Ice Network

Let's be adults about this: Rohner, friends' blog

Trio brings daily reports of shenanigans from competition in Ann Arbor
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Skaters from the silver dramatic IV competition gather after their event. -Lexi Rohner

Is everyone ready? Round 22, coming up! First practice sessions are underway and all manner of transportation are ferrying skaters, officials and coaches toward Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the 2016 U.S. Adult Championships. This marks the third time Ann Arbor has hosted this event. Second-time Chief Referee Wayne Hundley is excited to take part again. We are all excited he will be in the house -- he throws the best adult nationals party! Fun fact: The only other time Wayne was chief referee was also in Michigan (Grand Rapids, 2009). Welcome to the reunion, one and all!

Before we get going, I'd like to point out that there are 46 officials. Make sure you say hi to them and thank them for supporting this event. LOC member Jim Achtenberg is crossing fingers that they all come and go on schedule, with no influence from Lorrie [Parker]. #lorried

This year I have some help blogging. If you see Michelle Daichman or Terryl Allen, feel free to share tidbits, stories and info with them. You can also use the hashtag #2016ANblog on Facebook and Twitter, and I'll find your info. Now, let's get the ball rolling...

April 9

Ironing out details

So much has happened since the last post!

Late last night, Elizabeth Risberg needed an iron. Do you know anyone who travels with an iron? I don't either. Turns out, Brandy Lokken offered her roommate Michael Tongko's iron to Risberg. He was asleep when she offered. So was their other roomie. I hope Risberg got things straightened out.

There were a few Ted Gradman sightings, which included hugs, of course. Adult gold pairs competed, including longtime team Tara Cioppa and. Stephen Trzaska. Megan Brown and Robert Olson performed in adult gold dance, and it's always a pleasure to see Dotty Ray around. Becky Musick and Kelly Morr were spotted eating tasty looking cookies with a certain flight attendant. Dan Hollander was in the house! Kathleen Westmoreland met and was impressed by a new inspiration: Lisa Fast, from Boston, is 68 and competing in adult gold V ladies. Skating under the IJS system at this age with a 2:40-minute program left Kathleen thinking one word: WOW.

Michelle Strepka coached Barbara Foley all week and had never seen an all-adult competition. She now wants to compete too after having so much fun. She also found herself a little starstruck while while standing next to Jumpin' Joe Sabovčík and Charlie Tickner. Those two guys were everywhere.

Hey Tracy Rineberg, congrats on your first U.S. adult championships title!


Championship events took place today. This year, the inaugural championship silver events were competed. In keeping with the vibe of this competition, each skater sat with the last in the kiss and cry as they finished until all were clustered together. It was an exciting time, and all were thrilled to take part.

Tony Conte has been competing in adult gold men's for 10 years and finally earned his first medal. Congratulations! An interesting combination you won't see anywhere else in skating came in the form of coach and competitor competing in the same event. Lyssa Cobb coaches Jennifer Schimdt and both competed in championship adult gold ladies. Schimdt took gold, while Cobb placed ninth in a display of support, camaraderie and friendship. Judi Poss, also competing in championship adult gold ladies, was heard wondering if she is the only one in the group on social security. You sure don't look it, Judi!

In an impressive field of skaters filled with competitors who learned most, if not all, of their skating skills as adults, the championship adult pairs podium was topped by Kim Sailer and Dave Garber.

Today's medals were awarded by two-time U.S. champion Alyssa Czisny! Plus, another 'elite tweet' showed up in the feed today from none other than Jason Brown.

Thanks JB!

Club awards were given for the first time this year. Washington FSC won the inaugural large club team award and Wyandotte (under 175 members) won the small club.

Congrats to all!


Leslie Amacker and Lori Fussell checked in from the judges stands in Fort Collins, Colorado. They miss everyone!

  • Merry Neitlich
  • Karen Kan
  • Barbara Kelly
  • Erica Rand
  • Paula Turpen

Champagne torch passing

The 2016 U.S. Adult Championships PBFL champagne toast recipients were awarded their rookie bottle and epitomized the spirit of adult skating. Welcome to the family Connie Achtenberg, Deryck Szatkowski, Sarah Almubarak and Aziz Asaly!


