The Inside Edge: Gold sasses it up at 'Ice Chips'U.S. silver medalist says she will start working on triple axel, quad salchow
The 103rd edition of the Skating Club of Boston's "Ice Chips" brought Gracie Gold to the Bright Arena at Harvard University on April 11 and 12 for two sold-out matinees. Gold's appearance at the evening show provoked thrilled shrieks from a nearly full house. The former U.S. champion skated at the end of each half, showing sassy style to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" and intensity to Beyoncé's "I Was Here."
Three-time U.S. medalist Ross Miner, appearing in his 12th "Ice Chips" show, skated with passionate emotion in a new program choreographed by Massimo Scali to Justin Timberlake's "All Over Again." DeeDee Leng and Simon Shnapir also performed a brand-new program, choreographed by Reneé Roca, to "Beneath Your Beautiful." Shnapir tenderly supported Leng and showed off her beautiful lines; the two have great rapport, and this seems like a very promising direction for them.
Alexandria Shaughnessy and Jimmy Morgan have it and they shook it, performing a fun number to "Uptown Funk." The show was filled with young club skaters, Theatre On Ice troupes and synchronized teams. Artistic director Matt Lind, along with Kate McSwain, Pippa Teague and Deirdre Williams, choreographed.
Axels and quads
Backstage before the show, Gold relaxed and chatted about her upcoming trip to the World Team Trophy in Japan.
"Japan is really easy to like from a skater's point of view, because the competitions are so well run," she said. "Everything is as simple as it can be, and the fans are some of the best in the world. No matter how you skate, or who you are, you feel like a celebrity.
"I have some really great fans. They send me a box on my birthday full of cute gifts. ... As soon as they found out I had a twin sister, Carly got a little box, too."
Gold has competed at the World Team Trophy twice, in 2012 and 2013, as well as the team event at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
"World Team Trophy and the team event at the Olympics were very different," Gold said. "[The team event at the Olympics] was very intense, actually; it was almost more stressful than your own event. World Team Trophy, you want everyone to skate well, but you want everyone to be happy. It's very lighthearted; the weight's off your shoulders. World championships are over -- it's so fun."
Gold was quite candid about preferring training and competing to performing in shows.
"Tour life is not personally for me," she admitted. "I like skating because I like to do sports. I like the athletic side of it; I like the day-in and day-out training, being in shape -- that's more fun for me than the performance side. I like to physically skate. But I enjoy weekend ice shows like this, when the crowds are really loud and responsive."
Gold is looking forward to getting on with training for next season with coach Frank Carroll. They are planning to work on increasing her technical arsenal.
"In two weeks, Frank and I are going to start working on triple axel and quad [salchow]," she said. "It was our plan after Sochi to start working on it, but when we looked at the plate, with tour (Stars on Ice), we just never really had the chance. We were constantly trying to recover and catch up."
She admits the challenges that both elements present.
"I can do triple axel in the pole harness pretty well, but as soon as I get out, I freeze -- I don't even try it," she said. "When you get to that 70 percent (success rate), you start to fall a lot harder. In the season, nobody wants to eat it and then have to do programs on the next session."
The day before the first show, Gold visited Boston Children's Hospital and chatted with young patients, both in person and via a video program. Some of the kids have to be kept in wards with controlled environments, so the hospital recently opened Seacrest Studios, which allows patients to talk to special guests by video link. Gold answered questions about skating, spinning and her favorite food ("dessert").
Simon Shnapir and Ross Miner roamed around backstage during intermission of "Ice Chips." Shnapir sported a full, luxurious beard.
"My name is not Simon, it's Ezekiel. That's my new Amish name," Shnapir joked. "To be honest, I have no idea why I grew it. I usually grow facial hair, but I just figured, I'm going to let it get a little outrageous and ridiculous. I'm curious to see what will happen."
"It's lustrous!" Miner gushed. "I couldn't grow a beard. I get really itchy and uncomfortable, and I shave it after three days. I have no will power."
Shnapir said that he and Leng are heading to Canada next week to get a new free skate from Julie Marcotte. For now, they are planning to keep their short program from last season.
"I'm looking forward to a healthy season," Shnapir said. "I've actually been hurt for a bit -- I hurt my back -- so I was off the ice for a few weeks."
Miner has just finished choreography on two new programs, the short by Jamie Isley and the free by Lori Nichol, but he wasn't yet ready to reveal the music.
Recent episodes of Jeopardy were dominated by a brainy figure skating fan from New Hampshire, Kerry Greene. Greene won six episodes, and $146,598, before losing her crown; she will compete again in the Tournament of Champions.
Along the way, she and host Alex Trebek discussed her love of figure skating. Greene revealed that she has been to the world championships four times.
Greene, from Manchester, New Hampshire, is a volunteer court-appointed special advocate. She credits her mother with inspiring her love of skating.
"She had high hopes for me, but I inherited her weak ankles and I wasn't a good figure skater," Greene admitted. "I loved watching it. We would watch the Olympics. I remember Tai [Babilonia] and Randy [Gardner], Dorothy Hamill."
As an adult, Greene and her husband lived in the Bay Area and went to the 1996 U.S. Championships in San Jose.
"That was the year Rudy Galindo won, and it was electrifying," she said. "It was one of the most exciting things to be a part of that either of us had ever done."
Greene was hooked. She has gone to the world championships when her schedule allowed; she already has her tickets for worlds in Boston in 2016. She loves watching skaters from all over the world.
"I like watching the flags and the national anthems," she said. "I really like seeing the best skaters from all over the place. I love the music choices. I feel like you get a wide variety at worlds, and I love seeing the skaters you don't always get to see -- it's their one chance to shine. I love Maxim Kovtun; he's exciting to watch. And I've loved watching Ashley Wagner mature and develop confidence and really be strong."
I'll take "Smart Skating Fans" for 400, Alex.
Carley Elle Allison
Canadian skaters were saddened by the March 31 death of skater and singer Carley Elle Allison. The 19-year-old succumbed to cancer in Toronto, where she lived and trained. After surgery in 2013 for throat cancer, she gained fame for a video of herself singing One Direction's "More Than This," as she breathed through a hole in her throat. After months of treatment, the cancer went into remission, but Allison was diagnosed with lung cancer last August.
Allison finished 13th at the 2013 Central Ontario Sectionals as a junior. She was friends with many skaters, including Nam Nguyen.
"She was super nice and a really fun person to be with," Nguyen told us shortly after Allison's death. "She had this cancer for about two years, but she was really strong and positive."
Allison wrote about her life and her treatment online; you can read her blog here.
Pairs coach Bobby Martin shaved his head April 11 for a good cause: He was raising money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which funds children's cancer research. Don't miss the photos in the gallery.
And we finish with a happy story: Former U.S. Open professional champion Rory Flack married Roi Mitchell in Washington, D.C., on April 6. According to local TV station FOX 5, Mitchell had proposed to Flack at the busy intersection of 7th and 8th street in Chinatown the week before. The couple boldly made their wedding vows plumb in the middle of the same intersection, during a red light.
The ceremony took all of 30 seconds. The couple promised to be each other's pharoah and queen, kissed and then jumped over a broom. Their rings are tattoos of lions.
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