Monday, January 30, 2012

US Nats: Championship Dance

The competition is over and not only do we know the winners, but we even know the World Team and even who is 3rd Alternate for 4CC (pronounced Four Continents). So I hope this isn’t too anti-climactic.

The big story in Dance was “who will come in third?” Unlike with Ladies, Men and Pairs, we actually have three slots on the World team and the reigning Gold and Bronze world medalists skate for the US. So clearly they are going to end up in 1st and 2nd respectively leaving only one slot for Worlds undecided. And, with several new teams in the mix, it really is undecided.

I now need to make an aside to state: who reading this ever thought that the day would come when the US had only two slots for Mens, Ladies and Pairs but three for Dance? As much as I love dance, and as much as I predicted great things for David &White and the Shibutanis back when I first saw them skate, I am raising my hand right along with you.

Back to the competition…

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Look for me on tv!

If you are watching the US National Figure Skating Championship on tv today (Saturday) or tomorrow (Sunday), you will probably be able to see me because I'm in the front row. I'm wearing a maroon ski jacket over a brown striped shirt. And I should be easy to spot because skaters do lots of jumps and spins right by us and also I'm sitting right about the & in AT&T.

Here's a picture:

I'm sitting where that gal in white is sitting. (Yes, she's in my seat. Don't worry, I kicked her out for the main event.)

Also, you may be wondering where the event reports are for the rest of the short programs. I plan to do one long write-up of the rest of the Senior events once the competition is over because there really isn't time to do any more between now and then.

Friday, January 27, 2012

US Nats: The Championships Begin

People who watch skating on TV and aren't involved in their local skating scene, are often completely unaware that there is any skating going on at Nationals other than the Senior level, which they call the Championships. If you normally read my blog for the weight loss and workout content, you have probably been thinking "Novice? Junior? What the heck is that?" Well, now you know... in fact, there are skating levels below Novice starting with Pre-preliminary. (Yes, there is a level below Preliminary. In fact, there are several as there is also a Basic Skills program with 5 levels and Pre-preliminary skaters have often been skating for years.)

Yesterday was the start of what most people think of as Nationals as the first Championship events were competed. Coming to the arena, you could feel and see the difference. First, when we pulled into the parking lot, it seemed full of cars. It turns out that some people had sensibly parked near the exit so they could get out earlier and there was plenty of room just past them, but there were easily twice as many cars as any other day we attended. 

The second thing I noticed was that the arena had gotten fancier. There were balloon arches everywhere in USFSA colors (red, white & blue just like 20 million other sporting agencies and clubs). There were pretty vinyl stickers on the risers of the concrete steps advertising one of the sponsors.

But the most important change is that more than the generic arena concession stand was open. Yeah! Unfortunately, it became clear that Armadillo Willy's would never open as it's trapped behind some TV broadcasting area but at least we've got Sonoma Chicken Coop and Gordon Biersch to try out.

Oh, you want to know about the skating...

US Nats: Jr Pairs & Ladies

Junior Pairs

I thought it was interesting that during Junior Pairs, a bunch of people were tweeting about how horrible our Pairs are at the exact same time I was thinking how much better our pairs are than they were when I first started going to Nationals.

For example, there used to be a time when almost no Pairs team in the US was able to do SBS Spins and keep them in sync for the entire time. Now almost all of them do it. They also don't have Pairs Spins that crash into each other and get all wobbly and kind of die out. And this is Juniors we are talking about. It used to be that all but the top Senior Pairs and even some of those also had these issues.

That said, I think Death Spirals have gone downhill in some ways. Well, in one way. That is pretty much every single Death Spiral I've seen this weekend, the Lady has gone down into the final position by sticking her butt out and then laying down. That is NOT how you are supposed to get into a Death Spiral. The whole idea is that you are swooning, you gracefully sink down to the floor and then you die all why some guy is spinning you around on the ice. That's why they call it a Death Spiral. Er, at least I think that's why.