Extending a GIANT THANK YOU to Chief Referee Wayne Hundley and LOC chair Ann Dougherty! This event featured a schedule where competition ended and it was still daylight out. Also, no championship event warmups took place before 10 a.m. Thank you to the Ann Arbor FSC, U.S. Figure Skating, officials, volunteers, athletes, coaches and their supporters for such an awesome U.S. adult championships. Well done!

Next time around

Enjoy the competitors' party, eat all your chocolate tossies and make your planes on time (set an alarm). I hope to see you all next year!

You can find additional info and pics on the official Facebook event page.

P.S. Rob and Donna, did you find your drawers? 

April 8

Pairs and dance

Peter Sasmore and Janice Cook sit in first place in centennial dance. Peter is also partnering with Debby Georges in championship adult dance. Go Peter! Pairs are up today too. Yesterday there was some solo dance, and today even more. Don't miss these fantastic events!

MIAA (Missing in Ann Arbor)

  • Linda Price
  • June Palazzo
  • Denise Pendleton
  • Natalie Shaby
  • Lori Fussell
  • Wendy Barnard
  • Jennifer Dellinger
  • Jennifer Simon
  • Joanne Rupinskas
  • Ellen Sendelbach

Cryptic message to everyone: If you see a giant card floating around, make sure you sign it!

Tossing it out

Miss ‪#‎ShamelessShimmy, Allison Manley, flowed, flirted, and flip-jumped her way to gold in ‎masters junior-senior open with bestie, Kim Sailer, and choreographer extraordinaire, Doug Mattis, by her side.

The crowd was great for the inaugural championship silver men's event. The audience was really into Jose Hinojos' program. Way to go Ian McCutcheon, Ken Nguyen, Brian Hemenway, Mark Adams, Chris Shipley, Jose Hinojos and William Tran!

Super skating dad Jan Gross was throwing tossies on both rinks. Jan, are you logging all the walking on your fitness tracker? I heard someone had to buy a new suitcase just to get the critters and goodies home. I'm looking at you Dana O.

Just before she skated, Kelsey Cease discovered that not only was her music not working on the upload, but her back up CDs had been lost. Thank goodness for an iPod and charger. However, her free skate music is still missing. If you see her running around looking for a charger, hook a skater up.

Unable to resist the allure of Whole Foods, Brandy Lokken, Kathleen Westmoreland, Amanda May and Aziz Asaly headed over to sample the wares. Melissa Garland reflected today that her high school honors English teacher, Mr. Sutton, ended her senior year asking the essay question, "What is art?" Melissa was recently asked why she wanted to be a USFS judge. Today, she witnessed an answer to both soul examining questions during ice dance practice ice here and found deeply satisfying answers. Connie Achtenberg was thrilled to receive a medal in adult gold solo dance. Check out the photo gallery too: The Shibutanis wish everyone good luck!

From the bleachers

Making new friends and memories in the bleachers today were Jenni Hand, Kate Violet, Jeanne Clavel, Amanda May, Amanda McGowan, Grant Huang, Michael Tongko and Renee Austin. Partner-less in the stands were Rob Lichtefeld and William Papineau. Behave boys. Terryl Allen discovered the rink has a skate lace vending machine. Novel concept! It had skate tape and hockey laces, too, but those are impractical. How about Swarovski stones and one with a glue machine?

