The Inside Edge: Zawadzki faces media, trains hardNebelhorn full of priceless reactions in kiss and cry; Ando's baby a hit
The Team USA media summit that took place this week provided figure skaters and many other winter athletes the opportunity to face the media and pose for promotional photos. Agnes Zawadzki told us she found the event both thrilling and stressful.
"It was a whirlwind," she said. "I was so honored to be invited to it. We started off Monday morning with a big media interview with all the media outlets. We walked out and we had intro music, and I was like, 'Oh my god.'"
Zawadzki, the 2012 and 2013 U.S. bronze medalist, joined Evan Lysacek, Ashley Wagner, Max Aaron, Gracie Gold and Jeremy Abbott in a press conference before smaller group interviews and one-on-one sessions.
"It was literally the scariest thing of my entire life," Zawadzki said. "I've never seen so many media looking at me. I was sitting next to Jeremy and I was like, 'I'm going to have a heart attack!' I always get nervous talking to people and doing interviews. That's the biggest press interview that I've ever had, and it was definitely nerve-wracking."
All the athletes were confronted by media who asked their opinion about the recently passed Russian anti-gay law.
"I was so nervous, my mind was racing, and I feel like I was a blank when it was time to answer stuff," Zawadzki said. "A prime example of me getting tongue-tied was the question about the Russian legislation. Of course, I personally don't agree with the Russian legislation because I believe that everyone should have equal rights, but I'm training really hard and trying to make the Olympic team because that has always been my dream."
After the interviews, the skaters did some photo shoots, wearing lots of different looks against different backgrounds. They were also given some nice Team USA gear.
"My favorite shoot was when we got to rock out to a song," Zawadzki said. "I brought a nice outfit in case we had to dress up, and they gave us two sweaters, mittens and gloves. I love the gloves! The mittens say 'Go USA.' And they gave us a shirt and cool duffel bags."
The athletes stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, and Zawadzki was impressed with the accommodations.
"The hotel that we stayed at was so beautiful! It was the biggest room for one person, with a full kitchen, two fireplaces, a dining room with seating for six -- it was my dream apartment. I'm going to request that every time I go on an international," she said, laughing.
Zawadzki also enjoyed getting glimpses of some of the other Olympic hopefuls.
"I saw the bobsled team, and they were huge!" she said. "I did walk past Lolo Jones, but I didn't get to meet her. I wish I had been able to hear their stories and their training plans, what their journey is like."
Zawadzki was back on the ice Tuesday, although she has a minor injury at the moment.
"I pulled my adductor, so for the last week I haven't been jumping much," she said. "It's nothing major, just a part of skating. I'm trying to stay on the ice and work on choreography and keep my cardio up."
After the U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City, where she finished a disappointing fourth, Zawadzki has made changes to her training regimen.
"We went back to the drawing board," she said. "We upped the volume a lot, and we're trying to change my mindset. We're doing a lot more sets. It definitely makes the program go by a lot faster, but I still have a lot of work to do."
Zawadzki says her goal for her two Grand Prix events, in China and Russia, is to put out two solid programs.
"They don't have to be perfect; I just want them to be two strong, competitive programs," she said. "The summit definitely inspired me. Just being able to tell your story and be a part of all the cool photo shoots motivates me every time I wake up in the morning. I would just love to be on the team and represent Team USA. That's been my goal since I was a little girl, and it would mean so much, not just for me, but for my family. They've put so much into my career."
Early season bits
We were glued to the icenetwork live stream of the Nebelhorn Trophy. This competition was one of Drew's favorites when he was competing, and it's always extra-exciting in the Olympic year, when it serves as a qualifier for countries that haven't already earned spots. We were inspired to name a few early-season superlatives:
Best use of an invisible prop: Artur Dmitriev's fencing foil, possibly on loan from Philippe Candeloro, with which he dueled throughout his D'Artagnan free skate.
Best kiss-and-cry reaction in kiss and cry: It was sweet to see skaters realizing they had earned the coveted Olympic spot -- Kerstin Frank's shriek of happiness and Brendan Kerry's "Seriously?" were among the best. But our favorite was Jeremy Ten after his free skate: "I won a medal?!?"
Best accessory: Miki Ando's baby Himawari, who accompanied Ando as she made her return to competition in Oberstdorf.
Best costume: The best costume reveal of the season so far happened at the U.S. Challenge Skate in Salt Lake City, as Connor Fleming ripped open his Clark Kent shirt to reveal the Superman logo inside during his Superman program with partner Alexandria Yao.
We're busy watching the Ondrej Nepela Memorial and the Finlandia Trophy this week, where there is already a winner for loudest pants: Ukraine's Dmitri Ignatenko's short program costume. Don't miss it.
Sarah and Drew
@SarahandDrew on Twitter