POSTCARDS FROM KENT, WA
Facts at Skate America
first Skate America was called “Norton Skate” and was held in 1979
in Lake Placid, NY as a test event for the 1980 Olympic Games.
*American men won 7 of the first 8 Skate
America titles (Scott Hamilton 1979-82); Brian Boitano in 1983 ‘86;
Christopher Bowman in 1988-89).
Yamaguchi competed in both Pairs and Singles. She won the Ladies
title in 1990. The following year, partnered with Rudy Galindo,
Yamaguchi won a silver medal in Pairs.
Belbin & Ben Agosto won the most Skate America ice dancing titles
with five (2003-05, ’07, ’09). Agosto now living and coaching in
Olympia, WA served as honorary chairman of Skate America in Kent,
WA. He and long-time girlfriend, Merrie, are celebrating 13 years
together. Agosto will also be skating in Steve Disson’s Pandora
Unforgettable Moments of Love on Ice, in January. Belbin was
also in Kent, commentating on the Ice Dancing competition for
Icenetwork along with doing some interviews.
*At 1999 Skate America, Timothy Goebel landed
3quad jumps in one program (one toe loop, and 2 Salchows, one in
combination with a triple toe loop.)
Michelle Kwan has 7 Skate
America titles, more than any other skater. She won 4 consecutive
gold medals from 1999-2002.
Staying at the official hotel, the Doubletree, a
good 12+ miles from the arena, makes cabbing it pricey but the
weather is great so far. China’s pair team
Qing Pang & Jian Tong
arrived on Tuesday and were still dealing with some jet lag coming
from Beijing. They were first up performing their Freeskate to Variations
on an Original Theme, Enigma by the Philharmonic Orchestra on
Thursday the first day of official practice and had a near collision
with Russia’s Tatiana
Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov.
was found afterward icing down both knees and also complaining of
pain his back and neck, a situation that plagues him continually
from injuries occurred over years of competing. However, he
stoically said he plans to continue to compete through Sochi.
Afterwards, the duo will plan their marriage.
Yuzuru Hanyu arrived from Toronto just hours before the men’s
practice because he was held up by immigration authorities according
to his coach Brian Orser. Nevertheless he managed to land a quad toe loop, quad Salchow
and two triple Axels in his
Notre Dame de Paris Freeskate, ending with a terrific scratch
US dance champions only just arrived today and
missed the practice to the disappointment of the fans hoping to see
their new programs. Canada’s
Kaitlin Weaver & Andrew Poje were the stars of this dance practice
with a lovely performance of their
The Sound of Music themed
Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Guiletti-Schmitt came off the
practice ice with Kriengkrairut running off to see a physiotherapist
after receiving a minor cut just below her shin after their practice
session on the Short Dance performed to country/western themed
Ring of Fire sung by
and I Can’t Help Falling in Love by
First day of competition begins with Men and
Pairs. Hanyu rocked! His performance to
Parisienne Walkways by
Gary Moore, choreographed by
David Wilson and Jeffrey
Buttle earned a new world record of 95.07 points. Hanyu said he
was surprised at the high score, “But it’s only the Short Program,”
he said modestly thru an interpreter. Teammate
Takahiko Kozuka placed 2nd
and American champion Jeremy
Abbott was 3rd after he fell on his opening quad toe
loop, but his program, Spy
by Nathan Lanier was a hit with the audience.
a last minute replacement after
Evan Lysacek’s withdrawal
due to a groin injury, had a battle wound of his own tending to a
bloody finger after his skate to
Kashmir and admitted that
he had sprained his ankle the day before. “The ankle thing kind of
threw a wrench into things, but it’s kind of taken my mind off the
pressure,” he said of his 7th placement in the Short
Program. Teammate Douglas
Razzano said he was “pissed off” after his unfortunate
performance to Rachmaninoff’s
Piano Concerto #2,
where he fell on both his opening quad toe loop and triple Axel.
Despite winning the Short Program in Pairs,
Russia’s Maxim Trankov
(with partner Tatiana
Volosozhar) complained of a subpar performance with small errors
on the first three elements performed to
Love Theme from
The Godfather due to what
he termed “a very strange schedule. We only had 2 hours at the hotel
after practice. We don’t know when to eat or when to rest.”
Caydee Denney & John
Coughlin were 3rd
behind China’s Pang & Tong,
delivering a clean program to
Rodrigo’s Concierto de
Marissa Castelli & Simon
Shnapir placed 5th
skating to Stray Cat Strut
and Gretchen Donlan & Andrew
Speroff were 7th
with their Nocturne number
by Ennio Morricone.
In Friday’s dance practice earlier in the day,
Meryl Davis & Charlie White
aborted a lift from their Free Dance to avoid a collision with
Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova &
Dmitri Soloviev. No one was injured.
The longest day with Short Dance, Ladies Short,
Men’s and Pairs Final. The class of the field in Dance was the
winning program of defending champions
Meryl Davis & Charlie White. Their light and airy performance to
music from the Giselle
ballet was a sheer delight to watch. White said of the Yankee Polka
Pattern Dance incorporated into their routine, “It was always one of
our strengths because we have quick feet.” White also has relatively
small feet, wearing only a size 8 ½ shoe.