Field trip

A unique situation came about yesterday. Kay Retzlaff of the Teddy Bear Daycare and Learning Center organized a field trip and brought a handful of little kids to watch the competition. A cute little girl asked for autographs and her classmates wanted to meet the skaters and hug them. Great local support and exposure to skating! Wanda Gelsebach got to use an ice scraper again. At least this time she knows what it is. In 2003, she didn't know what that thing was in the backseat. #californiagirl

Not sleet, nor hail, nor broken bones

Every story behind each skater here is special. Fernan Balsalubre has never met Deana Sroka, but friends told him how she used skating to get back into shape. She went to sectionals with no expectations after not competing in decades, and was thrilled with her fifth-place finish in masters intermediate. Suzanne Himmerich unfortunately had a stroke a month ago, necessitating her withdrawal. This offered Deana a chance, and she's here enjoying every second. Deanna's nickname is "Cheeto.' Multiple bags of of the salty snack were tossed her way in championship-masters intermediate-novice ladies event. #noexcuses

Cindi Sonntag of Dayton, Ohio, started skating at age 40. Two weeks ago, she fractured a bone in her ankle. Prayers, healing and heat moldable skates to accommodate the swollen foot began and off Cindi went with her partner, Leo Kaplun, to skate in bronze pairs and bronze dance. She says it is a treat to be here and to be able to skate. When she exited the ice with her partner, she insisted on cheering for the next couple before she accepting the ice bag medical was offering. THAT, my friends, is determination. Quoting "Revival" by Selena Gomez: "What I've learned is so vital. More than just survival, this is my revival."

April 7

Opening ceremonies

You thought the roof was blown off at the TD Garden at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships last week? OK, well to be fair, that was one of the most fantastic competitions I have ever seen! But here in Ann Arbor, it's all relative. Last night? Roof. Blown.

The opening ceremony was a huge hit, featuring not-to-be-missed performances by the Hockettes novice synchronized team and Harmony Theatre on Ice. Both performances were met with well-deserved standing ovations. Also included was a special Blades of Glory performance by Timothy McKernan and Dean Copely. They did this number during the opening ceremony for the 2016 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.

As previously mentioned, the national anthem was sung in classic form by Ian Catindig, clad in University of Michigan gear. Adult competitor Connie Curry brought tears to spectators' eyes with her skating. Connie began skating at 60 and is now 76. Pretty darn awesome. Marci Richards and Barbara Foley enjoyed the show immensely. Terryl Allen said it was probably the best opening ceremony in her experience, though she missed some of it when her husband, Jim, took a fall off a step in the bleachers. He is sore but otherwise fine.

Around town

According to Pam Federbusch, when she checked into her hotel and told staff why she is in town, they made her sign a waiver stating that she understood that this was a hotel and not a party place, going as far to say that eviction would occur if more than five people were in a room. Huh? Clearly they must not have a "Welcome AN Skaters" poster in the lobby. Pam, could you keep it down over there, you party animal? New this year: diaper packages as tossies. #thingsonlyheardatAN

In the house

Doug Mattis is here, ladies and gentlemen. He even took a red-eye to be here. Hi Doug! Has anyone seen the silver ladies V competitor walking around looking effervescently beautiful? If you have not, Autumn Allison -- you look gorgeous! Erica Kaplinsky reports great spins in Maureen Linhardt's program. Go Mo! A uniquely adult skating moment: moms checking in with the family before competing. Denise Hendershot is putting her awesome Christmas gift scarf to good use to stay warm while monitoring the early morning practice in the coldest rink on earth. The bronze ladies champagne tradition continues. Bubbly is chilling. Who will receive it? At 46, Melissa Garland is imagining her grandmother as a skater at 14 in 1928, a woman who would be 102 next month. Got that? Toots DePalma debuts this afternoon.

Hugs and love

Cara Scudner will be performing her gold dramatic skate to "Fly" by Céline Dion in honor of her cousin, Vivianne, who passed away from spinal muscular atrophy at 6 years old. "She was our purple-loving, smiling princess, and all those who met her were impacted by her life, short as it was," said Scudner, who designed and made her butterfly-wings dress. The butterfly appliques are in the shape of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation's logo.

Rebecca Dearing's mom sadly passed away unexpectedly last week. Dearing didn't want to attend this event, but her family convinced her she needed to compete because her mother loved her skating and always supported her. Dearing came, skated a strong program (with a photo of her mom in her dress) and medaled in her even, gold ladies II, with a personal-best score. Dearing says she heard her mom say, "beautiful program." Hang in there, Rebecca.


