Sunday, March 29, 2009

Worlds Apart

A little over seven years ago I was a volunteer at the US Figure Skating championships at the Staples Center here in LA. I was legal counsel for the 2002 Championships which were run by the All Year Figure Skating Club, of which my daughter was a member. I did it largely to get my daughter a spot on the sweeper team. By the time the championships occurred, she was not really skating anymore. In fact, she had to borrow a pair of skates from her former coach because her old skates did not fit her. I had the pleasure of watching several events from the ice while I chaperoned the young skaters who picked up the stuffed Chevrolet logos that were the only thing people were allowed to throw on the ice in the immediately post 9/11 world. I got my own gray flannel jacket with the 2002 Championship logo--gray so that we faded into the background when the cameras were on us. The view was spectacular. I remember watching Michelle Kwan and in particularly Sasha Cohen who was incredibly fast and flexible.

At the time, the organizers of the event were planning to bid on getting the World Figure Skating championship in 2009. One of them told me to plan for it if my daughter kept skating. Fast forward to 2009 and I realized that I had to get tickets to Worlds since it was in LA and these people I worked with on the 2002 championship had planned it so long ago.

Unfortunately due to personal issues, I was unable to make to the first 2 events for which I had tickets. I particularly was unhappy about missing the Men's Free Skate where my favorite US men's skater, Evan Lysacek, won the gold. His performance can be seen here. My daughter reminded me today that she and her friend watched Evan a few months ago at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo practice his quad over and over. She told me he was a powerful and "scary" skater because of his strength but that he could not land the quad. He apparently did not attempt the quad due to injury but landed 8 clean triples. Congratulations to Evan!

Last night we saw the Women's Free Skate. Our seats were just above the "kiss and cry" so I also had a good view of the coaches "conducting" from the sidelines- particularly Brian Orser who was fun to watch. In the Women's Free Skate, my fave, US national champ Alyssa Czisny, had bombed the short program so she skated early in the second group of 4 (the best skaters come at the end). She had what appeared to me from the distance to be a beautiful skate but technically flawed I guess because she only got credit for 3 triples even though it looked like she did more. In any event, she did not get enough points to do more than pull her to 11th place. Yu-Na Kim won with a phenomenal long program to match her apparently phenomenal short program. I do not recall seeing anyone jump so high and effortlessly before making so many rotations. Here is a short and distant clip showing her first jump (a combination jump) of the long program:

Mao Asada landed her triple axel in front of the judges and then fell on her second triple axel a few seconds later. All in all an enjoyable 4 hours even including the women in the beginning who were ranked 19-24 in the short program. One of those young women slammed hard into the boards on one of her jumps and had to be escorted off the ice by the medics. But she came back after 3 minutes and finished her program to a round of enthusiastic applause for her courage. My friend Doug Williams was one of the presenters on the podium. He looked dapper holding the purple flowers that went to the top three skaters.

Today was the Exhibition of Champions, a two and a half hour showcase for the top skaters performing show pieces rather than competition pieces. Lots of spinning and footwork. Not too much jumping (except for Brian Joubert). They all looked exhausted but happy. Figure skating is a strange life. While we were on line to get in, my husband asked a young girl with her mother whether the girl skated. She said yes and the mom said she was a skating mom. I said I was a recovering skating mom but I still wake up sometimes at 5 am with the urge to drive someplace far away where I can sit in the freezing cold for hours. Here's to all the skating moms and dads of the champions and all the competitors at Worlds. You all deserve a medal.

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