Kriengkrairut & Guiletti-Schmitt
placed 4th with their crowd-pleasing routine, while
Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin
McManus in their first Skate America appearance were 7th
after their energetic program to a
Strauss waltz and polka.
Canadians Weaver & Poje
were 2nd and the Russian team of
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev placed 3rd.
In the Ladies event, U.S. champion
Ashley Wagner took the
ice with confidence skating to
The Red Violin. She opened her winning program with a triple
flip/double toe loop combination but hopes to replace the double
jump with a triple by the World Championships. Russia’s
Adelina Sotnikova landed
her triple toe/triple toe combination but singled the following flip
to place 2nd. Teammate
Alena Leonova, the current world silver medalist, had a disastrous
performance to music from
Slumdog Millionaire and left the ice in tears with a
disappointing 9th placement.
Christina Gao surprised with a 3rd placement after a
clean and polished performance to
Close Without Touching by
Kostia, opening with a lovely triple toe/triple toe combination.
She is taking a full course load at
economics, math, and Chinese.
Rachael Flatt doubled her
opening jump, skating somewhat lethargically to place 10th
and explained that she was suffering from tendonitis in her right
foot and ankle.
Although they fell on their throw triple Salchow,
Volosozhar & Trankov won
the event with an otherwise strong performance to
Violin Muse, and said they
were happy to win despite dealing with what they felt was a
difficult schedule and were looking forward to their next event
which is in their hometown of Moscow.
Pang & Tong took the
silver and Denney & Coughlin
held onto 3rd place ending their
Phantom of the Opera
program with a standing ovation from the audience.
Although they didn’t attempt the throw triple Axel
they had been practicing,
Castelli & Shnapir were pleased with a 5th final
placement and getting a personal best score of 108.52 in their
Freeskate to Payadora by
Julian Plaza. Teammates
Donlan & Speroff
performed to Sleeping Beauty
and placed 6th in their very first Grand Prix and were
off to compete in the Ice
Challenge competition in Austria in November.
Team Japan took over the men’s competition with a
1-2-3 finish and one wonders at the wisdom of inviting three top
competitors from the same country to your own international event.
However, there was no denying
Takahito Kozuka, the eventual gold medalist,
Yuzuru Hanyu, the silver
medalist and Tatsuki Machida
who won bronze, deserved their medals.
Abbott’s emotional delivery of
Bring Him Home by
Steven Jamail resulted in a standing ovation despite the two falls
and other errors that placed him 8th in the Freeskate and
5th overall. He later discovered that he was dealing with
a small compression in his back which hampered his performance.
Hopefully rehab and rest will correct the problem in time for his
next Grand Prix event, Trophee Bompard in Paris.
Armin Mahbanoozadeh (7th place) and
Douglas Razzano (9th
place) competed in their only Grand Prix event and although both
weren’t completely satisfied with their respective performances,
Mahbanoozadeh was happy to have gained valuable experience leading
to the upcoming Nationals, while Razzano felt vindicated by skating
a much better program in the final.
Davis & Charlie White debuted their Free
Dance performing a dramatic routine to music from
Notre Dame de Paris
portraying the main characters of the gypsy Esmeralda and her
devoted companion Quasimodo, generating a standing ovation from the
audience and winning marks from the judges. Davis said that because
both she and White have a basic understanding of French, they were
able to construct a program that followed the original storyline’s
The Russian team of
Bobrova & Soloviev upset
the Canadians Weaver & Poje
by winning the silver medal with their intense presentation of a
woman who tries to save a friend from madness only to succumb
herself. They commented afterward that their improvement this season
was due to the coaching of former world ice dance champion
Alexander (Sasha) Zhulin.
Weaver & Poje accepted
their bronze medal but added that they were determined to improve
their technical score and are on track to push for a medal at the
World Championships which will be held in London, Ontario.
Kriengkrairut & Guiletti-Schmitt
have cornered the market on romantic and angst-ridden programs, this
time skating to Adele’s popular ballads
Turning Tables and Rumor
Has It and performing interesting and technically difficult
lifts to put them in 4th place overall. Teammates
Cannuscio & McManus
performed a jailhouse rock routine to finish in 7th
Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander
Gazsi, dressed in colorful period costumes delivered a
crowd-pleasing comical dance as Zombies coming to life. They
finished in 5th place.
The Ladies final solidified
Ashley Wagner’s claim as
one of the world’s top women competitors with her winning
performance to Samson &
Delilah, saying she now has the mental strength to perform as
she practices. She heads to Paris in November to meet current world
champion Carolina Kostner.
Libertango, American teammate
Gao won the silver medal,
which she said was “pretty awesome.” This medal is a feather in her
cap and gives her an edge in the running of those ladies hoping to
make the US World Team in January. Flatt rebounded with a much
stronger presentation to
Stravinsky’s Firebird, landing five triple jumps to come off the ice with a big
smile and the audience’s appreciation of her efforts.
Sotnikova claimed the bronze medal but her teammate
placement could not move her up higher than 7th place
overall. Leonova’s placement here pretty much destroys her hopes of
making the Grand Prix Final, which will be held in Sochi. Both
skaters will compete again at the Grand Prix in Moscow.