Ice Network

Adults only: Rohner reports from Massachusetts

Updates from U.S. adult championships highlight camaraderie, competition
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Competitors were welcomed with open arms upon arriving in Marlborough, Massachusetts, for the 2018 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships. -Lexi Rohner

Lexi Rohner is in Marlborough, Massachusetts, for the 2018 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships. She is writing a blog for icenetwork.

April 14

Lighten Up

Today was such a busy day -- and quite a fun one. Why? Because it's light entertainment day! I wish I could capture the many fantastic performances, creative ideas and costumes. Mickey Bolek's 'La Cage aux Folles' was fabulous, Sharidan Williams-Sotelo 'broke' the glass ceiling, and, wait for it … an appearance by Tonya Harding. Relax, not the real one! She did pop a lutz and flung her leg on the boards, though.

The portrayal was so good that Elizabeth Risberg was unrecognizable. Performances also included a Nexium pill personified, a giant Minion, a giant inflatable dinosaur and some requisite Disney characters. The side-splitting action spared no one, as the judges could barely contain themselves from laughter through some of the events. I must say, it's a far cry from where this competition began to have these creative events lauded.


It was wonderful to see so many people this week. It's almost like watching a movie and then seeing the actor in real life when you have only interacted with someone through social media. Translation: you are all now celebrities. Watching competitors receive medals was so much more entertaining with Mia Corsini at the mic. The woman pulls no punches and really, needs no mic. Belting out names and sarcastic quips with equal speed, we saw Rachel Reynolds' giant dinosaur climb the podium successfully, Merry Neitlich's beautiful white tutu, a triple cow synchro parody and a sugar plum fairy. Ken Ho's minion stayed upright with an elegant jump down after being adorned with a medal as well.

It was also great to see adult skating's stately gentleman, Lynn Stone. Last time I connected with him, he was hoping to compete. This year he's in four events! Welcoming so many new and younger competitors is wonderful but it turns out that it makes me an oldie. Thus, for me personally, it was a treat to see some of the "old guard," including Wendy Bauer, Autumn Allison, Merry Neitlich and Carolee Kness-Purdie. Not that you'd know their age when looking at these gorgeous souls. Keep skating young'uns -- skating keeps you looking good!

On the Surface

On the other ice surface, we had champ events all day. First up were the Championship Adult Gold Ladies and Men. There were so many good performances, some with a little heartbreak and some exceeding expectations. What I saw out there in all though, was heart. If there is nothing else you take away from the U.S. Adult Championships, take inspiration from the passion you see. Late in the day, this was embodied in the music choice of champ pairs team Kim Sailer and Dave Garber, performing to the title song from Xanadu. Go listen. I'll wait.

Thanks for playing along. The definition of Xanadu is "an idealized place of great or idyllic magnificence and beauty." Folks, this is adult nationals at its core. Sailer and Garber had some flash, pizazz and good skating. But the ideal of their program is the takeaway. I'm always inspired watching pairs teams compete, in awe of the speed and lifts. Keep looking a little beyond the physical. You'll always find more meaning in programs here.

This competition marked the first Solo Free Dance, and that was pretty exciting. Local LTS adult skater Danielle Lee volunteered as a sweeper. She spent almost 16 hours on the ice collecting tossies, in this, her introduction to our fabulous family. Next year Danielle, we hope to see you competing! Melissa Garland was a fixture in the Rink 2 kiss and cry as a sweeper. She took to rounding up tossies with a giant squeegee to be expedient. Genius. At some point, Rob Lichtefeld took a break from inking people's hands with his 'Like' stamp to actually squeegee the ice. #youmissedaspot

Tossed Around

The tossie situation is always a fun part of adult competitions, and adult skaters have truly made it their own. While there was no Beanie Baby Bazooka this time around, there were tons of candy bags and wrapped bottles. OK Linda Biggs et al, here it is! As I mentioned several days ago, there was once upon a time a real, live tossie. Actually, twice. While this practice has only occurred twice, and is highly discouraged, I'll share with you that in 2004 and 2008 (Lake Placid), Becca Guthrie was that "human tossie." Little known fact: It's a great honor to receive one of these. Rob Lichtefeld said so.

Moving On

Finally, we come to the end-of-event party. And what a roaring party it was!. Great food, glow sticks, lots of selfies and a very tasty cake! A huge thank you to Donna Wunder, the LOC chair, and her entire team. Also, to Chief Referee Alex Enzmann, Chief Accountant Sandra Phelan and all the dedicated and supportive officials. We love you! Lori Fussell, ASC Chair, has outdone herself in moving adult skating forward and we can't wait to see what's next.

Speaking of next -- don't miss next year!! It's the 25th annual U.S. Adult Champs! How 25 years just went by I'll never know. But it has been my privilege to be part of this and to be around all of you for so long. With gratitude and excitement for next year, I bid you farewell for now. See you in…oh wait, I can't tell you where just yet. Stay tuned my friends!

Friday, April 13

It's Friday the 13th, y'all. Superstitious or not, it's a good day to have a good day. Go get it!

