March 28, 2009

Saturday – Elyse Matsumoto

Hooray!!!!

What an exciting event! It was an amazing experience to watch the best in the world compete, and boy did they deliver. Congrats to everyone on great skates!

I was very exhausted Saturday. I skated in the morning in El Segundo at the Toyota Center, home to newly-crowned World Champion Evan Lysacek. It was conveniently located right next to the train station. I wish I could’ve gone to skate more often, but due to the ice dancing schedule at Worlds, I had other obligations.

After skating, my mom took me to the Friends of Figure Skating luncheon (which she is a part of). It was a great turn out by fans and skaters alike. I believe that the program raised a lot of money, and if I had to guess, I’d say that most of it was due to Charlie White. The program auctioned a dinner with Meryl Davis and Charlie. How much would you pay to say you went to dinner with Charlie? Two women matched the final offer, which went for $5,600! In total, the (now two) dinner with Charlie and Meryl sold for $11,200. I believe another hot item was a poster of Evan Lysacek that was supposed to be signed. Since Evan was late to the luncheon, Evan Bates offered to sign it instead. I guess overall the people wanted the Evans to sign their own pictures.

I watched the ladies final event (which was wonderful). I honestly haven’t seen most of these ladies skate all season, so it was great to watch. If you watched at home, then you know that Michelle Kwan was commentating for NBC. Their booth was very close to where I was sitting, and let me say, she looked just as stunning as ever.

After ladies, I went to volunteer at the Hall of Fame reception at the Wilshire Grand Hotel (the host hotel for all the athletes). It was a great turn out. Many “Hall of Fame” skaters came including Kristi Yamaguchi, Kurt Browning (he gave me a kiss on the cheek when I gave him his party favor), Brian Orser (he was an inductee, what a great way to cap off his night!), Michelle Kwan, Dick Button (he was a host), and Brian Boitano. I have to admit, even after competing at Nationals and seeing all these skaters more often than average fans, I was still very star struck with these skaters. After all, most of them I have admired when I was growing up.

Since the reception was at the host hotel, I saw many competitors wandering around, celebrating the end of the season. I hope you enjoyed the updates, and most of all enjoyed the amazing skating that happened this season!

posted by IDC Staff at 11:55 PM

_______________________________________________________

Saturday – Katherine Copely

Don’t cry for me, Los Angeles…I will be back someday! These World Championships were great. The city of Los Angeles is a great location, there are many restaurants and things to do and see and the rink was even within walking distance or metro. The weather was in the ’70s and sunny all week. We skated well and earned a spot for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver for our country. And my family was here to share the experience with me! I can’t ask for anything more.

I was a little bit nervous for the free dance, which hardly ever happens. But despite those feelings we skated well, ending our season with a personal best FD score. We got many compliments from spectators afterwards. The last warm-up group was extremely exciting to watch. You could feel the energy in the arena. Everyone skated great, and I for sure would not have wanted to be a judge on that panel.

To wrap up our trip, my family and I went to Universal Studios today (Saturday). I got slightly sunburned, but had a blast.

Until next time,
-KatieKatherine, AmeriLithuanian

posted by IDC Staff at 11:49 PM

_______________________________________________________

Friday – Tammi McManus

Even in a world of cell phones, sidekicks, internet and microwave ovens, some things are just worth the wait…

I am one of the first to admit that I’m spoiled. I was not lucky enough to attend Worlds in L.A., but thanks to the internet, I’ve barely missed a minute of live action. The ISU updates scores as they happen, I’m learning some Turkish as I watch their live coverage via my computer, judges scores are up for me to scrutinize as soon as the event is over, and digital photos are online before the skaters even leave the kiss and cry area.

Now, you could probably ask, if they can get their photos online so quickly, what’s up with ice-dance.com? Is it that hard to pop the memory card into the computer and upload it right to the website?

Actually, I have had the pleasure of helping out the photo staff at a Lake Placid competition and I can say with all honesty, it takes a matter of seconds to transfer the pictures off a memory card. Why in the world, then, would Daphne, Michelle, Mel and Katie spend hours at Art Devlin’s and other assorted hotel rooms, going through each individual picture? They could just post them and be off to dinner with any number of friends.

