Skate America: The Final Report

I'm sitting in Logan Airport waiting for my flight back to TEXAS (yes, it must be capitalized) and realized that I had never followed up on my first blog about Skate America. While I was in Lake Placid, I was pretty much living and breathing skating, and since I got back to Natick on Monday night, I've just been trying to catch my breath. I have over an hour to go until my plane leaves, so I thought I would write a little bit more about my experience.

Saturday was another full day of skating for me, even though the competition didn't begin until 2 p.m. I spent the morning looking around the town of Lake Placid, which was a slight struggle since it was raining (rain was much better than snow, however, which was what I was afraid I would get). The skating that day covered all four disciplines, and it was wonderful to see Kim Yu-Na for the first time. She far outclassed the rest of the ladies' field, even though Rachael Flatt's program to "Sing, Sing, Sing" was really cute. That day also included two long programs and medal ceremonies. In the pairs competition, Shen & Zhao of China won the gold. In the men's competition, American Evan Lysacek won the gold. The other two men's medalists (Shawn Sawyer and Ryan Bradley) pulled up from way down in the pack to win the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Sunday was my last full day in Lake Placid. I slept late that morning because I had been up so late the night before. Once I finally got out, I went to Starbucks for my first peppermint hot chocolate of the season (yum!) and then went to the Olympic Museum at the Olympic Center. The competition began at 2 p.m. again that day. The ladies' competition was the marquee event, especially for the many Korean-American fans of Kim Yu-Na. It was crazy to see all the Korean flags and banners and watch as they tried to get her autograph before she even skated (I felt a little sorry for her). The pressure may have gotten to her a little bit because she did not perform very well in the long program. She still won the gold medal because of the huge lead she had built up in the short program. Rachael Flatt, however, was the true star of the afternoon as she landed seven triples in her long program. If she keeps on skating as consistently as she has in the past, she could be the American female skater to watch for this Olympics.

After the excitement of the ladies' long program, the free dance was a bit anti-climatic. The posters for Kim Yu-Na had all been removed from the arena, and many of the fans who had come just to see her left. I still enjoyed the competition and in some ways enjoyed it more because all of the people who had come just to see the ladies skate were gone. Belbin & Agosto of the U.S.A. won the competition handily. However, I really enjoyed the performance of Kimberly Navarro & Brett Bommentre — I love that they skate for the fans instead of the judges' scores.

Sunday night was the exhibition. Even though show skating isn't my favorite, it was nice to be able to enjoy the skating without worrying about taking pictures. (Speaking of pictures, you can see a few of the many I took here.) Luckily, this night's skating ended sooner than the other nights, so I was able to come back to my room earlier.

This past weekend at Skate America was wonderful. I loved Lake Placid and am already planning to visit again soon. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for my wonderful birthday present!

Miracle on Ice, 2009 Style

I am currently in Lake Placid, NY, for Skate America. I left Natick around 8 a.m. yesterday morning and arrived here around 2:40 p.m. after stopping at a mall in Albany for lunch. The first competition of the day was the compulsory dance at 3 p.m. and then the pairs’ short program and men’s short program took place this evening.

Some of the highlights of the day:
  • Seeing Shen and Zhao skate a magical short program. I learned later that their score was the highest pairs’ short program score ever. In a word, wow.
  • Almost running into Emily Hughes as I was heading for the arena. I think I acted cool and didn’t react too much.
  • Finally seeing a compulsory dance competition. I didn’t really know what to watch for, but it was still interesting to see the same routine done by every couple.
  • The beautiful costume worn by ice dancer Anna Cappellini from Italy. Click here for a picture.
  • Seeing Evan Lysacek win the short program (even though France’s Florent Amodio’s program was even more impressive and surprising).
  • Overhearing Peter Carruthers' conversation at the restaurant. It almost made up for having to eat by myself.
  • Having DSLR envy. People have impressive cameras at this event. I don’t ever remember seeing fans with such long lenses . . . it can be a little distracting.
  • Seeing the Olympic rings everywhere around town. I was so excited driving past the Olympic Center.
  • The beautiful scenery driving up here.
Today I get to see the original dance, pairs' long program, ladies' short program, and men's long program. I'm really looking forward to seeing Kim Yu-Na from South Korea. She's the current world champion and just amazing. Since the competition doesn't begin until 2 p.m., I'll be exploring Lake Placid until then.

This is the (skating) life!

Silver Belle

Almost two weeks ago, my beautiful cat Silver passed away. My family and I adopted her in April 1998, and I named her Silver after Michelle Kwan's silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Over the last year or so, she had not been feeling her best. My parents tried to help her get better, but she was just too sick.

Since my mom told me the news, I've been thinking about her and remembering all the little things that made her special. I keep remembering how tiny and cute she was as a kitten when she would "do the dinosaur" and chase after any ball we would throw around. When she was a little older, Paul and I would feed her Chicken Express off the breakfast room table. Her hair stuck to everything; all of my clothes had Silver hairs, and certain chairs would always be covered. She loved to climb in suitcases while we were packing but would always hide when we tried to put her outside.

Silver was a loving cat most of the time; she loved to sit in my Dad's lap and spent many nights curled up on my bed. She also was a spitfire at times, as Parker and the unfortunate Buddy discovered.  As she grew older, her quiet moments became more frequent, but she still had spunk. During some of the hardest times in my life, she was always there to give me unconditional love.

In some ways, losing Silver really hasn't hit me yet. I haven't been home in almost a year, and when I was last there, she was still doing fine. Even with my Sammy cat here and Parker at home, I know that Thanksgiving will be a little different this year.

Silver was a special cat. After all, she was my figure skating cat. :)