Donovan: U.S. championships fashion podiumsJust as he did on the ice, Chen gets high marks; Wagner also impresses
Pardon the delay for this article, but who knew the U.S. championships were like Cinderella's ball? Every eligible figure skater in the land.
This event was a struggle for several reasons -- namely, these are not, for the most part, skaters used to performing on an international stage, so the costuming tended to be a little more utilitarian compared to what we are used to seeing. That said, there were some standouts coming from some surprising areas.
Gold - Nathan Chen (FS)
No one can touch Chen's look this season. It gets more and more impressive with every showing, as he continues to stand atop the pack with increasing fervor.
Silver - Max Aaron (SP)
I really have to give Max Aaron credit here: This is a stunning look, and one that could have been appropriately fitting, given the matador title, had he slayed the competition instead of mauling his own performance.
Bronze - Vincent Zhou (FS)
I have to commend the class, restraint and style on display here. Vincent is barely out of puberty, and most of his competitors five years his senior couldn't manage this kind of elegance or costuming polish.
Pewter - Shotaro Omori (FS)
This is the U.S. championships, so yes, I get to award a pewter medal. This sparkling Le Smoking fantasy is the kind of costuming that the Tara Lipinski-officiated wedding of my dreams looks like.
Gold - Ashley Wagner (SP)
She may not have managed to defend her title against the rising star that is Ms. Chen, but Wagner certainly has zero trouble remaining atop the stylistic heap in her Annie Lennox 80s new wave couture. The definitive look of the season.
Silver - Karen Chen (SP)
It's no secret that I am in love with (U.S. champion) Chen's ballet-inspired look, rife with glitter and gloves and flutter aplenty. But despite her sensational showing in Kansas City, there is no unseating the reigning grand dame of figure skating style this season.
Bronze - Mirai Nagasu (SP)
Mirai's skating and costuming has a Michelle Kwan-like quality, elegance and artistry to it, so it's hard for me to watch her rocking a Tara Lipinski-at-Nagano looking number and not feel my heart break ever so slightly for the seemingly perennial pewter medalist. The kaleidoscopic beading on this costume immaculately contrasts with the rich navy of her chiffon.
Her "Oh, danggggg -- that's pretty good for me!" reaction at her short program is the cutest thing I think I've ever seen.
Pewter - Mariah Bell (SP)
I'm mostly giving this to Mariah because every so often I catch her lip syncing during her short program, and I can relate. Get down with your inner RuPaul, girl.
Gold - Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson (SP)
I rarely gasp at figure skating costumes (Wagner spoiled me coming out so strong at Skate America this year), but these two literally had my mouth gaping open. Stunning fit, stunning cohesion, stunning, stunning, stunning.
Silver - Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea (SP)
Slightly sentimental, given the former U.S. champions' tragic concussion-yielding fall, but these two skaters really do look sensational together in their rock 'n' roll ice royalty get-ups. Get well soon, Tarah!
Bronze - Cali Fujimoto and Nicholas Barsi-Rhyne (FS)
Speaking of royalty, Fujimoto and Barsi-Rhyne look like the crown prince and princess of some fabulous far-off land. I love the unexpected burgundy and gold combo...it reminded me of my Project Runway partner in crime, Asha Ama.
Pewter - Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nathan Bartholomay (FS)
Cue movie preview voice: In a world where most figure skating pairs struggle with cohesion, Deanna Stellato-Dudek shows up after nearly two decades off the ice to show these kids how it's done.
Seriously, I love that they were able to play with beading patterns and harmonious color schemes to come up with two unique-yet-cohesive looks. I just wish I weren't looking at basic black tights underneath these beautifully bejeweled bodices.
Gold - Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (SD)
I still love the gender fluidity of these two, and how glam rock sex god their short program look is. (I swear, icenetwork, I tried so hard to figure out a more PC way of describing it.) Hawayek has looked stunning all season long lifting up Baker in her rocker chick mini, and I'm proud to put them at the top of the heap here.
Silver - Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (SD)
I am always going to be here for the subtle badassery that is Maia Shibutani in her best Olivia Newton-John "Sandy" drag.
Bronze - Madison Chock and Evan Bates (FD)
I love that these two reinvented their free dance looks with some color -- it added a dynamic to their performance that elucidated the languid ferocity of their movements. The pops of red and blue look like warrior colors, and even though these two (just) lost the title to the Shibutanis, no one can say they didn't go down without a fight -- or didn't look good doing it.
Pewter - Elicia Reynolds and Stephen Reynolds (FD)
Tron body suits, y'all.