The Inside Edge: Greetings from frosty Saint Paul!Martin moisturizing like a madman; Hicks to bring the sparkle in free skate
We made it to Saint Paul, where the temperature "reached" minus 17 Sunday night. Luckily, as we remember from the 2008 U.S. Championships, there are indoor "habitrails" leading from the hotels to the rink, so one doesn't actually have to go outside. One feels like a hamster, and sometimes gets lost, but it's not even necessary to wear a coat to get from the official hotel to the arena via the skyway.
Pairs coach Bobby Martin told us he sent a text to one of his athletes a couple of evenings ago saying they would meet in the lobby and walk over. Two other coaches from their rink in Massachusetts saw the text and, not realizing there was a skyway, also decided to walk to the Xcel Energy Center but outdoors. They are, reportedly, still alive today.
Meanwhile, Martin learned in 2008 that the combination of frigid temperatures and overheated indoor spaces is murder on the skin.
"I've been using moisturizer, like, 15 times a day, and now my hands are as soft as babies," Martin said. "I'm Teflon-coated now. I've lost about five years...I look wonderful, don't you think? The last time we were here, I lost, like, four layers of skin. This time, I'm shimmering, I feel fabulous. Also, I've decided to keep growing my body hair, for warmth."
Once we got to the hotel, the first stop was credentialing. The friendly team inside has a new option this year: If you like, you can use your picture from last year instead of having a new one taken.
Skaters like to look nice in their pictures, of course, which isn't always the easiest thing when you've come straight off a plane. Last night, 2015 U.S. junior ice dance champions Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter looked very put-together as they posed for their first of what will undoubtedly be thousands of pictures this week.
A future member of the Gracie Gold Great Name Hall of Fame is back: Sapphire Jaeckel competed in the novice pairs event. She and partner Matthew Scoralle won the bronze medal Monday night, moving up from sixth place after the short program. They skated to Kung Fu Panda.
"I'm Tigress and he's Po," Jaeckel explained afterward. "The first part is really happy and almost like when we're first training, and the second part is slower and more emotional. It's a build-up throughout the program. We finish strongly with a fight scene."
If I ever write a young adult fantasy novel, I'm going to name a character after Jaeckel. And make her a kung fu expert.
Hicks will sparkle
Medal threat Courtney Hicks will perform her Elizabeth: The Golden Age free skate Saturday in a brand-new blue dress laden with enough Swarovski crystals to excite the fashion-forward monarch herself. Rohene Ward choreographed the program, which aided Hicks in winning the silver medal at the 2015 NHK Trophy while wearing a yellow dress with Renaissance-style embroidery details.
Hicks recently announced that Dreamtime Creations is sponsoring her and will provide a new dress by designer Kalina Kovtun. Kovtun is a ballroom costume designer whose creations have appeared on Dancing with the Stars.
"I've always wanted a blue dress for this music," Hicks said. "Rohene's original idea had been gold, and we found the perfect color of gold, but blue is my favorite color. It worked out that Dreamtime Creations was looking to sponsor me, and Kalina listened to the music and she drew it as blue. I was like, 'Perfect!'"
Hicks says the dress will be completely "decked out" in crystals, and she's looking forward to sparkling under the lights.
"When you have a dress you love, and you know it looks good on you, it gives you more confidence," she said. "You want to show off and perform extra well in that dress. I really love it. It's really pretty. It's a perfect dress for how I picture this program."
Hicks is hoping to carry her success on the Grand Prix into her performances this week.
"I feel more like I'm able to break into that top group," she said. "I've proven to myself that I can. I've shown myself I can do it -- it's just continuing with that."
Olympic champion sightings: 0
Michelle Kwan sightings: 0
Nine and counting
The Twin Cities witnessed the birth of The Inside Edge, although we weren't called that then. At the 2008 U.S. Championships, Drew Meekins and I started a behind-the-scenes column on icenetwork, and we've never looked back. These days, Drew is more of a coach than a blogger, but he'll be back on board from time to time this week, particularly for the best-dressed list at the end. We can't wait to find out what our ninth championships will bring!
Follow The Inside Edge on Twitter at @SarahandDrew