Ice Network

The Inside Edge: A parade of young, old characters

Ade arrives with second child; Castile, Meekins return as coaches
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Kori Ade, coach of Jason Brown, with her baby, Kaia. -Sarah S. Brannen

Day Two at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and the weather continues to be a big story: Lots of flight cancellations are still causing headaches, for Jason Brown and coach Tom Zakrajsek, among many others. It's not Boston's fault this time, though; it's warm and rainy here, just to give everyone a full range of the Massachusetts winter experience.

Brown had a scary weather-related experience two days ago when he spun out in heavy snow in Colorado and totaled his car. Coach Kori Ade assured us that he's absolutely fine.

"He didn't even go to the hospital," she said. "He was changing lanes and lost traction, spun out and hit the median three times. He's fine, he's in great spirits. He said, 'My parents didn't even get mad at me!'"

Ade is pushing her small baby, Kaia, around, and her daughter, Athena, is here too, as she has been every year since she was born.

"It's her fourth birthday," Ade said. "And she just picked up her fifth credential."

Ade also showed us video on her phone of her student, Jordan Moeller, doing a great triple Axel in practice in Boston, although he told us he won't include the jump when he competes.

Junior pairs skater Chelsea Liu is still without skates; her partner, Devin Perini, practiced on his own this morning at the Skating Club of Boston. Senior pair Jessica Calalang and Zack Sidhu are bringing Liu's skates with them when they fly in from Los Angeles later Monday, so everyone in the group is hoping there are no flight delays.

"I think it might actually be a good thing," coach Jenni Meno said. "A day off to relax; it might be nice!"


Kelly Benzinger, coach of novice man Colton Johnson, is using an unusual form of transportation here, wheeling around on a three-wheeled scooter with her cast-encased right leg held up behind her.

"I fractured my tibia three weeks ago," she said. "I thought about trying to get around on crutches, but I'm using this instead."

Benzinger said she fell on her front steps, not on the ice, as always seems to be the way. The scooter folds up for cab and bus rides, and she has a great attitude, despite facing three more weeks in a cast.

"I call her Scooter now," her colleague, Thomas Amon, said.

As for Johnson, he was in last place after the novice short program, but he had a great attitude going into the free skate.

"I've still got a chance!" he said Monday morning, laughing ruefully.

And he did, in fact, pull up a spot to 11th place.


Glamorous 2007 U.S. pairs champion Brooke Castile is here, coaching the novice pair of Kailey Matkin and Justin Highgate-Brutman. It's her first time coaching at nationals, and she's excited to be here again.

"It feels weird to be here without Ben!" she said, referring to her former partner, Ben Okolski.

Castile heads home Tuesday to be with her husband, Kevin O'Keefe, whom she married last summer, but she says she plans to be at the Championships next year, for sure.


We spotted former U.S. dance champion Russ Witherby during the novice events. He told us he just got engaged to designer Michael Kuluva, whom he has been dating for a year. The two plan a sunset beach wedding in Laguna, Calif., in January 2015.

"We tried to get 12/13/14," Witherby said, "But it wasn't available."

Witherby is still in touch with the partner with whom he won the 1992 U.S. title, April Sargent.

"April came to New York Fashion Week this spring and sat with Michael," he said.


Your correspondent, Drew, is here as a coach this week -- a new and exciting development for us! He was in the kiss and cry with student Luke West, who won the bronze medal in novice men. Zakrajsek, Becky Calvin and Drew have given all their students funny nicknames: West's is "Speedy." His mascot, which he has with him, is Dash from The Incredibles.

It was a great day of novice events! We're looking forward to another exciting day Tuesday. Until then, follow us on Twitter @SarahandDrew, and we'll do our best to send along more news and pictures.

Sarah and Drew