of our time at the Olympic Center were spent having Vicki McKernan take a photo of us in the bobsled in the hallway between the ’80 and the ’32 rinks. Of course we were sporting our new pink LP hoodies!

Once we returned to the Art’s we were able to catch up with Mombo #9 for a bit, order dinner (thanks for picking it up, Dee!) and make sure Howard Mager had copies of everything he shot for the week. While Michelle was busy editing photos from the off-ice shoots, Mel, Katie, and I were editing and posting the final action photos of the event.

Things are definitely funnier as it gets later and later in the evening. Time also goes faster when you’re spending time with people whose company you enjoy. I think this year’s event was my favorite of all LPIDCs. Even though I was completely exhausted, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard or as long as I did this week between the hours of 12-2 a.m. THANKS! Katie, Mel & Michelle.

The event itself was spectacular in many instances. I’ve seen so many of the athletes come up through the ranks from juvenile to junior or even senior. Whether or not they are still with the same partners as when they started, it doesn’t make the enjoyment of the skating any less.

The “off season” seemed to bring forth even more than the normal musical partner exchange. Piper Gilles & Zach Donohue teamed up in May and had a strong debut at Lake Placid. Their original dance has tons of potential and is so FAST! Colin McManus stepped up to junior with his new partner, Anastasia Cannuscio. Their OD performance landed them in third place for their group–which delighted both them and their families. Speaking of stepping up to junior, both Chloe Wolf & Rhys Ainsworth and Elyse Matsumoto & Patrick Mays fit in with the junior teams well.

Shannon Wingle & Tim Mckernan – has any team in the history of LPIDC been together for only three weeks and competed CD, OD, FD at this event? Their free dance is set to music from Alfred Hitchock’s “Vertigo” and “Psycho”. Another team that I will not name and though not competing everything, did skate in several events just a few weeks after one partner had a non-invasive heart surgical procedure. GUTS!

It’s always a treat to see Carol Lane, Jon Lane & Juris Razgulajev’s teams at LP. They debuted the creative programs as we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Nikki Yorgiadis and Graham Hockley improved significantly from last season and had strong skates in LP. I particularly enjoyed their “Zorba the Greek” free dance. (I once again captured a ‘leaping photo’ thanks to them letting me know it would be coming.) Graham’s brother, Jordan, and his partner Kelly Oliveira had an entertaining free dance to music from “Zelda.” It’s never generic with the Scarboro teams. The Lanes and Razgulajev also coach the senior team of Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier who finished no lower than second in their events. Crone & Poirier seemed to be walking through a park together for their free dance and their OD reminded me of “The Sting”.

I unfortunately missed the first two groups of junior free dance A including Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello and Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill due to a revised schedule, but heard great reviews from those who were present.

The Hubbells, who were intermediate when I first saw them in 2003, skated with power and confidence. Remnants of Keiffer’s injury are not apparent when watching their performances.

You may have heard me say prior to LP being over last year, that I was “folked-out” by the for the folk OD’s and Yankee Polka from last season and my disdain for it being selected for 2009/2010. I can happily say that I love this year’s OD theme and the programs it produced. Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring get my award for best use of a prop (hat). I chose to watch the senior ODs from opposite the judges’ side, which meant I did not really see the expression as intended.

Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles’ free dance contains an innovative acrobatic lift that no commentary could give justice to. They continue to work on their style which is not reminiscent of either of the skaters’ former partnerships. MaxTrax and Logan & Lynn also put out solid programs. LP marked the first time that I saw the new pairing of Andrea Chong and Giulliame Gfeller which I think is a great match.

I really could spend hours or days talking about programs and impressions… but it’s best to press on to finish this blog.

The intermediate dancers have the pleasure of closing out the event. Elena Novak and Alexei Kiliakov’s teams took the top two spots on the podium (Pham/Pham and McNamara/Carpenter). The teams in the Novak/Kiliakov group warmed up behind us prior to the free dance (and their other events). One team in particular, we heard jingle as they ran by giving us an indication that we were in for a treat with their program. In watching the performances of the skaters at the juvenile and intermediate levels, you realize that you’re watching the future of North American ice dancing. It brings on nostalgia from past LP’s.

Every year, I look back at photos from past LPIDC’s. Of all the teams who have competed at every LPIDC we have covered (since 2003), only Seagers & Taylor and Wolf & Ainsworth are still in their original partnerships. Others have moved on or missed an event or two due to injury or illness.

On our final night, I realize that I’ve gotten used to Mel’s humming of the Blues CD music. Several text messages later, it’s decided that she and Katie will skate in the Open Blues event next year, with Michelle as their coach. I, of course, will be photographing the event. Fun times! At this point, it’s becoming clear that it’s impossible to think of covering this event again without Michelle, Katie and Mel working with me. With a little luck, we’ll all be here next year, but if schedule’s don’t allow it you can rest assured that we’ll find away for those not present to be involved – even from a remote location! I think we have Michele Moody convinced to stay for the whole week next year – as long as no one she knows plans a wedding for that weekend.

While venturing out around the arena, I was happy to see so many people had printed IDC’s combined practice/competition schedule out. Tammi did such a fabulous job on it 🙂 and I was happy to tell her so many were utilizing it. Howard experimented again with his slow shutter speed photography and some costumes made for amazing photographs. Feedback from some of our new volunteers indicated that it’s an eye opening experience to how much work goes into producing IDC’s vast event coverage.

If you have enjoyed our coverage – let us know! Your feedback and support is what helps us do a better job and motivates us to stay up just a little bit later (past 2 am) on some nights. It is very much appreciated. We go above and beyond to give you the best coverage possible and at an event where ice dancing is the sole focus, it’s nearly impossible to cover everything. We do our best!

My final words are THANK YOU!! Which I extend to the athletes for entertaining us all week with wonderful performances. I don’t remember hearing “Carmen” even once. Thanks also to the parents, some who developed ulcers and others who watched while peeking over their hands. To Barbara Bennett for making sure we got the protocols and to Ann Greenthal who is THE ultimate LPIDC cheerleader and IDC supporter.

My final thanks are to my volunteer staff who helped make our coverage possible. I hope you’ll join us again next year:

Jocelyn Cowan
Ashley Deavers
Dee Eggert
Melissa Hall-Cohn
Perry Levine
Howard Mager
Travis Mager
Elyse Matsumoto
Casey McManus
Jim McManus
Tammi McManus
Terri Miller
Michele Moody
Christie Sausa

See you in 2009!