Thursday, January 23, 2014

Behind the Scenes with Patrick Chan

I just found this behind-the-scenes news program on Patrick Chan. The show, broadcast in Canada, profiles the championship skater and the professional team behind his success. I didn't really know much about Patrick prior to watching this program, and really enjoyed getting some insights into this three-time World Champion. I found Patrick's former coach, Christy Krall's explanations of the science behind performing quadruple jumps to be particularly interesting. If you'd like to learn more about this favorite for the top of the men's podium in Sochi, this program is worth your while.

Boy Meets World: Jason Brown's Meteoric Rise

If you didn't know the name Jason Brown before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston two weeks ago, you do now. The 19-year-old Illinois native went from being an up-and-coming skater earlier this season, to someone who has now officially arrived. Brown, who competed for the first time as a senior internationally this fall, captured the silver medal at Nationals, earning one of two coveted Olympic spots.

Brown first brought skating fans to their feet at the 2011 Nationals in Greensboro with this must-watch, rousing freeskate to "Nessun Dorma":

The performance was a harbinger of great things to come.

In Boston, the ponytailed-Brown ignited the audience with his warm personality, broad smile, complex choreography and impressive skating skills.

In his short program Brown set the tone with his popular program to the Prince song, "The Question of You."

In the freeskate, the crowd was Brown's from the start. I was there, in the fourth row, to witness, one of the greatest, most well-received freeskates in the history of Nationals. From the time Brown took the ice, the crowd was going crazy. When the program began, the audience's enthusiasm grew with each jump. By the time Brown skated to the end of the rink, about to start his footwork sequence, the crowd erupted in anticipation of the entertaining footwork sequence in time to the Riverdance music. Before the program ended, everyone in the crowd was on his/her feet cheering wildly. It was an extraordinary moment!

Now Brown's freeskate has been the talk of social media, even appearing on the popular Web site, Buzzfeed:

If you haven't already seen Brown's program, or if you simply want to enjoy it once again, take this opportunity to cherish a fantastic moment in U.S. Championships history. Congratulations for stealing the hearts' of the audience, Jason Brown! Best wishes to you in Sochi!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow Day Celebration: Caryn Kadavy's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" by Celine Dion

Today I received the gift of time. The last two weeks have been beyond fantastic, but exhausting. I traveled to Boston for a trip of a lifetime to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships (more about that in a later post), I endured the end of a whirlwind semester in my first year of teaching, I traveled to State College to reunite with college friends and celebrate a 30th birthday, I reconnected with an old friend from my previous career, and I successfully submitted my quarter two grades. Even recounting my schedule has me feeling fried, despite how rejuvenating and exhilarating most of those events were. The thing about me, and I'm sure this is the case for most people, is after I have a lot of excitement, I need time to unwind, to recharge, to process and reflect. I have not had a moment of downtime until this afternoon. A huge snowstorm blew its way across the East Coast, hitting Maryland with about 10 inches of snow, bitter winds and near-freezing temperatures. I was in school for a professional day, finishing up my grades, when I received word that the building would be closing at 11 a.m. When I got home, I worked for another 45 minutes to finalize my grades, then collapsed under a fuzzy electric blanket, immediately drifting to sleep as the snow fell peacefully outside my window. The remainder of my day has been a great chance for me to take a break from school work and spend some time on other things that I've been putting off for awhile. It feels good to be productive toward projects that make me happy, such as my blog. It's already been announced that tomorrow is a snow day, which gives me an extra day to take care of myself and process what's happened in 2014 so far. What a wonderful gift it is to have an unexpected free day appear in the middle of your week. Whoever has been praying for snow, God bless you! :)

To celebrate this blissful mid-week snow break, I'd like to highlight a video that I haven't watched in some time, but remember quite fondly as being one of the most lovely figure skating performances I remember seeing in the mid-90s skating boom. Caryn Kadavy, a 1988 Olympian, skated this knockout performance to Celine Dion's powerful ballad, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now."
Caryn is the epitome of a classic, beautiful skater. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Twenty Years Later: the Nancy/ Tonya Saga

It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in Detroit, coming off the practice ice at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The "whack heard 'round the world" quickly thrust Kerrigan, the comely ice princess, into a media frenzy. Harding, was also in the spotlight, but in a not-so-glamorous fashion, as more information started to leak, linking her to the attack. What ensued was one of the greatest sports/ media stories in history. The upside was that despite the tragedy, figure skating was suddenly a top-watched event. The 1994 winter Olympics in Lillehammer Norway, the epic "showdown" between Kerrigan and Harding, earned the 6th highest TV ratings of all-time. Of course, Harding ended up having a meltdown and finished 10th; whereas, Kerrigan sparkled like her golden Vera Wang dress, narrowly missing Olympic gold by one tenth of one point, by one judge. Though settling for silver behind Ukraine's nymph-like orphan, World Champion Oksana Baiul, Kerrigan's return to the ice triumph, only weeks after the attack, was one of the finest I, and the world, has ever witnessed.