Missing in Action

Lisa Chisholm is sad to miss the event this year due to 'adulting responsibilities'. While grateful for work opportunities, she's decided the hashtag #adultsskatetoo ought to be revised to #skatersadulttoo. We miss you, Lisa!

Lucky Number Seven

Julie Gidlow is excited to be here again, and as part of the seven left who have officially competed in every U.S. adult championships. The list includes Colleen Conroy, Ted Gradman, Walter Horton, Thom Mullins-Schwartz, Angela Eden and Dorothy Ray. #lifers

Out and About

Sharidan Williams-Sotelo had some time to take in a ball game at Fenway. Anyone else gotten out of the rink? Denise Hendershot is thankful for all the tossie love, as well as for her skating family at home and across the country. A shout-out from Denise to coach Sue Schmitt "for being my competition coach this week. You are the best luggage ever." Meaghan Baitel is still beading her dress for an event today. Walter Horton and June Smith's 14-step to "Yellow Rose of Texas" with June in yellow was beautiful. And if you haven't yet, go eat some lob-stah!

Shout-out to one of our wonderful officials, Mary Ann Wilcox, who is spending her birthday here with us! Also a big thank you to Shere Everett and Elliot Schwartz in accounting.

Stay tuned for Saturday, when Ken Nguyen will compete in an inflatable Minion costume. #beedo

Thursday, April 12

There are plenty of ice dance events today, and some free skates as well. Rachel Firlik, Rebecca Dearing and Jennifer Dellinger were spotted at gold ladies II, while coach Erica was seen smiling her way down the hallway. This means Wanda Gelsebach and stuffed Dasha are here. Joan Bys, Tracey Rineberg, Donna Farver and the championship masters pairs team of Kim Sailer and Dave Garber looked calm while awaiting their events Thursday afternoon. Everything is running on time, and while we did get a bit of rain, the weather has cooperated for the most part. It's chilly but tolerable. If you have a chance to get outside, it's very pretty here in Marlborough.

News and notes

Opportunities to volunteer are also available; if anyone is willing to help out, it would be very much appreciated. Walking through this giant facility, it's easy to get lost, but if you're trying to get your steps in (shout-out to the FitBit group), this is the place. There are numerous stairways all around.

Gillian Drutchas will compete in three events within seven hours today. One-year-old Evelyn is even in the audience to cheer on her mom, Cheryl Morrison. Get your future adult skaters involved early!

Elliott Schwartz was impressed with Stephen Trzaska's knowledge of the international judging system at the IJS seminar Thursday night. Team Tiara was in the house for the seminar as well. Keep up that sparkle, ladies!

Mel Garland mused that in adult skating there are many anti-inflammatories from which to choose. It's a staple in this world for sure.

From Wednesday's sweeper, Aviva Cantor: Please zip your tossie bags. Some renegade Hershey's Kisses covered more ice than, well, no comparisons -- just zip those bags! Also, happy birthday, Aviva!

On the Concourse

Cindy Crouse is here! But shhh, she told her bosses she was stepping out to use the ladies room and came here. Kim Sailer and Dave Garber are down a coach, as Doug Mattis is not able to be here. Super missing him, but the team said they don't notice anyone at the boards with them when they're focused on competing. They'll make you proud, Doug.

Mia Corsini from U.S. Figure Skating is easily everyone's favorite person. No writing for this event would be complete without acknowledging her dedication and attention to detail. And she got a snap with Molly MacGowan, who is still tearing up the ice at 79. For me, it was a treat to see longtime competitors Merry Neitlich, Carolee Kness, Autumn Allison and Wendy Bauer (of the famous Wendy Bears!). These ladies bring it every time. All you newbies, go meet them! Kerri Botorff is getting her shoulder looked at. She says the problem is a result of the "Great Skate Guard Incident of 2017." Yeah, you're supposed to take them off before getting on the ice. Heal up, Kerri!

Remember to check the team standings for team trophies. They are posted at the end of each day.

Looking down into one of the rinks, we noticed one of the worst figure skating events ever. Oh wait, it's a hockey game. Yes, there is a HUGE hockey tournament happening here simultaneously. Fortunately, this place has a zillion rinks. Just watch out for those sticks and bags when you're warming up or checking results.

All in the Family

It is not uncommon to see parents and family members support their skater at competitions. In the case of a few competitors here, they are all on the ice. Bronze pairs team David Bailey and Stephanie Hiett are father and daughter, and sisters Karen Morand and Lynn Wasielewski and their mother, Margaret Wasielewski, compete in singles.


Seen around this competition are notable former elite competitors Michale Botticelli, Joe Sabovčík and Charlie Tickner. Charlie was not wearing his usual red jacket but rather a lovely light blue new one. It took me a few minutes to realize it, and I said as much. He allowed the corner of his mouth to form a smile and said something about it being "time for a change." He also shared a story of a competitor he encountered here whose mother claimed Charlie taught her daughter years ago. She promptly produced a photo of the pair, and they took a snap for a "then and now."

