Greetings from Lake Placid!

Toilet-002Tuesday, 03 August 2010

Greetings from the Adirondacks!

The IDC staff has arrived safely, albeit delayed, from all corners of the US (and Canada).  We had a delightful (and yummy) dinner at Nicola’s, even though they were out of pizza!  Mel is already injured and delirious, so it is going to be a banner week for her, but we’ll make it work.  Katie and Daphne took the “scenic route” to Lake Placid, almost running out of gas on the way.  We wanted to share with you the repurposing tip of the day:

It’s a muggy day in Lake Placid

Tuesday, 03 August 2010

I’m always surprised by the weather here in Lake Placid.  This morning, on our way from the cabin to breakfast, it poured.  Now it is mid-afternoon and hot and muggy.  Mel and I just returned from our first off-ice photo shoot and are very glad to be back in the cool, but somewhat foggy, 1980 arena.

MelThis morning we had our annual get-together at HoJo’s, a Lake Placid staple and an tradition.  I can’t think of a better way to start my fourth trip to the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships!  Breakfast was delicious, and prepared us for our first long day of the 2010 competition.  Today we are shooting practices and off-ice photo shoots.  Tomorrow, the real fun begins.  We had a few Internet problems this morning, but we hope all of those are resolved, given that we will have lots of photos and reports to post over the next few days.  We are armed with our “emergency foods” – Daphne requires Coke, Mel can’t function without coffee, and I turn to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups when the going gets tough.  Team IDC would like to think those products for their help in our time of need Laughing

We will leave you with a photo of Mel with a blue gumball, which won her a free cup of mint ice cream at HoJo’s this morning.




Tuesday, 03 August 2010

weaver-clavey-2003lpidcWhen you’re sitting in the 1980 Arena, it’s easy to get nostalgic about previous LPIDCs.   I had a quick IM chat with Kaitlyn Weaver and talked about how the event has changed since she last competed here (2005).  The photo at the right is Kaitlyn with her previous partner, Charles Clavey, at the 2003 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships.  They competed at the novice level.  The team ended their partnership in 2006 and Clavey attended Columbia University, graduating in 2010.  Kaitlyn teamed up with Andrew Poje of Canada and they are multiple-time National medalists and the 2010 Four Continents Champions. 

Things have changed at Lake Placid since 2005. As far as the location goes, there have been restaurants that have come and gone, but mostly it’s the faces that have changed.  While there are still a number of new competitors who debut here each year, and juvenile teams are now junior or senior, many have moved beyond the competitive ice arena to further their education or embark on a new phase in their lives.  There are some still who remain involved either as coaches, choreographers or technical specialists. 

In closing our chat, I offered Kaitlyn the opportunity to give a ‘shout out’, so here it goes: 

“Good luck to my fellow training mates from the Detroit Skating Club – Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton, Anastasia Olson & Jordan Cowan, Sameena Sheikh & Paul Bellantuono and Kaitlin Hawayek & Michael Bramante” ~ Kaitlyn Weaver



End of the day from Section 8

Wednesday, 04 August 2010

1926We’ve mentioned the the weather in previous blogs and several locals have mentioned that this is unseasonably hot and humid.  It’s seemed warmer in the arena, although it’s cooling off now.

Only three teams showed up for the senior free dance practice tonight – one per group.  Group A featured Canadians Tarrah Harvey & Keith Gagnon skating to Andalucia by Pink Martini and music from the Brothers Bloom soundtrack.  Kristen Nardozzi & Robert Cuthberston of the U.S. skated to a medley of Beatles tunes, including Imagine (the Glee Version)  and Revolution.  Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt  rounded out the senior free dance practice as the sole members of practice group C with a partial run through of their program to music by Muse. 

Though more teams attended the junior free dance practice, it was still only about 1/3. 

As a reminder, Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships will be live streamed online at Productions East Media

Part of the fun in Lake Placid is seeing old friends and making new ones.  See you tomorrow!


A late night at the 1980

Thursday, 05 August 2010

Half of the IDC staff arrived at the rink this morning due to off-ice photo shoot scheduling, after which we proceeded to Section 8 to begin our day of rinkside coverage.

After photographing the novice free dance practice, we were happy to see the intermediate and novice skaters take the ice for the compulsory PATTERN dance practices. It was fabulous to hear the familiar music of the 14-step, rocker foxtrot, blues and American waltz. Mel was especially pleased to hear the blues.

Watching the novice free dance gave us an opportunity to see more of the changing faces of ice dancing as many of those in the event had moved up from the intermediate level.   LPIDC gives teams the opportunity to skate up one level, so some of those teams who skated novice here were just testing the waters to see how they stack up against others. We’ll see! Our report is in progress and will be posted later this evening or in the morning.

