Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Wagner plans special exhibition

Santee reminisces; Wagner wears 'unlucky' dress; Updates on pairs
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Ashley Wagner will skate to a live performance of the song "Imagine" in Sunday's Skating Spectacular. -Getty Images

(When Ashley Wagner performs in the Skating Spectacular on Sunday, she will be accompanied by 100 members of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, singing live from the stands. The artistic director of the chorus, Dr. Ben Riggs, says the chorus will sing an arrangement of John Lennon's "Imagine."

"Ashley suggested the length and the feeling of the piece she wanted, and I sent her some possibilities," Riggs said. "'Imagine' was the one that caught her interest. She has been working with a live recording from a concert we did."

Riggs says that many members of the chorus were already figure skating fans. A small group of singers performed live on local television Friday morning, and the segment directly followed an interview with Meryl Davis.

"One member was geeking out over Meryl Davis this morning," Riggs said. "We spent time in the green room together and rehearsed in front of her."

Loop brothers

At the Professional Skaters Association reception Thursday evening, Executive Director Jimmie Santee reminisced about his days performing as half of the "Loop Brothers," a Blues Brothers-inspired comic routine he did with his brother, David, in the early 1980s. They wore blue jackets and sunglasses, and the number always brought the house down.

He spoke about finding his way after ending his on-ice career.

"The hard part about finishing skating is that you feel like your identity is gone," he said.

Santee has certainly stayed connected to the life of a skater, as his son, Ryan, competes in singles. He was proudly wearing three Radix pins, two with the diamond indicating that he won the event.

"My brother has more, but he only has one diamond," he said, laughing.

Food and sleep

After practice Friday morning, senior pair Erika Smith and AJ Reiss were still all smiles after a great short program Thursday night. They are in sixth place.

"We feel awesome, terrific, super-excited," they said.

"Practice went really well this morning," Reiss said. "We were really excited to get out there and do some parts of our long and show a little bit more of what we've got."

"Just keep our good pace that we got yesterday, lots of smiles," Smith said.

Smith and Reiss were off to the Mall of America for some sightseeing.

"And food," Reiss said. "We're big on food. It's nice to have a day in between (competitions) to calm your nerves and settle down."

"Kind of like a little reset button," Smith said.

Smith and Reiss were trading stories with Hannah Miller, who rooms with them in California, along with their dog, Treasure. Miller's practice wasn't until the afternoon, and she was happy to be able to sleep in. Miller is in ninth place after the senior ladies short program.

"I feel pretty amazing, too, pretty happy with what I put out there," she said. "I couldn't fall asleep last night until about 3 because I had a lot of energy. So I slept in until 10."

Smith agreed that it can be hard to sleep at the championships.

"You get an adrenaline high, and you're watching your friends, and your family is here supporting you," she said. "And I'm like, 'I've got to hit the sack and pass out!'"

"A big dinner helps with that," Reiss said. "Right after we compete, we eat a big meal."

"I had short rib was delicious!" the svelte Smith said.

"She eats as much as I do," Reiss confirmed.

Maddie Aaron and Max Settlage returned from practice looking very calm and comfortable; they're in fourth after the short program.

"I'm just happy to be able to compete," Settlage said, referring to a back injury that plagued him last fall.

Jessica Calalang was also heading to the Mall of America before doing some homework. She was philosophical about the fall she and partner Zack Sidhu took on their death spiral the previous day.

"We were both in complete shock; that never happens at home," Calalang said. "You can't train for that, so we just had to get back up on our feet and keep going."

After the death spiral, the pair still had to do a step sequence and a throw triple lutz.

"We run this program all the time. Doing a throw at the end is a risk element, but not for me -- I know I can do it every single time," Calalang said. "I just had to stay focused and not let my mind wander."

Calalang watched the ladies last night, and then a favorite TV show before bed.

"I always watch 'Friends' at home before I go to sleep, so that kind of relaxes me," she said.

Unlucky dress

Costumes are so expensive that skaters sometimes compete in hand-me-downs, and sometimes they just loan their costumes to one another. As mentioned in an Inside Edge last fall, one of Marissa Castelli's dresses was worn in competition by both Kirsten Moore-Towers and Ashley Wagner. Wagner skated brilliantly in it but has had problems all three times she skated in her own short program dress, a stunning black number.

"I think I am wearing the unluckiest dress in the entire world," Wagner joked after she skated Thursday night.

Maybe she should give Castelli a call before she competes again.

After you've been around a while, you start to recognize the costumes, along with the skaters. One of the junior men appeared to be wearing one of Tim Goebel's old costumes, although we haven't confirmed that. Junior pairs skater Joy Weinberg took the ice in a black leotard with a spangled lace back, last seen on Gretchen Donlan a couple of years ago. Shotaro Omori will be wearing one of Jeremy Abbott's old costumes, which is quite appropriate: Abbott choreographed the program.


Look for a feature on NBC tomorrow with Gracie Gold and her twin sister, Carly. It will run during the TODAY show in the morning and on NBC Nightly News tomorrow night.

Olympic champion sightings: 4. To Tara Lipinski and Brian Boitano, we add Meryl Davis, looking ever so chic in all black, and an elegant Kristi Yamaguchi, seen in the elevator Friday morning with her pretty mother, Carole.

There may not be a Michelle Kwan sighting this time, as we have not heard whether the Kween will put in an appearance. We are ever hopeful. Meanwhile, Scott Hamilton is held up by the monster storm; he is supposed to fly in today, but he's battling significant delays. We hope to see him!

(Editor's note: Scott made it.)

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