Sunday, January 25, 2009

World, Four Continents & World Junior Championships Assignments

2009 World Championships; Los Angeles, Calif.
Meryl Davis/Charlie White
Emily Samuelson/Evan Bates
Tanith Belbin/Ben Agosto

Alternate 1 – Kimberly Navarro/Brent Bommentre
Alternate 2 – Madison Hubbell/Keiffer Hubbell
Alternate 3 – Jane Summersett/Todd Gilles
Alternate 4 – Trina Pratt/Chris Obzansky

2009 Four Continents Championships; Vancouver, Canada
Meryl Davis/Charlie White
Kimberly Navarro/Brent Bommentre
Emily Samuelson/Evan Bates

Alternate 1 – Jane Summersett/Todd Gilles
Alternate 2 – Trina Pratt/Chris Obzansky
Alternate 3 – Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt

2009 World Junior Championships; Sofia, Bulgaria
Madison Chock/Greg Zuerlein
Madison Hubbell/Keiffer Hubbell
Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani

Alternate 1 – Piper Gilles/Zachary Donohue
Alternate 2 – Shannon Wingle/Timothy McKernan
Alternate 3 – Isabella Cannuscio/Ian Lorello

posted by IDC Staff at 7:58 PM

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Notes from Group #2

These are some notes from Group 2 of senior free dance. The top five will be covered in the regular report.

Maxwell & Traxler
“We Will Rock You” and “The Show Must Go On” by Queen
This team always does something different every year which is refreshing. They start with great unison on the first set of twizzles. Cool straightline to rotational lift where he is on foot and she is resting horizontally on his shoulder. All of their lifts got a level 4.

Pratt/Obzansky
“Hurt” by Christina Aguilera
It’s great to see her back on the ice. Solid lifts and appropriate choreography. She is very expressive. Nice match. Very cool straightline just prior to the end of the program where she’s resting on his blades. Good for a first year partnership.

Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt
“Jinji & Kill the Target”
As is customary with Netchaeva/Tchesnitchenko teams, there are lots of cool highlight moves in the program. She stepped out of the twizzles. Level four on all lifts – great positions! Fun performance to music by Tomoyasu Hotei.

Matthews/Gislason
“The Muse” by Muse & De Antonio
A very dramatic and avant-garde program. Leif & Morgan have been training together for a year and half. Very dramatic performance. Lifts are very strong and interesting, highlighting her flexibility. Their spin was a variation of Mishkutionok & Dmitriev pair spin with her upside down. Twizzles downgraded to level 2 with three -1 GOEs.

posted by IDC Staff at 7:11 PM

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Impressions from group 1 of the senior free dance

I’m still disappointed that the senior free dance has been split into two groups. I decided to type up some thoughts on the first group. I’ll try to do the same for the other two groups, but I may run out of time.

Note: We got the word that Jenn & Daniil have withdrawn due to injury (Daniil’s back).

Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello
“La Donna Mobile” modern arrangement
Corry & Lorello are a new team and they’ve gelled more since I saw them at Lake Placid in August and Sectionals in November. When you watch them skating, you can tell that they enjoy being out there and skating together. The performance was good overall.

Jessica Perino/William Avila
“How Long Blues” by Pinetop Perkins
Perino & Avila missed last season due to injury and they, along with their coach Suzy Semanick, relocated to Aston, PA to train. They were not at Lake Placid last August, so this was the first time I was able to see their program in person. They’ve improved since I saw them at 2007 Nationals, but still need to work on their speed, but they had good energy. Different position on the first set of twizzles.

Emma Cyders & Ievgennii Krasniak
Selections from the Children of Dune soundtrack.
Cyders & Krasniak have really interesting positions on their lifts, especially on the combination straightline/rotational lift and their curve lift. Too bad about the fall at the end.

Farrell/Fishpaw
“Sarabande Suite” by Globus
Farrell & Fishpaw had nice speed an, control and positions on their dance split. Good positions and speed on their lifts and the expression has continued to grow. The team has really improved since pairing in 2007. This is the best I’ve seen them skate this program all season.

