The Inside Edge: Recalling 'eerie' day at BompardSkaters agree with decision to cancel event; Nagasu's dress draws raves
As the news of the attacks in Paris last Friday night spread across the world, many of the skaters competing at 2015 Trophée Eric Bompard in Bordeaux were sleeping. The ladies had practice at 7:30 Saturday morning, and all the competitors were preparing for their free skates.
Gracie Gold and her mother were staying together and were awoken at 2 a.m., when her father called to check on them.
"We turned on the TV, and it was on CNN," Gold said. "We watched for a while, and since ladies had an early practice anyway, we just stayed up. I ended up going to practice. The rink was really quiet; no one could shake the feeling that there was a terrorist attack. There was no one in the media room; it was really just the skaters and a few people."
With partner Mervin Tran, Marissa Castelli skated in the the last event Friday night, the pairs short program. She was back at the hotel when her friends started texting her.
"I was scrolling through my phone and I got a couple messages saying, 'Hey, are you OK?' And I was like, 'We skated pretty well in our short, so yeah,'" she said.
Suspicions raised, Castelli went scurrying to Twitter to check for updates.
"It was difficult to sleep because I was up with the news, trying to find out what happened," she said. "I didn't know how serious anything was until I woke up the next morning."
Angela Wang, competing in the ladies event, went to bed early to prepare for the morning practice.
"I woke up to a bunch of messages and texts from people saying, 'Are you OK?'" she said. "Then I saw the hashtag #PrayforParis. I read about it really quickly, but I was trying to get ready. Our team leader said that it seemed like they were going to continue with the competition as planned, so not to look at the news or go on social media."
The ladies, men's and dance practices went ahead as scheduled Saturday morning. The skaters said that after the practice, security came to the facility and did a thorough inspection of everyone who entered the building.
"The whole week we just walked in, but that day they closed all the doors, patted us down, checked every bag," Castelli said. "No spectators were allowed in, except credentialed people. Max [Aaron] was telling me that they were tying all the doors shut, even closet doors."
"The whole thing was kind of unsettling," Gold said. "It was eerie. We continued the day as if it was a normal day, but there was nothing normal about it. None of us had our minds on the skating."
Still with no sense of what was happening in Paris, Castelli and Tran headed to the rink for pairs practice, scheduled to start shortly before the ladies free skate.
"We warmed up, we were in our costumes about to get on the ice, and they said our practice was postponed and we were to go upstairs," she said.
All the skaters in the rink heard the official announcement that the event was canceled. The French team started to sing "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem, and those who knew the words joined in.
"It was a very touching moment," Castelli said.
The skaters headed back to the hotel, where Castelli's first thought was of her roommate, Wang.
"I wanted to find Angela right away because her event was first," Castelli said. "She came out of the elevator, competition ready. She was like, 'Are you serious?' All the girls were downstairs in their full hair and makeup."
"To be so mentally prepared to go compete your long program, and then you realize how intense the whole situation was," Wang said. "I didn't go on media or look at anything, so a lot of us didn't really understand what was happening."
Team USA gathered in the lobby to process what was happening and discuss how to get everyone home safely.
"We were all in shock, and confused and concerned -- so many emotions," Wang said. "The lobby was crowded with everyone. They said to make sure you had your phone on, so we can contact you."
Most of the skaters were supposed to fly out Monday, connecting through Paris. After a lot of scrambling, their flights were re-scheduled and most got home by Monday night.
Everyone agreed that it was the right decision to cancel the rest of the competition.
"It put everything in perspective," Wang said. "We were all talking about it: It's just skating. We were just so lucky to be alive and safe."
Note: The ISU updated the world standings Thursday, assigning points based on skaters' finishes in the short programs at Trophée Bompard.
Ropes of pearls
Each season there are a few costumes that generate a ton of buzz among competitive skaters around the world. Mirai Nagasu skated out for her free skate at the Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria, last month in a dress that made her fellow skaters swoon.
Pat Pearsall designed and made the champagne-colored dress, covered with pearls, for Nagasu's program to music from the recent Baz Luhrmann-directed adaptation of The Great Gatsby.
"1920's-era dresses have always been some of my favorites, so I had a lot of photos and material to reference for this dress," Pearsall said. "Usually I don't use pearls in the stoning detail, because they really can't be seen from a distance, but for this dress I decided that there was more of a consideration of what their use would convey to Mirai, who would definitely be able to see it, even if no one else would."
The "pearls" are actually glass beads, meant to evoke the chandelier dress worn by Daisy Buchanan in the big party scene. Pearsall used details from accessories in the movie, like bracelets and hairpieces, to help create the look.
"The music is a much more modern take on that genre, and so the design of the dress had to reflect that," Pearsall said. "The stoning detail has many design themes from that era. As I was adding the pearls, it became clear that this was one time that they were the perfect addition. They aren't actually draped to look like a string of pearls, but they add that feel to the dress."
Costumes can be tweaked throughout the season, so Pearsall will wait until Nagasu competes in the dress again to decide whether it needs anything more.
"It is lovely on her, and my hope is that it will do exactly what it is supposed to do: enhance the program and add to the enjoyment for Mirai, and for those who are watching her perform."
Nagasu won the competition in Graz, so the dress achieved its first goal.
Tree-lighting plus Kwan
The mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, asked Providence resident Michelle Kwan to help organize an hour-long skating show for the official city tree-lighting at the Alex and Ani City Center on Dec. 5. "A Holiday Celebration" will star Rhode Island's Giorgina Giampaolo, Tori Rotella, Jamieson Cyr, senior competitor Brad Vigorito and many more. U.S. intermediate champion Kassandra Carpentier will also skate.
"We asked any skaters from Rhode Island who have made Easterns (sectionals) or nationals in the past two years," Vigorito said. "To skate outdoors at Christmas is every skater's dream."
Kwan, Vigorito and Sarah Mirza DiNardo are co-producing the show, and Kwan hopes to attend, although she's unlikely to skate.
"We were at Michelle's house last April, and she's really busy working with Hillary Clinton's campaign in New York during the week, so she asked us to help," Vigorito said. "We've never produced a show before, but you don't say no to Michelle Kwan!"
The event begins at 5:15 p.m., with the skating set to start at 6. The rain/snow date is Dec. 6.
Tran and Rhode Island native Castelli were meant to be the headliners, but they were just added to the roster for the Golden Spin competition in Zagreb, Croatia.
"I'm really upset about [having to cancel]; we were really looking forward to the show," Castelli said.
She is excited to compete in Croatia, however.
"There are about 14 pairs teams going," she said. "Aliona [Savchenko] and Bruno [Massot], that's going to be really exciting to skate with them. It's going to be the biggest senior B that I have ever done."
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