Archive | December, 2011

Weir Back in PA at Holiday Dreams on Ice

29 Dec

By Lynn Rutherford

Old and new friends nearly 7,000 miles apart gathered in Philadelphia the night before Christmas Eve to watch Johnny Weir headline the second annual Holiday Dreams on Ice, held at University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 1923 Arena.

The three-time U.S. champion and his parents, Patti and John, welcomed more than 60 well wishers from his hometown of Lancaster, PA, who bused into town especially for the show.  The Pennsylvanians met 20 of Weir’s Japanese fans visiting from Tokyo for a long holiday weekend in New York and Philadelphia, capped by front-row seats for the performances and a post-event party.

“I’m excited about this show; they literally ran out of printed tickets,” Weir said. “It’s my first time performing in Pennsylvania, my home state, in forever. I’m thrilled so many old friends are here.”

Weir gained standing ovations for an outrageous routine to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and his traditional holiday number “Ave Maria,” highlighted by special designs from Vincent DiGiorgio’s Digital Lighting, who created the Christmas lights for the White House this season.

The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus kicked off the evening with a singing of “Sleigh Ride.”  More than 100 young local skaters hit the ice to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Former Israeli champion Tamar Katz, a student at Penn, skated to Adele’s “Someone Like You,” while 2010 U.S. silver medalist Brandon Mroz offered up two numbers: “Mack the Knife” and “Greased Lightening.”

Mroz is taking a short break from Colorado Springs to spend the holidays in his hometown of St. Louis.

“I can’t wait to see my grandmother,” he said.

Two-time U.S. bronze medalist Ashley Wagner shone in programs to Jessica Simpson’s “What Christmas Means to Me” and Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor.”

“I had the [“What Christmas Means to Me”] music before and I thought it was really cute,” she said. “I feel like a lot of Christmas stuff is kind of slow and I wanted something that was going to wake the audience up. I picked it a couple of years ago and then I just re-choreographed it [with Philip Mills]. I get bored with programs so if I have something new it’s much more fun to perform.”

Wagner took a short break from training under coaches John Nicks and Mills in California.

“I begged and pleaded Mr. Nicks, and then gave him no other option, but to let me go home for a week,” she said. “I am spending Christmas in Annapolis with my mom, my brother [Austin] and my boyfriend.”

“My dad is traveling right now for business, so it’s kind of a bummer not to have him home for the holidays, but I’m so excited to just slow down for a couple of days before getting back into training for nationals.”

Wagner, who hopes to win her first U.S. title next month at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, isn’t letting her guard down over the holidays.

“After Christmas I am going up and spending the rest of the trip in Philly, so I am training at University of Delaware for the rest of the week,” she said.

Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who is spending a quiet holiday with his parents in Virginia, performed “Summertime,” then unveiled a new Christmas number he choreographed just for the show to Michael Buble’s “Cold December Night.”

“I put it together quickly and had fun with it,” he said. “I had a great time. We had a long day full of practices and rehearsals but it was a great experience, it was a great crowd. There were a lot of enthusiastic kids who are just getting into skating. So it’s nice to see if we can kind of encourage some of the new skaters.”

For pictures, courtesy of Michele Mansoor, click here.

DREAM (Determination, Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Motivation)

29 Dec

U.S. Figure Skating’s DREAM program was developed with the goal of using the skating and leadership skills of America’s top synchronized skaters to influence the lives of developing athletes. Each year skaters are selected from a highly accomplished pool of applicants from Team USA synchronized skating teams to join U.S. Figure Skating in various programs to support and promote synchronized skating in the United States.

In an effort to help promote Synchronized Skating, members of the DREAM program contribute to both a blog and a Facebook page. For more information on the DREAM program and to see the 2011-12 members, click here.

To view the most recent blog posting, Happy Holidays from California Gold, click here.

Rachael Flatt – 45 Feet Tall

20 Dec

On Monday, Dec. 19th, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, U.S. Figure Skating Senior Director, Events, Bob Dunlop, 2010 Olympian Rachael Flatt and a gathering of fans and media met at the corner of Pikes Peak Avenue and Tejon Street to officially dedicate a 45-foot vinyl wrap of Flatt to promote the ISU Four Continents Championships to be held in Colorado Springs, Colo. from Feb, 7-12, 2012. Click here for more information and f0r all-event and single-session tickets which begin at just $9.

 – Click here to view pictures from the event –

Michelle Kwan – Day in Review

16 Dec

Yesterday, Michelle Kwan was named as the lone member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2012. In case you missed anything that happened yesterday, this blog post will serve as a destination to get you all caught up.

Useful Links

Official Press ReleaseKwan’s icenetwork Bio

Photo SlideshowSKATING magazine covers through the years

USA Today Story

Induction, Reception and On-Ice Recognition

Michelle Kwan will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during an event on Friday, January 27th. The event will run from 10 p.m. to midnight and will include the induction and a reception. Tickets to the event may be purchased by clicking here.