Kerrigan's attack was heartless, brutal, and absolutely awful; however, if one must look on the bright side, the popularity of the sport that resulted from the media blitz surrounding the attack truly did wonders for the athletes involved, and for fans, such as myself, who were caught up in the enchanting euphoria of the magical world of figure skating. I remember coming home from school on Jan. 6, and seeing Nancy Kerrigan, in her white practice dress, crying on the TV screen. I remember my sister, Devon, and I asking my mom, "Who is that beautiful woman, and why is she crying?" From that point on, we were both transfixed. I watched every skating show on TV, read every skating preview article in the paper, and watched the 1994 Olympics on repeat. Yes, in the winter of 1994, figure skating spun into my life at full speed, and depth of joy and experiences it brought with it has never left. Twenty years ago today, my life was irrevocably changed forever, and I've enjoyed every second. Figure skating is not just a sport to me, it's a life-long passion.

Below are some interesting articles about the 20-year-anniversary of Kerrigan's attack, and some Nancy/Tonya videos.,,20772550,00.html

Tonya's 1994 Nationals/ Olympic Experience:

Nancy Kerrigan's 1994 Olympic Experience:

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Celebrating a Glorious New Year: Michelle Kwan's "This Time Around" by Linda Eder

Today was such a beautiful day! After feeling rested, despite hours upon hours of grading yesterday, I was so happy to escape from the house and go out into the world today! I ran errands, but the fun kind that involved browsing stores, went to the gym, and then got my nails done (toenail color: Mrs. Robinson! Gotta love those names). To top it all off, despite frigid conditions, the sun was warm, and bright as it glinted off the snow. When I got home, I spent a nice evening sitting by a crackling fireplace, grading (surprise, surprise). Besides the grading, what more could a person ask for on a Saturday? It's nice to feel so rested, happy, and after the gym--healthy!

To celebrate this glorious start to 2014, I'm posting Michelle Kwan's exhibition from the 2001 season. Skating to "This Time Around" by the incomparable Linda Eder, Michelle skates with extra sparkle, dazzle, and command. As one You Tube viewer posted :
"What a combo. Michelle Kwan and Linda Eder. Two superstars with grace and beauty!! INCREDIBLE!"

This song is fitting for the new year because it emphasizes making changes, turning things around, and capitalizing on a fresh start.

Here are the lyrics:

This time around I'll take the moment
This time around I'll make it last
I've had my share of wasted moments
But this time around I'm holding fast
This time around I will be stronger
Stronger than I've been before
I'll find the sky and soar
This time around

This time around I will be daring
I'm going where I've never been
This time around luck will come knocking
And when he does I'll let him in
This time around-No second places
I'm showing aces-I'll win
I'm gonna have it all
This time around Love, I'm gonna find you
Happiness, I'm right behind you
I've had my share of crying
But there's no denying I'm on my way

This time around I'll taste the glory
And I'm not going down without a fight
This is my life, my own story
And this time around I'll get it right
This time around I'm gonna find it
Look out world, watch me shine, shine
I'm gonna grab that big brass ring
And I'm gonna make it mine
This time around, I'm gonna make it mine

This year I've resolved to make the changes that I struggled to make in 2013. This year I've resolved to, as my fortune cookie fortune read tonight, "answer just what your heart prompts you." This year I've resolved to find my "superpower" and be the best I can be, in my own way, which is the definition of success (as suggested by the CEO of Twitter in a speech I heard on the radio today). Basically, "this time around" I'm going to take initiative, responsibility, and ultimately, work toward my own potential, and find the happiness to succeed.

Thank you, Linda Eder, and Michelle, for instilling the "this time around" message with such command, grace, and glory!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snow Day Celebration: Maia and Alex Shibutani

It was a pleasant surprise to have a snow day today! And what a beautiful snow it was!

In honor of this fine winter day today, here's a wonderful skating video to watch while you're relaxing on the couch in the warmth of your home: the effervescent pair of Maia and Alex Shibutani, skating to "Smile" and "Let's Face the Music and Dance." Terrific performance!!

Countdown to New Years: Kurt Browning's "What a Wonderful World"

This post a little belated due to my internet access being down on New Year's Day. Wishing everyone the happiest of New Year's wishes, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014! Enjoy Kurt Browning's "What a Wonderful World" exhibition by the legendary crooner, Louis Armstrong.