Ratko/Harris
Tango Selections by Bailata
I haven’t seen this program yet this year. As the team hasn’t competed in any events, so Nationals is their debut. Ratko is wearing knee pads or bandages, probably due to the number of knee slides in the program. Lifts are controlled, but not as seamless as some of the other teams. Nice rotational lift at the end with her in a vertical split. They still look like a new team.

posted by IDC Staff at 3:11 PM

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No flash photography. None. Nada. Zip.

For every Nationals, there is one day that there are no ice dancing events scheduled and this year Friday was the ‘non-dance day.’ We headed to the rink for 12:50 to watch the junior men’s free skate and used the down time to play catch up on blogs and photographs, etc. We’ve also posted some ‘IDC Extras’ from other events. It was pretty low-key day for us.

Some young girl came back giggling after getting Seacrest Lite’s autograph. Cute!

Prior to the last group, the announcer reminded the audience that there is no flash photography and followed it up with “none. nada. zip.” Although I’d heard her use “none” before, the “nada” and “zip” were new. It is bright enough in here that a flash shouldn’t be necessary.

It was released today that Skate America will be in… Lake Placid! I think it’s fabulous as I enjoy going there every summer for the LPIDC. I’m stoked that the JGP and Skate America will be there.

The men’s short was off to a great start with Lysacek and Abbott, but several of the expected front runners did not have a good night. It’s hard to think of the final group not having Johnny Weir, Stephen Carriere or Adam Rippon in it as they were considered to be some of the front runners. Tom Z. from Broadmoor will definitely be pretty busy with three guys in the final group on Sunday. How about the Curran Oi and Brandon Mroz closing out the night with two great performances!

posted by IDC Staff at 1:49 AM

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Friday, January 23, 2009

A Day In The Life…

I forgot to mention that Seacrest Lite is here this year. He graced our presence in Saint Paul and I guess he’s now a regular fixture. He’s been interviewing kids and handing out prizes to unsuspecting rows of spectators all week. He’s also been highlighting some of the electronic games available in the concourse.

The junior free dance event was quite exciting! Other than the top three, the teams finished in different placements in each phase. The “bounce back award” goes to Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring, who after an uncharacteristic fall in the compulsory dance, rebounded two great performances in the OD and free dance (ninth, OD; sixth, FD) to pull up to seventh overall. I really enjoyed their “A Day in the Life” free dance. They had told me the story behind it when I spoke with them at Eastern Sectionals.

It was unfortunate that Brittany Marshall and Ashley Deavers had to withdraw from the event. After a fall in the free dance, they were unable to continue. Ashley stopped by to let us know that Brittany received treatment and that the fall aggravated a previous injury.

The pairs short ended with some unexpected results as new team Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett finished first. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the audience or Denney & Barrett.

Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt skated two great performances in the ladies short. A few surprises – Brittney Rizo, to name one – answered the challenge with a solid short. Saturday will definitely be very intense as the ladies fight for World, Four Continents and World Junior slots.

Daphne

posted by IDC Staff at 1:41 AM

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Short day… but lots to do!

Michelle and I got some extra rest this morning, but were at the Q at 12:30 in time for the junior men’s short. It’s unfortunate that Ricky Dornbush had to withdraw from the competition. After a strong showing on the JGP series and a bronze medal at the Final, he was a contender for the gold medal. Roger Corvase had withdrawn earlier in the week and was replaced by Pine Kopka-Ross. The crowd really seemed to get into Ross Miner’s cowboy and outlaw program. The free skate should definitely be exciting.

The senior ice dance event got underway with the Viennese Waltz. Compulsory dances are so important to the sport because it skating skills can be gauged easier with everyone skating the same steps. I’ll be disappointed if they are removed. It was great to see that the senior event had 15 teams competing. I remember a time not too long ago that if there were 10 it was considered a larger field. All of the teams bring something different to the table and I’m sure we’ll get to see it with Thursday’s original dance.