Kwan will be honored in an on-ice recognition as the newest member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame on Saturday, January 28th during the senior Ladies free skate competition.

Kwan Fan Contest

Michelle Kwan has won SKATING magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award a record seven times. In honor of her amazing fans, it’s time for you to get your say! Send an email to socialmedia@usfigureskating.org with your favorite Kwan memory, a picture of you and Michelle or what she has meant to you. We’ll pick the top five to be put up for a vote to win a signed 5×7 of Michelle. The submissions will be all complied into a Kwan tribute as well on the SKATING magazine blog. Submissions will be accepted through the end of the day on Monday.

 

Michelle Kwan – Hall of Fame Class of 2012

15 Dec

Michelle Kwan, the most decorated figure skater in American history, has been elected to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2012. To honor this occasion, SKATING magazine blog will be publishing each of the SKATING magazine covers Kwan has appeared on each hour for the next seven hours! Be sure to check back each hour and re-live the career of Michelle Kwan.

2005

Michelle graduated from the University of Denver in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies. In May of 2011, she graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University with a master’s degree in international relations. In 2006, Michelle was appointed the first public diplomacy envoy, a role she continues to fill under President Barack Obama.

2003

Michelle won SKATING magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award a record seven times. In 2003, the U.S. Figure Skating, which publishes SKATING, announced that the award would be renamed the “Michelle Kwan Trophy.”

2001

In 2001, Michelle received the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award, which is given to America’s best amateur athlete.

2000

Michelle received 57 perfect 6.0 marks in major competitions, the most of any skater in history. She was awarded at least one 6.0 at her last five U.S. Championships, a record that will endure as the 6.0 system is no longer used. At the 1998 U.S. Championships, Kwan earned a record 15 perfect 6.0 marks out of a possible 18.

1998

Michelle won a U.S. record nine World medals — 5 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze. Her nine U.S. titles is a record she shares with Maribel Vinson Owen.

1996

After a pair of silver-medal performances at the U.S. Championships in 1994 and 1995, Michelle won the first of nine U.S. titles in San Jose, Calif., in 1996.

1993

Michelle’s interest in figure skating began at the age of 5 when she followed her older siblings onto the ice. Ron was a hockey player and Karen was a figure skater.

Team USA Earns Four Medals in Quebec

11 Dec

icenetwork.com (For full event coverage)

Starting Order/Results Page  Twitter

TV Schedule/Competition Notes (PDF)  Photo Gallery

Team USA earned four medals in Quebec at the Grand Prix Final and Junior Grand Prix Final including two gold medals. Meryl Davis & Charlie White became the first U.S. team ever to win three straight gold medals at a Grand Prix Final with their top performance in ice dancing while Jason Brown earned gold in the men’s event of the Junior Grand Prix Final. Also earning podium finishes were Joshua Farris with a bronze in the junior men’s event and Britney Simpson & Matthew Blackmer, with a junior pairs bronze medal.

Davis & White continued their winning streak with their ninth consecutive gold medal as the Americans posted a best-ever short dance score of 76.17 to give them a five-point margin heading into the free dance competition. In the free dance, Davis & White edged Canadians Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir by .05 points, posting another personal best, to win the competition by 5.21 points.

Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat of France earned the bronze, while Americans Maia & Alex Shibutani, competing in their first Grand Prix Final, posted season-best scores in both the short and free dance competitions and finished in fifth place overall.

Brown, in his second season on the JGP circuit, placed second in both segments of competition and won the gold medal over silver medalist Han Yan of China and teammate Farris, who won bronze in his second trip to this event. Brown set international best scores throughout the competition.

The ladies crown belongs to Italy’s Carolina Kostner. She has medaled at each of her four trips to the Final, but this year’s is her first gold. She was joined on the podium by Japan’s Akiko Suzuki and Russia’s Alena Leonova. Alissa Czisny, competing on a sore left leg, finished fifth in the ladies field.

Canada’s Patrick Chan skated to an easy 11-point victory over Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi, who battled from a fifth-place showing in the short program to win silver. Javier Fernandez of Spain won bronze in his first trip to the Grand Prix Final. American Jeremy Abbott skated his best free skate of the season, landing a quad in competition for the first time since the 2010 U.S. Championships, but finished fifth overall.

Like the junior ladies podium, the junior ice dancing podium also belonged to Russia. Victoria Sinitsina & Ruslan Zhigansin led the way followed by Anna Yanovskaia & Sergei Mozgov and Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin. In their JGP Final debut Team USA’s Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton finished fourth

By a slim margin, senior pairs gold went to Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy of Germany. They edged Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov by 0.18 points. Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, also of Russia, took bronze.