Ellie Chisholm, my friend, it had to happen sooner or later, but I'll break it to you gently: There's a new Future Adult Skater of America (FASA) in the house. Yes, yes, I know, things change so fast in 24 hours. Her name is Tenley Philpott. I know, skating royalty name. You just keep on keepin' on with those naps, Miss Ellie. And try to yell extra loud from the stands to show them you're still in the game. As the veteran FASA, Melissa and David Garland's 7-year-old son, William, was also spotted at The Cube rooting on mommy and wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt that daddy got him the night before when the band played Detroit. So they are still touring.

Hail and beauty

What was that white stuff falling form the sky? It snowed, but this is different. Someone said it looked like tiny Tic Tacs. To those from Florida and the West Coast, it was a very strange sight. Sleet? Leslie Amacker says grapple. It wasn't the size of a golf ball, but oh hail, no! Chilly though it is, the air is refreshing. And after all, we're in an ICE RINK all day. Cold is cold is cold. There's always wine. Rob Lichtefeld is still not in Ann Arbor, but he is on the way. "How come when packing for adult nationals, and I'm not even skating, it still requires two bags? Oh right -- tossies!" Yes, Rob, I included you under 'beauty.' WMAS gals, save some #shenanigans for Nancy Hale-Dickson. She'll be there Saturday!


For those of you playing along with the home game, you are not alone.

Amy Shober

"I'm loving all the posts from AN, but having a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). I did, however, get one hour on the ice today and 40 min of it was alone!"

Robin Igla

"As a teacher, I've never been able to or comfortable taking off from work when I'm not sick, and I couldn't take a whole week without pay. Ironically, I'm home sick today. Nationals is definitely on my bucket list though. Someday I will get there!"

Heather Banks

"Since I'm home with a cast on my arm instead of having fun skating in Michigan, I had to do something fun at home."

Angie Waibel Miske

"My daughter Tanith and I went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City today. Windy but sunny, and a great mother-daughter day. I too am feeling sad about not being at nationals, but I love being a mom."

Suzanne Herrmann

"Today I slept in and took a 'cat nap' after PT/OT. I currently lead a life on the edge."

Amy Velleff

"I get to spend this week taking care of one of my best friends, Addie, my Great Dane puppy. She had spay surgery Monday and she weighs more than I do, so we were stuck in back of my SUV yesterday. She was too sore and not totally out of her anesthesia to climb out for over an hour. Last year, I had to withdraw due to cracked ribs (skating collision) and this year I couldn't register due to back injuries and injections. Feeling better now and competing locally in Florida this weekend (Silver III). Haven't been back to AN since 2005 when I won Bronze II. Next year, I hope and pray!"

Amanda Blackwell

"Working away in San Francisco and preparing to compete next year."

Kelli McDaniel

"I went skating and decided on new music for new programs!"

Mary Jean Huebner

"Don't count on me for fun shenanigans. Baby = lack of opportunity."

Suzanne Himmerich

"Instead of buying a skating dress this year, I bought a wedding dress. So excited to be planning my wedding instead of a skating program!"

Notably absent: Lauren Day, Mr. Lauren Day and the BEANIE BABY BAZOOKA. Sorry, skate husbands, nothing to shoot here.

April 6

First events are underway and podium shots are starting to roll in...

Prior to the round-up, here is some literary skating inspiration, written by competitor Nancy Riley:

'Twas the night before nationals and all through the rink
The skaters were bustling, too busy to think.
Their skates were all polished, the costumes all ready,
Now all that remained was to keep their nerves steady.
For soon on the morrow their music will sound
And over the ice they will fly from the ground.
Their leaps are fantastic, their spins are so fast
And after a short time the die has been cast.
Some will rejoice and others will not,
But together they all have what many others have not.
They have courage and gumption, spunk and drive,
They are skaters who on the ice feel alive!


Yesterday we discussed household items necessary at competition. Melissa G, did you fit it all in your car? There are many other things that competitors bring along to competition. Obviously, skates and related necessities. But how many of you arrived here with physical therapy exercises to do? And more importantly, are you doing them? Stay limber and healthy! Laptops are another uncommon skating item, unless you did not have enough vacation days. Are any of you working remotely from Ann Arbor? Rochelle Revor is usually the poster child, err, adult, for this, in full competition make-up and on her laptop in various locations around a given arena.