In a nutshell, these ladies treat every skater they photograph as one of their own family members. Before a picture gets their seal of approval, they review every part of it to ensure both skaters can be seen, that no one’s looking goofy, no undergarments are peeking out — or anything else that shouldn’t be on display for the world to see.

I never really “got it” though until I started looking through the wire service original dance pictures taken at Worlds.

posted by IDC Staff at 6:44 PM

_______________________________________________________

Friday – Daphne

WWMSD…

That is all.

-Daphne

posted by IDC Staff at 8:45 AM

_______________________________________________________

March 26, 2009

Thursday – Elyse Matsumoto

What an exciting day!

There were so many great skates in the original dance event as well as the men’s final tonight. Wow! Great skates by Team USA dancers, and a special shout out to Nikki Georgiadis & Graham Hockley. I loved watching “Thoroughly Modern Millie” on the world scene! Way to go! I miss you guys! I also want to extend a congrats to our newly crowned world champion, Evan Lysacek (even though he is not “one of us,” AKA an ice dancer).

posted by IDC Staff at 11:56 PM

_______________________________________________________

March 25, 2009

Wednesday – Katherine Copely

Free internet does not mean quality internet. The wi-fi at the Wilshire Grand is shakier than the minor earthquakes that have been occurring just outside of L.A. this week. I forgot to mention yesterday that Deividas was interviewed by a local L.A. TV station, gettin’ his 15 minutes of fame 🙂

This morning we got to sleep in, our practice wasn’t until 1:20 p.m. This, however, is just to make up for the 7:00 a.m. practice we have tomorrow to warm up our original dance. So it’s to bed early tonight. Though, the best part of training in the east and competing in the west, is that 6:00 a.m. is not 6:00 a.m., it’s really 9:00 😉

After practice I watched the last 3 warm-up groups of the men’s short program. The top men were exciting to watch! The most common mistake though I noticed was touching down on the landing and then stepping out. Evan Lysacek had a great skate and had the entire arena on their feet, waving red, white and blue. But he was bumped down the second place by Brian Joubert and his quad. I was really impressed with the up and coming Canadian, Vaughn Chipeur. He has a very masculine style that is still soft and smooth and incredible height on his jumps.

I was able to snap a few shots today…

Just about every street in downtown LA is lined with trees.


The Staples Center welcomes the world and their respective commentators.


Chipeur in the Kiss ‘n Cry after a clean short program


Pretty good sized crowd for short program…


Someone had to put banners alllll the way up here…


….and here!

Now it’s time to hit the hay, prepare for the next day. Goodnight!

-Katie

posted by IDC Staff at 9:09 PM

_______________________________________________________

Wednesday – Elyse Matsumoto

Just wanted to share a photo I took while sightseeing on Sunday.

-Elyse

posted by IDC Staff at 8:33 PM

_______________________________________________________

Wednesday – IDC Staff

Mickey Brown from U.S. Figure Skating has written a thought-provoking article on the compulsory dance results and the rumblings around Staples.

posted by IDC Staff at 3:28 PM

_______________________________________________________

Tuesday – Katherine Copely

The Paso is done. One down, two to go….Ole!

Lucky for our humble audience this afternoon the Paso Doble is a short dance. No matter what dance it is, I know it must be hard to watch it 30 times in a row. There were a variety of costumes, some modern some traditional, and two white matador outfits .::looks to Michelle W. for reaction::. Overall the event was good for everyone, no major mistakes and no falls 🙂

Tomorrow is the dancers’ day off. Time to reset and refresh for the final performance of our 20s/30s/40s original dance. I will be sad to see it go; I think this a really fun theme, for both the skaters and the audience. And I promise I will take some pictures with all my free time. 🙂

-KatieKatherine
posted by IDC Staff at 9:40 PM

_______________________________________________________ 

Tuesday – Shannon Wingle

The Beach Boys had it right!

“The west coast has the sunshine and the girls all get so tanned! I wish I could be a California girl!” Weather is a balmy 75 degrees in sunny Southern California and I am “lovin” every minute of it after a very long and frigid Michigan winter!