Simpson & Blackmer, who formed their partnership over the summer, earned the junior pairs bronze medal. They enjoyed two clean skates and totaled 146.35 points. They were joined on the podium by China’s Wenjing Sui & Cong Han in first and Katherine Bobak & Ian Beharry of Canada in second.

Russia enjoyed a sweep of the junior ladies podium with Julia Lipnitskaia leading the way. Teammates Polina Shelepen and Polina Korobeynikova finished second and third, respectively. American Vanessa Lam, competing in her first JGP Final, finished fifth overall.

Ice Dancing Quotes

Meryl Davis (West Bloomfield, Mich./Arctic FSC) & Charlie White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Detroit SC)

(training town: Canton, Mich.)

1st place (1 SD, 1 FD)

Total: 188.55; FD: 112.38; SD: 76.17 points (all are international PB scores)

(on winning nine consecutive competitions) White – “It’s fantastic. The consistency of our training, coming every day to the rink with a good attitude and bringing it over to competition with the same sort of idea is what we do. We control ourselves and so far we’re doing a good job of that.”

(on winning FD by 0.05 points over CAN’s Virtue and Moir) Davis – “The closeness of the points will drive us even more. We work very hard every day but having Scott and Tessa there right next to us pushes us that much more. We’re really excited to get back home and keep working and improving.”

(on winning three straight Grand Prix Finals) White – “It’s a testament to our hard work, our coaches and our parents,  who are always helping us. I wish we could take all the credit, but it’s everyone that helps us. Of course our partnership is a key, having been together for so long and being able to rely on each other. At this point, in senior, it’s something you get used to, but at the same time you can’t take it for granted.”

(on performing best free dance of season) Davis – “We feel really good about where our skating is. It’s nice to be rewarded for it with the points. I think we can feel the growth of both programs from competition to competition. We’ll stick on that upward trend throughout the season.”

Maia Shibutani (Ann Arbor, Mich./SC of New York) & Alex Shibutani (Ann Arbor, Mich./Arctic FSC)

(training town: Canton, Mich.)

5th place (5 SD, 5FD)

Total: 160.55; FD: 95.03; SD: 65.53 points (all are season-high scores)

(on Final experience) Maia – “We feel really good. This was a good competition for us. We made a lot of improvements in our programs since the Grand Prix events. I think we have been really excited to be here. It’s our first Grand Prix, hopefully the first of many.”

(on preparing for U.S. Championships) Alex – “Like Maia said, it was our first Grand Prix Final and so we have tried to soak it all in as much as possible. We’re going to go home and work really hard. We are always going to make corrections and keep pushing the bar for ourselves so by the year we’re as good as we can be.”

(on free dance) Maia – “We’ve done a lot of hard work in order to improve everything about our programs. We’re really happy because within this competition, we see a big increase in our levels. That shows that we are going in the right direction.”

Team USA Adds Two Medals Saturday in Quebec

10 Dec

icenetwork.com (LIVE streaming of the GP Final)

Starting Order/Results Page  Twitter

TV Schedule/Competition Notes (PDF)  Photo Gallery

Team USA added a pair of medals today as Jason Brown and Joshua Farris both took home soft hardware. For complete event coverage, please visit icenetwork.com. The free dance is set for Sunday afternoon.

Brown, in his second season on the JGP circuit, placed second in both segments of competition and won the gold medal over silver medalist Han Yan of China and teammate Farris, who won bronze in his second trip to this event. Brown set international best scores throughout the competition.

The ladies crown belongs to Italy’s Carolina Kostner. She has medaled at each of her four trips to the Final, but this year’s is her first gold. She was joined on the podium by Japan’s Akiko Suzuki and Russia’s Alena Leonova. Alissa Czisny, competing on a sore left leg, finished fifth in the ladies field.

Canada’s Patrick Chan skated to an easy 11-point victory over Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi, who battled from a fifth-place showing in the short program to win silver. Javier Fernandez of Spain won bronze in his first trip to the Grand Prix Final. American Jeremy Abbott skated his best free skate of the season, landing a quad in competition for the first time since the 2010 U.S. Championships, but finished fifth overall.

By a slim margin, senior pairs gold went to Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy of Germany. They edged Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov by 0.18 points. Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, also of Russia, took bronze.

Like the junior ladies podium, the junior ice dancing podium also belonged to Russia. Victoria Sinitsina & Ruslan Zhigansin led the way followed by Anna Yanovskaia & Sergei Mozgov and Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin. In their JGP Final debut Team USA’s Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton finished fourth.