New arrivals

Although the party has begun, there are plenty more attendees coming. Kim Sailer and Dave Garber are headed here from Pittsburgh. There have been a few more sightings of Jumpin' Joe Sabovčík, as well as the arrival of "Flat Sami." Deana Spencer is still winging her way to Ann Arbor, but first, a brief stop in Salt Lake City for coffee...always coffee. Marianne Grisdale is still on her way "avec tossies," as is Allison Manley. Larry Frenock rolled in, ready to reprise his "Under the Sea" Sebastian routine from Eastern Sectionals. Lisa Chisholm arrived with the biggest little fan of the week, her 4-year old daughter, Ellie. After declaring her opposition to taking a nap, Ellie succumbed to one anyway. She probably needed to prep for bleacher cheering duty. Ellie came to support mom, but really she is here as a future adult skater. Represent.


Zingerman's Roadhouse seems to be the place for tasty to have that protein! Dana Opsincs visited with her contingent from Florida, including coach Kelly Paige and fellow competitors Rhonda Veenhuis, Luanne Scultore, Kate Violet, Michele Strepka and Cheryl Zelezanak. Julie Gidlow and Debra Curtis were spotted getting their steak on at Z's Roadhouse as well. If you have found a place that suits your tastes in town and want to let other competitors know, post in the comments below. Vegetarian? Sweets? Pasta? Coffee? Please, for the love of all that is sacred in skating, do not forget the coffee.

This and that

The dainty tiaras that popped up at Midwestern Sectionals last month in Colorado are making appearances here in Ann Arbor! To Ellen Sendelbach, purveyor of said sparkling head adornments, we say, thank you! There is just never enough bling and sparkle in skating. I mean, it IS the law. Tiaras have been displayed thus far on Sue Bakke -- who wore hers while ice monitoring for Bonnie Goranowski this morning -- Bonnie and Elaine Walin. Sparkle on, people. Sandra Chambers is happy with her clean skate today, and that she was able to breathe and smile at least a few times. Ian Catindig had some sound-check fun, bellowing out tunes by Beyoncé, Britney (Jose Hinojos, did you miss this?) and even a little "Nessum Dorma" and a "Let's PLAAAY ball!" Sandra Nielson requests some showtunes for future reference. Debra Curtis sent up the red flag on Facebook earlier today: One stone fell off her dress smack in the middle. She said it looked like a kid who lost a tooth. Her hero? Arena vendor, Carol's Fabric Shop. Thanks for the glue!


In case you missed the poster at A2, here are the house rules:

No wheels on your shoes, no bikes, no rollerblading (isn't that sacrilege in an ice rink?), no throwing footballs inside, no shooting pucks (other than on the ice) and no hitting golf balls (I repeat, sacrilege). And to where exactly would one throw a football or hit a golf ball in here? You know what? I don't even want to know. Just don't violate this.

Also, no dogs (service animals permitted only), cats, birds, hamsters or guinea pigs. OK, you can buy a plush hamster at one of the vendor stands, but that's it.

No foul language (shucks), obscenities, stealing, destruction of property, soliciting, trespassing or entering "employee-only" areas. And lastly, no unsupervised children. Ellie, you may be the only exception, as we know you are a tiny adult. Whew. #Shenanigans crew, I'm looking at you. Oh, BEE-have!

April 5

Mickey Bolek's hair is looking sharp ... Look around for Samantha Lindenberg's 'Flat Sami' and send us pics #flatsami if you take some! ... Melissa Planeta Garland is road tripping to Ann Arbor and carting along an assortment of items for those who forgot them: a folding chair for Carley Sullivan and a cowbell for Century Leigh. Other requests include safety pins, super glue and common household baking soda, a hug for handsome coach Franklyn Singley and white skate boot polish for Rochelle Revor. Cyndie Mach suggests never leaving home without duct tape. Any other last-minute common household item requests?