Michelle and I went back to the hotel after the senior CD’s to catch up on photos and reports.

Daphne

posted by IDC Staff at 11:17 PM

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Long day at the Q

While Michelle was getting some extra sleep on Tuesday morning, I headed to the Q for the 8 a.m. dance practice. This was the one senior practice that I could attend this week due to timing and schedule conflicts. It also made for a very long day as the junior original dance weren’t scheduled to end until 10:55pm and would be followed by awards for all the novice events.

One of the most exciting things about being at Nationals for the entire week is that you get to see so many of the up-and-coming young athletes. I really enjoyed the novice free skates. It was wonderful to see former competitive skaters moving to a new phase of their career as coaches, sitting in the kiss ‘n cry with their students – Chris Pottenger and Andy Seitz were just two of many I have seen over the past few days.

It was also exciting to see so many new ice dancers competing at their first ‘big nationals’. When we were setting up our event site, I realized just how many would grace the presence of the Q arena as novice, junior or senior competitors for the first time. It’s wonderful to see the quality of ice dance continue to grow at the novice and junior levels.

The junior original dances were enjoyable to watch even though twizzles seem to cause many of them a problem. Big band music is so easy to get into that you can’t help but find it fun. While I enjoyed all of the programs, I think the one I enjoyed the most was by Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus. They took the ice first and had great energy and expression throughout the program.

I wrapped up the day taking podium photos. I realized when down near the ice that it seemed unusually warm. I had heard comments in passing from other attendees and competitors that the temperature near the ice seems much warmer than usual. Hopefully that will get better as we continue through the week.

It’s now 1:35 a.m. and even though tomorrow is a later start, sleep is necessary as we’re nearing the halfway point of the event.

Daphne

posted by IDC Staff at 1:35 AM

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Section 119

After the novice compulsory dances, I was working on my article (will post soon) and a nice lady stopped by the media table. She was looking for section 119, which is where her seats are. Hmmm. There isn’t a section 119; at least that I can see. Awhile later, someone else came by looking. I guess they are now nomads going through the arena still looking…

posted by IDC Staff at 2:38 PM

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What time is it?

5:45 am. But for novice CD’s, it’s worth it. We decided last night that taking a cab to and from the rink eliminates the extra hassle of driving, parking and schlepping equipment to and from the garage and is totally worth it to save time.

The media seating is a great spot for compulsories as it’s on the end and easier to see patterns.

It was still dark when we left the hotel, so our cab driver took us on what he called a ’30 second detour’ to show us the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie.

posted by IDC Staff at 7:35 AM

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sasha Cohen at practice Sunday?!

Tonight is our fastest turnaround. Junior dance practice was over at 10:30 p.m. We have to be back at the arena by 7 a.m. for novice compulsories. Figure in travel time (we are about 20 minutes away from the arena) and the whole getting dressed thing, and this means very few hours of sleep. Therefore, junior practice pix will be worked on tomorrow. We have a long time in between novice and junior CDs, so we should be able to get caught up by then.

While Daphne’s in the shower, I downloaded the junior practice pix and was looking to see which ones to pull to post online, when I saw something I’ve never seen before in the millions of frames I’ve shot.

Sasha Cohen invaded junior dance practice!!!

No, not the Borat guy. The U.S. ladies champion appeared in a photo of Piper Gilles & Zach Donohue doing their rotational lift!

Look:

I formatted the memory card before shooting practice. It showed no photos. And yet Sasha appears, even though I took the photo back in November at the Stars on Ice debut in Lake Placid. So for two months, she’s been haunting my memory card. Will she appear again? Which discipline? Doo doo doo doooooooooooooo

-Michelle, the spooked one

posted by IDC Staff at 11:59 PM

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Thanks to a good night’s rest…

What a difference a good night’s sleep will do for you! I woke up ready to put the dreadful travel day behind me and head to the arena in time for Novice practices. Michelle and I are staying at a hotel further away from the arena than most, but with the added cost of parking we decided to try ‘cabbing’ it today to gauge the cost, travel time, etc. It worked well (at least for the trip over) with the added plus that we didn’t have to worry about navigating in a city that we’re really not that familiar with.

