Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Cassar yearns to compete again

Impending blizzard has skaters, families thinking about early departures
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Jonathan Cassar is making a name for himself as a choreographer, but he admits he does miss the thrill of competition. -Jay Adeff

With so many newly formed teams competing in the senior pairs event Saturday, it was nice to see how much affection and support there was between partners who haven't been skating together very long.

Simon Shnapir was visibly encouraging DeeDee Leng as they skated; when she landed her throw triple, he shouted, "Perfect!" After they were done, the two shared a long hug. Shnapir told us last night that he had said to Leng, "It will never be as hard again as it was this time."

Todd Waggoner, the 1986 U.S. pairs champion, is here for the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. We met him last night and he told us that he had skated in this very arena 27 years ago. Pairs has changed a lot since then; Waggoner said he prefers dance spins to pairs spins now.

All the skaters, coaches and families from the northeast were freaking out about the big snowstorm predicted for Monday. Some people left today, possibly due to the blizzard. The Shnapirs live just a few miles from Sarah, so we were all brainstorming about what to do. The Dolenskys were packing their car, but then they just have about a six-hour drive to Atlanta.

Both Timothy Dolensky and Sebastian Payannet said they were excited to compete in Sunday's free skate. Jeremy Abbott, whom we encountered on the elevator, said he had slept well and was eager to take the ice. He seemed extremely relaxed, but maybe after four titles the pressure is different.


Jonathan Cassar stopped by on his way to check out of the hotel. He told us that he had choreographed Daisuke Murakami's short program, about a month before the NHK trophy, which Murakami won.

"I had been working with him when Frank [Carroll] was gone," Cassar said. "He came to me and asked me to do a new program for him, since he didn't feel the first one was working."

Cassar said there won't be much rest after the championships, since he'll be going straight into searching for music for skaters, etc. He says he loves working with skaters and finding out what works for them.

"You have to help kids find their own artistic voice," he said.

Although he's doing well as a choreographer, Cassar did feel yearnings to skate when he watched the men's short program.

"It did make me want to skate again," he said.


We had a wonderful time at the amazing ladies free skate Saturday night. Our hearts went out to Mirai Nagasu for her unfortunate accident; she hit the wall and fell at the beginning of her program, aggravating an old injury. It was very brave of her to continue in spite of that.

Even skaters as experienced as Nagasu and, famously, Johnny Weir in 2003 sometimes hit the wall with their blades and go down. It seems strange that this would happen -- skaters train their programs so precisely, with every stroke and step exactly the same -- but rinks aren't all exactly the same size, and even an inch can make a difference. We hope Mirai gets better very soon!

We'll be back Tuesday with the best-dressed list!

See you then,

Sarah and Drew

Follow Sarah and Drew on Twitter @SarahandDrew