Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Kerr, Marshall to wed in UK castle

'Little Red Gliding Hood' revamps classic fairy tale with figure skating angle
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Sinead Kerr and fiancé Grant Marshall pose for a photo. -courtesy of Sinead Kerr

Sinead Kerr, who won seven British ice dance titles and two European bronze medals with brother John, will wed her Battle of the Blades partner Grant Marshall on July 31 at Dalhousie Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"Grant and I met on the Canadian TV show Battle Of The Blades when we were partnered up," Kerr wrote in an email from Scotland, where she was busy arranging wedding details.

The ceremony will be small, consisting of about 50 family members and close friends. John is the best man, and Kerr promises that Marshall and the groomsmen will all wear kilts. The band for the reception, Whiskey Kiss, composed and recorded Sinead and John's 2006 free dance music, and Sinead's dress is being created by Claudia Ah-nien, who made their costumes.

After the wedding, the couple plans to spend some time in Scotland and enjoy the Edinburgh Festival.

Marshall played in the National Hockey League for 14 years, winning two Stanley Cups with the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils. He now works part time for the Devils, as well as with Kerr and her skating students on power skating and strength and conditioning. The couple lives in New Jersey.

Skating tales

Little Red Gliding Hood is a new picture book for young children by Tara Lazar, a former adult figure skater. As an author/illustrator of picture books myself, I know firsthand that there is far more to these short, colorful stories than meets the eye. The roots of Lazar's story, in which Little Red is a passionate figure skater, go back to her childhood in New Jersey. She started skating when she was 5 years old.

"My dad was reading the paper one morning and saw an ad saying, 'If you know how to skate across the ice, you can take lessons at South Mountain Arena,'" Lazar said. "He said, 'Can you skate across the rink?' And I said, 'Of course I can!' I don't know why he believed me."

Lazar's father bought her a pair of skates, complete with pompoms and bells. He took her to the rink, where the 5-year-old was shocked to discover that she couldn't, in fact, skate at all. A kind skating pro offered to give her a private lesson and taught her how to swizzle and stroke, and Lazar was able to join in the group classes a week later. She took learn-to-skate classes for a few years and loved skating, but when she reached the point of needing private lessons, the time turned out to be more than her father could manage.

"I went to public sessions until I was a teenager and kind of taught myself," Lazar recalled. "Then in my 20s I decided to go back and learn to skate properly. I took lessons, I tested and I started to compete. I won Eastern sectionals and went to adult nationals in 2002."

At the 2002 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, Lazar's coach wasn't able to put her on the ice for the qualifying round. Lazar had trouble with her flip combination in the warmup and, without a coach to help, ended up in eighth and out of the final.

"It was fun but very intimidating," Lazar remembered.

She was about to take her adult silver test, aiming to compete at the U.S. Adult Championships again, when she broke her ankle badly. Shortly afterward, she was laid off from her job.

"I kind of paused, and I thought, 'Something in the universe is telling me it's time to have a family,'" she said. "I got pregnant with my daughter, and then my second daughter, and then I got diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis), so that was the end of my skating."

Lazar persevered and started writing children's books in 2007. Her first book, The Monstore, was published in 2013.

Despite the new endeavor, she missed skating terribly.

"I loved going on the 5:30 a.m. session with the fresh ice and the fog rising," Lazar said. "I'd be all alone on the ice, and I felt like I was flying. It was complete happiness and freedom. When I couldn't skate, I stopped watching it on TV. It was just too painful to watch it or read about it. It felt like such a loss to me."

Eventually, Lazar was brainstorming with an author friend about fractured fairy tales. The friend, Corey Schwartz, knew that Lazar used to skate and came up with the title Little Red Gliding Hood.

Lazar wrote a funny story to go with the title. Little Red lives in an enchanted forest where all the characters from popular fairy tales skate around on a river. Little Red badly needs a new pair of skates and a partner; the winner of a pairs competition will win a sparkly new pair of skates. She teams up with the Big Bad Wolf and…well, I won't spoil the ending. Lazar had a good time with evocative words from the world of skating.

"Just think how lovely some of the figure skating terminology is," she said. "I just love 'swizzle' and 'twizzle' -- they're so nice to say. And loop jumps were always my favorite jump. But people don't know what a flip jump is; they think it's a backflip. So I didn't put in skating terminology that's ambiguous to a non-skater."

The illustrator, Troy Cummings, is one of those non-skaters, so you won't see accurate representations of skates or elements. But his lively, colorful style suits the fun story perfectly.

Aerials

The second annual Skate Great Aerial Figure Skating Challenge will take place June 23-24 at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The jumping-only event is open to U.S. skaters and, like last year, there is a total of $30,000 in prize money up for grabs.

The event is Tom Zakrajsek and Audrey Weisiger's baby, looking to provide X-Games-type thrills for the sport of figure skating. Zakrajsek says they have made a few improvements based on last year's event.

"It has been streamlined in terms of content, and some changes will be made to the scoreboard display to make it more readable," he said. "Prize money…has been increased for the open jump events, courtesy of the Broadmoor Skating Club."

Last year, Max Aaron and Vivian Le took the top prizes, with Richard Dornbush winning the backflip competition. Aaron says he plans to compete again this year.

June 23 will serve as an open qualifying round, with the winners advancing to the final round Friday, June 24, to skate against top U.S. skaters.

The top three will take home $7,500 for first place, $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place. The top three finishers will also awarded a pair of skates of their choosing from HD Sports. The winner of the backflip competition gets $1,000.

The judges will be Todd Eldredge, Jill Trenary and Elaine Zayak.

"I am very excited to bring the event back and, given the enthusiastic response from the competitors, audience and judges last year, I look forward to another intense and thrilling contest," Weisiger said.  

Baby Hollander

Professional skater Dan Hollander has been delighting audiences with his comedy routines for years. He has a new person to entertain now: baby Arianna Alina, born May 13.

Hollander and his wife, Emily, chose the name Arianna simply because they liked it, but there's a bit of a story behind the middle name.

"Alina was the name of the usher that was kicking us out at the end of the (Cirque du Soleil) show in Vegas on our honeymoon," Hollander said. "We were waiting for everyone to leave the venue since Emily was very pregnant. ... The usher, noticing her baby bump, said 'Hey, my name is Alina, it's a great name by the way! It means 'light.' I guess I'll have to see if I can get word to her."

Follow The Inside Edge on Twitter! @SarahandDrew