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The Inside Edge: Move to Cali gets Miller motivated

Mauti lends voice for Przepioski's program; Wedding season continues
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In moving to Rafael Arutunian's camp, Hannah Miller (third from left) has surrounded herself with a bevy of world-class skaters.

Hannah Miller has had a busy summer.

It started in early June, when she moved to California to work with Rafael Arutunian.

"I like it a lot," said Miller, who counts Ashley Wagner, Adam Rippon and Nathan Chen among her training mates. "[Arutunian] is definitely different than my past coach. The technique is a lot different, so I've had to work really hard to get used to it and pay attention to how my body is positioned.

"Training with Adam and Ashley and Nathan has been so fun; they all work so hard," Miller continued. "It's motivational to have all these great skaters around."

Miller explained that one of the keys to her new technique is maintaining a straight up-and-down position throughout the jump.

"It's easy to get square and then step out or two-foot. We're doing a lot of drills and exercises to get that axis," Miller said. "It gets easier and easier every day. Once my muscle memory kicks in, it will be even easier."

Miller competed at Skate Detroit in July, placing second in the final round to Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursynbaeva.

"It was only a month and a week after I had moved to California," she said. "My head was going a bit crazy because I had the old technique, the new technique, but it was good to get some nerves going."

Her short program is titled "Arabesque," which she says has an Indian feel, and her free skate is set to a medley of well-known Puccini opera arias. Tom Dickson choreographed both programs, and Elena Pollack designed her costumes.

Miller, the 2011 U.S. novice champion, finished ninth at the U.S. championships in January. Afterward, she finished up her senior year of high school before vacationing in the Domincan Republic with friends and family.

"It was very relaxing. I got a chance to rest my mind," she said.

Since the move in June, she has been working hard to prepare for her debut in the Grand Prix Series this fall. She is scheduled to compete at the Cup of China and the Rostelecom Cup.

"I'd like to put out some solid skates for those and see where I end up," she said. "I'm working on (triple) flip-(triple) toes, which I haven't put out in competition yet, but hopefully I will on the Grand Prix."

It's not all hard work, though. Miller has been enjoying the California ocean this summer.

"I live about half an hour from the beach, so I get to go on the weekends or open afternoons," she said. "I tried surfing twice. My housemate, AJ Reiss, has a surfboard, and when my sister came out to visit, we tried it. We could stand up, but it wasn't like we were surfing huge waves or anything."

A choreographer sings

When Robert Przepioski decided he wanted to skate to the song "Proud of Your Boy" from the Broadway musical Aladdin, he ran into a problem.

"The words were very specific to Aladdin," said Przepioski's choreographer, Doug Mattis. "They were a little too 'magic carpet.'"

The lyrics were appropriate in one way: Aladdin mentions being a late bloomer. (Przepioski didn't start skating until he was 15.) But some of the other lyrics were deemed too negative, with Aladdin singing about being "one rotten kid." So, Mattis wrote some new lyrics for the program, including the line "I'm finally proud of myself."

Mattis told pianist Philip Fortenberry about his student, and Fortenberry agreed to play and record the music. Just one thing was needed: a singer. Luckily, Robert Mauti, who choreographed the program with Mattis, has experience in that area.

Mauti moved to Nashville eight years ago to pursue a career as a recording artist. Since then, he has released an album, and he has another in the works.

"Both my parents are pastors, so music was in the family growing up," Mauti said. "I made top 200 on American Idol; I think it was season six, the year Taylor Hicks won."

On Monday night, Mauti recorded the new version of the song at a studio at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Mattis and Przepioski sat in on the rehearsals.

"When I started skating, I wanted only a shiny award and to try to make others like me," Przepioski said. "Sometimes the medal is nice, but making the crowd believe in you and having fans without even winning a medal [is] a way better award."

At the 2015 U.S. Championships, Przepioski finished 19th in senior men, and he and partner Vanessa Chen won the pewter medal in novice pairs.

Weddings, weddings and still more weddings

Have there ever been so many skating weddings in one summer? On Aug. 18, Olympic champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov tied the knot atop the Ritz Carlton in Moscow, with Stéphane Lambiel and Fedor Klimov standing up for the groom. Many skaters and coaches attended the celebration, including Tatiana Tarasova, Adelina Sotnikova, Nina Mozer, Elena Buianova, Evgenia Tarasova, Vladimir Morozov, Yuri Larionov, Ivan Righini and Aleksandr Gorshkov. Sotnikova caught the bouquet.

The bride wore a full-length veil over an eye-catching and revealing dress, with a nude illusion bodice featuring lace appliqués in strategic places. When the couple was pronounced man and wife, she jumped and threw up her arm in triumph, as if she had landed a quad.

At the reception at the Rose Bar Crocus City restaurant, the couple danced to "Masquerade Waltz," and then the bride removed her skirt, revealing the top to be part of a teeny-tiny, very sexy dress. The couple continued dancing to "(I've Had) the Time of My Life."

Earlier in August, Olympic champion Tatiana Navka married Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, in Moscow. The couple has a 1-year-old daughter, Nadya.

Here in the States, Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin were married Aug. 23 in San Diego, California. Vise's sister, Brittany, was the maid of honor, and Donna Baldwin, Rena Inoue, Daina Economou, Devin Matthews and John Baldwin were in the wedding party. The flower girl was Inoue and John Baldwin's 4-year-old daughter, Lilliana. Guests included all three Stiegler siblings -- Tiffany, Stephanie and Johnnie -- Trifun Zivanovic and Ambar Kaiser. Former pairs skater Will Chitwood was the DJ at the reception.

Vise mentioned that Inoue and Baldwin, who married quietly after a very public on-ice proposal at the 2008 U.S. Championships, are expecting their second child, another girl.

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