A note to ice dance fans who are not able to subscribe to the live feed coverage of LPIDC, the IDC staff is tweeting results from the IJS events (novice FD, junior SD/FD, and senior SD/FD) at

A special shout out to those who helped us immensely today – you know who you are – the pizza was delicious and we’re happy to have some groceries to take home tonight.  With our busy schedule here, it’s impossible to even get to the grocery store. 

It’s going to be a later night for the IDC staff as we’ll be here for the first glimpse of junior teams skating their short dances. Stay tuned!



Back to work on Thursday

Thursday, 05 August 2010

The past two days we have been heading to the rink in two groups – early morning and late morning. This has been helpful and worked with our schedule and allowing one group to get more rest. For me, it’s been very beneficial as I’m the classic example of a non-morning person although at LPIDC sleep is mostly optional.

A few seasons ago, we started a feature in our album called “Post Cards from Placid” and it was very popular. We haven’t posted galleries for the past one or two, but we’d like to return to it this year. So, if anyone wants to share their scenic LPIDC pics with IDC, whether it be around down or hanging out at the rink, please send them to us. Please use the same address if you have any questions about the event.

I’m about to post the novice free dance report and then I’m off to shoot the junior and senior free dances. For those of you watching online – enjoy!



Vendors & Short Dance Update

Friday, 06 August 2010

If you haven’t visited the vendors on the concourse, you should take the opportunity to stop by.  You can purchase photographs from the official photographer, order competition DVDs from Productions East or scan through the racks at Freida B*, who is running a sale – 30% of dance and freestyle, 40% of in-stock men’s shirts and 50% off select dance and & freestyle. 

After the open compulsories wrapped up (8:45pm) we were treated to short dance practice performances from the senior ice dancers… the sounds of Alicia Keys, Metallica and Lady Gaga filled the near-empty arena.  Stay tuned!



Friday, 06 August 2010

By the end of the week, we all get a little delirious, but it definitely helps that we have more staff than we did last year and that we’ve split up the early morning rotations so everyone has had a couple of opportunities to sleep in.  Of course, since I am a little insane, I volunteered to do the early shift today, so I’ll end up with three early mornings in a row.  After last weekend at Minto, I’m used to it, so I really don’t mind.

My biggest news of the week is that I injured my back shooting 15-hour days in Ottawa last weekend, so I’ve been trying to take it easy.  Katie helped me by taking the lead on one of my photoshoots on Tuesday, and since we have so many photographers this year, I haven’t shot as many events as I have in the past couple of years.  Of course, the biggest help was a visit from a masseuse!  Shannon Wingle is in massage school and she came over after her practice on Wednesday night to work on my back.  It’s still sore and probably will be for a while, but she really loosened it up, so at least I can stretch it now.  Not the most ideal situation, but in true IDC spirit, I am making it work.

Yesterday was a day of free dances, and I definitely saw some gems.  Unfortunately, quite a few teams made mistakes that prevented them from reaching the scores that they’re capable of earning, but that’s how it goes early in August.  First pancakes.  Everyone has room to grow, and the competitions will only get more secure throughout the season.  One pleasant surprise for IDC Staffers was the new Canadian team of Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams, who won Junior Free Dance A.  I’d had a chance to see them skate last weekend, and it was awesome to see how far they’ve come, especially since they’ve only been skating together since May.  Yesterday was an even better performance for them, and should be a great start to their season.

The short dances are today, and while I had a chance to watch a few at Minto, I didn’t get to see even two in a row there, since I was running back and forth from the other rink.  So it will be interesting to see an entire event and compare the teams directly.  I’ve been asking some of the skaters about it, and opinions definitely vary.  Some have been really positive about and have enjoyed the creative aspect of working with a compulsory pattern, but some are a little hesitant about the direction that it’s taking ice dance.

I’m trying to reserve judgment on the short dance until later in the season, especially since teams have only had about a month and a half to put their programs together and a lot of people are still foggy on the rules.  However, I do have to say that if the goal is to make ice dance more like Dancing with the Stars, I want to be the girl in the sparkly dress that gets to host the event.  Just putting that on the record now.

We’re keeping busy with photos and reports, of course, and we’ll keep everyone posted via twitter (@icedancecom) during the day today.  I’m going to watch some Pasos (one of the most photogenic compulsories, for the record), then Katie and I have a date with some guys named Ben and Jerry before we settle in for an afternoon and evening of short dances.


8am and Pre-Juvenile Events

Friday, 06 August 2010

Every year, we try to cover at least one phase of the pre-juvenile event, which is made up of four compulsory, excuse me, pattern dances.  Today we were treated to the Cha Cha and the Swing Dance.  To say it was adorable would be an understatement.