This is the very first World Figure Skating Championships that I have ever attended, and I am so excited to be here! I also have the privilege of seeing the competition through the eyes of an official volunteer assigned to Transportation. While on duty at the Wilshire, Staples Center, or on the buses as an official volunteer, I am not allowed to engage in conversation with the athletes except in response to questions. I have had to do a lot more listening these past few days and less talking! That’s a tough one! I have, however, learned a lot just by listening. I know that things at Staples are heating up. Although the ice dancers have enjoyed the Paso, they are more than ready to have it behind them for this season!

It has been interesting for me to see this competition from another perspective. The L.A. LOC has done a fantastic job. Every last detail has been attended to. As a Michigander in California assigned to the Transportation Staff, I was concerned that I might not be able to be as helpful as someone else who knows the area. My concerns were quickly dispelled when I was able to assist an elderly figure skating fan resolve an issue at the Staples Center. I am so thankful for the opportunity to not only attend Worlds but also to serve as a volunteer at this prestigious event! My volunteer responsibilities will be completed prior to the dance events, and I look forward to cheering on my training mates and international friends. Let the competition begin!

Outside the competitive venue, I have already had an extensive tour of L.A. and all the wonderful beaches in Southern California courtesy of Galvani Hopson! I am trying to convince Igor that he really needs to relocate his training camp to L.A.!

Shannon
posted by IDC Staff at 8:29 PM

_______________________________________________________

Tuesday – Katherine Copely

California Dreamin’ becomes reality for figure skaters this week, as the world comes to L.A. to compete for the top spots. With many of the top contenders withdrawn due to injury, it is hard to predict what will happen.

The flight from Detroit, despite the turbulence from 30+ mile an hour crosswinds, was fine. Our plane was full of celebrities, such as Igor Shpilband, Meryl Davis, Deividas Stagniunas, and Paulie Shore, who was lucky enough to sit next to world renowned ice dancer, Charlie White.

We were greeted by cold winds and overcast skies once we landed, but today the skies were clear, the sun was shining and I didn’t have to wear a jacket :). It is somewhat strange to have a winter sport competition held in a city full of palm trees ;).

Our practices today went smoothly. The Staples Center was transformed into a Spanish bullfighting ring this afternoon, as 30 teams dressed as toreadors and Spanish maidens took the ice for the Paso Doble practice. OD/FD practice this evening was held on temporary ice in the convention center next door to the Staples Center. It was good quality ice for just being made for this competition. I felt sorry for the man announcing all the foreign names, he was having a bit of trouble.

Excited for the compulsory event tomorrow! Pictures coming soon!

-Katie
posted by IDC Staff at 7:51 PM

_______________________________________________________

March 23, 2009

Flashback – Michelle Wojdyla

While we’re waiting for the action to get underway, be sure to check out the retro gallery: 2003 World Figure Skating Championships. This was the last time the U.S. hosted worlds, on the opposite side of the country. For me, it was within driving distance and one of the main reasons I’m not in California this week.

I remember the buzz about the U.S. having invaded Iraq and whether it would be safe for people to come here — especially to the nation’s capital. Six years ago today, CNN.com wrote: “Sure, the outcome is certain: America will win the war, and Saddam will be taken out.”

Two weeks before that, CNN posted an article about the spike in the price of gas: “The average price of gasoline increased 5 cents a gallon over the last two weeks, according to a national survey released Sunday. Americans paid an average of $1.7212 a gallon, less than 1 cent below the all-time high of $1.7271 on May 18, 2001, the Lundberg Survey said. The numbers were not adjusted for inflation. A year ago, the nationwide average price for a gallon of gas was $1.20.”

Controversy reigned over actions by Ottavio Cinquanta. SkateFAIR protests took to the street. Inside the MCI Center, angry fans booed and held up signs expressing their displeasure. In a March 22 article in the Globe and Mail, Beverley Smith wrote that Ron Pfenning had resigned from the ISU Technical Committee: “Cinquanta removed Pfenning from his post as referee at the world championships after Pfenning protested an ISU communication — which is not a rule — that changes the way event review meetings are conducted. While judges and referees at the meetings were to discuss judges’ placements after reviewing how each judge scored the competition, the new communication requires only general discussion and nobody sees any ordinals.”