Meeting Time

The Adult Skating Committee meeting was held tonight, led by chair Lori Fussell. Proposed changes for Governing Council were discussed, as were ASC initiatives. The meeting was live streamed on Facebook. To watch the replay and find more information, visit the page at

Up tomorrow, all the championship events!

Quote of the week: "Figure Skating attracts perfectionists and then tortures them" - Elliot Schwartz

Wednesday, April 11

Support Report

Erica Kaplinsky noted the rewards of seeing so many friends from the skating community this week in Massachusetts. Even with little time between work and family, everyone keeps returning to this competition. The support is evident everywhere, including Terryl Allen's annual medal tossies, which include a note about support and passion to skate.

The Adult Skating Committee shared a message of encouragement as well:

The friendliest judges and fellow competitors you will ever see await you in Marlborough, Massachusetts! We hope you will savor every moment of having these ice sheets as your stage and that you will enjoy this opportunity to share the fruits of a hard year's work with others who share your passion. May you leave only beautiful tracings and bring home shiny medals, new friends and memories to last a lifetime! #AN2018 #AdultSk8USFS #AdultsSkateToo #LifetimeOnIce

Another level of support was found at the airport. What do you do while waiting for a flight? Justin Ly lifts partner Carolee Kness by practicing pairs lifts at the gate. At the arena, watch for the FitBit Step Challenge group. This is a year-round activity organized by Cara Scudner, as she counts steps on a leaderboard while also strategizing how to track actual skating versus steps. Steppers you might see include Aviva Canter, Kathleen Westmoreland, Cheryl Morrison, Rachel Kuhn, Kim Kell, Jocelyn Delmar, Shari Lentz, Gillian Drutchas and yours truly!

Tossie Etiquette

A friendly reminder to all participating in the most popular activity of this competition: WRAP IT UP for safety! Tossies should never be thrown without wrapping for the safety of competitors and the referee's mental health. Small bits of debris on the ice are very dangerous and often aren't visible until someone skates over them and falls. Please help avoid this.

Here are the key rules/scoring for tossies:

- Beaning the skater to whom you're tossing with a light object: Level 4
- Beaning an official: -3 GOE (Mrs. Dash if it's BEFORE your own skate)
- No live tossies (Yes, this was a real thing I will not share in print. But find me if you want to know!)

Outside the Boards

Though Marlborough is 45 minutes from Boston, spend some of your free time exploring what the local landscape has to offer. Nearby Walden Pond is beautiful, as Elizabeth Risberg, Kim Ellsworth and Sonia Srichal discovered. But don't try to skate on that ice.

Missing from the arena this week is Mikey Tongko. Boo! Your sparkle will surely be missed. And where in the world is Ian Catindig? Marlene Bernstein is sending "tossie love" to all from home. Rhea Schwartz is not here this year either, but we sure hope to see her next season. Have I mentioned that next year will be the 25th edition of the adult championships?

As competition begins today, remember why you skate, enjoy every second and good luck to all!

Tuesday, April 10


It may be gone by the time many of you get here, but it showed up today. At the very least, it will be chilly. The practice ice is in full swing, Target and Starbucks have been staked out, and Julie Gidlow made her requisite run to Trader Joe's. Rick Breitweiser is on his way and very excited about his return after missing last season's competition.

All is well in the land of AN. If you have not yet met Cheeto (aka Deanna Sroka), go find her and introduce yourself -- and get a bag of Cheeto deliciousness from her while you're at it! But maybe wait to eat them until after you compete.

Safe travels to all and don't miss the opening ceremonies on Wednesday!

Monday, April 9

And they're off! Airplanes across the United States are being taken over by ZÜCA bags and Swarovski crystals, but more important, the airliners find themselves chock full of adult skaters. Soon, Marlborough, Massachusetts, will be overpowered by the three C's: competitive spirit, camaraderie and COFFEE! OK, that last one is for me. I would wager, however, that a great many of you join me in this sentiment. Oh, and if any of you find good coffee places, please share! #askingforafriend

Now that we are properly caffeinated, welcome to the 24th annual U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships! For those of you who are new to the scene, you are in for a real treat. This competition is the most fun you can have while sliding across the ice on one-eighth of an inch of steel. Seriously, folks, get ready for a fantastic week!

To start, a huge thank you goes out to Donna Wunder and the Yarmouth Ice Club (YIC). We are so grateful for your hosting of this event and all it took to make it happen. YIC hosted the championships in 2014 on Cape Cod, and the competition was also held here in Marlborough back in 2001. Of course, we're happy to be back! For those who haven't yet arrived, the New England Sports Center is a beautiful, two-story, 218,000-square-foot facility, featuring eight full ice surfaces. That's right -- eight rinks.

The arena has an abundance of ice surfaces, but it also has a chowder bar, heated viewing areas, a grand staircase in the lobby and more. If you're curious about the weather (because competition has not yet begun), we're looking at a little bit of rain and temps between 30 and 68 degrees. The Boston Marathon starts Monday, so we should be in the clear for travel home later this weekend. There's obviously so much more in store, so be sure to stay tuned!