In checking the pollen count for today, I realized why I’ve been so stuffed up as the count is high right now.

When covering the Short Dances today, we’ll do our best to give you information on the music as well as the rhythms.  It’s certainly a new adventure for not only the skaters and coaches, but for parents and fans as well.  If you are watching the short dance coverage on Production East or are here in present and have comments, we’d love to hear them. 

emergency-chocolateOur follower count has increased on Twitter, so welcome new followers!

I’ll leave you with this final thought.  Emergency Chocolate.


Homemade pizza and lost wallet

Saturday, 07 August 2010

After the short dances, we headed to the Cannuscio/McManus house to enjoy their make your own pizza night! The Cannuscios own a restaurant in New Jersey, so they came equipped with specially made crust as well as tomatoes from Kelly Cannuscio’s garden. It was SO yummy! The night out was just what we needed to get the extra boost to finish the week.

Upon returning to Windsong, Liz realized that her wallet was missing. We frantically searched every inch of the cabin and were unable to find it.

When we arrived at the rink the next morning, we checked the rows of seats around where we had set up home base but had no luck in finding it. As a last ditch effort, Liz went to the office to see if anyone had turned it in. She returned to the rink with her wallet in hand — and all of its contents intact. A good Samaritan had turned it into the office. If you are the good Samaritan who found Liz’s wallet and turned it in, please let us know.

Today’s events consist of adult pattern dance finals, novice pattern dance super final, and the juvenile and intermediate free dances. Stay tuned!

Thoughts on Short Dance

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The skating world has always been slow to change.  Rule changes take all kinds of votes and revisions, and often have trial periods at certain competitions before they really take effect.  Perhaps that’s why the backlash for the short dance has been so intense this summer.  Yes, there were demonstrations of different options last summer and yes, it was kind of on the radar all year, but there were much more important things happening this Olympic year.  It wasn’t until Worlds that I realized that the short dance would likely pass.  And then it wasn’t until June that it actually did.

I was definitely part of the backlash and the naysayers this summer.  I’m a compulsory dance geek, and I hated to think of dance without my beloved compulsories.  I wasn’t a skating fan when school figures disappeared from singles skating, but I felt like I finally understood what that change meant to skating purists.  I didn’t think there was any way that the short dance format would work, that teams who couldn’t skate a proper compulsory would be allowed to rocket up the standings, and that ice dance was basically on a path towards a slow death.

I have to admit that I was wrong.  No, the short dance isn’t perfect and yes, I think that the three-dance format is better for ice dance in the long run, but in Placid, it was clear that a few teams accepted the changes and got to work right away to make their short dances the best that they could be.  Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus were halfway through their first Viennese sequence before I noticed that they’d start the patterns in their man vs. woman-themed dance, set to “It’s a Man’s World” and “I Bust the Windows.”  Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams looked like they’d been dancing together for two years, not two months, when they waltzed to The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.”  Charlotte Lichtman & Dean Copely and Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein chose to focus on character with light Italian- and French-themed dances, respectively.  Tarrah Harvey & Keith Gagnon did the same, but showed a much darker take on the Golden Waltz when they set theirs to “Danse Macabre.”

In Lake Placid, I asked as many dancers as I could about the short dance.  A few didn’t like the change, but the majority said that they were excited about the chance to work with compulsories more creatively.  They said that it made them more fun to train and choreograph, and that the process of trying to pick music that would fit was as exciting as it was challenging.  As usual, it tends to be the people outside the sport who take the most issue with the changes.

I think that one of my concerns was that the focus wouldn’t be on the patterns anymore, but it’s clear that teams that have spent time training the compulsory patterns are being rewarded.  The judging is quite strict.  I didn’t see protocols for every group of short dances, but I heard that only one team received level four for any of the sequences.  The technical panel watches the patterns for four “bullet points” in each sequence, and those are often the most difficult steps in the dance.  For every step that is done correctly, the team earns one level.  Meanwhile, the judges assign GOE based on how well they think the entire sequence was skated.  It’s not a perfect system by any means, and I expect it to go undergo revisions, but at least it is keeping quite a bit of the points assigned to how well the patterns are skated.

Of course, it’s hard to say what the long-term effects will be.  Many skating experts that have been around a long time maintain that the quality of skating isn’t what it used to be, across the board, once everyoneThoughts on the Short Dance who grew up learning school figures retired.  Right now, compulsories remain part of the competition for levels up through novice, so at least young dancers are still learning a variety of dances and getting that foundation.  But with less time spent training compulsories at the junior and senior levels, the dancers will be able to reallocate that time to other things.  What will this mean for ice dance?  In the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen trends towards more and more acrobatic lifts, so perhaps dance will continue in this direction.  It’s just hard to say right now, and it might not be clear until several years down the road.  Until then, I’ll keep my fingers crossed and my eyes peeled for more teams that really embrace the creative challenge of the short dance and give us something that works, rather than two separate pieces linked together by a pause for a music change.



