The Inside Edge: Moeller out of U.S. championshipsFashion high priority for U.S. championships attendees; Skaters crowdfund
Jordan Moeller was running through his free skate on Dec. 22 when he fell on the first jump in his program, a quad toe.
"I was doing quads, so at least I have a cool story," Moeller said by phone a week later. "I went up and felt OK, and I came down and it was a whole new angle on my foot that I would have been happy never seeing."
Moeller ended up with a fractured fibula, a high ankle sprain and a torn ligament in his right ankle, forcing his withdrawal from the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. He had surgery Dec. 30 at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs.
Depending on how the recovery goes, Moeller's doctor said he could be back on the ice for training in May or June.
"It's not fun," Moeller said of withdrawing. "But I'm absolutely committed to get back to it."
Moeller will watch the championships from home and then spend the spring semester doing coursework at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, where he is in his third year.
"School will start up in a couple of weeks," he said. "I'm studying pre-physical therapy and psychology. That was one of Kori [Ade]'s suggestions, to take a full load this semester."
On New Year's Eve, Moeller posted an X-ray of his repaired leg, showing two plates screwed into the fibula. He thanked the surgeon, Dr. John Shank, and commented that he is now "bionic."
As anyone who follows the sport knows, skating is expensive. Recently, some skaters have started fundraising the 21st century way: using crowdsourcing donation sites like GoFundMe. Among those asking for donations to offset the expenses of training and competing are Ashley Cain, pairs team Jessica Pfund and Josh Santillan, and Shotaro Omori.
"I got the idea for it because a lot of my friends outside the skating world said they were willing to support me and they wanted me to do an online campaign," Omori said.
Last spring, Omori moved to Michigan to train with Yuka Sato. In October, however, he moved back home to California. He now works with Wendy Olson and Amy Evidente at the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.
"One of the reasons I'm not in Detroit right now is the financial reason," he said. "I love Yuka and all of her team. To be honest, I don't like to strain my family so much to the point where we're living on the edge so I can skate. I had to weigh the pros and cons of being in Detroit. I have the opportunity (here) to teach and make a little money."
Omori trains on weekdays and coaches on the weekends.
"It's a good break from my own training, and I love to teach," he said. "[Going back to Detroit] is definitely on my mind; I'm keeping my options open. But I love working with Wendy and Amy, and I'm in a good place right now."
Pfund and Santillan are in a good place, too. The new pair won the bronze medal at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic International in October, their first international competition together after teaming up last April. However, they say they are only able to afford about half the lessons they really need.
Santillan, in particular, has had to cope with plenty of challenges. When he was training in Colorado Springs, he suddenly found himself without a place to live after a member of his host family came down with an illness.
"I was given very short notice that I had to be out," Santillan said. "I packed a suitcase in half an hour and left. I didn't want to ask people if I could stay at their houses. I slept in my car and showered at the gym."
Santillan lived in his car, eating bread and peanut butter and microwaving oatmeal at the rink for a week or so, and then spent a couple of weeks sleeping on a friend's couch. He eventually found an inexpensive room, where he lived until he relocated to Florida to skate with Pfund.
For now, Santillan is working 40 hours a week at a Bonefish Grill and taking college courses online. He and Pfund both speak of their coach, Lyndon Johnston, with great warmth.
"I'm very grateful for how generous Lyndon has been to us," Santillan said.
Packing for success
The skaters competing at the 2016 U.S. Championships have to pack heaps of clothes: costumes, practice clothes, warmup gear and, of course, plenty of gorgeous outfits in which to be seen off the ice.
"When I pack, I usually count how many days I'll be there and then add three or four outfits to that number," retired competitor Samantha Cesario said. "My absolute favorite things are accessories and hair. So for me, shoes, bags and jewelry really make the outfit. And great hair is always a must."
Meryl Davis says she usually tried to coordinate her off-ice looks with her competitive costumes.
"I love getting into the right mood for a particular program before putting on my actual costume," she said. "Sometimes, I'd pick warmup clothes that evoked just a little bit of the flavor Charlie [White] and I hoped to capture in competition: black leotards for tango, rich jewel tones for Scheherazade. It's always fun getting into character."
"A lot of kids wear their new clothes from the holidays," Rachael Flatt said. "My first two years at nationals as a senior, I had great practice dresses."