As far as the actual competition is concerned, the first skaters up where Cali and Nick. I enjoyed their program even they didn't have the hardest elements but it ended up putting them in last place.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

US Nats: Junior Finals - Dance

I'm a bit behind in my blogging as is normal for mid-week in Nationals. Therefore, I won't be talking about every performance, just the ones that stood out in some way or won a medal or were done by my favorites. I may not even do the Seniors at all. After all, there are a ton of people out there that only do Seniors so it's not like there is a need for one more.


Junior Dance

Wednesday was the last day of the Junior events. We started off with Junior Dance, which is my favorite event. Based on the Short Dance, my favorites were Howe & Janke, Pogrebinsky & Gudis, Bonacorsi & Mager (who I wanted to win) and Hertigage & Fast.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

US Nats: Time for Juniors

The Junior events started today. Well, Junior Men finished. There were only three events though so it was much more restful than yesterday.

I started the day having "one of those days". Got up late, got out of the house late, had to take Mini-Mac to Concord, realized I had left my coat at home and had to go back instead of straight to the arena. Rush, rush, rush and I ended up getting to my seat about 5 minutes before the Junior Dance Short Dance started.

It was totally worth rushing to get there though even if the first event was Junior Pairs and normally I'm not big on watching Pairs. But this was different because I had some horses in this race.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

US Nats: Novice Monday

Today was the end of the Novice events and start of Junior Ladies. It was a very, very long day.

Novice Dance

It started around 10:30 am with Novice Dance. Just as I was unhappy with the "dance" qualities of the Pattern Dances, I felt like most of the Free Dances were just programs and not two people dancing with each other, but on ice. There were some notable exceptions.

Monday, January 23, 2012

US Nats: Novice Sunday

The first few days of any US Nationals are packed. That's because all the Novices do their Short programs (or Pattern Dances for the Ice Dancers) the first day and they throw in the Junior Mens SP too. The second day, the Novices do their Freeskates (or Free dance for dance) to finish so then they do Novice awards and also start the Junior Ladies. It's a LOT of skating over two days.

Today I got there just as Novice Dance was starting. I experimented with tweeting after every performance. It was hard but doable but it killed my iPhone battery and I never did figure out how to log onto Twitter on my iPad. So I had to stop eventually.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A bit of blathering about US Nationals

The 2012 US National Figure Skating Championships are in town this week. The last time they were here was 1996 and that was my first live "real" skating competition. It was pretty memorable for a number of reasons. First, it was the year Rudy Galindo had his big breakthrough and won. Second,  it was the year Michelle Kwan became "Michelle Kwan" (with her Salome program) and won. Third, it was the first (and last) time a reigning National Champion (Nicole Bobek) had to withdraw for medical reasons and yet wasn't put on the World team anyway. Finally, and more personally, it was this competition that launched my career as a figure skating photographer.

What a difference 16 years makes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quitting while I'm ahead

In general, I have a tendency to push the limits. So today when I went out for my first run of 2012 (and my first run since Oct. 27th and my first run since I hurt my brain) and I made myself turn around at the 5 minute mark so I really would do a 10 minute run and not push it to a 15, 20 or even 30 minute run, I was quite proud of myself.

In the past I would have run until my brain started to hurt and then limped back home and spent the remainder of the day scolding myself for being such a bird brain.

Hmmm. Maybe you can teach a old dog new tricks.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Adventures in Cake Pop Land

Cake Pops, The Prologue

Recently I have become obsessed with cake pops. The funny thing is, my obsession was full-blown before I'd even eaten a single one. There is something just so completely appealing about them -- a little bite of cake and frosting on a stick -- in a way that cupcakes are not. (For the record, I think cupcakes are everything I don't like about cake magnified; I can't wait for the cupcake fad to fade away.)

My first obsession with cake pops became how to make them without using icing. I am not a big fan of icing to start with and the idea of a cake smooshed up with icing and then covered with chocolate just seemed way too sweet to me. So I got interested in the cake pop makers that I was seeing on tv. But I worried they wouldn't really work and then I would have wasted my money.

Fast forward to Black Friday...