How many days until 2011 LPIDC?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday in Lake Placid is always bittersweet.  At the end of the week, we’re exhausted, but it’s always tough knowing that it’s our last day in Section 8 for a year.  This year, Mel got started bright and early for the 3rd Annual Saturday Morning Gamelin Photoshoot.  She got some fun shots with Danielle and Alex, and when she got back to the arena, Starbucks in hand, the rest of the crew had arrived.

Between final rounds of compulsories (sorry, pattern dances), Todd Gilles stopped by for a visit.  He has been coaching in Lake Placid this summer and he brought us up to date on how things are going for him, as well as his popular “Blips of Todd” video series.  While we were chatting, Tammi appeared with the surprise birthday cake for Katie, who was so immersed in the IDC tracking chart that she didn’t see it right away. 

gwen-and-bearsEver since we’ve been covering LPIDC (and probably even before), the event has closed out with the juvenile and intermediate free dances.  Watching these young skaters gives everyone a glimpse into the future of U.S. ice dance and is one of my favorite highlights of the week.   It was sad, however, to see the number of entries down this year.   One of the cutest moments was when the juvenile team of Gwen Sletten & Eliot Verburg was exiting the ice and Gwen was trying to carry all of the stuffed animals – some of which were very large – all by herself.  Mel, the assigned photographer for the event, was in tears from both laughter and exhaustion, but she managed to get some shots of Gwen’s exit.  When asked afterwards, Mel confirmed that yes, seeing that did make her week.  After the event closed down on Saturday night, we headed to Bazzi’s to celebrate the end of the event and Katie’s birthday.  Like HoJo’s, Bazzi’s has been an IDC tradition since the first LPIDC that we covered in 2003.  Though many storefronts in Lake Placid have changed over the past seven years, Bazzi’s is still there.  The night was a great way to decompress and also have some staff bonding over pizzas.  LPIDC is the only event all year that we get to cover together, which is one of the highlights of the week for us, too.  And after Bazzi’s, Mel and new-Starbucks-convert Liz had to head up Main Street for espresso to go.  Upon heading back to Windsong Cabin, we spent the remainder of the evening backing up photographs onto portable drives and reminiscing about the week.  There is a certain sense of delirium (due to lack of sleep) that sets in at the end of the week and it results in almost anything seeming funnier that it actually is.  This year, however, I think we were more well-rested than in previous trips and though still present, the delirium was somewhat subdued.  I started to think about all the people who I’ve gotten used to seeing in Lake Placid, but who were not present this year, for many different reasons.  Section 24, which has been home base for Bonnie Gilles and some of the Broadmoor contingent, was empty for much of the week.  Since US Figure Skating chose to monitor its senior Grand Prix competitors at ‘Champs Camp’ this month, most of those teams did not make the trip to the Adirondacks; of the teams assigned to GP events, only Chock & Zuerlein and Cannuscio & Lorello were in attendance.  In addition, many teams have either ended their partnerships and/or retired.  Still, the week was filled with many memorable moments for us.

Our final morning in Lake Placid was spent packing up and following the ‘prior to departure’ list that the Windsong cabin owners left for us, which included the disposal of trash into bins in the shed, where we discovered a bright yellow sign warning against bears.  Katie and I chuckled as it reminded us of Dwight and Jim’s famous “bears-beets-Battlestar Galactica” comments from The Office. 

Special thanks to everyone who stopped by during the week, sent us words of encouragement via emails or texts, or volunteered with us.  It’s been unanimous amongst the IDC staff that we actually ate more regular meals this time – thanks to Joi Cowan, who took orders for us and delivered them to the rink once (and sometimes twice) a day.  Donna Gamelin supplied us with Emergen-C packets to boost our immune systems after she realized that we’re too busy to take care of ourselves properly.  Casey McManus and her friend Jillian were a big help to us during the week, too, whether it was holding the reflectors at photo shoots or copying down the start orders.  Thanks girls! 

Our trip to LPIDC is vacation time from our regular jobs, so some effort has to be placed on not being completely exhausted upon our return to work.   Although we do our best to cover as much of the event as possible and are happy to spend 15-hour days at the rink, we still aren’t able to cover everything.  We truly have the utmost respect for the efforts all of the athletes who compete here, regardless of the level/event.  Now that we’re all back from LP, we’ll be scouring our hard drives for any photos we may have forgotten to post, so keep checking back.  And until next year, thanks for another great event and keep dancing!

~ Daphne & The IDC Staff