Note: In the skating community, a cowbell is a common household item.

Rink set-up is still happening, and everyone is still in the process of arriving. Daichman came across the Delaware contingent: Tom and Jerry, Heather Hilgar, Deborah Boyer and Pam Welch. Michelle's trip in was not as smooth as some others. After a brief nap during flight, she awoke to the announcement that the plane's landing gear was not functioning and they would be met by emergency vehicles. Happily, she made it safely in and Delta offered vouchers to say "Sorry, we almost crashed today." Watch for her notes here in this blog (once she recovers!).

As far as recovery goes, watch out for #shenanigans when Rachel Firlik's bestie, Cheryl Morrison, hits the ground at approximately 6:38 p.m. local time. Not only are they hashtag crazy, but it may be a contest to see who can wear the most lululemon. #judgeforyourself

Seen around...

There have been several sightings of Jumpin' Joe Sabovčík around the arena, including one by Kim Flores, who was thrilled to meet a childhood skating icon of hers. Any other well-known coaches in attendance? Shere Everett has made an appearance! Random interesting sight at Detroit Metro: Iron Maiden's tour plane. Did anyone else know they were still touring?

As the focus is mainly on first practices, getting the kinks out and skating order, Stephanie Hao reflected on her start order at past U.S. Adult Championships and determined that having skated first through third in her last four-plus skating events, she is entirely OK with this. Also, the Ann Arbor Whole Foods has a gelato counter and a cookie bar. This is important news, and you heard it here first.

Rink and weather report

The sun actually came out today in full blast, which was deceiving because it looked like it was a nice day outside...until you step outside. The weather app said it was 16 degrees around 10 a.m. It did climb up to about 30-35 by 3 p.m. In spite of the low temps and snow flurries outside, there seems to be disagreement on whether the ice surfaces are warm or cold. Apparently, one rink (Stadium) that is usually cold had the heaters turned on, so the ice was actually warm-ish and decent to skate on. The heater may have stopped working late in the afternoon, as it was freezing again around 5:30. In the other rink (Olympic), there were comments of the ice being too cold and hard. The third rink (Varsity) was the only one everyone seemed to agree on: It was consistently cold.

~ Lexi Rohner

April 4

We start off with Rochelle Revor winging her way to the 'D' and looking for a ride into Ann Arbor from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Many offers came her way, including ones from Roland Suckale and Mikey Tongko. No shortage of support with this crowd.

What is in short supply is cold-and-flu-fighting remedies. Debra Curtis finally got past the worst of her flu but started wondering if she should be throwing Zicam tossies. Terryl Lee Allen made it to Ann Arbor and survived the first morning practice despite being in a histamine coma. Shopping to keep voice and body healthy this week, Ian Catindig discovered some "bad boy" snacks appeared in his basket at the register. He could be heard uttering, "Curse you Haribo, you are my kryptonite!" Anyone else still sick heading into competition?

I hear-tell that the ice on the Olympic surface is wonderful and the local coaches and skaters are very welcoming and courteous on the ice. Props to the local organizing committee and the Ice Cube as well, where this competition has been hosted three times prior (1999, 2002, 2003).

Random notes:

  • Singing the national anthem this year: Catindig (at Wednesday's opening ceremonies)
  • Home with a baby bump: Samantha Lindenberg (nee, Schecter). She'll be missed, but 'Flat Sami' will be there in her stead.
  • New baby: Becky Philpott, but she's on home turf and will be competing this week!
  • Celebrity skater encounter: Roland Suckale, who sat near Canadian world championships competitors Kaitlyn Weaver and Patrick Chan on a plane on her way to Ann Arbor.
  • Props on surviving the plane trip: Diana Graser-Simons, ready for assembly!
  • Excellent practice before leaving: Kathleen Westmoreland

If you have not yet begun your travel to Michigan, know that snowflakes are randomly drifting from the sky and it is a bit chilly. Things begin to ramp up tomorrow. #expectshenanigans

Good luck everyone!

~ Lexi Rohner