Davis and Flatt will both be in Saint Paul; Flatt is on U.S. Figure Skating's International and Athletes Advisory committees, and she choreographed Angela Wang's short program. Douglas Razzano will be there, too, as a vice chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee. He retired before the start of this season.
"We're kind of hermits; we don't get dressed up often," Razzano said. "It's an opportunity to put on something nice and be around a lot of people we don't see all the time. It's like skating fashion week. If I can't be a star on the ice, I have to be a star off the ice."
Cesario described the championships as a chance for skaters to showcase their fashion sense.
"Dressing up for competition week is definitely a big part of the fun at the U.S. championships that I'm going to miss this year," Cesario said. "Not only is it the peak of the season for most U.S. skaters, but it really is the New York Fashion Week for the figure skating world."
Davis says it's important for skaters to dress well for the whole event, no matter what they're doing. She said that she and White looked like a couple of kids when they first started skating as seniors at the age of 19.
"Whether going to a draw, gala or a press conference, we wanted to make sure we were taken seriously and showed respect for the event by dressing appropriately," Davis said. "At that point, I think a few more pairs of dress shoes and blazers may have entered our wardrobes. It can be intimidating stepping into the 'big leagues' for the first time but fun dressing for an occasion you've worked so hard to be a part of."
However, for many athletes, comfort will take precedence over style.
"I always brought nice things, but half the time those things never got worn," Razzano said. "I ended up wearing Lululemon sweatpants the whole time because I just wanted to be comfortable."
Cesario, on the other hand, usually made an effort to look glam while off the ice.
"At competition, I always felt like it was important to look put together at all times," Cesario said. "When you're at an event like the U.S. championships, all eyes are on you, and I think, if you dress well, it makes you feel more confident. But I definitely don't think anyone should feel stressed about it at all. Nationals is stressful enough all on its own -- wear whatever makes you feel happy and confident."
Medal predictions in advance of the championships are commonplace in the skating media, so it seemed fitting to ask for best-dressed list predictions. Davis and Flatt stayed mum, but Cesario and Razzano were happy to name names.
"My personal figure skating fashion icon is the gorgeous Meryl Davis. I know it's an obvious answer, but she always looks absolutely flawless, head to toe," Cesario said. "I also think Madison Chock has a killer wardrobe and consistently looks amazing. Maia and Alex [Shibutani] always look chic and cool, and I think Gracie [Gold] has the coolest hairstyles. You can also always rely on Ashley [Wagner] and Adam [Rippon] to look well put together and all-around fabulous."
Razzano mentioned some of the same names for best-dressed nominees.
"Adam will come out for blood, but he'll be busy. He's got some things that may put him on the nominee list," Razzano said. "Mark Mitchell always looks good, and Derrick Delmore has a lot of good things; his closet is expansive. Ashley always looks good, and Madi Chock, obviously."
Razzano also suggested keeping an eye on Doug Williams and Molly Oberstar.
What can we expect to see him donning?
"It's just going to be chic," he said. "Not overly crazy, just chic. There will be different things all the time. You can repeat things, but you can't repeat a full outfit -- that's a no-no. And it is in Minnesota, and you remember the last time we were there, it was freezing."
Lipinski to wed
A few days before Christmas, Tara Lipinski flooded social media with news and photos of her engagement to Fox Sports TV producer Todd Kapostasy. The couple met seven months ago when Lipinski presented Kapostasy with a Sports Emmy award.
"The next day, my friend and, unknowingly, Todd's aunt, Chris Jansing, introduced us," Lipinski wrote in an email. "And the rest is history."
Lipinski said that on Dec. 21, as they headed to the Plaza Hotel in New York City to get a postprandial drink, Kapostasy took her to see one of the holiday windows. He arranged for a painting of himself proposing to Lipinski to be set in the window. When the real Lipinski turned around, he was on one knee proffering an impressive diamond ring.
Although the couple hasn't set a date, Lipinski says the wedding will be on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, where she owns a home. Lipinski anticipates a big wedding, attended, of course, by her NBC co-anchor Johnny Weir.
"Johnny will definitely be at the wedding," she said. "The only requirement we have for this wedding is that it will be filled with our closest family and friends, great music and lots of love. I can tell you, it will be a big party."