Ah, secret judging as a baby. “Wedgie Data” was Ice-Calc. Add to that the 6.0 system still in effect at that year’s Worlds, and it seems so old school.

The 2003 pairs competition had the absolute mind-blowing free skate of Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao — to this date, the most exciting skating program I have ever had the privilege of seeing in person. Shen’s ankle was badly injured, and all week the buzz was that they were going to be forced to withdraw. They were second in the short program, and won the free skate to take the gold. Two judges gave them 6.0/6.0.

Silver went to Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin and bronze to Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov. Pang and Tong were fourth, and the Zhangs were sixth, and both teams are scheduled to compete this week in Los Angeles.

In 2003, Yuko Kawaguchi skated for her home country, Japan, with her Russian partner, Alexander Markuntsov, and came in 14th. This go-around she’s representing Russia with Alexander Smirnov and is one of the favorites to medal. Except now she’s Yuko Kavaguti. Ah, got to love the Japanese to Russian to English translations with their three alphabets!

Other ’03ers competing in L.A. are Tatiana Volosozhar (17th) and Marina Aganina (20th).

American Caydee Denney, who is competing with Jeremy Barrett, was only 9-years-old in 2003.

2003 marked the change from two compulsory dances down to only one. Skaters were in group A or B, so at the end of that phase, two teams had a first place ordinal, two had a second, etc. The CD was the Austrian Waltz, and 29 teams competed.

Twenty-two of the 24 teams that made it through the free dance all had their final placement equal that of their free dance placement. Matthieu Jost, competing this year with Pernelle Carron, was one of the flip-floppers in ’03 — he and then-partner Roxane Petetin were 22nd in the free dance but 23rd overall, the opposite of Ukrainians Julia Golovina & Oleg Voiko.

The most “meaningful” change throughout the competition came at the top of the standings. Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz and Russians Irina Lobacheva & Ilia Averbukh won their respective group’s compulsory dance, tying them after that portion. Lobacheva & Averbukh won the OD, with Bourne & Kraatz second. Of the top 16 teams, only these two had a different OD and FD result, with Bourne & Kraatz winning the free and taking home the gold. Lobacheva & Averbukh grudgingly took silver, and Albena Denkova & Maxim Staviyski took home Bulgaria’s first bronze medal.

The Torino Olympic podium was made up from teams who placed 4, 5, and 7 in D.C.: Tatiana Navka & Roman Kostomarov (4th in D.C., 1st in Torino), Elena Grushina & Ruslan Goncharov (5th/3rd), and Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto (7th/2nd). (Galit Chait & Sergei Sakhnovski were sixth in D.C. after winning bronze the year before in Nagano.)

Three other teams who competed six years ago are making a return appearance to a U.S.-hosted Worlds: Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali (11th), Kristin Fraser & Igor Lukanin (13th), and Oksana Domnina & Maxim Shabalin (15th). Had they been healthy, Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder would have been the fourth team and would most likely have improved upon their 10th place finish in D.C.

posted by IDC Staff at 9:20 PM

_______________________________________________________

Preview – Michelle 

So I’m not in L.A., but I think I’m alive. It’s still early in the week.

This blog will be shared by the ice-dance.com staff to update you on various things throughout the week. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here. We’ll try to post an answer asap. We hope to bring you many different perspectives from the World Championships. Watch this blog to see what people are talking about in Los Angeles.

If you are attending Worlds and have some thoughts to share, email us at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you!

Two of our competitor bloggers, rookie Nikki Georgiadis (who competes with Graham Hockley for Greece) and veteran KatieKatherine Copely (who competes with Deividas Stagniunas for Lithuania) are ready to show you the week from their unique perspectives. We’ll have more throughout the week, and various other guest bloggers dropping by to give us their take on the action in and around the Staples Center.

I can’t wait!

-Michelle
posted by IDC Staff at 9:19 PM