When you first get to a new arena, it’s always fun to get to know the new surroundings, i.e. which side is the judge’s side (for ice dancing, it’s good to know), where the media seating and workroom is and how to get there, what the lighting is like, etc. This is my fourth Nationals and each year the LOC staff gets more and more friendly. If today is any indication, Cleveland will be high on my list with regard to courtesy and helpfulness. No matter if we were passing someone in the hallway or asking a question, the arena and LOC staff has been incredibly welcoming.

The novice dancers spent the first part of their practice on compulsories (Blues/Paso Doble) and the latter half on their free dances. There seems to be a new trend to practice wearing all black instead of the colorful costumes we’ve become accustomed to seeing. I think the jury is split on that one and I’m not really a fan of not wearing costumes during practice. Maybe it is following with the other disciplines, but for me ice dance is still the renegade and I’m appreciative of the additional work the dancers take to come to practice nearly competition ready.

Since the junior dancers didn’t take the ice until 8pm, I spent most of the time posting event previews, doing site updates and adding additional event content to IDC’s Nationals site.

The junior dance practice was similar to the novice practice in that the first part was spent on the Paso Doble compulsory dance and the latter part on either the original or free dance (team’s choice). As is customary during practices, no one really went all out in practice, but rather performed partial run-throughs, stopping at various points. The level of talent at junior this year is astounding and as exciting as the senior event will be, I bet that junior will equal the intensity.

We had arranged to take a cab to and from the arena and were lucky to get a great cab driver named Jerry who picked us up and brought us safely back to the hotel. He graciously helped us get our equipment in and out of the car and is picking us up in the morning, so that we’ll arrive at the rink for the Novice Compulsory Dance event.

It’s late and it’s been a long day and tomorrow will be exciting, so I’m signing off to get some much-needed rest.

Daphne

posted by IDC Staff at 11:54 PM

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The Q is no Savvis!

Just wanted to mention that the arena is HOT! Not just “not cold” but actually hot. Dress appropriately!

-Michelle
posted by IDC Staff at 7:45 PM

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Warhorses and alumni (two different things!)

Daphne and I arrived for novice dance practice and are hanging around until junior dance practice. In between, novice pairs, ladies, and men plus junior ladies all had their practices.

For those hoping to hear original (not necessarily first-ever-use, but more along the lines of something everyone else hasn’t already skated to) music, you will be sadly disappointed.

At some point in the day, we had the Anissina & Peizerat flashback group, with Beethoven’s Last Night and “Carmina Burana” back-to-back. I confess to liking both of those, as well as “The Mission,” which we’ve heard at least once. “Aranjuez,” West Side Story, and “Libertango” all made appearances, too. I don’t remember hearing “Carmen,” although I may have just tuned out.

During the novice dance practice, I was up in section 128. I spotted Jason Dungjen and Steve Hartsell back where the novice pairs were warming up. Now, with junior ladies on the ice, Braden Overett was in the seats earlier and is now at the boards. Johnny Bevan is, too. Not sure if I should include Mark Mitchell in the alumni sighting list, since he’s been coaching at so many U.S. Championships. But he’s here, too. (Duh.)

Time to get moved back over to my photo spot. Be sure to check out the off-ice gallery when you are over looking at today’s practice pix.

-Michelle

posted by IDC Staff at 7:39 PM

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Finally!

Daphne just got in the room. In the time it took her to get here from Maine, she could have flown to Japan. I’m just saying. And in the time it took me to drive–including stops–I could have flown there, too.

Not that we want to be in Japan. They had their national championships last month. Plus after a total of like 35 combined travel hours, neither of us are leaving Cleveland any time soon

We’ll share more about our journeys tomorrow, probably between practices. Right now it’s time for sleep.