Junior Grand Prix quotes

Alexandra Aldridge (Birmingham, Mich./Detroit SC) & Daniel Eaton (Bloomfield, Mich./Detroit SC) – (training town: Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)

5th overall (5 SD, 4 FD) – Total: 129.01 points; FD: 77.42 points; SD: 51.59 points

(on free dance) Aldridge – “The free dance went well. We went into it thinking that placement doesn’t matter, we just want to skate the way we know we can skate and show people why we love this sport. This program really portrays that. We just had fun with it.”

(on crowd support) Eaton – “Our intention, our goal, at the start of the season was to express what we want out of the program and get the crowd really involved in our program. I think we accomplished it really well. Everybody seems to really enjoy the program. It went great.”

(on what they will take out of JGP Final) Eaton – “The whole environment of the Grand Prix Final is something we haven’t experienced before and it definitely gives us something to bounce back on going into U.S. Championships. This is such a big competition with the top competitors in the world here.”

(on close twizzles) Eaton – “Our goal this season with our twizzles was to pull off ‘Charlie and Meryl’ twizzles. We try to push it to the max every single time and get as close as possible and get in unison.”

Jason Brown (Highland Park, Ill./trains in Highland Park and Northbrook, Ill./Skokie Valley FSC) – 1st overall (2 SP, 2 FS) – Total: 208.41; FS: 139.64; SP: 68.77 points (All represent international PBs)

(on free skate) “It felt really good. The crowd was amazing. I felt like I had a lot of support out there and I tried my hardest to stay in the moment and do what I’ve been practicing.”

(on evolution of program) “We changed around a couple of elements where they are placed. The rearrangement helped a lot. We moved a lot of things so they would be in the second half. A lot of those jumps. We also added the Lutz with the hand over the head.”

(on what he takes from this competition) “The confidence of being here. To have a chance of competing at an arena. The only times I have skated in an arena is at nationals and Junior Worlds. To get another chance to do something like this before nationals is amazing.”

(on winning gold medal) “To be honest, I don’t even know. Ever since my first time being on the JGP circuit last season, it’s been my goal to make it to the Final. To get this far, I’m speechless, it’s a dream come true. It’s so exciting to be around these unbelievable skaters. Watching the senior men right before us was very inspiring.”

(on what’s next) “I hope to get my triple Axel. I would love to put that in for nationals and to keep going up from here.”

Joshua Farris (Colorado Springs, Colo./trains in Colorado Springs, Colo./Broadmoor SC) – 3rd overall (1 SP, 3 FS) – Total: 203.98; FS: 130.99; SP: 72.99 points

(on free skate) “I was kind of nervous going into the long. A little bit more calm than I have been in the past though. After that fall on the footwork, it hurt a little bit. I mean it was funny, but I had to get my legs underneath me again and I couldn’t do it soon enough. I did the best I could.”

(on medaling here) “I am happy that I medaled. I’m a little disappointed how I skated but it can’t all be perfect. I was good enough to medal for sure. I’m going to train harder and do better in the future.”

(on what’s next) “I’m going to rest for a bit and enjoy the holidays. I will keep the stamina up. After Christmas I’m going to work really, really hard.”

Jeremy Abbott (Aspen, Colo./trains in Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Detroit SC)

5th overall (2SP, 5 FS)

Total: 238.82; FS: 156.16; SP: 82.66 points

(on free skate) “It was the season’s best by far. Tying my skates, I could hear how the other boys did. I knew I had to throw it down to really keep my position or keep a medal. I started off the program really strong. I got a little off focus before the second Axel and then didn’t the Lutz-loop and was really happy because I was struggling with that in practice. Then going into the second Lutz, which is a new addition, my legs got tired and I gave it too much. I haven’t quite had the practice with it. I felt like I gave a strong performance. I had two mistakes, but I felt for the most part that I was focused through the majority of the program. I want each competition to get better and better. I did the quad here and I definitely gave a much better performance technically than I did in China or Russia. I got off the ice feeling much happier today than I did at either of those competitions.”

(on preparing for U.S. Championships) “Train. I feel like I’m on the right track. Maybe not perfect now, not a medal here. The whole goal was to continue improving and getting better through the season. I’ve more than stuck to that. I want to be one more step better at U.S. Championships, Four Continents and Words.”

Alissa Czisny (Auburn Hills, Mich./trains in Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Detroit SC)

5th overall (4 SP, 5 FS)

Total: 156.97; FS: 96.67; SP: 60.30 points

(on free skate) “Obviously, today was not my best and I’m disappointed in that. I learned to be tough and push through some pain.”

(on sore left leg) “It will be fine. It’s something I did in practice here. It’s something that it couldn’t be made worse skating on but it certainly wasn’t easy to skate on.”

(on the rest of the season) “It’s still early in the season. I’m going to go home, take a little time and rest. Then get ready for our U.S. Championships next month.”

Note: Czisny tweaked her left lower leg practicing a triple flip. Though sore, the injury is not serious and was not further affected by skating on it.