The Inside Edge: Weir ups dancers' creepy factorPairs skater Simpson wants to compete again; Drew stands in for Nagasu
With Sarah's arrival in Greensboro (tearing herself away from the Australian Open), we are back at full strength and on the hunt for good stories. Sarah did, by the way, get a ponytail patdown from a fresh TSA officer, just like Jason Brown.
In the stands during the junior dance event was the senior team of Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, reminiscing about competing in the junior event the last time they were in Greensboro. McManus told us that Johnny Weir worked with them a bit on their free dance.
When he's in Delaware, Weir trains at The Pond Ice Arena, but he still gets his skates from the pro shop at the University of Delaware rink where Cannuscio and McManus train. The team's coach happened to see him one day and asked if he would be interested in working with them; she was looking for a perspective outside of ice dance.
"He said he would, and we spent about an hour working on the free dance," McManus said. "It was character work -- he wanted to give us star quality, and from someone who's such a star, we were happy to take whatever advice he wanted to give us!"
The team's free dance is to "Danse Macabre," with an emphasis on "macabre." McManus said the team will be wearing pale makeup and portraying, more or less, dead people.
"At one point, he had me turn Anastasia around by holding her hair," he said. "He helped us to be more creepy."
Britney Simpson, the 2013 U.S. junior pairs champion, is here, watching the event from the stands. A partnership earlier this year didn't pan out, so she's in Greensboro looking for possibilities.
"I'm looking for anybody, anywhere," she said. "I'd like to skate for the U.S."
Simpson had been training in Canada, but some health issues this fall made it hard for her to leave her home country.
"I kept telling the doctors I was tired," she said. "Actually, it was at Champs Camp...we were required to have a blood test. I was diagnosed with hemochromatosis; my body absorbs too much iron. Luckily, I caught it quick enough before it caused serious damage, like liver failure. There's no cure, but they do phlebotomy every few weeks."
Simpson says she is feeling healthy and training every day.
"I'm coaching myself at the moment," she said. "I'm ready to come back and compete. It's so weird being on this side of the ice."
The only man
Mirai Nagasu wasn't able to attend the draw for the ladies short program Tuesday, so she asked Drew to go in her place. He was the only man at the ladies draw, and he did a good job: He drew 22nd, last to skate, for Nagasu.
Another great name
We really should have mentioned Ernie Utah Stevens when we were talking about great names Monday. We'll try to find him and ask him where his fantastic middle name comes from. Stevens and partner Caitlin Fields threw it down with a superb short program Tuesday night to lead the junior pairs field with a score that would be respectable in the senior ranks.
Olympic champion sightings: 4. Marina Klimova, Carol Heiss Jenkins and Hayes Alan Jenkins today, and Charlie White on Tuesday. This is the first time Charlie has counted as a sighting, since he wasn't an Olympic champion yet during last year's championships in Boston. We love it.
Sarah and Drew
Follow The Inside Edge on Twitter @SarahandDrew