-Michelle

posted by IDC Staff at 12:53 AM

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

One step (or flight) at a time…

One week prior to my winter travel plans, I always check the ten-day forecast for weather not only for where I’m flying from, but my layover and final destination. Since I was planning to have a layover in Philadelphia, I wasn’t worried about the weather in say, Detroit, which was where I was re-routed to after my initial flight was canceled.

Guess what? It’s snowing. The plane that was to fly myself and other re-routed passengers was coming from Detroit and was delayed due to weather. It didn’t bode well for me making it to Cleveland tonight.

Although the plane took off an hour and 20 minutes late, we arrived at 7:35 and I have plenty of time before the connection to Cleveland. Some of the others weren’t so lucky even though we had all been hoping for the best. We’d become like a band of nomads, people together because their flights had been canceled and they were re-routed.

After arriving in Detroit, I found that my cell phone was dead. Thankfully, I have my laptop and was able to email messages to Michelle – who is already in Cleveland – to let her know that things seem to be going better.

Announcement over the PA system, the Cleveland flight, though late, will be taking off. I feel relief, but after everything that has happened today, I’m going to wait until I actually land in Cleveland to celebrate.

I know there were practices today and I hope those went well for everyone. If all goes well tonight, I’ll be there tomorrow for the first dance practice (novice) at Quicken Loans Arena.

Daphne

posted by IDC Staff at 8:21 PM

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The best laid plans… fall to pieces

As I’ve said before, for me travelling is hit or miss. I never know if my plans will go smoothly or if I’m on an episode of The Amazing Race where the detour is that you’ll board your plane and find it’s got mechanical problems and is canceled or if the roadblock is finding another flight out and still arriving on the same day.

Although today started well, with me not forgetting important items (that I know of, yet) and making great time to PWM with plenty of time to spare for my 9:10 a.m. flight. The fun really started after the other passengers and I had boarded the plane and fastened our seatbelts only to learn that the plane could not take off due to malfunction of the flight attendant’s PA system. They politely asked all passengers to depart the plane and the ticket agents went about rebooking the flights of passengers who would be unable to make their connections. I wasn’t too worried as I had a three hour layover in Philadelphia which gave me some additional time to play with. Although at first they thought it could be fixed by a mechanic, but after 15 minutes, an announcement was made that the flight was cancelled.

This is the second time this has happened to me when flying and both times had been leaving from PWM. The lines got to be pretty long at the ticket counters and one particular line was at a standstill for 45 minutes because the four people involved were trying to get to Florida so they could go on a cruise. Luckily, my line was faster than that one and I was rebooked to fly through Detroit instead of the lovely Philadelphia as planned within 20 minutes.

It’s convenient that there is an easily accessible pub (Shipyard) beside the gates. Don’t get too excited. Rumor is, it doesn’t serve alcohol during the day, but it does serve a great cheeseburger.

It’s now 1:33 p.m. and I have over 2 1/2 hours to kill prior to my second attempt at a departure. Hmmmm. Cross your fingers!

Daphne
Live from PWM (Portland International Jetport)

posted by IDC Staff at 1:36 PM

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Film is soooo 2000

I really, really, REALLY do not miss working with film.

Working on putting together the retro gallery means sitting next to my negative scanner and one-by-one scanning each frame of film. Then going in and cleaning up all the dust and yuck on the image file by cloning a “clean” space on top of the white splotch. And no matter what I do, it still doesn’t look anywhere near as good as even the early digital camera photos.

Plus, instead of getting a laptop screen full of thumbnail images that I can enlarge to 800×1280 dpi to make sure I have the correct skater, I have to squint at the 35mm negative and invert the colors in my mind to try to determine if yes, that is a photo of Johnny Weir from nine years ago. If I can’t tell (because I haven’t used a loupe since Michelle Kwan was world champion and have no idea where mine is) then I have to do a preview scan. Frequently this scan has me staring at the screen going “yeah, still no idea who that is” and trying to find some reference online to what the competitors wore back in 2000. Archive.org is my friend.

-Michelle

posted by IDC Staff at 12:24 AM