Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Calalang, Sidhu wrap up busy fall

California pair gears up for Greensboro; Sarah and Drew's top 10 for 2014
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Jessica Calalang and Zack Sidhu hang out with coach Jenni Meno backstage at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic, where the team won the bronze medal. -courtesy of Jessica Calalang

Congratulations to Grand Prix Final silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and bronze medalist Ashley Wagner. We watched nearly every moment live, and the level of the competition was generally fantastic. It was exciting to see Wagner pull up from sixth place to win a medal.

"Skating that long program was huge for me," Wagner texted us Monday. "Of course, it was great to pull up and medal, but I think that program was more about me showing the world what I'm capable of. I have many people who doubt if I can be competitive, and that long program should clear things up."

Indeed it should. The ladies competition at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships ought to be very dramatic!

Brian Orser finished off a spectacular year with another win; he coached the men's winners of the European championships, Olympics, world championships, world junior championships and Grand Prix Final.

Congratulations, also, to Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, and Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, who finished first in the inaugural ISU Challenger Series, consisting of 10 senior B events. In fact, U.S. pairs swept the top three positions, which should, hopefully, bode well for the future. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier finished second, and Jessica Calalang and Zack Sidhu were third.

Jade

Calalang and Sidhu had a very busy fall. They finished second at the U.S. International Classic and third at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic before competing at the Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup. We talked to them about their season, which was their first on the Grand Prix circuit.

"It was a good opportunity to get out there internationally on the senior level," Sidhu said. "It was good to be out there with the other skaters around the world and see that we can be competitive against them."

The pair didn't have a chance to explore Russia, but they took in some sights and did some shopping in Shanghai. They visited one of the famous underground markets, in a subway station; Sidhu said it was "the size of 10 Costcos."

"There are hundreds and hundreds of stores," Calalang said. "And people are trying get you to buy stuff. I got a phone case, and a wallet and a scarf ... I could have gone crazy in there."

They also visited a temple, which housed a giant block of jade.

"The monks were cleaning it, and they invite you to brush it for luck," Calalang said.

Calalang and her family all took turns brushing the dark green stone block, which Sidhu estimated at 5 feet wide and 10 feet tall.

Calalang and their coach, Todd Sand, also experienced a special treat: a 90-minute luxury foot massage.

"Our team leader told us about it," Calalang said. "After practice one day, Todd and I went over there and had our feet rubbed for an hour and a half. I felt like I was walking on clouds afterward."

The pair, who teamed up in 2010, train with Sand and Jenni Meno in Los Angeles.

"It's nice having a coaching team where they skated together," Sidhu said. "They know what you're going through. It's also nice because you get the girl's perspective from Jenni and the guy's perspective from Todd. He knows what it's supposed to feel like."

"It's really nice to say, 'Jenni, I'm feeling this -- why is that?' and she can correct it," Calalang agreed. "I can really relate to her."

The pair is looking forward to returning to Greensboro, North Carolina -- the site of their first U.S. championships -- next month.

"We're just trying to keep everything the same, trying to stay healthy," Calalang said. "We tweaked a few spots in both our short and our long, and it makes them flow better."

"I'm excited; last time was a good nationals," Sidhu said. "Hopefully, we're good to go, and we want to do the best we can. Also, my roommate is from there, and his parents have a house there, so we'll have a lot of people supporting us."

Top 10 moments of 2014

At this time of year, top 10 lists pop up everywhere, and we feel like joining in. Ten is a very arbitrary number, and we have undoubtedly left off many other important highlights. However, here are some things we'll be glad to remember from 2014:

10. Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski take over as the commentary team for figure skating at NBC. It's exciting to see how this young and hip pair has captured the interest of the public.

9. Mao Asada comes back from an off-the-podium finish at the Olympics, despite a superb free skate, to win the world championships in grand style.

8. Brian Boitano and Eric Radford come out publicly; Radford shows particular courage in speaking to the media about his private life at the peak of his career. He and skating partner Meagan Duhamel go on to win the Grand Prix Final days later.

7. Michelle Kwan emerges from many years out of the limelight to embrace her public persona, as her husband, Clay Pell, runs for governor of Rhode Island.

6. Tatiana Volosozhar and Max Trankov skate brilliantly at the Olympics to earn Russia its much-desired pairs gold.

5. Yuzuru Hanyu rebounds from a horrific crash with Han Yan at the Cup of China. He skates a magnificent program at the Grand Prix Final five weeks later, earning the highest technical score in the history of the international judging system despite a fall.

4. The inaugural team event at the Olympics is a big hit. It was thrilling to watch all the skaters on each team step onto the big podium and accept their medals.

3. Russian ladies continue to dominate. It is almost unbelievable how many superb Russian ladies are competing at the moment. They have had so many impressive performances this year that there's no way to pick just one. Likewise, the Japanese men are stunningly dominant.

2. Jason Brown's brilliant Riverdance performance at the 2014 U.S. Championships in Boston brings the crowd to its feet long before he finishes the program.

1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White cap off two undefeated seasons by becoming the first U.S. ice dance team ever to win Olympic gold.

Happy Holidays,

Sarah and Drew
Follow us on Twitter @SarahandDrew!